Exclusive: The Demise of Blackened Fest
Note from Editor: Blackened Fest is no more. Cephalic Carnage, Cattle Decapitation and Withered have dropped off. Mayhem will now complete the rest of the dates alone. We sent roving reporter Justina Villanueva on the road with this summer's darkest tour, Blackenedfest. She was on the front-lines as the entire tour came to a halt and sent in this report describing what has gone down. See her previous updates and a ton of photos at the Blackened Fest hub
I had my only Almost Famous moment of this tour in Denver, Colorado. We were not exactly in a descending plane but it definitely felt like we were. I watched Blackened Fest collapse within a matter of several hours. It wasn't a short run of a tour but it's demise was very short notice to the people involved.
Just after Withered left the bus to start their set, Cartel (tour manager) came onto the Cephalic/Withered shared mobile home to announce, "Guys, tonight might be the last night of the tour." He started inquiring about who were the unnecessary people on the tour so he could free up bunk space. This included Sid, Leonard's (Cephalic vocalist) son, and Chuck, Nick's (Cephalic's bassist) brother. Because we were in Denver, Cephalic's home, the question at hand was easy to seal away: two free bunks. But, two free bunks doesn't solve the extra 6 people still on Marduk's money-swallowing bus. At that point in the night I knew one bus would be sent home and maybe some crew (most likely me too). But, I didn't expect the actual outcome: a Mayhem only tour.
Throughout the rest of the night, people's suspicions were high and many theories were developed. Cattle was ready to hit the road home since they have been out on the road for over two months now. Cephalic was willing to hop in their van since they were ten minutes from their practice space. Withered knew that renting a U-Haul would put them in the red, since that was their only option without a bus. But in the end, all the bands knew that the integrity of the tour would not work without all the support bands still on the bill
The Second Wave
Jonas, Mayhem's stage manager (and backstage "Mayhem Only" sign assigner), announced there would be a meeting at 1:30 am among all the bands. It was only about an hour later when Cattle's Travis bluntly asked what is going on. Cartel shot back, "I need to pay the… No buses are leaving unless the drivers get paid." Why the drivers didn't get paid more than half way into the tour wasn't uncovered and completely clear to me until after the damage was done. The 1:30 am meeting, which only included one member of each support band, Atilla and Necrobutcher, was a knotted bunch of assumptions and possible ways the rest of the tour could work out.
The Story Behind The Clusterfuck
When a band drops a tour, it instantly voids the contract made between the booker and the promoter for each venue. In other words, what ever money that each band was originally supposed to get at the end of each show was changed when Marduk didn't show up. Because Mayhem was the headliner, they believed that they deserved their full guaranteed money still. They didn't realize that Cartel had to renegotiate contracts with the promoter every night. With an extra bus to pay for and Mayhem still requesting the majority of the earned cash to match their original guarantee, the tour manager was left with no money to work with. The drivers didn't get paid and they weren't driving until they did. The support bands weren't making much money some nights, but were willing to hold out a couple days for cash. Unlike Mayhem, who wanted their full cash up front, every night.
The End Result
The sun rose and the arguing continued. Robin, Mayhem's bus driver, was prepared to ditch Mayhem and their crew at a truck stop in Denver without any of their gear or belongings. He, within a couple hours, had already changed the trailer lock. I was waiting for that moment, when the Cephalic/Withered bus drove off and Attila and Hellhammer still in their 4 inch soled boots were flipping birds at us because they were stuck in the middle of nowhere with no tour. Instead, Mayhem and Robin came to an agreement. Mayhem gave some money to the other two buses, paid off Robin and agreed to paying bus expenses one day in advance for the remaining 6 shows.
For the rest of the day, the booker, and bus company owner tried to work out deals to get at least one other band on the tour. Cattle declined. Cephalic declined. So when the only band left was Withered, they tried to bargain deals with them. But, the damage was done. Even though one of the bus drivers were willing to dramatically cut their pay, there is no way one band could afford fuel and bus maintenance without going into the red.
It was a brutal (not in a good way) end to the tour. For the most part, no one got to say goodbye to anyone. It was abrupt and unexpected (that's what she said). Most of all, it painted the final picture of the kind of people Mayhem are. Yes, being in a band means you are running a business. But even in business there are ethics and responsibility. Neglecting to pay your way from show to show and abandoning your tourmates is not good business. And its not the kind of metal I support.
For previous tour diaries, visit the Blackenedfest hub.
Note from Editor: Cephalic Carnage posted this update about dropping off the tour:
So, unfortunately, we were reluctantly forced to stay in Denver as the Blackenedfest Tour was unable to continue. We sincerely apologize to the friends and fans who've been waiting a while to see us and this tour. We want to thank Thunderdome for having us out, as we had an absolutely amazing time with Withered, Cattle Decapitation, all the crew and of course Mayham. We promise to make up the dates we didn't get to play…we ALMOST had the $70 dollar-a-shirt-cool-guy-tight-shirt company Affliction ready to pay for us to be helicoptered to the each of the rest of the tour dates, but they pulled the deal after they found out we stopped shaving our legs which was the part of the contract we decided we couldn't go through with, (except John). Anyways we've got some serious time off now, and we're going to commence with getting our long awaited reality-tv DVD completed, getting on with writing the next full length, and writing the 2nd installment of H.O.A., as well as finishing construction of our late night poutine stand, where we will serve country-fried giraffe eggs and your favorite French-Canadian specialty.