Recently Metalsucks.net released an incriminating video of David DiSanto, the lead singer/guitarist of the thrash band Vektor, verbally and physically abusing his wife, Katy (click here to see video). It took a lot of courage for her to speak out about this. What might be the most disturbing part of all this is how little it was covered by the media. Earache, Vektor’s label, made no statement nor did they return any of my messages to them. David DiSanto himself took no responsibility, and fans of the band were quick to victim blame saying she didn’t have a right to release private info.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time a situation like this has occurred. There have been many metal/heavy music musicians accused of abuse yet there is almost no consequences for them. Fans are quick to forget as are record labels, endorsements and promoters. If we are going to kick out a person at a show for wearing a Goatmoon patch, and immediately blacklist pedophiles, why is an abuser any different? Follow along as we take a look at a few of the more recent men who have been accused of abuse with sufficient evidence. We will then try to navigate what more can be done so women don't feel as though their voices do not matter.
One of the first things that came to mind when I read what happened to Katy was Bobby Liebling of doom legends Pentagram. Partly this was because the band has been touring recently and I have seen friends go support them. Bobby, who served time in prison for abusing an elderly person believed to be his mother, has completed his sentence and is free to now tour. Promoters seemed to have no problem booking the band and supporting them. Bobby has a long history of abusing and harassing women. In 2016 Pentagram took out two female fronted bands, King Woman and Wax Idols, as touring support. The two bands abruptly left the tour due to Liebling’s harassment. Wax Idol’s Heather Fortune told Vice in 2016 the following about what she had endured
“Bobby made several absurdly gross, inappropriate comments to all of the women on the tour, but the worst thing was that a fan told us that she left the Pentagram show and was super disgusted because he was making rape jokes onstage. And he was. He did. He makes jokes onstage about how the legal age of consent is only 16, and I don’t know what the rape joke was this time, because I wasn’t even watching them. At that point, I didn’t watch them anymore. But people were writing to us and King Woman expressing their disgust with the shit that he was saying onstage about rape. So I was like, “Alright, I can’t do this. It’s just too much.”
Another person he has known to abuse is his ex-wife, Hallie, whom he shares a child with and was featured in his documentary Last Days Here. On an Instagram post from April 13th, 2018 she posted a picture of herself from when she was married to Bobby. In the caption she explains that her marriage “was Hell on earth and scarred me in a way I may never recover from.” She goes on to say he would purchase expensive things for her after violent arguments, one of them resulting in her sleeping under a bush outside in the rain. Although she says he is a “sick man not an evil man” it doesn’t excuse the lack of responsibility that Bobby himself, promoters and record labels have taken. It also shows a consistent history of abuse yet he is still out there performing and being welcomed by the heavy metal crowds.
Another musician who was accused of abuse last year was drummer Danny Walker. At the time of allegations he had been a part of Intronaut, as well as other acts including Exhumed, Cephalic Carnage, Job for a Cowboy, Murder Construct, Uphill Battle and Phobia. Many of the bands immediately cut ties with Walker. Pictures were posted of his ex-girlfriend with some serious wounds including around her eye to which he said she had self-inflicted. It would be hard to believe that anyone would do something like this to themselves when you see the photo. Once word spread there were many other accusations about Danny such as him sending unsolicited dick pics and the following which was posted when Metalsucks broke the story:
“Meanwhile, a prominent musician in the metal community who wishes to remain anonymous tells MetalSucks that two other women have also alleged that Walker assaulted them. One of these women, who says she dated Walker for several years, claims that after once confronting the drummer about flirting with another woman, he pursued her first by car, then on foot, tore an earring directly from her ear, and destroyed her phone so that she couldn’t call for help.”
Once again, as time passed, the issue got pushed under the rug. Danny did not lose any of his musical endorsements and he has been posting about numerous other bands and projects he has recently been working with. He has denied all allegations of abuse.
Women who share bands with men are not exempt either. Kayla Phillips from Nashville grind band Bleed the Pigs had been sexually assaulted by her bandmate, David Hobbs. She said she had given Hobbs eight months to take accountability and he refused. On a Facebook post from March of 2016 said the following regarding Hobbs:
“[He] Sexually assaulted me on tour in August 2015 in Orlando, [Florida]. He knows he did this. Multiple people know.” “There is absolutely no he-said she- said,” she continued. “He can’t deny it. There’s proof in multiple forms. He sexually assaulted me the exact same way he knew I was molested as a child. I woke up in the middle of the night to the assault.” Phillips had this to say from The New Fury blog in 2016
I think people should realize that no one comes out with these things on the music community for shits and giggles. I didn’t drag my own name and the band name I worked hard for just to rile up the Internet. I’m mostly pretty private because I have a lot of people following my social media accounts and it’s not my thing to let my business out. But we have to realize that our friends do horrible things sometimes and the way to help them get better is not by coddling them. If you wish to stay friends with an abuser, hold them accountable and be honest, because victim blaming only keeps victims silent. I was horrified of the thought of this somehow taking music away from, but I’ll continue and do what I have to do for myself. Sometimes all people ask for is accountability.
Hobbs, who is also a member of the band BETTER OFF, has denied everything. His band mates in BETTER OFF have stood behind him saying he was “wrongly accused.”
The list goes on and these are just SOME examples. Members of the bands Salome, Crystal Castles, Future Scars – just to name a few – have been accused of assaulting women in their bands. Have it be sexually, physically or emotionally these are all forms of abuse.
One more notable act to mention is the metalcore band As I Lay Dying. Although most readers aren't fans (at least I hope not) it is one of the most vile and pathetic showcases of a label standing behind an artist. To those whom aren't familiar, the singer Tim Lambesis, was accused and served a jail sentence for hiring someone to kill his then wife. Luckily it was unsuccessful and she is fine. The band is releasing a new album now on Nuclear Blast, because the label and his band mates said he "showed remorse". They are also embarking on a tour in November. So lets get this straight - a guy tries to get his wife killed, goes to jail, gets released and says he is sorry so now he has a record label, a tour, and his band back. Sounds exactly right. No consequences.
With all the situations that are and have been occurring, it seems like no one has asked the question: What can we do to help? What response is appropriate for bands and record labels? What should promoters do when asked to book these bands? When a band is to play a show, sign to a record label or tour they usually have to sign contracts. Would it be impossible for something to be written into the contracts that state they are no longer employable with the company if they are accused with sufficient evidence? And shouldn't venues have a policy of no bands playing there if a member of a band was accused with sufficient evidence? We are supposed to be a unified scene but these situations show women that their well being and safety are not a priority.
We can start with believing victims. Just because you love a band or musician does not make them immune to being shitty. Part of the reason women come forward to websites like Metalsucks is because they have proof. Unfortunately we live in a society where you need to provide that for people to believe these things. As much as some might provide support to the victims, even more people seem to support the artist. In most cases they lose nothing while the victim is shamed and usually outcast in the scene that they once went to for support.
Everyone who is friends with or works with a person who causes harm has a role to play. In this case, labels and promoters have a big power move: dropping artists with credible allegations of violence against women. They can also donate proceeds from sales to a local shelter, or RAINN, in cases where the rest of the band denounces the abusers actions and kicks them out of the band. Proactively, you can do a little research before working with a band to ensure they meet your standards.On a more personal level, those closest to abusers owe it to their friend to get them the help they need. Encourage them to see a therapist or counselor. Give them the numbers to call. Offer to drive them. It's 2019. It is way to late to not take a stand about this shit outright
Deb Levine from the metal band Lady Beast is also a survivor of domestic violence. She currently is a promoter herself with the festival she created, Metal Immortal Fest. As a survivor, a promoter and a musician she had this to say:
I think labels, promoters and bands should all take a firm stance when it comes to people who have been accused or actually charged with abuse. From a promoter and musician standpoint, besides bringing awesome bands or creating music, you want people to feel safe at your shows. Especially now that women are more prominent in the metal scene and there are more of us at shows. When these known abusers get passes for being popular, or are being booked ignoring the fact they have endangered other people it shows lack of respect for us. It also shows that there are no consequences for unforgivable behaviors, which in my opinion will just continue the cycle of abuse. Not to get too big here but the reason I believe there is no accountability is partly due to our society. Just to name a couple things, our president has been accused of countless acts of sexual assault, the Pink Tax, abortion laws.... To me I feel like we still are not even treated equally in our country, so its not surprising that power men in music also slip through the cracks of justice.The reason Lady Beast has stayed true to our DIY roots is so we have say over who we play with, who we record with and who controls our music. We have never and will never play with known abusers. As the singer in a band, I have the gift to communicate messages to 1,000s of people through my music. I feel like it is my obligation to share messages of hope, perseverance, and doing the right thing not just for yourself but for everyone. As for Metal Immortal Festival I would never book a band with any abusive history.Not even if they were the biggest band in the world. We all need to think a little bigger and how our decisions no matter how small always effect the bigger picture.
Unfortunately abuse happens at all levels. I can't think of one woman who doesn't know of or been with an abuser. Local scenes can sometimes be the worst because it is such a smaller scale and usually the people all know each other. It is easy to just call a women "crazy" or make them look like they are the ones who are causing problems. I know of many women who have moved, felt social isolation or have been harassed after "outing" an abuser. Doing that takes a lot of courage yet the victims are the ones who tend to lose the most. Imagine being beat up by your ex-boyfriend and then seeing him grace the stage at your local hangouts. Think of how these women feel. Do your part. Hold people accountable. Believe women. "Not getting involved" is no longer an excuse.
To the men, promoters and labels out there who do believe women, kick an abuser out of the band, refuse to play shows with known abusers, and hold other men accountable - we thank you. Hopefully with time you will set the example for others. We need more men like you in our music scenes. Until then I encourage women to speak out. We will stand and support you in solidarity. There is power in numbers and we can be the change. Lets work together to help end the victim blaming and start being more supportive of one another.