Everybody Listening: Queensryche-Tate Lawsuit Sets Web Ablaze

Rage For Order

Correspondence between the parties' lawyers indicate there was, at some point, a willingness to attempt a negotiation to settle things quietly. The defendants' attorney, Thomas T. Osinski Jr. of Osinski Law Offices, wrote in a letter dated May 31 that it was in everyone's best interests to do so "with a mutually agreed position for public consumption." Osinski indicates the trio preferred not to vote Tate out, but they had scheduled a shareholders' meeting for June 5 if they felt they had to. (As the four principal members, each of them own 25% of the rights to band-related companies that control the Seattle group's intellectual property, merchandise and publishing.)

Tate's lawyer, Joshua C. Brower of Veris Law Group, responded in a letter dated June 5 that Tate couldn't be fired. This was due, in part, to a stipulation in a 1994 shareholders' agreement that a vote of at least 80% of the shareholders was required for expulsion. When that agreement was drawn, DeGarmo was still in the band and the five members each held 20% of the rights. When he left, his shares were distributed among the other four. However, the percentage stipulation of 80% in the agreement was never altered-meaning, according to Brower, Tate can't be expelled without his consent since the other three only hold 75% of the shares.

Q&A: Ex-Queensryche Frontman Geoff Tate Discusses Split

"All that said, Mr. Tate is open to discussing a negotiated separation," Brower wrote. None of the paperwork Billboard obtained indicated if negotiations did or didn't occur.

All of the above referenced documents are available for download from the King County Superior Court Records website. When they went viral July 10, an already divided fan base posted hundreds of comments on metal/rock news blogs and Queensryche-related Facebook pages, overwhelmingly supporting Queensryche and criticizing Tate. Contributing to commenters' irritation was the defendants' statements that pass codes to Queensryche networking sites were being withheld from them. As of July 19, for the month of June, there are four posts for the band's Facebook page, with fans only able to comment on those posts. On July 13, a post appeared advertising Tate singing the national anthem at a racing event. The same July 13 post appeared on the band's Twitter account, which, as of July 19, only contains tweets under the name of Queensryche.

The hale of comments continued the next day when two fan-shot videos of Tate spitting onstage during the Brazil show also went viral. One clip shows him standing upstage and spitting in Rockenfield's direction. The second shows Tate stepping up to the drum riser and spitting directly at Rockenfield.

Spit Flies at 3:55

When asked for comment on July 11 about the band's response to Tate's claim, his publicist, Jeff Albright of Albright Entertainment Group, wrote in an email, "Due to the nature of the lawsuit, Geoff has decided not to make further comment at this point in time . . . but stay tuned." Billboard repeated the request for comment on July 12 after the Brazil videos emerged, but didn't receive a response by press time.

Asked if he had any comment about the nature of Tate's claim, or the nature of the defendants' response to it, Gargano wrote, "Bands of Queenryche's stature are businesses, not weekend hobbies. What is overlooked in the emotion surrounding this case is that the lawsuit has been filed because of a dispute over the band's bylaws. The case will ultimately be decided by a judge, based on nothing more than how the law and legal precedent can be applied to the band's corporate structure. Sadly, no matter the outcome, the only real winners are going to be the lawyers that get to charge by the hour."

Online emotions have cooled to a degree, as more comments are appearing from readers on Queensryche-related news posts and its Facebook page that they're tired of hearing about the situation.

If the case goes to trial, the date is set for Nov. 18, 2013.