Former AMEN guitarist Rich Jones has posted a lengthy statement explaining his decision to leave the group and offering behind-the-scenes information about the band's decision to ask AMEN frontman Casey Chaos to sign a contract barring him from causing, or threatening to cause, any physical harm to the bandmembers, himself, crew and audience members while on tour. Jones' statement reads as follows:
"Alright, I've kept relatively quiet since leaving the band, even tolerating Casey's bullshit that he was telling people about why I left (wisdom teeth, rehab, etc.). To be honest, I've never been interested in mudslinging about this kind of stuff. I truly believed that when I left the band it was my business as to why and mine only. Dwelling on the past is, in my opinion, a colossal waste of time.
"Since then, however, Casey's constant deception and distortion of the truth, coupled with his feeble attempts to discredit me and other members, have resulted in me writing this letter and telling my side of the story.
"I spent almost 3 years of my life in AMEN, playing in the band because I truly believed that it was an honest, passionate band that was built around the punk rock ethic. Spending years doing van tours in the BLACK HALOS, sleeping on floors and living on next-to no money was something I was used to, and AMEN was no different. Casey always refers to AMEN as a 'working-class band,' which is pretty funny talk from a guy who has never actually worked a day job in his life. As I soon found out, Mom and Dad's money (aka 'my skateboarding money') was always there when there wasn't any money for him to embezzle from the band. At first I never questioned the fact that he would keep all the money and give us nothing, because he apparently had 'outstanding debts from the old band members ripping him off' (a story which I'm sure he still throws around to the current guys). However, after a while, the piss-take got to be a bit too much. After receiving a $50,000 advance for the DVD, Casey gives the band $300 each. After bringing in over £40,000 in merch on a tour, we get $800 and he goes home and buys his girlfriend a car and expands his already massive record collection. While we're sleeping on my cousin's floor in London, he's in a hotel in Gloucester Road, taking people out for dinners and spending hundreds of pounds every day in record shops. And when we finally got the long-awaited record deal, no one saw a single penny of it except Casey. As I'm sure you've heard, his argument is that it's all justified because he let us all stay at his house while we were in the band but here's a fucking newsflash: we had to stay at his house because we couldn't afford to live anywhere because he was taking all the money from the band!
"So let's get to the contract. To understand this contract entirely you have to understand the motivations behind why it exists in the first place. So here's some history:
"When we started the April tour this year, Casey's pill-popping was at a peak. His self-medicating due to imagined medical conditions made him a deeply unpleasant person at the best of times. And at the worst of times...well, you can ask Ross Robinson or Harry about that. By the time we got to Oxford, we had a drum tech who was ready to walk out because Casey had pushed a stack of amps on him and 2 kids who were hurt when Casey threw a cymbal stand into the crowd. Not big, not clever. We all knew the risks of onstage injuries when we joined the band and we never had a problem with it. But when you start putting innocent kids at risk to prove how 'punk rock' you are(n't), then it becomes a problem. Fast-forward to the day of the infamous Virgin instore and Casey was in top form. He'd already thrown a rock-star fit because nobody had brought his bags upstairs for him. God forbid you do it yourself, eh Iggy? Then he had another little tantrum because people's phones (including his) were ringing during a Metal Hammer interview. By the time we hit the stage, he was singing as bad as usual and smashing the shit out of the place. All in a day's work, no problem there. But by the time we got to the signing, he was incoherent, abusive to fans, band and store staff alike. Check out the scar on my arm sometime if you want proof. Finally, after slumping out on the table, telling a fan to 'fuck off' and then shouting abuse at John (our tech, my cousin) in front of everyone, I called him a cunt, got up, walked off and quit the band.
"To make a long story short, by the end of that day, the rest of the guys had quit as well, tired of his rock star antics and money grabbing ways. However, we were being besieged by calls from our agent, management and PR person who were all freaking out about the shows that were scheduled. So in the interest of doing the right thing for the people that had worked so hard for us, and the fans that had bought tickets to the shows, we decided to agree to resume the tour and fulfill our commitments. Hence the contract. If we were going to go back on the road, there needed to be a set of guidelines so that Casey couldn't keep treating people like shit, endangering the audience, and ripping us off in the process. And the only way for us to make him stick to the deal, we had to hit him where it hurts, in the only the thing he cares about: his wallet.
"If you read the contract, you'll see that we ask for a fair and equal split of the profits amongst all 5 members at the end of the tour (something that we'd NEVER had before. Punk rock values, eh?) and a penalty for Casey if he acted like a cock. Of course, no one expected to get this penalty. I mean, where would the money come from? But we wanted the threat to be hanging over his head and we wanted him to know how deadly serious we were. No more bullshitting allowed.
"So after a late night meeting at Sanctuary Management's office, we resumed the tour. I was still sticking to the fact that I was leaving after it was done, and the rest of the guys were going to go back to the U.S. and tour home. And that's what happened. Nobody actually signed the contract, the guys got home, did the Japanese shows (for which they were supposed to get paid and, surprise!, didn't). Then everyone quit and the shit-talking started.
"So there's my side of the story. There's a lot more I could tell but this is long enough and I don't have a lawyer handy to keep me out of trouble. It's too bad that it ended like this and left a bitter taste in all of our mouths. Still, I'm sure ol' Karim Chmielinski (you know...) will continue to stick to his ways in the names of false integrity and punk for profit. Childish behaviour for a 40-year old man. But I'm sure some people will keep believing him and others will let him keep burning his bridges. At this point, I couldn't care less. If asking for a fair share and not wanting to put up with primadonna antics makes me a sell-out or less punk rock, then bring it on, fuckers.
"I'm not asking anyone to take sides and this is the last I'm going to say about the subject. I've always treated AMEN fans with respect and I have no reason to start lying to you now. Think about it..."