White Wizzard have been in the ascendancy this last couple of years with a new line-up, new material and European tour all in the can. It was looking like the band had finally got a long overdue and well deserved break and were well on their way to claiming their rightful place at Metal's top table.
And then it all went horribly wrong... When the tour rolled into Cardiff singer Joseph Michael refused to take the stage and that was the beginning of the end.
Rather than sift throught the mass of heated statements that have been issued by both Michael and the WW camp, we went straight to the horse's mouth. Monument were White Wizzard's support on the tour and vocalist Peter Ellis is, as well as being a Metaltalk columnist, the former lead singer of White Wizzard. Here's his account of what went down...
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MetalTalk: Pete, in your own words, what happened on the WW/Monument tour? We had high hopes for this so we're really sorry it didn't work out. What went down?
Peter Ellis: Unfortunately there had been some internal problems in the White Wizzard camp from day one that escalated the night before the show in Cardiff and resulted in their (now ex-) singer not showing up to perform.
MetalTalk: The band have issued a statement saying he (Joseph Michael) "left a crowd of fans sitting in the venue waiting to see White Wizzard, sat in a pub across the street and refused to perform the show for extremely selfish reasons." Can you shed any light on what his reasons actually were?
Peter Ellis: I can't go into detail about the reasons as to why Joseph refused to perform, but what I know is that if there is an argument between two band members during a tour you do your job and then you have a chat about it after the tour is over and you have honoured your agreement. Not showing up to play and just sitting in a pub across the street from the venue just to prove a point is the most selfish and un-professional thing a musician can ever do. You show utter disregard towards the fans that have paid to see the band, the rest of your band members, the booking agent, the promoter and everyone else involved.
MetalTalk: Yes - what a shame he let it come to that and how fortunate was it that White Wizzard had a former vocalist supporting them, namely you...
Peter Ellis: Yes, I ended up jumping on stage and do whatever songs I remembered from back when I was in the band in order to help the situation and give the fans their money's worth.
MetalTalk: How much time did you actually get to prepare for that and how was the experience for you?
Peter Ellis: Time to prepare? I wish!! It was on the spur of the moment, I just couldn't bare to see Jon struggling to sing those songs himself and the rest of the guys trying to do a show after being abandoned by their frontman... So I thought "the hell with it, I will just jump on stage and do the songs I remember to help the guys out!
Now, I hear that Michael is saying that Jon fired him the night before, Jon is saying what he said to him is that if he continues behaving the same way he doesn't want him in the band after this tour... Once again, whatever the case may be, you just do not leave your fans that paid to see you behind and sit in a pub instead in order to prove your point.
MetalTalk: All that went down in Cardiff. What happened when you got to London?
Peter Ellis: For us in Monument it was business as usual. As for WW they all arrived at the venue without their singer who refused to show up for a second night in a row so I was asked if I would like to help out with their set after Monument's set to which I said ok, again, because Jon is an old friend and because I felt that the fans that paid to come down deserved to have the best time possible. Rasmus Anderson also filled in for a few songs as a last minute replacement to help out with the songs I didn't remember. Basically we all tried really hard to make the show happen and not cancel.
MetalTalk: So how did the London show go?
Peter Ellis: The London show went amazingly well for Monument. It is such a great feeling to finally being recognized in the UK. The WW set obviously had a bitter/sweet taste to it but that was to be expected. We did the best we could under the circumstances...
MetalTalk: And what about the rest of the tour? Will you be continuing?
Peter Ellis: The tour is unfortunately cancelled and we are all extremely upset and disappointed about it but it really was out of our control and we really tried our best to save the tour.
MetalTalk: Well I think that everyone will realise that it would not have been possible to continue under the circumstances. Where do both bands go from here?
Peter Ellis: I honestly have no idea what will happen to WW after this... I hope Jon will figure out a way of continuing to make music; as for Monument we are back in the studio putting the finishing touches to our debut album as well as adding festival slots for next summer to the once we have already secured!
MetalTalk: Can we announce those dates yet? Any info about the album?
Peter Ellis: The only festivals we can announce right now for 2014 are SOS Festival in Manchester and PPM Festival in Belgium with some pretty big ones to follow.
The album is almost finished and best way I can describe it is "Rock The Night on steroids"! I think that all our fans who have been looking forward to this album will be very proud of the final result...
And as this conversation was being written up, Jon from White Wizzard went and made a huge announcement. Read on...
"Excited to announce that we will be going independent and we have mutually parted company with Earache records. We wish them the best. This has been a decision made before the tour over the past couple of months.
"I appreciate the initial interest in White Wizzard and hope other bands that are with them do well. I am currently in the process of forming my own record label which shall be called White Wizzard records. I plan to form a couple of other projects next year.
"The guys in the band will now have an actual vested interest in making some $ from album sales and our merchandise which is fantastic. I will be releasing a blog soon with some advice on record labels and how I think most bands should avoid that road and the pros and cons.
"One silver lining is we have had some great singers come forward with interest and I think we should be announcing someone within a few days, and I wrote a song I am excited about yesterday and am about to get on a writing tear I believe.
"While guys that have been fired by me that have an agenda will continue to spew nonsense and lies trying to stir the pot and hurt the band, I will continue to write songs and put out music. We will not keep the shit flying back and forth. We will just wish them well and get on with it. I know the music is what counts and it is why I got into this, not for the dumb shit.The fans do not want to hear the crap, they want to hear good songs.
"In the end the truth is on our side and our intentions are nothing more than to make great music. Here is to a positive outlook in the coming months."