06 November 2009

Title Goes Here

Took out the knobbied Peugeot for a spin on pavement/dirt last night & had a bl'ast, till we hit the soup at Green Mountain. Got some knobbies from Eric to try out & found that 2 of them fit fine, at least 7mm of free space to shed mud! We met on the dirt just south of the house & pedaled to BCLP & hit a few trails there & the old beater held its own. Sun was starting to get low, so we headed up to IW to meet w/the T.I.T.S. crew to let them know of our findings.
Several of the usual suspects were there, along with Greg on his sweet new Lynskey. We rolled up to GM to take the lower loop around as a test & found out quickly that it sloppy wetness. Brought my wheels to a complete stop more than once, so we hopped off at the next intersection with Alameda to hit something drier. I decided to head home along Jewell & e went withe boys to BCLP on his way home.
Saw I had a voice mail when I got outta the sower - e caught a flat leaving the dirt & was trying to Lance it home. Easy for him to do as his weight hardly makes an impact on a deflated tire.

Listening to some old-school jams by Warlock Pinchers, so now some punk history......

A Concise History of The Vandals

* Jan and Stevo start the band in Huntington Beach and play several shows at the Cuckoo's Nest among other places.

* During this period a number of original songs are written by Jan and Stevo and performed by the original lineup of the band. Their sets include WANNABE MANOR, URBAN STRUGGLE, THE LEGEND OF PAT BROWN, Elvis Presley's HEARTBREAK HOTEL (with Stevo's reworked lyrics), and others.

* A long list of drummers and bass players join and then leave the band.

* Stevo, after dating Joe Escalante's sister and learning that her little brother is a drummer, recruits Joe to join the Vandals sometime in late 1980 or early 1981.

* A few weeks later, Joe recruits Steve 'Human' Pfauter, the former singer for a garage band Joe was in, to be the Vandals' new bassist. This forms the original recording lineup.

* The band plays around town and gets a bit of a following.

* The band is approached by Brett Gurewitz of Epitaph Records (and the band Bad Religion) with a record deal.


* The songs the band decides to record include WANNABE MANOR, URBAN STRUGGLE, THE LEGEND OF PAT BROWN, HEARTBREAK HOTEL (with Stevo's reworked lyrics), PIRATE'S LIFE, and ANARCHY BURGER. All of these songs were written before Joe or Human joined the band, with the exception of PIRATE'S LIFE and ANARCHY BURGER.

* The lyrics to PIRATE'S LIFE are written by Joe, and the music is written by Jan, with passages cribbed from Disneyland.

* The authorship of ANARCHY BURGER is somewhat more complicated. The title and chorus of the song are taken from graffiti ("ANARCHY BURGER -- HOLD THE GOVERNMENT") written by Todd Barnes of the band TSOL. Todd got the idea from the Sex Pistols' SOME PRODUCT album, whose sleeve art jokingly commodified the Pistols by making everyday consumer products of their punk rock attitudes. The fictitious products depicted in the SOME PRODUCT sleeve art included the 'Vicious Burger' and a soft drink called 'Anarkee-Ora'. From this twice-borrowed beginning, Jan and Joe write music for the new song. Aside from the borrowed graffito as a chorus, there are no lyrics until the band actually enters the studio. Stevo, by himself in the bathroom of the studio, comes up with the lyrics for the song and writes them on a paper bag. The rest of the band hears the lyrics for the first time when Stevo sings them in the recording booth.

* When the subject of publishing credit and royalties comes up, it is immediately and democratically decided that the members of the band will all share equally in any profit to be made from their recordings. Jan and Stevo are very generous in this decision, as the two of them wrote almost all of the material to appear on the album before the others joined the band.

* PEACE THRU VANDALISM is released. The sleeve art lists each musician by name, and credits them collectively ("All songs copyright 1982 The Vandals except H.B. Hotel by Elvis").

* URBAN STRUGGLE, one of the songs from PEACE THRU VANDALISM, becomes a minor hit on KROQ, one of the only radio stations in Los Angeles to play punk rock. The song is one of those written by Jan and Stevo before Joe and Human joined the band.


* Brett Gurewitz begins to pay The Vandals royalties earned from sales of PEACE THRU VANDALISM. The royalties are divided according to the band's oral agreement with Brett and his record company, Epitaph: Half the profits go to Epitaph, and the other half goes to The Vandals. In accordance with their oral agreement with each other, the band's half of the profits are divided equally between the four of them.

* Steve 'Human' Pfauter leaves the band in December, 1983 and is replaced by Chalmer Lumery.


* Possibly due to a personal struggle with drug abuse, Brett Gurewitz tells The Vandals that financial problems are preventing him from handing over the regular royalty payments that are due to them from sales of their album. In spite of this, PEACE THRU VANDALISM is selling briskly.

* WHEN IN ROME DO AS THE VANDALS is released (though not on Epitaph, for obvious reasons). Just as on PEACE THRU VANDALISM, the sleeve art credits the entire band with collectively writing all the words and music.

* In large part due to personality conflicts between Joe Escalante and Stevo, the band has ceased to rehearse or play together. Stevo and Human are regularly calling Brett Gurewitz to ask when they might be paid. Joe is calling Brett as well.


* Presumably sick of the incessant calls and visits from members of the band, Brett Gurewitz decides to make amends and gives the copyright and masters for PEACE THRU VANDALISM back to them. Unfortunately, he hands the settlement to Joe Escalante, who promptly gets greedy and decides to pretend that the rights and masters were given to him alone and that Brett still owes the rest of the band for years of unpaid royalties. This is the first of many thefts Joe commits against his former friends.

* From this point forward all rights to PEACE THRU VANDALISM should have belonged equally to the four members of the band who played on the recording, as this was Brett's clearly stated intent. When Stevo and Human contact Brett again, they are told that the masters and rights to the record have already been given back to them. "Talk to Joe," says Brett. When asked about his meeting with Brett, Joe claims that the masters and rights were given to him alone. In November of 2006, the author of this website contacted Brett Gurewitz and asked him about the settlement made with Joe Escalante. Gurewitz stated very plainly and clearly that the masters and the rights to PEACE THRU VANDALISM were handed over to Escalante to be shared equally with the other members of the band, that the settlement was not meant for Joe alone, and that Joe was aware of this fact at the time of the settlement.

* Around this time Joe Escalante decides to publish both PIRATE'S LIFE and ANARCHY BURGER, crediting himself as the sole author of both songs. This is the second major theft Joe commits against his former friends. Significantly, Joe does not at this time credit himself as sole author of the other songs on PEACE THRU VANDALISM, although years later he eventually decides he can get away with that, too.

* Jan, Stevo, Chalmer Lumery, and Todd Barnes of TSOL fame play a show as The Vandals. Joe is incensed that the two founding members of the band would dare to use their own band name and play songs they themselves wrote before Joe was in the band. First he screams and threatens them that he'll never pay them another dime if they play the show. Then he starts working on an injunction against them to prevent them from ever using the Vandals' name or music. This concert becomes, in Joe's mind, a legal license to steal all future royalties and licensing owed to Jan, Stevo and Chalmer.

* Stevo attempts to play another show, this time as S.N.I.V. ("Stevo's New Improved Vandals"). Joe has him served with the injunction at the club. In characteristic fashion, Stevo doesn't take matters too seriously, and makes the best of it by reading the injunction as lyrics to an impromptu jam. Stevo is later interviewed on videotape regarding the injunction.

* When Joe's injunction is enforced, Stevo doesn't have the money to fight it. Joe wins by default.


* Steve 'Human' Pfauter is now Joe's only obstacle. As Human did not play at the concert that Joe uses against the rest of the band, Joe continues to write occasional royalty checks to him throughout the '90s, but often neglects to do so for up to a year at a time. Later, SoundScan data shows that Joe consistently lied about sales of PEACE THRU VANDALISM, and was paying Human a tiny fraction of the amounts actually owed. Meanwhile, Jan and Stevo get nothing.

* In a blatant bit of gloating during a telephone conversation regarding royalties owed to the rest of the band, Joe tells Stevo that he is cashing Stevo's royalty checks and spending his money and there's nothing Stevo can do about it because Joe is a lawyer now.

* Joe reissues PEACE THRU VANDALISM and WHEN IN ROME DO AS THE VANDALS as a double record. The sleeve art now reads "All words and music by Joe Escalante" (the original sleeve art to PEACE THRU VANDALISM, which credits each of the band's members equally, can be seen here. This is pure plagiarism, which Joe justifies by claiming that he owns the rights to the Vandals' music, in spite of the fact that Stevo and Jan later testified under oath that they never transferred or relinquished their rights to the songs they wrote before Joe joined the band (see here and here). Even if Joe had acquired the rights to the songs legitimately, his argument makes no sense. If his argument was valid, the Beatles' entire catalog would have been reissued with "All words and music by Michael Jackson" on the sleeves (Jackson owned the rights to the Beatles' catalog for many years).

* Joe finds out from one of Brett Gurewitz' former employees that Human has gone back to Brett seeking payment for his back royalties from the 80s. Joe is again incensed that Human would have the nerve to try to get paid, and in the process make Joe look bad in the eyes of the more successful Gurewitz. Joe claims that Human is extorting money from Brett and that all the royalties that Joe has paid Human up to that point were extorted from Joe. This is apparently something he's been working on for a while, as the last few royalty checks that Human has received have had odd notations like "non-union studio musician" written in the memo area.

* Joe swears he'll never give Human another dime, thus completing the theft of all of the band's early works.


* As Human starts looking for a lawyer, other things come to light. Joe has sold the rights to URBAN STRUGGLE, a song written and performed by Jan and Stevo before they ever met Joe, to Adidas for a commercial. Joe pockets $60,000 on the deal. Next he sells a line from ANARCHY BURGER to Sony pictures for $20,000. This is a line that Stevo wrote on a paper bag in the studio bathroom just before the song was recorded. In the credits of the Vin Diesel film 'XXX' the song is listed as "words and music by Joe Escalante".

* Stevo, Jan, and Chalmer join forces with Human and his lawyer, Kevin Anderson. Anderson sends a letter to Sony Pictures pointing out that the song they're using is not solely Joe's work, and that his clients expect to be paid their 75% of the fee, and to be properly credited in future releases of the film 'XXX'.

* In response to Kevin Anderson's letter to Sony Pictures, Joe files a six million dollar lawsuit against his former bandmates. Included among the damages listed in the lawsuit is one million dollars for Joe's pain and suffering. This lawsuit is so full of lies, distortions, and errors in grammar and spelling that legal counsel for the defendants have trouble understanding how its author could have ever passed the Bar exam in the first place. Nevertheless, being a contract lawyer and not a litigator, attorney Kevin Anderson is now involved in a struggle that is clearly outside his area of expertise. Anderson brings in Michael J. Emling of the law firm Porter Emling to handle the countersuit.

* In an attempt to recover their share of the estimated $250,000 that Joe Escalante has pocketed from sales of their records over the preceding decade, the former Vandals respond with a lawsuit of their own. Their $250,000 estimate is gleaned from Soundscan, a database which tracks music sales in the U.S. and Canada, and which is the source of sales data that determine a song or album's standings on the Billboard music charts.

* Joe's six million dollar lawsuit is set aside in favor of the new cross-complaint case.

* As the case progresses, it becomes clear that the one thing that Joe has on his side is the length of time that his former bandmates have allowed his blatant theft to stand uncontested. Joe puts a very meager out-of-court settlement offer on the table, and as the statute of limitations is a powerful legal argument, attorney Michael J. Emling of the law firm Porter Emling tells Stevo, Jan, Human, and Chalmer that the case is not worth his firm's while. Emling says that if they do not accept Joe's settlement, his firm will quit the case and submit a bill to them for over six thousand dollars. Their only alternative is to pay Porter Emling an estimated $30,000 up front in order to continue the battle. Backs to the wall, and unable to afford the $30,000 fee, the band reluctantly settles out of court for a fraction of what was stolen from them. Joe has successfully used their own money to defeat them in court, merely by outspending them.

* The band, and especially Stevo, never recover from the blow dealt them by Joe Escalante. Their trust violated, their music and their royalty money blatantly stolen from them, they drift apart. Friends note that Joe and his treachery have become a frequent -- even incessant -- topic of conversation with the former Vandals. Stevo in particular seems beaten down by the experience, and his loss of confidence and happiness is evident to all who know him well.

* Having spent the intervening years in a spiritual search to deal with his anger and pain, Stevo dies in Hawaii. Shortly before his death, he is back in touch with some of his old friends, and tells them repeatedly of his continuing bad feelings towards Joe, and his fervent desire to see the truth come out. During his last call to Human a few days before his death, he keeps repeating "Joe's going to get his, he's going to get what he has coming to him." Some good-hearted people believe that this was simply Stevo invoking the law of karma, but those of us who don't believe in karma have to wonder if that's really what he meant.

* This website goes live, and the word begins to spread. Joe makes various threats against the author of this site, and files a bogus criminal complaint with the LAPD, claiming that he is the victim of an attempt at blackmail. This is a familiar tactic from Joe, who since the early 1990s has been known to cry extortion whenever any mention of his bad behavior is made in public.

* Joe sells the rights to yet another old Vandals song, this time for use in the film JACKASS 2. According to the settlement made in the 1990s-era lawsuit, the surviving members of the band's original recording lineup are entitled to only a tiny fraction of what was originally an even split. Joe is currently threatening to withhold even that pittance, on the grounds that he believes this website is written and published by his ex-bandmates. He is now demanding that this site be taken down.

This information is copylefted. You may reprint or republish this article without hindrance, provided you do so in full, unedited, and with the attribution (and this notice) intact. Please note that Joe Escalante is a wealthy and powerful attorney who wants to keep this information buried as deeply as possible, and he has been known to file false police reports and institute frivolous legal proceedings against anyone who dares to disseminate the truth about him.

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