If you pay attention to the news, aside from the presidential race and more celebrity deaths, sexual assault is an unfortunately trending topic. The latter refers to the case of a Stanford University student who was convicted of assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and receiving a light sentence. It is sensitive subject that should definitely brought to light, and sadly exists in the metal scene as well, with a case involving one of the godfathers of doom metal, Bobby Liebling of Pentagram.
Last month, Pentagram concluded their spring tour which had the support of Bay Area bands Wax Idols and King Woman, but both acts dropped off the tour two days before the last scheduled show due to “an overload of bullshit.” The message posted on their social media wasn’t very clear, but based on their message stating “Never let anyone fuck with you and yours,” it hinted that something had happened between the Pentagram and the two female-fronted bands.
Noisey decided to reach out both bands to inquire about the reasons behind their decision to drop off the tour and shed some light into the situation, to which frontwomen Heather Fortune and Kristina Esfandiari agreed to discuss the situation. What Fortune and Esfandiari revealed was a case of misconduct and treatment from Pentagram frontman Liebling, who’s known for his erratic behavior seen on the documentary Last Days Here.
Fortune explained that issues were there from the beginning of the tour, when 62 year-old Liebling was late to their first show in Seattle. They stated that not just Liebling, but also the band’s tour manager showed as lack of respect, saying that they were “just disregarded, treated like we were silly girls who didn’t know what we were doing.” She then explained their interaction with Liebling by saying:
Once Bobby was around as well, weird things started happening that were making us feel really uncomfortable. Comments were being made toward the girls—I mean, I’m a pretty statuesque, tough-looking person, so I wasn’t messed with as much as the more petite, supposedly non-threatening-looking girls in my band, but they were really getting a lot of inappropriate comments directed at them and touching, and stuff. They were getting increasingly more and more uncomfortable. And things escalated to the point where promoters were telling us that there was money being mishandled for our buyouts, and we should have been getting things that we weren’t getting, and finally, on the last night we were on the tour, I went to try and talk to the person in charge of Pentagram about the problems we were having, and how we were feeling, and he just laughed in my face, and basically told me that how I feel doesn’t matter.
The accusations don’t just stop there, as both singers also detailed how Liebling’s behavior was also inappropriate onstage, making rape jokes and stating that the legal age of sexual consent was 16. Of course, this created concern among some of the opening bands’ fans, who weren’t having any of Liebling’s attempts at humor and expressed their discontent to Fortune and Esfandiari.
If we would be talking about this 30 years ago, many would’ve looked the other way and excused this attitude as a “rock n’ roll” charade,, and that’s what many Pentagram fans have tried to do once this came to light. The truth of the matter is we aren’t in a day and age when something like this should be ignored. It’s not an isolated case either by these two bands or any other act with female members, but it’s a subject that should be directly addressed whenever possible.
Liebling comes from a time when acting like a rock star and surrounding yourself with eager groupies waiting to have a piece of you was the norm, but this isn’t even the case. We’re talking about someone who agreed to have Wax Idols and King Woman as opening bands just so he could have “a lot of options with women.”
Aside from sexual harassment, the openers suggested that they weren’t paid the way they should have been, either. Some promoters approached both bands and told them that some of the money and hospitality meant for them were being mishandled. When Fortune confronted Pentagram’s tour manager, she declared that his response wasn’t very professional:
I said “You don’t know anything about what’s going on in the contracts about how you’re supposed to be distributing buyouts to us.” He said, “I don’t know anything about that.” And I was like, “So, you don’t think in any way that package payouts include our band?” And he said, “Oh, you think you’re owed something, I guess.” I was like, “Man, this is bullshit. We’ve been treated like shit this whole tour and all I’m trying to do is be treated with a basic amount of respect and do my job.” And he was like, “How have you been treated like shit?” And I listed all of the ways, and that included all of the stuff Bobby and other people in their camp were doing. And he just laughed in my face and smirked and said, “Well maybe you’re not cut out for this.” I was like, “Ohh. Fuck. You.”
Noisey decided to reach Pentagram to get their side of the story and you can read their statement about the matter below:
We’ve been professionally performing and recording music for close to 50 yrs and this is one of the most unfounded and grossly opportunistic situations that we’ve ever encountered. These bands didn’t communicate to Pentagram or the tour manager about wanting to leave the tour. A few nights into the tour, they simply disappeared, posted negatively about us on social media and then headed over to the show that was previously set up for them that very night.
Our mutual agent had set up a separate deal with the promoters for the opening acts. Pentagram’s contract and all inclusions / exclusions were between Pentagram and the promoter.
Bobby Liebling offended someone from one of the opening bands. He said something to the effect of, “I approve of you being on the tour because I want options”. Pentagram as a band sincerely apologized for Bobby’s comment. Bobby verbally hit on this girl, that’s as far as it got. It’s no secret that he’s attracted to women and that’s not a crime. He’s a single man. He may have been uncouth but there was no touching. We tried to be nice but these openers gave us no real chance to interact, avoided us at all costs and made us feel uncomfortable on our own tour.
While exploiting sexual abuse as a promotional stunt has been attempted before, it could be seen how Pentagram’s camp might accuse Wax Idols and King Woman of “opportunistic,” but as Yacht can tell you, that didn’t work out too well for them. At the end, only those involved in this matter know the truth of what really happened but the message of standing up for this kind of behavior remains and we hope other learn to do the same if they happen to face this problem.
If you want to support Wax Idols and King Woman, you can catch them at any of the following dates of their co-headliner tour listed below:
Catch Wax Idols and King Woman:
June 7: Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle
June 8: Washington DC – Songbyrd DC
June 9: Richmond, VA – Strange Matter
June 10: Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506
June 11: Atlanta, GA – The EARL
June 12: New Orleans, LA – Siberia
June 14: Dallas, TX – Red Blood Club
June 15: Austin, TX – Mohawk
June 17: Tucson, AZ – Club Congress
June 18: Fullerton, CA – The Slidebar
June 19: Oakland, CA – Starline Social Club