Though not exactly a well-kept secret, Yellowcard announced on Monday (November 7) that they’ve parted ways with founding guitarist Ben Harper.
In a statement given to MTV News, the band confirmed what fan sites have been buzzing about for months — that Harper’s increased involvement with his label was creating tension within the band (see “It’s Down To The Final Two: Yellowcard About To Meet Their Opener” ), and that in the end, that tension was just too great to work out.
“Ben Harper, lead guitarist of Yellowcard, has announced that he’s moving on to focus on developing his indie label, Takeover Records, and related production projects,” the statement read. “Takeover was the original imprint to release Yellowcard records as far back as 1997. … The band wishes Ben well in his future endeavors.”
“We’ve simply grown apart, personally and creatively, which can happen in any relationship,” added violinist Sean Mackin. “This change is hard for all of us, but Ben will always be our brother.”
Of course, just about anyone who’s seen Yellowcard perform over the past three months probably already knew that Harper was on the outs with the band. He didn’t make the trip to Japan in August, when YC debuted material from their upcoming Lights and Sounds album at the Summer Sonic festival, nor was he present on their Wish We Were Canadian Tour that ran through most of September.
And by the time YC started their current U.S. club tour, he’d been replaced by former Staring Back guitarist Ryan Mendez (see “Yellowcard Line Up Club Tour, Post A Preview Of Newly Named LP” ).
And then there’s the matter of the promotional art for Lights and Sounds, which features the silhouettes of the four remaining members of Yellowcard walking down a graffiti-strewn alleyway.
“We know there’s been a lot of confusion about the situation with Ben Harper and Yellowcard,” the band said in its statement. “Out of respect for all involved, we’ve kept the details private until everything was sorted out. Thank you for your patience. We hope this answers any questions you might have, and we hope to see you soon.”
But why, if Yellowcard have been playing without Harper since August, did the announcement come now? Neither side is talking, but it appears that a good deal of it has to do with behind-the-scenes legal wrangling. Last month Harper told MTV News that he’d love to explain the entire situation, but that his lawyers advised him not to speak on the record.
He did speak, however, in the statement confirming his departure, saying, “Due to some ongoing tensions within the band, and some great new opportunities with Takeover bands which have recently presented themselves, it seemed time to take my experiences with Yellowcard and apply them to the development of other new artists and new music-centric media projects that I’m planning under the Takeover Records Entertainment Group umbrella.”