Living Things singer Lillian Berlin is used to people taking issue with his Bush-bashing stage patter. Hell, three years ago at the Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas, he got pistol-whipped and nearly shot by three men outside the club because of his comments.
But the provocative band's singer thought he might be safe from attack onstage, especially in the bastion of neutrality that is Switzerland. 'Fraid not, Lillian.
The 26-year-old singer/guitarist said his brother, drummer Bosh Berlin, 21, and the band's touring guitarist, Corey Becker, were attacked and beat up onstage Wednesday night during a show at the Rohstofflager club in Zurich, Switzerland, by the crew of the band Alter Bridge and at least one member of that band. The Alter Bridge camp is refuting those claims.
"We were in the middle of our second song, and I had some stuff to say about the current administration and the way they're handling the Iraq war," Lillian said. "The Swiss were all behind us, and the crowd was cheering me on. I was talking about this letter I got inviting me to a Democrat-bashing dinner at the White House. And we went into our fourth song, and some goon from that Creed band [Alter Bridge features three former members of Creed] came out swinging an American flag and then threw it at our drummer, Bosh."
Lillian said he thought the interloper was an excited member of the audience so he ignored him, but then on the other side of the stage, Becker was being "trampled" by two Alter Bridge crew workers and a member of the band, whose name Lillian said he didn't know.
"I was still unaware at this point that these weren't crowd people, so I started screaming for security to get them offstage," Lillian said. "The only reason I knew it was a guy from that band was because I met him backstage, and he had some sports team's ski cap on."
Alter Bridge are the band that was formed by three former members of Creed — guitarist Mark Tremonti, drummer Scott Phillips and bassist Brian Marshall — and ex-Mayfield Four singer Myles Kennedy after Creed's dissolution in 2004 (see "Life After Creed: Alter Bridge Look To A Stapp-Free Future").
A spokesperson for headliner Alter Bridge — who recently parted ways with their label, Wind-Up Records — denied the Things' version of the incident. In a statement issued Thursday night (June 15), the band stated, "Alter Bridge was not happy that this band chose to deliver anti-American statements to their audience.
"However, no Alter Bridge bandmembers were onstage, and their crew was in their designated working areas during this supposed incident. Alter Bridge thinks this is just a weak attempt by the opening band to drum up press for themselves. Alter Bridge will have no further comment on this as they are finishing up their extremely successful European tour and returning shortly to the U.S. to start work on their second album."
A source close to Alter Bridge even said it was the Living Things who started the fight backstage.
Lillian said the Living Things were forced to abandon the gig less than halfway through. As his band walked backstage, Lillian said, Alter Bridge and their crew yelled, "We love America," at the bandmembers, and a woman in their entourage said, "I love where I'm from, and you are shameful." According to Lillian, Bosh has a black eye and an injured left hand that made it difficult for him to play during the band's gig in Austria on Thursday, and Becker has black-and-blue marks on his neck from being choked, a black eye and a swollen nose.
Lillian has made a habit of speaking his mind during the band's shows, burning pictures of President Bush onstage using a pistol-shaped lighter and pretending to flog women in dominatrix gear while wearing a Bush mask (see "Living Things Make Political Point With Guitars, Blow-Up Dolls"). The group's 2005 Ahead of the Lions album is also full of incendiary songs like "Bombs Below" and "Bom Bom Bom," but Lillian said he never imagined another band would attack him onstage for "exercising our freedom of speech."
The two groups shared a bill again on Thursday at the Nova Rock Festival in Nickelsdorf, Austria, but Lillian said he did not see any members of Alter Bridge all day.