OK, so it’s not exactly Biggie vs. Tupac or even Lindsay vs. Hilary, but the beef between Alter Bridge and the Living Things isn’t going away.
After initially issuing a polite disagreement to Living Things singer Lillian Berlin’s claim that his band was accosted onstage in Switzerland by a member of Alter Bridge and the band’s crew Wednesday (see “Living Things Say They Were Attacked Onstage By Alter Bridge, Band’s Crew” ), Alter Bridge took a few days to mull Berlin’s story and came out swinging with a lengthy message posted on their Web site.
“Anyone who knows or has worked with the Alter Bridge bandmembers or crew members knows that these allegations are preposterous,” the letter stated. “Alter Bridge regrets that we have to give this matter any attention at all since we view this as an obvious attempt to gain publicity by a band trying to manipulate headlines for their own gain. Therefore, we will not mention the name of said band but will instead call them ’The Opening Band.’ ”
Lillian Berlin told MTV News on Thursday that his brother, drummer Bosh Berlin, and band guitarist Cory Becker were attacked onstage Wednesday night during a show at the Rohstofflager club in Zurich, Switzerland, by Alter Bridge’s crew and at least one member of the band because of comments Lillian made from the stage.
“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,” said Lillian, who claimed his comments resulted in someone in Alter Bridge’s camp rushing the stage with an American flag, setting off a struggle that injured two Living Things members and forced the band to cut its set short.
The letter posted online by Alter Bridge — the band formed by former Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti, drummer Scott Phillips, bassist Brian Marshall and ex-Mayfield Four singer Myles Kennedy — vehemently denies the Living Things’ account.
“Alter Bridge fully supports every American’s right to free speech. … If any band chooses the stage to address their political views and to take shots at the current U.S. government, that is their right.
“However, it is not their right to slander our country and its people in the process. With freedom also comes responsibility — to the truth and to freedom itself. … We believe the Opening Band spoke from ignorance that night, and has subsequently lied and embellished the events in support of that ignorance while doing interviews about this incident.”
The letter claims that during Berlin’s “political statement” — which the singer characterized as a monologue about receiving an invitation to a Republican fundraiser at the White House — the opening act shouted obscenities and “repeatedly yelled ’F— America! … I hate America!’ ”
“Regardless of anyone’s political views this is simply ignorant, offensive and unacceptable,” the letter states. “Alter Bridge stood up for America that night, and we will stick up for ourselves now in explaining this situation.”
According to Alter Bridge, a fight did occur onstage, but it did not involve any of the band’s members, who were in the dressing room at the time. Alter Bridge claim that during the Living Things’ “anti-American diatribe,” a technician pointed with pride at Mark Tremonti’s guitar rig, which was draped with an American flag cover. “Upon seeing this, members of the Opening Band immediately charged him,” the band said.
“Our crew member was attacked for pointing at a symbol of the very freedom that allows free speech!” the statement read. “It is ironic and sad that a band who claims to be making statements against war while hiding behind freedom of speech is so quick to commit violence against someone else simply exercising that same right.”
Alter Bridge claim that several members of their crew took to the stage to protect Tremonti’s equipment and when the dust cleared, a member of the Living Things screamed, “I guess now we’ll have to sue you,” backstage.
In addition to comments on the Alter Bridge Web forums in which fans of that band dispute Berlin’s account, a letter to MTV News’ “You Tell Us” from Gibson of Geneva, Switzerland, states, “I was in the crowd during the Living Things concert, and from what I witnessed, [Berlin] is not telling the truth. In any case, the Living Things were onstage to make music, not talk politics.”
While Berlin did not confirm or deny Alter Bridge’s account of the scuffle, he did offer a response to their response. “Those thick concrete walls that Alter Bridge said they were behind while we performed seemed to have distorted their perception,” he wrote in an e-mail to MTV News. “I am an American citizen who is disappointed, like many others, with the current White House and their mishandlings of our nation. We deserve a better government in our fine country. I believe in my heart that if Alter Bridge had heard what I’d REALLY said they’d be standing beside me in solidarity.”