An Austin, Texas, nightclub owner's claim that Afghan Whigs singer Greg Dulli threatened a stagehand with a two-by-four after a Dec. 11 show is "a pathetic attempt to cover up the reprehensible conduct of [her] employees," the Whigs have written in their first direct statement on the incident.
In the statement posted on their official website (http://www.theafghanwhigs.com), the Whigs say media coverage of the brawl that night, which left Dulli with a fractured skull and forced the band to postpone seven shows, has been "less than accurate."
But the statement, signed "The Afghan Whigs," doesn't offer an alternative version of the altercation. "The band has had to remain silent for now on the details of what happened," the statement says, "because of pending legal action."
The soul-rock band is suing the club, the Liberty Lunch, as well as its owner, its assistant manager and the stagehand with whom the club has said Dulli fought.
Club owner Jeanette Ward, who stated she was not there when the fight occurred, said Dec. 14 that Dulli "came at a stagehand with a two-by-four, and then he got decked."
Apparently referring to Ward's account of the fight, the Whigs wrote in their posting, "Repeating something over and over again doesn't make it a fact."
At some point during the altercation, Dulli fell backward and struck his head on the club's concrete floor, according to witnesses quoted by the Austin American-Statesman. The singer spent a weekend in a local hospital, and now is "slowly improving," according to the band's statement.
Austin police are investigating the incident. No charges had been filed as of Tuesday (Dec. 29), according to police spokeswoman Tracy Karol.
Afghan Whigs lawyer Thomas Albright said Tuesday that he and the band plan to deal with the case in court and not in the press. But, he added, "The band feels that, with such a one-sided statement being presented so far about what happened, that there is some need to make a public statement. They have chosen to do so through their website, and I suspect that there will be more of that."
In the suit, the band is seeking unspecified damages for personal injury, the postponement of Afghan Whigs shows and the resulting impact on record sales, according to Albright.
Neither Ward nor the club's lawyer, Geoffrey Pivateau, could be reached for comment Tuesday. Last week, Pivateau suggested the lawsuit was "a publicity ploy."
"No one files a lawsuit the week after an accident unless they have an album to support," Pivateau said at the time. The Whigs' current album is 1965, which includes the songs "Crazy" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Somethin' Hot" (RealAudio excerpt).
On Monday Albright denied that the group's legal strategy was an attempt to get publicity. "When you're in the intensive care unit with a serious head wound and have someone say that it's a publicity ploy, [that is] highly offensive," Albright said.
In the website posting, the Whigs thanked fans who sent cards and "good vibes" to Dulli. But they also said they've shut down the BBS section on their website because of postings that "took anonymous cheap shots at Greg while he was down."
"Why should we make the effort to maintain a platform for those people who would use it only to upset our real fans and waste everyone's time?" the band stated.
The band wrote that it hopes to make up most of the postponed shows during a tour scheduled to start in February.