October 31, 2013 1:49pm PT by Eriq Gardner
The Calling Frontman Alex Band Sues 'Missing' Lead Guitarist
Alex Band of The Calling made headlines in August when he was abducted, robbed, beaten and abandoned on train tracks in Michigan after a music festival. After the incident, the singer's bandmates organized a search party for him, found him and took him to a local hospital.
Now, in a twist, Band has filed a lawsuit against Aaron Kamin, who has played lead guitar with the group that made it big with the single, "Wherever You Go," then split up in 2005.
On the verge of a new record deal, Band filed a lawsuit Thursday in California federal court. According to the complaint, it's Kamin who has "essentially disappeared from the public eye," and any trademark rights over The Calling that the guitarist ever held have effectively been abandoned.
The relationship between Band and Kamin dates back to 1996.
The lawsuit says that the two met each other then and formed a group known as Next Door. That band never took off, but the two kept writing music together and eventually recorded an album under The Calling for RCA Records.
"Wherever You Go" became a huge success. It topped the adult Top 40 charts for 23 weeks. Now, the title of that hit is becoming ironic.
"It was vitally important for the group to play live to promote [album] Camino Palmero, but Defendant simply refused to support The Calling on tour," says the complaint. "After performing on some initial shows, Defendant withdrew from the group and from its tour. Defendant was replaced with another guitarist -- which Plaintiff publicly announced in a television interview on MTV -- and Plaintiff continued on a global tour for many months as The Calling."
Nevertheless, Kamin was "invited" to work on the second album.
"The recording process turned nightmarish as Defendant prioritized his work on projects with other artists, refused to devote himself to writing and recording with Plaintiff, and fought Plaintiff’s decisions on every aspect of the album," says the lawsuit.
More trouble is detailed. Kamin allegedly promised to tour, but would go absent in stretches. On the verge of the release of the album Two, Kamin is said to have "confessed that he was not interested in continuing on with the group."
Now, years later, as The Calling attempts its comeback, Band reports that negotiations have commenced to sign with a new record label.
Not everyone is happy.
Kamin "has publicly feigned concern that fans of The Calling will suffer confusion when they attend concerts only to find that Defendant is missing from the lineup -- an ironic assertion given that Defendant rarely appeared with The Calling even when he did have some affiliation with the group a decade ago."
And what sayeth Band?
"The suggestion is nonsensical given how seldom Defendant played live with the group during its prime. Privately, Defendant has hired legal counsel to threaten Plaintiff that he will be sued for trademark infringement if he continues using the Trademark."
Band's lawsuit, filed by David Swift at Kinsella Weitzman, says that Kamin is using trademark claims "to extort a financial settlement."
Kamen doesn't have trademark rights, it's argued. The public associates the lower-case band with upper-case Band. And then, there's the suggestion of the application of trademark abandonment and laches in this matter.
Band seeks a judicial declaration of his rights and attorney's fees. Kamen couldn't be contacted, but we'll update the story if we hear more.