Slipknot member's future unclear as he sues Des Moines' biggest band over business dealings
M. Shawn Crahan, Slipknot co-founder, discusses the band's plans to celebrate 20 years of its self-titled record, which fans first heard in 1999. Wochit
A percussionist for the heavy metal band Slipknot has sued the group's leaders and manager, claiming they created businesses without his knowledge.
Now, Christopher Fehn, 46, argues he should be fully compensated for his work with the award-winning band that formed in Des Moines over two decades ago.
In the lawsuit filed March 13 in New York Supreme Court, Fehn sued the group's leaders, vocalist Corey Taylor and percussionist Michael Shawn Crahan; the band's manager, Robert Shore; and six businesses.
Fehn trusted the "fidelity and integrity" of Taylor and Crahan to operate the band for its members' mutual benefit, according to the lawsuit. While he earned a share of profits, Fehn claimed to have no knowledge of a number of Slipknot-related businesses.
One of Fehn's attorneys, Joseph Dunne of New York, said Fehn learned of the other entities recently during negotiations about the band's to-be-named sixth studio album, a follow-up to 2014's ".5: The Gray Chapter," and its tour.
Fehn and his representatives went to the law firm because he was unable to get information about the other businesses, Dunne said.
"He thought everyone was being treated equally," Dunne told the Des Moines Register, saying there was tension between Fehn and other band members who appeared to operate the business. "My client really is just hoping to figure out a way to work this out with the people he's worked side by side with for the last 20 years."
Slipknot on Monday dismissed Fehn in a statement posted to the band’s website. The Iowa-raised percussionist and backup vocalist joined the group in 1998, working on five studio albums and each major Slipknot tour.
As a member of Slipknot, Fehn earned a Grammy Award in 2006.
The statement, which has since been removed, read:
“Slipknot’s focus is on making album #6, and our upcoming shows around the world, our best ever. Chris knows why he is no longer a part of Slipknot. We are disappointed that he chose to point fingers and manufacture claims, rather than doing what was necessary to continue to be a part of Slipknot. We would have preferred he not take the path that he has, but evolution in all things is a necessary part of this life. Long Live The Knot."
The band declined to comment further, a Slipknot representative said.
But Dunne told the Register there has been no official change in Fehn's employment with the band. If it was up to Fehn, he would remain a member, his lawyer said.
Taylor, who joined Slipknot in 1997, replied on Twitter earlier this week to fan comments about the lawsuit. One user called the situation "a bit (standoff-ish)."
The frontman replied: "... try being wrongfully accused of stealing money from someone you cared about, and having a lot of your fans believe it."
And last week, when Fehn’s claims first leaked to a celebrity blog, Taylor tweeted: "You’re gonna read a lot of (expletive) today. This is all I’ll say. JUST YOU WAIT TIL THE TRUTH COMES OUT. Long Live The Knot."
In his 14-page lawsuit, Fehn accused the band's manager and his New York City company, Rob Shore & Associates Inc., of managing the band to enrich Crahan and Taylor "out of proportion to the efforts and undivided interests of the other general partners."
A message left at Shore's office was not immediately returned Friday.
Among his claims, Fehn, who lives in Michigan, said he has never held any interest in at least five Slipknot businesses, one of which formed more than two decades ago, according to the lawsuit. Information about the operation was restricted, Fehn claimed.
"There is a lot of information out there that our client has not been able to see," Dunne said Friday morning.
The lawsuit's four counts include a breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment.
Fehn's lawyers recently began talking with the defendants, so Dunne could not speak at length about the suit. The defendants were ordered to answer within 20 days.
With Fehn's possible firing, six of Iowa’s original nine members remain active with Slipknot: Taylor, Crahan, guitarists Jim Root and Mick Thompson, turntablist Sid Wilson and keyboardist Craig Jones. Slipknot parted ways in 2013 with drummer Joey Jordison; bassist Paul Gray died of an accidental overdose in 2010.
Slipknot introduced its two newest members in 2014: Alessandro Venturella on bass and Jay Weinberg, son of the E Street Band’s Max Weinberg, on drums.
It was unclear if the band planned to replace Fehn.
Formed in Des Moines in 1995, Slipknot rose to international acclaim in the late 1990s and early 2000s for blending aggressive, melodic metal with masked and chaotic live performances. The band’s sold millions of albums, earning 15 Platinum and three Gold certifications in the United States alone.
The band plays the Iowa State Fair Grandstand on Aug. 10 in support of its upcoming album, which is set to be released the day before.