The tour, which also features Suicidal Tendencies, Amon Amarth and Metal Church, was just the latest in a series of dates that the band had played with Dave Mustaine’s veteran thrashers this year, performing in the U.S., Canada and Europe. The adventure, however, seems to be over, and Havok’s removal from the tour has coincided with the band refusing to sign a management contract with Mustaine’s son, Justis.
David Sanchez of Havok says that the band's unwillingness to sign a contract that the musicians find unacceptable has directly resulted in their removal from the tour. On Twitter, Mustaine doesn’t necessarily disagree, though the details vary.
Getting into a Twitter debate with Metal Sucks contributor Brian Storm, Mustaine said, “They had 5 months to sign an industry standard contract and don't pay their bills?” and “They had an industry standard contract: the same I have. 5 months later still wouldn't sign it until they're dropped.”
However, Sanchez is adamant that the contract they were asked to sign isn’t "industry standard."
“Basically, they were trying to get us under contract for a management contract,” Sanchez says. “We’ve been dealing with Dave Mustaine’s son, Justis Mustaine, and we’ve always had an oral agreement with him. Never had any issues. They wanted to get us on paper and lock us down for a written contract, which is pretty rare for bands of our size. But anyways, they offered us a management contract, and the terms were completely unacceptable to us, so we went to a lawyer after we returned from Europe and began negotiating terms that we would be happy with. While we were in negotiations for those terms, we were kicked off the Megadeth tour because we were told we were taking too long. So basically, it went from a negotiation to being kicked off a tour.”
Justis Mustaine had his say, also via social media, tweeting, “I worked with Havok for one year. Despite getting Havok paid, marketed and exposed in that time — bringing them a new merch deal, booking agent, and overseeing what has clearly been their biggest year yet — I was compensated poorly for my work. I finally put a contract in front of them, which would secure me 15% of income (the industry standard). They refused to agree, so I dropped them. I wish Havok all the best in their efforts to be a professional band, but as evidenced by today’s gossip-mongering, they’ve still got a long way to go. Great music, great band!”
Still, Sanchez maintains that there were serious issues with the contract, including the fact that the band’s named was consistently misspelled as “Havoc.”
“The contract spelled out a lot about what the band is obligated to do in regards to paying management and duties, but there was hardly anything in there about what the manager’s duties were,” Sanchez says. “But it didn’t say anything about what the manager is obligated to do. It said nothing about real work. Just advise and council us, and we pay him for it. On top of that, there was a clause in there that, if we should need the manager to fly somewhere to handle anything for us, that we would not just have to buy him a plane ticket, but buy him a business-class plane ticket, which normally costs about five times as much as a regular ticket. We never fly business class, because it’s crazy expensive. We’re not a giant band, we don’t have tons of money, so I thought that was a pretty over-reaching clause to put in there.”
Elaborate travel demands aside, Sanchez and Havok also had issues with the length of time that the contract would be valid for, particularly with regard to what is known as a sunset clause.
“It was a three-year contract, but there was what’s called a sunset clause in the contract,” Sanchez says. “Basically, that’s where after the contract term is over, the manager would still get paid money even after he’s not our manager any longer. A sunset clause is sometimes typical in these contracts. However, sunset clauses are normally a couple of years. This one said that, whether Mustaine Management hooked things up for us or our manager after them hooked it up, it doesn’t matter. We would have to pay them full-rated commissions for the next four years after the term is over. Then it was in there that, any deal that was struck while Mustaine was our manager, he’d be entitled to be paid for those earnings for the next ten years. Basically, making him entitled to collect on our money for thirteen years, which is completely unacceptable to us.”
At the time of publication, Megadeth’s PR representatives, Funhouse Entertainment, had told us that Megadeth “is actually touring in South America at the moment and have cut back on doing interviews.”
For Sanchez, the lesson is to read contracts front to back and have a lawyer do the same before signing anything, and not to be blinded by the stars. “No matter how good the deal sounds, if you’re being offered a contract, make sure you read it over and make sure you have a lawyer read it over; otherwise you could get completely stiffed,” Sanchez says. “There was plenty of stuff in the contract that was completely out of line and not something we were willing to accept. Of course, some of the contract was definitely industry standard, but much of it was not, and the Mustaines went ahead and spun it like we were presented with an industry-standard contract and we were stupid to not sign it.”