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|WITCH HUNT / PROFANE EXISTENCE: What really happened...
A great deal of rumors regarding the relationship between Witch Hunt and Profane Existence (PE)
has recently been perpetuated by Dan Siskind via the Profane Existence message board. We have
been put in the position to officially provide our side of the story. This is NOT shit talking, only a
first-hand account of our relationship with PE over the past few years. When reading with an
objective, open mind, we are sure that the evidence will speak for itself.
We have been working with Profane Existence since 2004, when Dan agreed to release our first LP,
As Priorities Decay. Everything went smoothly with this release, so we decided in December of
2005 that we would go ahead and work with Dan and PE for our second LP, Blood-Red States. We
were planning a full 7-week US/Canadian tour for April 2006 to promote our new record that we were
in the midst of writing. Dan emphasized to us that in order to have our records for the tour, we
needed to meet very specific deadlines. He needed to have all the music and artwork completed and
submitted to him by mid February, which was exactly two months before the tour. We knew this would
be a hard task, but we were determined. We stayed in close communication with Dan for the next few
months and worked our asses off to successfully meet the deadlines.
Exactly one month before our tour, Janine received a voicemail from Dan explaining that PE were
going through financial hardships and did not have the money to release our LP. Janine immediately
called Rob to tell him the situation. Rob was coincidentally on the other line with a good friend, Will,
from No Options Records. Will had offered to release a Witch Hunt record in the past, and when Rob
told him the situation, he agreed to release the record if we needed him to. Janine then called Dan back to discuss the situation. He said that he absolutely could not press the LPs and could possibly do CDs, but he could not make any promises. Janine explained to him that we understood his circumstances but stressed how hard we worked to meet his deadlines. Our priority was to have our records for the tour. Anyone who has ever been on tour understands that you rely on selling records on the road in order to get from one city to the next. In addition, we had all just quit our full-time jobs. Naturally, the news was devastating to us.
Dan immediately got defensive and irrational and started yelling at Janine. He blamed us for his financial predicament, backtracking to December when he generously flew out Witch Hunt, Thought Crime, and Hellshock for the PE 16th Anniversary festival in Minneapolis. This was a slap in the face after we spent two amazing days bonding and hanging out with Dan and everyone in PE. He told her that we were unappreciative of everything he had done for us. When Janine tried to defend herself, Dan told her to watch her mouth if we still wanted to be on Profane Existence. He said that Witch Hunt was taking for granted the privilege to be on such a label.
We were all completely taken aback by his unwarranted
response, having never seen this side of him before. Janine
stayed calm throughout the whole conversation and tried to
explain to him that we were so appreciative about all the
things he had done for us, which we expressed to him many
times before. Janine proposed the idea of working with Will
from No Options for the LPs and PE for the CDs. Dan
suddenly calmed down, and we decided we would talk about
the situation the next day. That next night he apologized,
and she reiterated how much Witch Hunt appreciated his
help. He told her that PE figured out a way to come up with
the money for the record, and we would have our LPs and
CDs for our tour. At this point, we were hesitant to work with
Dan after seeing his other side but agreed to give him
another chance and hoped he was just having a bad day.
Everything worked out for this tour, and we got our LPs and
CDs just in time.
Our second conflict with Dan came about six months later,
before our 9 week European tour. This tour was booked
about 8 months in advance, and we stayed in close contact
with Dan throughout this time. By the end of our spring tour,
both our records were sold out, and Dan stressed that PE
would repress plenty of CDs and LPs of each album for
Europe. One month before we boarded our flight to begin the tour, Janine talked to him at Pointless Fest in Philadelphia in August of 2006. Dan confirmed that everything was in the works, stating he already communicated with our driver in Germany that he was sending over our records. Two weeks later, we spoke to our German driver who informed us that he had never heard from Dan regarding the delivery. We began to worry. That is when Nicole called Dan to ask him to discuss the status of our albums.
After three days in a row of calling, Nicole finally got a hold of Dan. In that conversation, he stated that PE was having financial problems again, and, in effect, did not have the money to repress either album. He discussed the possibility of doing only a small pressing of Blood-Red States, as opposed to the plentiful amounts of both albums promised. He hoped we would receive them by week two of the tour. Nicole expressed that she was very upset about the lack of communication on Dans part. If PE was again having financial problems, she felt that we had a right to know. This was the second time Dan informed us at the very last minute that he had no money to release our LPs and CDs. On both occasions he gave us no indication that things were shaky. In fact, he did the exact opposite, stressing to us that everything was going smoothly. (On the PE message board, Dan posted a statement about these events. He claims that Nicole screamed at him, which is completely untrue. In fact, she stayed calm but assertive, making it very clear that she was disappointed in him and feeling let down.) Dan did not deal with Nicoles assertiveness well. He went on another tangent, yelling and screaming, blaming us for his financial problems. He then hung up the phone on her. Nicole e-mailed and called Dan every day for the next five days, to work out the situation, but he neglected to answer or return any of her phone calls. At this point, we were leaving for tour in one week. We were about to do a 9-week European tour with no LPs or CDs. We began to panic. The tour alone was costing us $130 a day for the van, driver and backline. We did the math. By day 61 of the tour we would owe $7930. This does not include the $2,600 already spent on plane tickets. To go on such a long, expensive tour without records would be a financial disaster. We imagined not having the money to pay our driver for the van, hard work and booking. The entire tour was organized, and we had already left our jobs. There was no turning back. At this point, we felt we had no choice but to contact a European label to ask for help. We knew exactly who to contact, a mutual friend of ours and PE, Flox, from Fight For Your Mind records. Flox had previously released our first album on tape in France, was already in the midst of doing our second album on tape, and had plans to join us for one month of the tour. We e-mailed him and told him the situation. Within one day, Flox was communicating with Paria, from the French label, Folklore de la Zone Mondiale, about pressing Blood-Red States LPs for the tour.
We immediately e-mailed Dan to inform him of our plans but did not hear back from him. We were then informed that after receiving our e-mail, Dan contacted Flox urging him not to release our record. He warned Flox not to work with us because we were users, and he thought we were on our way to sign to a major label. We could not believe it. He made up lies to Flox, telling him that PE paid for our recording, therefore having partial ownership. In fact, Dan fronted us the money for the recording, and we promptly paid him back in full. He was clearly trying to sabotage all possibilities of us getting our records for this tour. We know now that he was doing this just to spite us because he didnt want to share a piece of the pie. Fortunately this did not deter Flox from doing the release.
About one month into the European tour, we read on the PE
website that the vinyl version of Blood-Red States was
repressed (1000 copies). We e-mailed Dan to tell him to please
send our entitled 20% royalties to our Philadelphia address. In
return, we received an e-mail from Dan calling us scumbags and
users. He claimed that PE had exclusive rights over releasing
and distributing our records. We NEVER gave PE those rights
and never once had a conversation leading him to believe this.
He insisted that we stabbed him in the back, but, ironically, he stil
wanted to work with us! He gave us an appalling ultimatum: we
either sign a written contract giving PE exclusive rights to release
and distribute our records, or we would not receive our royalty
copies. We as a band have always felt that a working relationship
should be based on trust and communication, not contracts. We
absolutely refused to sign. We told Dan that PE could no longer
press anymore Witch Hunt records, sell our patches, or print
anything displaying our name after his remaining copies were
sold. Dan agreed that he would never press another Witch Hunt
After seeing his true colors, we wanted nothing to do with Dan
Siskind or Profane Existence. Since September, we have
received countless e-mails from him telling us to fuck off. He
claimed that the European pressing of Blood-Red States single-
handedly caused PEs enormous debt. He even blamed Witch
Hunt for not having groceries to feed his children. The e-mails
were so absurd that we did not reply. Since our arrival home from
Europe, we called Dan numerous times to obtain our entitled
records and at least part ways on a peaceful note. To date, Dan
has refused to return our phone calls. Instead, he posts his
distorted point of view on the PE message board.
As if things could not get much worse, they did. We have recently discovered, despite our agreement to cut all ties, that PE has now repressed our first album As Priorities Decay against our will. We immediately contacted Dan to let him know we completely disapprove and he owes us our entitled 20% royalties, yet another 200 records. Dan refused to give us our records. He attributed this decision to the thousands of dollars lost from printing extra covers for future pressings of our records that he could no longer use. Perhaps he should have thought about this when he irrationally yelled at members of the band and severed all verbal communication, a move that single-handedly brought an end to our friendship. According to him, due to PEs lost income, we have forfeited our royalties.
The truth is that Witch Hunt did not cause any of PEs debt. When looking at the sales of each of our albums, a little math shows PE coming away quite well. The first 1000 copies of both albums were sold in a matter of months, and each needed to be repressed. These are not examples of a band putting a label in debt. It is clear to us that Dans concerns do not regard money lost, only the money he will not gain.
On January 25th, Dan posted a statement on the Profane Existence message board, currently 9 pages long, entitled Shit talking Witch Hunt. On this message board, he states his side of the story that includes a lot of embellishing and many blatant lies intended to further sabotage our band and assassinate our characters. On January 26th Dan posted a surprising revelation that shocked both parties. Dan stated, Holy crap! I just realized that we ALREADY PAID them their royalties for the 2nd press of the LP. I found this email I sent to them on June 5th. He posted that e-mail, which we re-read repeatedly until we were able to make sense of the numbers and confirm that PE did in fact pay us those royalties many months ago. We were just as surprised as he was that we already received our royalties for Blood-Red States. Finances can get very complicated, and we truly thought that Dan owed us royalties on the 2nd pressing, as did he.
We fully admit that this was an honest mistake on our part. After gaining this information, we have felt no different about Dan and his intentions. Before this discovery, he fully intended on withholding our records from us, which is stated in countless e-mails to us and on his post. By admitting his shock when realizing that he did in fact pay us our royalties for Blood-Red States, he put his foot in his mouth. Furthermore, it does not change the fact that he is withholding 200 As Priorities Decay LPs from us. The only thing that has changed is the number of records he owes us.
For the record, this statement and our outspokenness about the given situation are not intended to hurt PE bands and supporters. We take Dans actions very seriously, and the punk scene has a right to know what really happened. Regardless of Dans feelings on the matter, his actions against us are unfounded. This has been the most disheartening experience we have ever encountered as a band. Profane Existence was once a label/magazine that we supported and respected as teenagers growing up and finding punk. This whole situation is a huge disappointment to us. Profane Existence claims to be an anarcho-punk collective, but Dan Siskinds actions have contradicted this very meaning. Reality hit us hard when we discovered that the aspects we hate most about capitalism found their way into our community. If we want to be the self-sustaining community we strive to be, it is crucial to confront this type of hypocrisy. As punks, we decided to take a very difficult stance and call Dan out on his shit.
We hope this statement clarifies where we stand on this matter. Please take this factual account for what it is: no manipulation, no lies, no bullshit.
Nicole, Rob, Janine and Vince // Witch Hunt
HERE'S A LINK TO WITCH HUNT AND ONE TO PROFANE EXISTENCE
UPDATE Summer 2007...
To all of our friends...
We are happy to announce that the seemingly never-ending conflict with our former label, Profane Existence, has, in fact, come to an end. Both sides agree that the strain it's put on us and our mutual friends is simply not worth it
anymore. Dan has agreed to send us the 200 "As Priorities Decay" lps we're owed
and has removed any negative references towards us from his website /
messageboard and we have done the same. We are relieved to finally move past all
of this and split amicably. All future pressings of our records / cds will be
pressed by us on our own label. We want to thank everyone who's written us
offering support. You helped us retain our sanity throughout all of the drama.
Now let's move forward!!!
Rob, Nicole, Janine and Vince
// Witch Hunt
|Trouble in Paradise, Witch Hunts in the Anarcho ghetto? It often amuses me that the Punks who are often most devout turn out to be the most bitter 'n' twisted! See what you think...|