German progressive tech death giants ‘Obscura’ have been for long hailed as trendsetters in extreme metal. With a slew of amazing albums “Cosmogenesis”, “Omnivium” and the latest “Akróasis”, the band kept setting the bar higher and have excited fans since. But prior to the release of the latest offering, a strong conflict has come into public limelight between the band and their former guitarist and songwriter Tom ‘Fountainhead’ Geldschlager. Fountainhead was quick to be replaced prior to the completion of “Akróasis” but with all his contributions still intact on the record. Fans have since begun to take sides between the band and the former songwriter and have also begun showing disdain for Rafael- Fountainhead’s replacement in the band. Recently, the band posted a message on their Facebook page to address these concerns and make an attempt to clarify the situation. You can read this below
“~Concerning rumors about former guitarist Tom Geldschläger~
To clear up rumors each member of the band faces these days, Obscura would like to speak out some facts about the departure of former guitarist Tom Geldschläger.
During the production of “Akroasis” the band decided not to work with Tom Geldschläger (“Fountainhead”) anymore due to professional, musical and personal reasons.
Those reasons led to a delay of the recording process and an immense gain of production costs.
When Steffen Kummerer released Tom Geldschläger from his duties on the phone (with the band and producer present), it was agreed that Tom Geldschläger gets correct credits for his contributions. Every band member was involved in the songwriting of almost every track – the main composers of each track are mentioned in the booklet of the album. He is correctly mentioned for co-arranging with the rest of the band and for writing a grand portion of the song “Weltseele”. Before the official press release of a first teaser representing “Akroasis”, Tom Geldschläger was contacted to get notice that the new lineup will be announced alongside the first press release of a new album.
Obscura stick to the given word and pay royalties and mechanicals as agreed through a publishing deal, signed by all parties. Tom Geldschläger got paid in full writing his contributions for an official guitar tablature book while his parts got never delivered. In addition, Tom Geldschläger tried to publish notations of the music through several portals only Relapse Records and Obscura as licenser have, as part of the signed contract, a right to distribute. Tom Geldschläger caused all blocked content himself by violations against contracts that he agreed to (for example using parts of original STEMS of different albums in video format).
After Tom Geldschläger’s 8 month in the band he already mentioned to plan a reputational damage against the band. In our perspective he is manipulating people with wrong facts in a very unprofessional, personal and emotional way. We are very happy that a lot of fans were sending messages to hear the other side of the story as we originally decided not to speak about this topic in public anymore. His recent defamations are the reasons why we feel forced to publish these facts.
We are very thankful for his musical contribution to “Akroasis” and we hope he will stop taking an inappropriate and undignified role of a victim so he can raise attention again with what we all love most: music.
Steffen Kummerer & Linus Klausenitzer”
Fountainhead has now come forward with a response to clarify the situation and present his case on what is really going on. I reviewed “Akróasis” and being a fan of Fountainhead’s work (and a good friend of his), it was easy to find the typical ‘Fountainhead’ style all over the guitar work in this stellar record. For that matter, I believe that anyone who has been following Fountainhead’s work at any given time can clearly distinguish his guitar parts. My personal opinion about this matter is unimportant regardless of my proximity with any of the musicians on this record. Read on and make up your mind! I along with Owais ‘Vitek’ Nabi also had a chance to interview Obscura frontman Steffen Kummerer around the time the album was due to be released. We also talk about Fountainhead’s involvement with the band and record. You can listen to it here.
Cut to the chase, and here is Tom ‘Fountainhead’ Geldschlager’s statement:
This is my reaction to the public statement that Obscura have made on their Facebook-page earlier this week, in which they “address rumors about former guitar player Tom Geldschläger”, without ever presenting anything to back up their claims and accusations towards me.
For the past months there has been constant animosity between me and “the band” (meaning vocalist Steffen Kummerer, who owns the rights to the name Obscura and acts as their spokesperson). I have been attacked in word & deed several times by Mr Kummerer during the past year (read on for evidence) and even though it is my opinion that internal affairs should stay in fact internal, I also believe it is absolutely necessary to respond to his accusations in a proper way. I can only say that there was never any personal animosity between me and him during my time in the band, which would´ve triggered such a dispute. His habit for taking credit for other people´s work on the other hand (and I´m not only talking about mine) is something else entirely. I´m aware that quite a lot of fans are irritated right now and are directing their anger towards both sides, and I´m sorry that this is happening! No matter whose side you´re on (even saying that feels weird), it still ends up distracting from the music and everybody who knows me should be aware that the only thing I want to be associated with is the quality of my work, period. However, I urge everybody to be emphatic to the situation for a bit and imagine what you would do if there was somebody out there who thinks he´s allowed say and do anything he wants even if it´s completely made up, just because he has ten times as a big an audience as you. Let me tell you, I´m as sick of this back-n-forth game as anybody else – it is extremely unprofessional, tiring, is definitely hurting both sides and is making people react emotionally in uncalled for ways, which is why I need to address something else first: I´m seeing a big number of people being aggressive towards my successor in Obscura, Rafael, and I urge everybody to stop doing that immediately! Tastes are different and everybody´s entitled to their opinion – but if ANYBODY is bashing him (whom I´ve never met and who´s done nothing to hurt me AFAIK) in order to help me getting recognized for my work, that´s absolutely NOT what I would want, so please cut it out!
Now, why would Obscura even feel the need to make a post addressing “rumours” in the first place?
To prevent more public backlash towards them, after they had me banned from facebook. Let me repeat: MY PRIVATE FACEBOOK PROFILE AND MY OFFICIAL FB PAGE ARE DISABLED RIGHT NOW BECAUSE STEFFEN KUMMERER CONDUCTED SEVERAL CYBER-ATTACKS TO THEM. All attacks came from “firstname.lastname@example.org” ( https://db.tt/Nzz9kGYi ) , trying to take down/copyright-claim all posts I had made about the playthrough-video for my solo in the song “Akroasis” and any other video where I play Obscura-material. He then went on to flock the posts containing a screenshot of said email being the source of the take-down and banned/censored people who´d expressed their opinion on this matter openly on Obscura´s page. This video uses the same stems (to which according to the band only the label has the rights) which were used in the bass and drum playthroughs that Obscura themselves released during the last couple of weeks, but apparently, I´m the one musician on “Akroasis” not allowed to make use of these stems, even though, I´m now at least partly credited as performer/co-writer on the album. The older videos had been online on my FB page for several months prior to these attacks and personally, I think that it might not be a coincidence that this happens the week I start promoting my new solo album “Reverse Engineering”.
Let me repeat this one too: thanks to Obscura, I´m now pretty much unable to let the biggest part of my fans know that I have a new album coming out and that it is available for pre-order, causing me severe financial damage.
Since the release of “Akroasis”, Mr. Kummerer has given over a hundred interviews and here are some examples of things he publically said about me and my work:
– I am/was not able to play the Obscura material
– I contributed no or very little material
– He and Rafael Trujillo wrote “Weltseele” and he himself played on it ( https://db.tt/AI1x6myZ )
– I delivered guitar tracks that were unusable and wasn´t able to record the material in tune, in time or in key ( http://www.metal.de/interviews/obscura-interview-mit-steffen-kummerer-63428/2/ )
– He played 80% of the guitar tracks on the album and replaced most of what I had recorded with his own tracks
– I am unfit to work as a professional musician and engineer
– I was fired in the middle of production and the album was finished as a 3-piece
– Fretless guitar on this album and in metal in general does not work and the fretless guitar parts were cut from the album
– I have unspecified “conditions” of some kind
– I “tried” to sue the band
– former Obscura-guitarist Christian Münzner apologized to him for having recommended me and asked to be allowed back into the band
Read for yourself this email Mr. Kummerer sent one of my guitar students, containing parts of his interview for “Londonmetalmonthly” where you´ll find all of these and more: https://db.tt/wyzSfxbO
These accusations were so incredible unprofessional (not to mention complete at odds with reality), the very fact that the spokesperson of an established band with a 15-year history is giving interviews like that should be telling enough. The album is out for everybody to hear, there´s tons of fretless guitar on it (an instrument Mr. Kummerer doesn´t own or knows how to play), my parts have not been altered and I have the original recordings at home to be used as evidence should this go to court. The band and I parted ways on the last day of mixing, when the album was 99% done. Christian and I have just shared guitar solos on former Obscura-drummer Hannes Grossmann´s new single “To sow the seeds of earth” and will continue to collaborate. I´m busy as ever as music-producer & mixing-engineer, my work is out there for everybody to make their own judgement. If I had in fact sued Obscura (which I didn´t), they would have been able to provide evidence for that – without evidence, it´s just more rumours.
While Mr. Kummerer gave approximately a hundred interviews promoting “Akroasis”, I have given one (1!) regarding this subject- to “Londonmetalmonthly”, who had kindly asked me to set the record straight earlier this year after Steffen gave them his most outlandish and aggressive interview thus far. My interview was subsequently quoted by several big metal magazines and blogs, most of them unfortunately didn´t bother to mention that it was merely a reaction to Kummerer´s previously released statements.
Obscura claim that I caused them damage by delaying the production process, without ever going into detail how much delay and how much money that was (that, btw, is usually called “spreading rumours”). However, studio-time was booked in advance, the album was delivered in time and my guitar-parts were on it when it came out. Both sides should know better than to open a can of worms by spilling details of the recording-process, knowing that it would only end up causing further irreparable damage to the band´s reputation, the album´s appeal to the fans … and certainly to Mr. Kummerer´s reputation as a professional musician, were I to turn the tables and tell people of my experiences during the recording session. For now, I´ll leave it at that, but should the band make more such claims in the future, I´d see myself forced to respond by telling my view of the “Akroasis”-sessions. As for me, my writing and playing has been a big part of 3 full-length releases alone in the last 5 months (Obscura´s “Akroasis”, Pitts/Minnemann Project´s “The Psychic Planetarium” & Fountainhead´s “Reverse Engineering”), of which I also mixed 2, not even counting guest-solos & production work. Anybody so inclined, can make up their own mind regarding Mr. Kummerer´s statements about my work and abilities.
The band claims that leaving me out of the promo for “Akroasis” was merely a misunderstanding and people had been notified of the line-up change. Not true – there was a statement, but it was published after the promotion had already started and people had begun to express their irritation towards the band for not clearing the air. Also, advance copies of “Akroasis” where sent out for review containing, among other things, a bio (https://db.tt/899JaLGT ) implying Rafael Trujillo had joined the band after Chris´ departure and no mention of the recording-line-up on the album. We´re talking about a band that´s been active for 15 years and who´ve been just putting out their third album in a row for one of the biggest metal labels in the world – the fact that the “misunderstandings” and “mistakes” (and I guess Mr. Kummerer has been “mis-quoted” in all these interviews as well…) just kept piling up, that made people angry for good reason, regardless of my side of the story.
They say I didn´t deliver transcriptions despite having been paid. Not true -I was paid 500 euro and delivered fully working transcription files of every song except “Ode To The Sun” (on which I didn´t play). In those, my parts were notated exactly like I played them during the recording sessions and only the final guitar solos were missing, simply because Mr. Kummerer ended our working-relationship before I found the time to transcribe them. I was”fired” on the phone (illegally, since the company´s contract demanded a full company meeting in the same room, which was not held), wasn´t allowed to hear the finished album until it was released and had found out through a mutual friend that I had been secretly replaced by a session guitar player days before getting that phone call – so I refused to do additional work for Mr. Kummerer unless he´d pay an additional fee, like he would´ve had to pay any other outside transcriber. Speaking of which, the session players and several other mutual friends in the metal-scene were told by Mr. Kummerer that I had been simply unable to play the material – hence my decision to publish videos of me playing the material I had prepared for that tour. https://youtu.be/IzQf6lyLTjM?list=PL8n1OHjUKqGMpmEkXwRuBcFe8IqOua_e1 In my personal opinion, the fact that Mr. Kummerer had Relapse Records delete them from my youtube-channel shortly afterwards has more to do with them being evidence of his lies than the copyright-issue. When the tab book came out, it made heavy use of my transcriptions, but I wasn´t credited properly. If there was ever a written contract between me and Obscura that specified the content of what I had to deliver for the tab book, I´d like to see it. For now, I have made my own transcription of the “Akroasis” guitar solo available for free – the “portals” the band speaks of are my private “Dropbox” & “mega” accounts. https://db.tt/H2dFMJpw
Now, Obscura talk about me being properly credited and getting shares for everything. Last time I checked I get 6,67% of royalties for “Sermon Of The Seven Suns” ( https://db.tt/JcO4Gb4b ), a song where I´m playing fretless lead and rhythm guitar throughout, contributed all guitar leads except for Steffen´s solo, did the acoustic parts (on an 11-string fretless oud, another instrument Steffen doesn´t even own or know how to use), did the 12-string guitar, contributed the music for the ending solo-section, shaped the arrangement and structure of the whole tune – still, 6,67%. According to the GEMA-database, on the title track ( https://db.tt/J1XFVav0 ) and “Ten Sepiroth” I´m not credited at all at this point, both are songs I contributed several whole sections of music too and have performed rhythm and lead guitar on. Also, Mr. Kummerer has credited himself as the sole lyricist for an instrumental(!) piece (“Melos”, bonustrack on the vinyl-edition of “Akroasis” and consisting of me on fretless guitar and the string-section lead by Matthias Preisinger) that he hasn´t written (Matthias and I did) but still uses as intro-tape for every Obscura-show since the release of the album. https://db.tt/R41V7DJ0
And finally: That bit about me promising to do “damage to the band´s reputation”? It´s interesting how an established band – in a text accusing me of “manipulating the public and playing the victim” and which is “addressing rumours” – is spreading them themselves, by claiming things like this without providing evidence. Personally, I came to the conclusion that Mr. Kummerer himself has been doing an exceptional job damaging the band´s reputation during the last year, much more than I ever could, even if I wanted.
Love & Light, Tom Fountainhead.
P.S.: Yes, “Love & Light” indeed – that bit was cut by Mr. Kummerer from my original thanxlist in the “Akroasis” booklet. I´m not even kidding….“
Here are the photographs sent by Tom: