Enlarge Photo Credit: Mary Manning

Bobby Liebling’s “Gross, Inappropriate Comments” Caused Wax Idols and King Woman to Leave the Pentagram Tour

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Last week, Wax Idols and King Woman — who are currently out on a co-headlining tour together — announced they’d be dropping off their run with Pentagram three days before its scheduled end. To cut a tour short with only three days to go, surely conditions must’ve been really bad; indeed, Pentagram frontman Bobby Liebling was a no-show at the tour’s kick-off in Seattle, was two hours late to the second show in Portland (allegedly he was on a plane), and Wax Idols and King Woman used the phrases “an overload of bullshit,” “treated really poorly & harassed in gross ways” and “never let anyone fuck with you and yours” via social media when they announced their decision to leave.

But the exact reasons behind both bands’ decisions to drop off were left to vague social media posts and the internet rumor mill… until now. Former MetalSucks scribe Cat Jones has done the dirty work in a must-read interview for Noisey in which frontwomen Hether Fortune (Wax Idols) and Kristina Esfandiari (King Woman) explain in detail what went down. Unsurprisingly, some of the rumors that had been swirling regarding inappropriate and offensive behavior by Liebling towards women have turned out to be true, and when combined with blatant disrespect shown to both bands by Pentagram and their crew it was just too much to handle.

On Liebling’s inappropriate comments:

What sorts of comments were Bobby and others making?

Fortune: Bobby made several absurdly gross, inappropriate comments to all of the women on the tour, but the worst thing was that a fan told us that she left the Pentagram show and was super disgusted because he was making rape jokes onstage. And he was. He did. He makes jokes onstage about how the legal age of consent is only 16, and I don’t know what the rape joke was this time, because I wasn’t even watching them. At that point, I didn’t watch them anymore. But people were writing to us and King Woman expressing their disgust with the shit that he was saying onstage about rape. So I was like, “Alright, I can’t do this. It’s just too much.”

Esfandiari: I didn’t personally hear it, but fans were emailing me, and I was like, “Oh, shit. I didn’t know it was like that.”

Fortune: We were also told that Bobby said the only reason he green-lighted the tour with us and King Woman was so that he could have “a lot of options with women.” And the way we were treated, and the things that Bobby was saying to us, reinforced that. And made it pretty easy to believe that was true, because that was the way he treated us. I personally never felt unsafe or violated. I just felt grossed out and disrespected. My other bandmates, however, were often basically hiding from Pentagram. They wouldn’t go in the green room, they would hide in the van—they didn’t want to be around at all because they were that uncomfortable.

On the general disrespect shown to Wax Idols and King Woman by the tour and its crew:

You said that promoters told you that money was being mishandled. Can you elaborate on that a bit?

Fortune: We were told by promoters that money and hospitality were being mishandled, and that we weren’t getting what we were supposed to be getting. So when I tried to speak with the person in charge of the tour, the tour manager for Pentagram [Greg Turley], I was met with dismissal and a weird attitude.

How did the tour manager treat you when you brought that to him?

Fortune: I said, “You don’t know anything about what’s going on in the contracts about how you’re supposed to be distributing buyouts to us.” He said, “I don’t know anything about that.” And I was like, “So, you don’t think in any way that package payouts include our band?” And he said, “Oh, you think you’re owed something, I guess.” I was like, “Man, this is bullshit. We’ve been treated like shit this whole tour and all I’m trying to do is be treated with a basic amount of respect and do my job.” And he was like, “How have you been treated like shit?” And I listed all of the ways, and that included all of the stuff Bobby and other people in their camp were doing. And he just laughed in my face and smirked and said, “Well maybe you’re not cut out for this.” I was like, “Ohh. Fuck. You.”

“Maybe you’re not cut out for this.”

Fortune: I’ve been in touring bands for ten years—in bands with men and women, on tours with all men, and on tours with girls. I’ve worked with men and women. And I have never in my life been treated this badly on a tour by anyone. Never. It was shocking. I know I’m not a famous rock star or something, but I have been doing this long enough to know what I’m doing, and to know how things should be run in a professional, respectful manner, and that is not how this tour was run. It was a joke.

It’s commendable how even-keeled both Fortune and Esfandiari come off here; no sour grapes or resentment, just “this is what happened,” and even some gratitude for being offered the opportunity in the first place. Inevitably, naysayers in the internet metal community will try and discredit what they’re saying with sexist remarks — just look at the comments on the Noisey article already, and by the time you’re reading this on MetalSucks probably here too. But we can only commend these two women for speaking out in the face of what they surely know will be a shitstorm, and for having the courage to call out metal royalty like Liebling — and the boys club that is any metal tour — on his and their unacceptable shenanigans.

Read the full interview on Noisey.

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