Read Neill Jameson from Krieg and Twilight’s Heart-Wrenching Account of His Relationship with Nachtmystium’s Blake Judd
The general public has been hearing horror stories about Blake Judd for years now, and behind-the-scenes, talking to people who have worked with him, it’s even worse. When you hear a story or a characterization once, you can dismiss it; twice, you might still be able to lie to yourself and say it’s BS; ten or twelve or fifteen times, though, and you’re a fool not to believe it. It is for this reason that, back in March, I referred to Judd as a “hot mess.” When collaborators and business associates are telling you the kind of insane, depressing stories we’ve heard, that classification actually seems pretty mild.
Of course, Blake himself was not happy with that characterization, and he sent me a message via Facebook to tell me as much. I did my best to explain where I was getting my intel without selling anyone out, emphasized what a huge Nachtmystium fan I was, and reminded him that he had missed multiple pre-scheduled interviews with MetalSucks when promoting some of his prior work. He then responded in a much calmer manner, detailing his long and harrowing journey to sobriety, professing extreme sadness over being fired from Twilight by people he “thought” were his friends, admitting that he’s done some not-terrific things in the past, and swearing up and down that he finally had his shit together. Because I’m apparently a gullible schmuck (and probably because I’m a fan of his music and I really wanted to believe him), I bought the story. At Vince’s suggestion, I then invited him to write a guest column on MetalSucks conveying this information, and even offered to edit the message he had sent me into such an editorial. He agreed. I sent him the editorial. He said he wanted to make a few slight changes but he’s get it back to me ASAP. It never materialized. I followed-up. Still nothing. Then the latest round of accusations that he was ripping-off his fans began. I message him again to ask what was going on, and he, as I’ve already told you, assured me that all was well, and this was basically just a big misunderstanding. And then, last week, it became clear that this was not the case when Century Media offered to give fans the Nachtmystium items for which they had paid Judd, and announced that they were no longer working with him.
My point being, I didn’t call the dude “a hot mess” for no reason. I called him a hot mess because he is a mess that is hot.
MetalSucks’ own experiences with Judd, of course, are limited and ultimately inoffensive when compared with what some of his friends and collaborators have had to put up with.
One such person who falls into both of these categories is Krieg’s Neill Jameson, who has known Judd for fifteen years, was in his wedding, and worked with him on various projects, including Nachtmystium, Krieg, and Twilight. Now, in a new piece for Noisey, Jameson gone into great depth about his relationship to Judd, and, well, it’s not pretty. Here’s a sample:
“When the news [Judd’s October of 2013] arrest hit, I honestly wasn’t surprised in the least. Blake was frantically trying to get anyone who still spoke to him to help bail him out. This is when people began to come forward and publicly discuss Blake ripping them off by never sending merchandise or by actually stealing items from their homes. It’s also when I decided to investigate what was going on with Twilight and saw just how deeply he fucked us. He had taken me for the aforementioned few thousand but he had also fucked Jef Whitehead out of a substantial amount of money as well. He sold Century Media the rights to reissue the first Twilight record and sent them instrumental Leviathan demos as ‘bonus tracks’ without Jef [ “Wrest” Whitehead]’s permission. The money from this licensing deal, which was to include publishing money to all members involved, was sent directly to Blake. Blake had every dollar that wasn’t meant for Thurston [Moore] or for the studio itself for the third album entirely sent to himself. He kept us in the dark regarding all business dealings but he also kept Century Media in the dark about us.”
Which is just one of about twenty illustrations Jameson provides of Judd screwing people over during the course of his career. Jameson has example after example after example of Judd selling merch he never actually possessed online, selling off rights to music his didn’t own in the first place to various labels, borrowing money he never paid back, outright stealing money from friends and peers, blaming others for all his misdeeds, and claiming, time and again, that he was finally sober and done with his with his immoral behavior. (This is, in fact, the exact line I fell for back in March, when Judd first contacted me.) Perhaps most depressingly, many of Jameson’s stories take actually place before Judd was hooked on heroin, demonstrating that while the drug may have exacerbated Judd’s tendency to do bad shit, that tendency has always existed.
And then Jameson takes Century Media to task for taking care of the Nachtmystium fans Judd ripped-off — which sounds crazy, but his argument is actually a very convincing one:
“Century Media is doing their best to make up for his mistake with fans and fulfilling orders. My problem with this is both petty and also somewhat larger. The petty part comes from wondering why Twilight never got shit for what we had to put up with because of him. But the other part of me worries that this basically shows him that he doesn’t have to worry about consequences. Someone will always clean up his mess for him. And in a few months after this new deal pays him he’s going to pop back up and try to convince the world that he’s sober and to start sending him money again. He’s following the Hollywood path of remaking the same fucking movie over and over again, with weaker results each time. And people will welcome him back with open arms. Because, like I said, he’s only fucked over about 1% of his total fanbase. There’s still 99% of you out there who post shit like ‘well he never fucked me over, you guys are all haters’ etc when the subject gets brought up. And you’ll keep enabling him to continue to hurt people, to fuck people over and to treat people like refuse because beyond being a junkie he’s also a solipsist. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself because to him that’s all there is.”
I don’t think I’m alone in admitting that it honestly never occurred to me that CM’s decision to “make up for Judd’s mistake” might ultimately be a negative one. But based on our own experiences with Judd, it seems clear that Jameson is 100% correct — sooner or later, Judd will reappear and try to convince the world that he’s sober. Maybe I’ll even get another message from him, taking me to task for this very article. Hopefully I’ve learned my lesson. Hopefully all Nachtmystium fans have learned our lesson.
Read the entirety of Jameson’s account here. It’s painful, but worth it.