Flaw Guitarist Fired From Band, Gives Lamest Excuse Ever for Plagiarism
A quick catch-up on the Flaw plagiarism story so far in case you’re just tuning in: after bottom-feeder nu-metal band Flaw were busted for committing multiple acts of plagiarism on their most recent album, the band’s frontman, Christopher Volz, offered an apology, promising to address the issue internally and make amends with the parties whose work had been stolen. While he didn’t put a name to the Riff Stealer General in his band, guitarist Tommy Gibbons accidentally outed himself on social media by bragging about a Flaw song he “wrote,” that song being one that internet sleuths determined he most certainly did not write.
Which brings us up to today. And boy, it’s another doozy!
First, Gibbons issued a lengthy statement on Friday, October 4, via Facebook, in an attempt to explain his blatant acts of riff thievery. His argument is completely ridiculous in a number of ways, but first I’d like you to read it, then we’ll break it down after, mmkay? Here you go:
“As many of you know, I am the current bass/guitar player for FLAW. I was tasked with writing the music for our most recent album, VOL IV: Because Of The Brave. To clarify, this is the only record I’ve recorded with FLAW and I had no hand in previous recordings.
“I have been writing and recording music for over 15 years. I, like many other musicians, look to YouTube for inspiration and creative ways to challenge myself and learn more. Over the years I have listened to and re recorded hundreds and hundreds of songs online. I also have hundreds and hundreds of songs recorded on my studio computer which have been compiled over the last 10 or so years, some of them mine and some of them taken from other inspiration.
“I regretfully did not label and differentiate the music I wrote and recorded from a blank slate versus the inspiration I found and re-recorded as I was trying to further myself. As I was going through hours and hours of previously recorded material to present to Chris for the new album, clearly a specific style in my catalog stuck out to me. These are things I re-recorded years ago and did not label where they actually came from.
“This is where I went terribly wrong. I took the tracks I re-recorded not knowing their true original source and presented them to Chris which in turn he worked tirelessly to write and record original lyrics and vocals to. He entrusted me with something that I thought I was going to truly impress him with and I let him down.
“I take full and all responsibility for the accusations and bad press that has been flooding social media recently. None of the other band members had any knowledge or reason to believe these songs were written by anyone else, they are free and clear of any responsibility or wrongdoing.
“To all my friends and fans, I want you to know that this was a royal mistake on my part, and by no means did I intentionally try to steal or plagiarize any other musicians music. I will do what I can to rectify this situation including any compensation for the original writers. We have made contact with him and are working on an agreement.
“Again, I am sorry to those I have let down including my bandmates who had no participation in writing the music for these recordings. I understand and respect whatever decision has to be made by the band because of this and I hope I will continue to see all of you along the way. I’m sorry and thank you.”
Alright, lots to unpack! Here we go:
- Who learns and re-records entire songs written by random YouTubers?? Why? It’s certainly commonplace for musicians at all levels to record covers at home, just for fun, sometimes with their own creative flourishes, sometimes true to the original. But re-recording ENTIRE SONGS by UNKNOWN musicians makes no sense unless the intent was to eventually use them for Gibbons’ own work. Further, it wasn’t just a riff here and there that was re-recorded, but full arrangements with multiple guitar parts, complex drums and electronics all perfectly replicated — again, why go to such great lengths if the eventual intent wasn’t to use that material?
- Do we for a second buy Tommy’s excuse that he didn’t know any of the work he presented to the band wasn’t his own? I, for one, do not, regardless of how different tracks on his home recording setup may or may not have been labeled.
- Further to #2, one YouTuber, Riff Master T, has publicly acknowledged that the band properly licensed his song “Nu Metal Instrumental 2” for use in the Flaw track “Conquer This Climb.” While that knowledge could lend credence to Gibbons’ claim that files on his computer were improperly labeled, it also underscores that clearly some tracks were labeled correctly, and Gibbons fully knew what he was doing. Or that he at least knew some of the material he’d recorded wasn’t his own… so he should’ve, ya know, probably checked on that before submitting it to Flaw.
- The phrase “We have made contact with him” addresses only one of the artists he stole from, presumably Douglas Patrick, whose song “KoЯn style_Nu “Metal/Rap Metal/Beat Instrumental 14“ was robbed and released by Flaw as “Wake Up.” But Chris Volz is already on record as saying he was in contact with Douglas. What of the other artists Gibbons stole from?
In any case, all of the above is pretty much moot at this point as it pertains to Flaw, because the band let Gibbons go late last night. In a post to Facebook, Flaw announced they’d relieved Gibbons from his duties:
“It is with a heavy heart I have to announce that we have parted ways with guitarist/bassist Tommy Gibbons. I know most of you have seen the bad press over the past few weeks and know the situation I have been put in, I really had no choice but to let him go.
“I can not and will not tolerate unauthorized use of any artists material whatsoever, no matter the excuse. The integrity of Flaw and every project I have ever worked on is extremely important, and I can not accept any form of plagiarism or misuse of other people’s material. I have worked too hard and sacrificed too much for the past 20 years to let anyone ruin that.
“Flaw will persevere through this and we will come out stronger in the end. We wish Tommy the best in his future endeavors and hope he has learned a valuable lesson from all of this. He’s not a bad guy and is an amazing string player so I hope he can realize the severity of his actions, correct this behavior, make it right with all parties involved, and move on. I can not in good conscience continue to work with him or have him as a representative of the Flaw crew.
“That being said, we are currently accepting video auditions for a new bassist, please send video of live performance play-a-long to our songs ‘Payback’ and ‘Whole’ to: [email protected] (my name without the ‘i’) and we will get back to you for a full physical audition. Thank you all for your understanding during this difficult time and we can’t wait to see you all soon on the next tour!”
Good. The only question is this: what took so fucking long?? Flaw waited one day shy of three weeks from when the first revelation of plagiarism broke to fire Gibbons, and nearly a week since the second and third stories broke. I mean, I understand loyalty, and folks are certainly entitled to fuck up (once!), but Volz and the rest of the band gave Gibbons a very generous benefit of the doubt with this one.
Meanwhile, if you aspire to play bass and write (non-plagiarized) songs for a down and out nu-metal band, now’s your chance! Get on it.