Guido Heijnens, owner of the now-defunct Dutch record label Hammerheart Records (which was "resurrected" for a short while under the Karmageddon Media banner) has responded to comments made by Beth Schuldiner, sister of late DEATH/CONTROL DENIED mastermind Chuck Schuldiner, regarding the fate of the unreleased second CONTROL DENIED album and Hammerheart/Karmageddon Media's reasons for releasing Chuck's demo recordings and unfinished studio sessions without the permission or consent of the Schuldiner family. The following are excerpts from Beth Schuldiner's original statement and Guido's responses to each point in her letter:
Beth Schuldiner [from previous statement]: "I agree, the whole bullshit with ALL of the lawyers sucks. It is, however, a part of our culture that while out of control, is an evil necessity. When ANYONE enters into a contract, individual, corporation, band etc. there is always the chance of a dispute. Unfortunately, the courts are the only way to resolve a contract dispute. Shakespeare said it best: 'First, kill all the lawyers.'"
Guido Heijnens' response: "I fully agree. I tried to settle all this for two years at least, got no answers, no reply, nothing. Our lawyer has cost us way over $10,000. [I] talked to Jane [Chuck's mother] a few times on the phone, but she said only Bethann could talk [about] this to me, which Bethann never did except on one occassion where we talked for five minutes with a promise to be called back the next day... Nothing happened even if I tried."
Beth Schuldiner [from previous statement]: "As for me taking Chuck's masters within a few days of Chuck's death — this is a vicious lie. I will not disclose the last days of Chuck's life, other than to say he was brave, still wanting and struggling to survive — to play his music, love his dogs and cats, go to the beach with his family and many, many other things. There is nothing — I repeat, NOTHING — worse than watching someone who means EVERYTHING to you slip away."
Guido Heijnens' response: "Where are they then? The masters? Jim Morris [producer and owner of Morrisound Studios in Tampa, Florida] told me you had taken them a few days after... When did you take them then? A few weeks after? Does it make a difference? Does it make me a liar? I do not have them, Morris does not have them. You have them, obviously, but do nothing with them... You cheat on the fans, simple."
Beth Schuldiner [from previous statement]: "I am profoundly affected by the loss of my brother, Chuckie. I weep each and every day of my life. I know his fans see him as a wonderful musician — he was 1,000 times that as a brother, uncle and son."
Guido Heijnens' response: "I am still very sad [about] Chuck's passing. This grief is a completely seperate issue and should not be confused with these matters. I am a big fan of his music and though I only met him for five days, we got along great... Maybe stop weeping for a few moments and treat his final legacy with some respect."
Beth Schuldiner [from previous statement]: "Chuck's biggest loss was our older brother's passing — his name was Frankie. Little did he know this legacy of grief would be passed to me.
"As for the 70,000 euros — our attorney, Mark Lippman (prior to him, Berry Walker),asked multiple times for cancelled checks where Chuck and/or the band received these funds. All that was ever given to us was a computer printout of these funds, generated by Hammerheart. Not ONE cancelled check, not ONE wire transfer confirmation. Guido (Hammerheart),in the contract with Chuck, committed to advertising in certain publications PRIOR to the album's release, some half-page [ads], some full-page [ads]. Bands that had signed on with Hammerheart prior to and during can attest to the fact that Guido's company was UNABLE financially to fulfill their contractual obligations, thus entering into a contract that they could NEVER fulfill. This is FRAUD.
"Bands go through it every day — you're out there, you know I speak the truth. Bands are forever screwed by the 'industry'; we all know it. The fans shouldn't have to know it. Their whole mindset should be, 'I just want to hear the music I love' — not the whole legal, 'screw' bullshit that it takes to release an album and tour."
Guido Heijnens' response: "Nonsense. Our lawyers and we ourselves have faxed it several times. I have 100% proof that our ABN Amro bank paid Chuck his money: $30,000 on December 20, 2000, $10,000 on November 23, 2000 and another $10,000 on December 23, 2000. It was sent by mail (registered) as well. This is $50,000 which then was 70,000 euros!!! If you calculate interest it would be a lot more by now.
"In these papers we added our contact person at ABN Amro bank with telephone and fax numbers and e-mail contact!!! We did not pay by check — it was a bank transfer (cannot help it if you Americans still pay by check; we do it by electronic banking...). Bethann's lawyers never responded [to] anything.
"On the ad thing, what nonsense... How can I advertise an album which I do not have a release date set for??? Bullshit!!! What should I have advertised? 'Non-finished recording probably to be released within the next five years or so?'
"If you have the guts, then deal with us on this, get in touch and settle it once and for all... You can ask Blabbermouth for my e-mail address and get in touch. [I'm] ready to go today. Give me my $50,000 back and do as you please with this record. Give me the fax number of your lawyer and I will fax him all this proof again... Do you actually think I would lie on paying someone 70,000 euros and go public with it???"
Beth Schuldiner [from previous statement]: "We live in the United States of America. In the United States, we have something called probate. We have to wait until the estate is settled through probate to continue with anything.
Guido Heijnens' response: "Yes, sure..."
Beth Schuldiner [from previous statement]: "As for me or my family offering Chuck's last work to another label — damn straight I did — WITH THE CONDITION THEY PAY GUIDO OFF THE FUNDS HE THINKS HE'S OWED — so that a 'reputable' label (if one exists) could put CONTROL DENIED's last work out."
Guido Heijnens' response: "Okay, fix it!!! Get it going then. Pay me back the $50,000 at 2000's conversion rate. I am ready now!!! Anytime!!! The fans should have the record. If this is released without solving these problems, you can be sure no one in Europe can/will release this, since we have already won our lawsuit here... It would mean it is an illegal release. But as I said, get going, pay us and do as you please."
Beth Schuldiner [from previous statement]: "In closing, the music and the fans meant EVERYTHING to Chuck. I wish he were here to guide me through this bullshit. Chuckie always did his best by me not only as a brother, but as my best friend — I don't want to let him down."
Guido Heijnens' response: "Neither do I. I never did anything wrong concerning Chuck. I stuck to our agreement (in his own words, the 'best deal' he ever had landed!!!). If he was alive, he could at least confirm we had fully paid him!!!"
Beth Schuldiner [from previous statement]: "The band's [CONTROL DENIED] last work will come out this year, that I promise. Guido can sue me for everything and anything — I have already lost my brother. Have at it, Guido."
Guido Heijnens' response: "Sure, big mouth. No deeds, I guess, once again... As I said, [a] release in Europe cannot happen. Any label doing this could file for bankruptcy."
Beth Schuldiner [from previous statement]: "As for OUR mother, Chuck would shit on ANYONE that disparaged her in ANY way. She was a warrior in her care for him, tirelessly caring for him while all the time her heart was breaking; the possibility of losing a second son.
Guido Heijnens' response: "Yeah, sure. It is always so sad, so bad... I already expressed a zillion times I am sad [about] Chuck's death, and I wish it would have gone completely differently. If leaving this all behind would bring Chuck back alive, I would do it straight away, but I cannot accept investing 70,000 euros and then let someone else make the cash on it... No way... Who would?"
Beth Schuldiner [from previous statement]: "SHAME ON YOU, GUIDO."
Guido Heijnens' response: "Shame and more shame and even more shame on you, Bethann. I have been willing to talk and solve this since beginning 2002. You and I know where all this started from. Now be as though as you act like and get it solved — either find a label to pay us back or do it yourselves... And no more bullshit [about] us not paying; I have all the proof in the world while you have nothing...
"People out there: find me an asshole, hate me... but believe me, I am telling the truth in this case. If you pay something which means a lot, and then you do not get it and see someone else walk away with it for free, would you agree??? (once again, Chuck's death is really tragic and has nothing to do with this.) Of course, I did not do everything correct through the years (hey, I am only human),but with Chuck and this whole affair I made no mistakes and never mistreated anyone. And if this is not solved because people do not want to on purpose then I do not take my words back; then these people = shit, simple.
"It is public now; let's see what happens. I hope for all you people that the Schuldiners will solve it and give you the album... As you understand, I would be very happy to co-operate, but I have to be very mistaken if this time it will work out..."
Chuck Schuldiner passed away on December 13, 2001 after a battle with pontine glioma, a rare type of brain tumor. He was 34 years old.