Death By Audio booker talks Vice; Vice & the landlord respond
Tim Harrington @ one of DBA's final shows (more by Alex Olsen)
Williamsburg DIY venue Death By Audio held its final show on November 22nd, and Glasslands -- a club located in the same building, closes after New Year's Eve (and 285 Kent, also in that building, closed earlier this year). Though nobody knows the FULL story, it's clear that Vice, who is turning 20 and celebrated in a big way in Brooklyn over the weekend, is moving its headquarters into the building. All tenants, including a circus school, need to be out.
Though the story was interesting/sad from day one (beloved venues closing, the irony of Vice being the ones moving in, etc), it grew to be a regular soap opera during Death By Audio's final month. The saga so far includes a Death By Audio co-founder posing with anti-Vice-co-founder art and that art allegedly then censored, musicians expressing anti-Vice sentiment, and Vice magazines being ripped up and thrown around the venue on its final night. The concept of 'Vice vs. DIY' in Williamsburg is officially a thing. Advertising Age even wrote about it.
That brings us to the latest chapter which is an interview Death By Audio booker Edan gave to Bedford and Bowery. Edan, who moved the Florida the day after DBA closed, discusses the possibility of opening a new venue and the challenges he'll face ("I feel like with Bushwick, it's already too late"), and says more about the Vice stuff. For instance, he clarifies that the Vice magazines ripped on the last night were actually his personal collection (that's one way to avoid having to move them!).
About the lease and stuff, Edan says:
Well, we didn't get bought out. At no point did money change between hands, we just waited for our lease to end.
Our landlord had a meeting with us in September and we thought our lease was going until June, because we thought we'd signed a two-year lease. We've always been good friends with our landlord and we were never really good with the business side of things, and we thought we got a copy of our lease, and we just didn't. That's one of our bads, but we're just not business people.
So they produced our lease and said it was a year and five months, but we had no recourse at that point. We scoured for a copy of our lease, because we think [they showed us] a doctored lease. But we can't say for sure. It's one of those dumb-ass things we never thought would be a problem.
The only time Vice was in touch with us was that day when we had the meeting in September, and we agreed to leave at the end of November. No problem. We didn't want to make waves because we felt that if we gave any shit to Vice they would just squash us like a bug.
But they were like, "What's it going to take to get you out today?" And I was like, look, I've got two months of shows booked and these personal relationships mean a lot to me, and I want to make sure all the shows happen.
Meanwhile, Vice says they didn't kick anyone out and that DBA did take a "buyout". Here's what a Vice spokesperson told us:
We've been quiet throughout the last few months, but facts are facts and they should be made clear. The reality here is that DBA took a buyout from the landlord. No one kicked anyone out.
Hmm. Vice also directed us to the landlord's lawyer who told us this:
Thank you for reaching out to me and giving my client the opportunity to correct several falsehoods conveyed to you by Mr. Edan Wilber from Death By Audio ("DBA"). Here are the facts:
DBA's fully executed lease was dated as of July 1, 2013. It had a term of one (1) year and five (5) months with an expiration date of November 30, 2014. The lease did not contain any right for DBA to extend or renew the term of the lease. The lease was never modified or amended. DBA stopped paying rent in July, 2014. At the time DBA vacated the premises at the end of November it owed my client in excess of Fifty-Five Thousand ($55,000) Dollars. This amount does not include (i) any late fees on any of the rents then due and owing, or (ii) the costs and expenses incurred in connection with repairing the substantial damage DBA did to the premises. In an effort to amicably part ways, DBA and my client entered into a legal agreement, pursuant to which my client agreed to waive all of the rent DBA owed in exchange for DBA agreeing not to hold over in the premises after their lease expired. Throughout the negotiation DBA was represented by a litigation partner from a well-respected law firm.
Vice mentions a" buyout", but the lawyer talks about not having to pay back rent. Are these the same thing? I asked the Vice spokesperson to clarify:
The fact is, Death by Audio took a significant sum of money from the landlord to be bought out of their lease, and then lied about it.
I told you this was a soap opera!