Public dispute threatens to harm iconic band's reputation
The internal dispute between members of the iconic Australian rock band Australian Crawl has spilt over into the public domain, with guitarist Simon Binks claiming he's been 'defrauded' out of royalty payments.
In a statement posted on the band's Facebook, verified by the social media platform as the band's official outlet and run by Binks, former fan club President Helen Isitt and 'content creator' Beverly O'Donnell, Binks claimed he was misrepresented in an A Current Affair (watch below) segment that pitted him against the band's frontman and his former best mate James Reyne, but also alleged that he has been forced out of the band's interests.
The lengthy post makes a number of accusations, including the allegation that original drummer Bill McDonough registered the band's name under his in 1995 and that artist manager Nathan Brenner – who began consulting with the band in 2004 – have been controlling the band's finances and that as a result he hasn't received the recognition deserved.
In a statement issued to theMusic.com.au this afternoon, Brenner has disputed nearly every claim in the statement on his own behalf. He said that after becoming involved in the band in 2004 to work through a dispute with EMI regarding an unauthorised DVD release he loaned Binks an amount of money, of which ten percent was repaid “a couple of months ago” – the rest still being owed. Brenner says that his role was to repair relationships within the band but today told theMusic.com.au that he was disappointed in the damage Binks' statements – which he claims to be false – could do to the band's reputation.
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In his statement Binks said that he approached A Current Affair to discuss the state of the rock'n'roll and wider music industry in Australia, and that the program “misrepresented me as whinging about James as a reason to cut me out of the company that arose from the band that James and I began.”
Brenner said that the Australian Crawl company “did not arise from the band that 'James and I began'.
“A Current Affair reported what Simon Binks said,” he said. “I would imagine most people realise that such 'news as infotainment' programs spin content to be controversial, seek such hullabaloo for ratings. Simon didn't have to respond to their taunts, accompany and support their agenda, but he did. Simon did not inform any member of the band about this interview prior to it being put together.
“Simon conducted this interview at a period where together with Universal Records we were finalising and putting the entire catalogue online and for CD purchase, so that fans could have access to remastered classic Australian Crawl material. The consequence of Simon's appearance and slur resulted in Mr. Reyne refusing to do the usual interviews normally associated with a record release.
“Arguably this hurt record sales for the entire band. Simon participated but failed to meet production deadlines, and after agreeing to the 'majority rule' principle, decided that although the majority of the band had decided one thing or another he would interfere. In my opinion having managed Men At Work, Split Enz, many other acts for over 30 years, Simon was one of the most interfering unproductive member of any band, despite his talent.”
James Reynes – who still performs as a solo artist – has stayed out of the dispute, at least in the public, and Brenner said that he “refuses” to talk to Binks. At one point in the statement Binks claims that he, Reyne and the late guitarist Brad Robinson “hit the roof” when they discovered that McDonough had registered the band's name as a company.
“I sacked Bill in 1983,” Binks wrote. “He was not a founding member and was not even present when we came up with the name. David Reyne was the drummer then.”
In response Brenner said that, “As Brad Robinson has passed away and Mr [James] Reyne refuses to talk or respond to Mr Binks or be in the same room for interviews, there is no way to verify this claim. As a matter of fact the Certificate of registration of trade mark (Class No. 41) was made well before the  date Simon states.”
The post was met with missed reactions on Facebook, with fans split between being supportive of Binks and disappointed in his “sour grapes”.
Much of Binks' gripes come down to the fact that he feels under-acknowledged for his involvement in the band's songwriting and he's not seeing enough of the revenue streams.
“Future merchandising you will see will go into McDonough and Brenner's pockets but not mine,” Binks wrote. “McDonough had promised to make things right by acknowledging my contributions to the songs that his brother [the late Guy McDonough] wrote. He had absolutely nothing to do with their composition yet has been collecting royalties for my work for 35 years.”
Brenner – whose statements are on his own behalf as a colleague of those being attacked in the statements – said, “Incorrect. Simon's continued wrongful abuse of Bill McDonough is unwarranted. Bill McDonough has not collected royalties owed to Simon Binks and there is no proof of this ever having occurred.
“If so, Simon could easily sue him and Simon has not. Not in 30 years. It is true that Bill does administer his brother's estate and helps arrange payments to the estate's beneficiaries.”
Addressing Binks further Brenner argues, “It's your [own] fault; you have to accept responsibility for not pulling your weight and asserting your rights. Again if you have any evidence do something about it, but after 30 years all you have is seemingly erroneous rants.”
Brenner told theMusic that Binks “is or was a fantastic guitarist” and that he has fought for Binks to get the recognition he deserves. He added that attacks on himself, other members involved with Australian Crawl and late members of the band are libellous and should be removed.
Today Binks has responded to social media criticisms by posting a link to new material, which he's been working on throughout the past two decades.
“I'm playing everything and singing but I'd rather James do it,” he said. “I can't do what he does and don't consider myself a singer. All else is explained in my long and dated diatribe on the site.”