US Label Victory Records Reportedly Suing One Of Its Old Bands For Over $1 Million

24 October 2015 | 12:18 pm | Staff Writer

The well-known indie label says New Jersey outfit Streetlight Manifesto failed to make good on contractual obligations

Chicago-based independent label Victory Records has commenced legal action against former signed outfit Streetlight Manifesto — via their frontman, Tomas Kalnoky — and filing a lawsuit against the band to the order of $US 1 million (about $1.39 million) in damages, it has been reported.

As Dying Scene reports (via the US Courthouse News Service), Victory Records is chasing the damages (which may actually well exceed the $US 1 million mark) from Streetlight Manifesto over the band's alleged failure to deliver a fourth studio album, as per their contractual obligations, as well as damages for alleged copyright infringement.

The complaint was filed on Friday in the US Federal Court system, with Victory describing Kalnoky — the only remaining original member of the band — as "mercurial" and prone to "incessant production delays" that adversely affected Streetlight Manifesto's ability to deliver the apparently promised four studio albums.

Although Streetlight Manifesto released five albums under the Victory umbrella during their tenure with the label, two are disputed as counting towards their four-album agreement; namely, second LP Keasbey Nights (2006), a re-recording of the 1998 album of the same name that Kalnoky had released with previous outfit Catch 22 and for which Victory reportedly put up a $10,000 "emergency advance", and 2010 covers album 99 Songs Of Revolution: Vol. 1

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With regard to Keasbey Nights in particular, the complaint reads: "Kalnoky, a self-proclaimed perfectionist, once acknowledged in an update to the SLM website his band's penchant for persistently delaying completing production of studio albums: 'We are aware of our reputation to take forever to release records and miss our self-imposed deadlines.'

"Whatever the subjective basis for Kalnoky's proclivity to procrastinate, it had the objective effect of holding albums hostage long after he had received the recording advances from Victory."

While Kalnoky began performing under a solo moniker, Toh Kay, Victory claims its 2002 agreement with the musician rendered those recordings its property, saying Kalnoky "had no right" to put out his work through own company Pentimento Music. Further disputes arose from the release of Streetlight Manifesto's 2013 album The Hands That Thieve, the release of which Victory alleges was effectively sabotaged by Kalnoky.

"In or about 2012, performing under his solo pseudonym 'Toh Kay', and unbeknownst to Victory, as part of a premeditated plan to sabotage the Victory/SLM 'The Hands That Thieve' album, Kalnoky recorded an acoustic version of the same musical compositions contained on the Victory/SLM 'The Hands That Thieve' album, using a deceptively similar album name — 'The Hand That Thieves' — and using the same artwork and track listing as the Victory/SLM album," the label's complaint reads.

According to the Courthouse News Service, "Having received notices from Victory objecting to the release of the infringing Toh Kay album, Kalnoky informed the label that the band considers itself no longer bound by the 2002 agreement".

For his part, Kalnoky seems largely unfazed by the impending proceedings, having a right old field day on social media at the expense of Victory founder Tony Brummel, explaining in a separate post that "Victory Records hasn't paid us a cent in royalties in over two years".


THE REPORTS ARE SIMPLY NOT TRUE. Tony Brummel / Victory Records are NOT suing Tomas for $1 Million…...He's actually suing Tomas for FIVE MILLION DOLLARS.

Posted by Streetlight Manifesto on Friday, October 23, 2015

The case, Victory Records, Inc. v Tomas Kalnoky, will be heard at the Illinois Northern District Federal Courthouse.