As I Lay Dying’s Nick Hipa Blogs From the Road: ‘We Got Served’
As I Lay Dying guitar maestro Nick Hipa checked in from the road again this week, to tell the tale of legal woes the band faced while on the road.
We got served! Last Tuesday at a FYE signing in Madison, WI, Josh (bass) and Phil (guitar) were approached by a man seemingly stoked to have an opportunity to meet them.
"Yes?" replied my unsuspecting bandmates.
"Here you go. Open these after your signing." The man gifted them each with envelopes.
Several handshakes and sharpie strokes later, the contents of the delivery were revealed to be a court summons indicating that all five members of the band were being sued for an incident I will describe later.
Frustrated and annoyed more than anything, Josh and Phil headed back to the venue.
Meanwhile ... Jordan (drums) was chilling on the bus preparing to warm up for the night's show when he heard an alarming knock manifest at the door.
"Hello?" Jordan inquired, as a child with a camera and his "alleged" father stood before him.
"Hi! My son is a huge fan and I was wondering if I could get a photo with him and the rest of the band!? Are all the other guys on the bus?"
"No it's just me," Jordan replied. "But I'll be happy to take a picture with him."
"Oh ... OK ..." the dude responded; apparently dejected that he had to settle for only one member. "So you're the drummer? What was your name again?"
"Heeeeere you go," the father and son (or whatever they were) immediately left as Jordan opened the envelope handed to him. It didn't take long for Jordan and his mustache to realize they got served!
Word in our camp spread instantaneously, alerting all band and crew that there was a process server in our midst, seeking whom he may devour (Tim and myself). I made it back from the adjacent diner across the street unaccosted and into the haven of our backstage area.
Never in my wildest dreams had I thought I'd have to dodge a dude trying to hand me bummer legal papers, so the experience of denying my identity and hiding out became a new memorable experience. In my mind, Seth Rogen was hanging out in the parking lot smoking 'Pineapple Express' and waiting to ruin my day. It became something of a game, then, to avoid this dude.
The night went on, the show ruled, and I left Madison completely unscathed.
The tour's next stop was in Green Bay, Wis., which is only a few hours from Madison and also where the incident warranting legal action took place. Aware of this, both Tim and I laid low again. On a side note, Tim didn't really care about being served or not because he was aware of the case and regarded it benign. It was actually just me, with my third grade spirit of adventure and adult male mentality of "not getting got" who was so fixated on escaping the process server's wily schemes.
The evening fared well for me until immediately after our set.
The Riverside Ballroom offers little in the way of a backstage, so there is little dividing the corner room of gear and personal objects save a security guard and black curtain. Moments after we walked off stage, as we were collecting ourselves and toweling off sweat, a voice from beyond the barrier of man and curtain beckoned, "Tim and Nick!?"
"What!?" I replied, assuming it was our tour manager Pete needing us for something.
Instantly, two envelopes were thrown in our general direction from beneath the curtain and slid beneath our miscellaneous road cases. The security guard watched curiously as the dude immediately sprinted for the door, not wanting to retrieve whatever items he wanted to be signed. We recognized it as our summons documents, which were already opened by the way, and basked in our own discombobulation.
I was furious; not because I actually got served, but because technically, I felt like it didn't count. The dude had no way of verifying who he was speaking to because he shouted through a curtain, and the documents were hurled into the general vicinity of an area that we may or may not have been standing! My level of fury was akin to my first childhood reaction when viewing Jean Claude Van Damme's masterpiece 'Bloodsport,' during the scene when Chong Li threw the ground up glass in JCVD's eyes during the last fight to temporarily blind him. "It's not fair and that's cheating!" were my thoughts in both instances.
The security dude inquired what was going on, and I informed him we were being sued for an incident that occurred three years ago. Coincidentally, it was show he was working and remembers well. The details of the now infamous event were explained to us as follows:
Three years ago at that same venue, one of the security guards working the show had a diabetic seizure that incapacitated him causing him to incidentally hit his head. He sustained several injuries from this unforeseen episode and consequently incurred some medical bills.
That's what happened. That's it. The promoter provided his support by throwing a benefit show to which Bob (as we'll call the dude suing everyone) received the proceeds. It must not have been enough though, because Bob turned around and sued the very same promoter in addition to the security company he was working for. I don't know how much I'm allowed to disclose, so I'll stop by saying I heard he received a sizeable settlement from that alone.
Fast-forward three years later to the present day, and now our band is subject to a lawsuit for (I guess) being there and playing when it happened. I'm certain any eloquent speaker with a law degree can make a case as to how it is our fault (since we were the headlining band that night), and that we must absolutely compensate Bob for the quality of life (or lack there of) he has had to endure since his unfortunate accident. We collectively do deem it unfortunate, and are sorry to hear that Bob has had health problems, but nowhere in our catalogue of music is there anything so crushing as to incite a diabetic seizure.
We were simply there, so we are assigned part of the blame.
Bob's situation is in my eyes a very serious, legally, and financially involved exaggeration of what I see way too much of on a daily basis: blame. We've all been guilty of it and we are bombarded by it constantly. It is the easiest thing to not take responsibility for our own lives and give an excuse why. Somebody is out to get you, no one is giving you a chance, the economy, etc. This might be a harsh lens to view it through, but have you wondered if perhaps all our excuses are just subconscious coping mechanisms for our own personal failures? I'm done talking about Bob by the way. I'm just talking about life now. Terrible things do happen that are beyond our control and one of life's greatest mysteries is why. What I'm getting at now, though, is what we do have control over: ourselves. Accepting personal responsibility for anything we fail or succeed at makes it more of our own.
Failure is hard but we are human and it happens. Placing blame on other people for why you haven't done or are not doing what it is you truly want will leave you resentful and jaded. Mastering your fate is the point I guess. It's not a new idea but something that certainly bears repeating. I'm not going to go over the top and bombard you with quotes you can easily Google, but if you care enough try searching 'giving excuse quotes' and observe how many of mankind's greatest standouts viewed the topic. By accepting what life gives you and being accountable for how you choose to deal with it, is in my mind keeping oneself onward the path to personal fulfillment.
Finally -- all hippy mumbo jumbo aside -- process servers can suck a chode. Especially the ones who cheat.