Exclusive | Kung Fu On Parting Ways With Todd Stoops
Words By: Chad Berndtson
On Friday came word from the Kung Fu camp that the band had replaced keyboardist Todd Stoops. That statement was followed by a Facebook post from Stoops himself that acknowledged good memories of the band but also expressed shock at how he was let go. Another post from Kung Fu followed Stoops’ post, this time more sharply worded and urging fans to “read between the lines.”
In an exclusive interview with JamBase, Kung Fu’s Tim Palmieri provided additional details. (When reached by JamBase, Stoops declined additional comment. Update 5/30: Stoops has responded via a brief digital chat.)
JAMBASE: Why did Kung Fu fire Todd Stoops?
TIM PALMIERI: Because our business relationship wasn’t working any longer. We had multiple sit-downs and meetings and talks and nothing ever really changed. We need to move on for the greater good of the band, and get down to what this is all about, which is making our fans happy and making ourselves happy. You don’t want to be a martyr for rock ‘n’ roll. We have families, we want to be happy in what we’re doing and be proud of it. At the end of the day, we weren’t functioning on a happy basis, so here we are.
I don’t want to get into the details, but it’s been made out to be that this was a surprise for Stoops, and it really wasn’t. Over the course of the band, almost 6 years, we’ve had multiple sit-downs to address issues and all be on the same page.
JAMBASE: So it’s unfair to describe this as a surprise, or as an abrupt decision?
TP: It’s definitely unfair to say that, yes.
JAMBASE: Can you elaborate on what the issues were?
TP: No, I wouldn’t care to. That’s personal. I wish Todd all the best. He’s an amazing musician, has been an integral part of this band and we wouldn’t be where we are now without him. We would have loved to continue with him, but when you have a toxic relationship, you need to get out of it. Life is too short to be unhappy and stressed.
JAMBASE: Can you confirm the communication came via e-mail?
TP: It did come via e-mail. We tried a few times to have sit-downs and have this fall in line. We no longer had a working relationship. We couldn’t even sit down and find an appropriate time to talk about matters. So in the name of moving forward, getting close to a very busy festival season, this was the way to do it. It’s clear, concise and non-emotional. We’re still going to sit down with him to work some things out, but in the name of time and responsibilities, this was the most effective way.
No one is happy about that, and I can understand the reaction. Shit happens. We would love to have told him in person, but we were never able to find the right moment.
JAMBASE: Is it safe to say all four of you were in agreement on Todd?
TP: Yes. And we deliberated long and hard – it’s not something we came up with all of a sudden. It was all right, you know, we’d have a meeting, and there was another meeting, and then we started getting serious about it. We know what it means, and I think that Kung Fu is more than one person. It always has been; we’ve been through a few member changes. It’s about the music and about making people happy.
JAMBASE: What would you like to say about next steps for Kung Fu? Beau Sasser is obviously a known quantity.
TP: I’ve known Beau since the early days of Psychedelic Breakfast and when he was in Uncle Sammy. He’s also in my Frank Zappa tribute band, the Z3. We think he’s the guy for the job and we’re lucky – we didn’t have to do any tryouts or dig deep. Here’s someone in the Northeast that we know and that we’ve grown up with. We’re going to write and record and play.
JAMBASE: Are you planning to cancel or change any Kung Fu dates given the transition?
TP: Nope. It’s not our intention, anyway – we’re looking to honor every single date and rock as many people as want to be rocked out there. There’s a lot of emotions out there and we understand, so it’s time to let the dust settle.
JAMBASE: What is your message to fans of Kung Fu that are feeling raw about this news?
TP: We apologize to the fans because we love Todd as well. We wouldn’t have been in this band with him if we didn’t have a common bond, and it’s unfortunate that it’s come to this. But we feel it’s necessary because we would rather have Kung Fu without Todd than no Kung Fu at all, and that’s what it was starting to look like. It’s out of self preservation that we think this is a necessary move. We are very excited to make music again.