UPDATE: Here is the Vancouver Sun’s story.
Shane Bunting, better known as Mad Child from Vancouver-based hip-hop group Swollen Members, says he has been banned from entering the U.S. due to his affiliation with the Hells Angels.
From a news release issued Jan. 4:
“I was on my way to meet my brothers in Swollen Members to perform some shows in the United States. I went to go through customs at the Vancouver Airport, and I was pulled into the Customs waiting room. I must have sat there for three hours before I was even called up to the desk, which was odd considering there was hardly anybody else in there waiting. When I was finally called up, the agent started questioning me about being a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club and when I replied, ‘No’, he just continued to repeat the question over and over again. After five more hours of waiting, watching him go back and forth, looking on the internet and asking me the same questions over and over again, I was finally called to the front desk. He asked me another series of questions and after a total of eight and a half hours of questioning I was told that I was officially banned from entering the United States.”
“The thing that is frustrating to me is that I am being judged for the people I associated with and for some trouble I had back when I was a minor over sixteen years ago. In the last year I’ve managed to defeat my drug addiction and really worked on changing my life to become a better person. I’ve even started speaking at high schools here in Canada to talk to kids about the perils of drug addiction and hopefully use my journey to inspire the youth to avoid the pitfalls that I fell into. It’s extremely disheartening to me to know that after turning my life around, it feels like a second chance is evading me. Unfortunately when entering the United States, I’m not judged on the person I am today, but rather on my appearance and whoever the customs officials perceive me to be, which is discrimination.”
James Wright, a spokesman for the group, told me Tuesday (Jan.4) the airport incident happened about a month ago, but the group just learned that he has been banned “indefinitely,” which would, naturally, keep him from touring in the U.S. with the rest of the group.
Disclaimer: I have not yet independently confirmed this, or that the reason is because of his HA affiliation. However, I do know that Mad Child’s friendship with HA members has led to some roadblocks in the past. Nettwerk Management, for example, dropped the group due to it. He spoke about that — and overcoming a crippling pill addiction — in a candid interview with me last year.
I’m curious as to what the customs agent was reading about Mad Child on the Internet. The first article that comes up during a Google search of his government name (not including a Wikipedia entry) is a 2007 Castanet story headlined, “Kelowna Hells Angel busted.” The second is a YouTube video titled “Madchild interview after ERT swarmed house.” The third is another story I wrote based on the candid interview I just linked you to last paragraph. Hmm.