Jesse Lacey was the closest thing I ever had to a hero. Those who know me well (and probably most of you who don’t know me that well) know that the music of Brand New has had a huge impact on my life. They’ve been my favourite band since I was 18 and their songs, specifically the lyrics of frontman Jesse Lacey have gotten me through some tough times.
That’s why the recent revelations about his past emotionally and sexually abusive behaviour towards a minor is like a punch to the gut. I am devastated. With the recent exposure of powerful men in the entertainment industry as sexual predators, it was inevitable that sooner or later most of us would find out that someone whose work we admired would turn out to be a scumbag of the highest order. For my wife it was Kevin Spacey. More about him later. For me, it is the one person I had dared to hope it would not be.
For the last couple of days, since the news broke, I have felt sick to my stomach, imagining that this man who has had so much influence on me could do such awful things. I had been listening to their new album earlier in the day – it popped up again the next time I opened Spotify; I went to see them in concert last month. That will be the last time I ever see them live.
Honestly at this stage I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the end for Brand New. They were widely slated to break up in 2018 anyway, and if the other members of the band have any decency they’ll call it quits right now. Either way, even if they continue I can’t in good conscience give them any more of my money. Honestly, at this point I’m not sure if I can ever listen to one of their songs again. That’s going to take a lot of thinking.
Of course every time something like this comes to light there’s the discussion of separating the art from the artist. I don’t agree with this, and I believe twitter user @DILUTEDSPELLS put it pretty succinctly when they said ‘I’ve seen tweets backing Jesse Lacey: “Separate the art from the artist”. That is despicable, idiotic and terribly wrong. Those words came from vile lips, a wicked mind and a barren heart. Art comes from the soul of the artist. There is no way to separate or differentiate.’
That isn’t to say that I will deny the influence his music has had on my life. That is impossible. But I feel as though I can no longer go back and listen to songs where he half-jokingly complains about how hard it is to be a famous rock star, or how he’s a tortured soul. It must have been so fucking terrible to have to manipulate your doting, teenage fans in to helping you get off.
This brings me to his ‘apology’, and back round to Kevin Spacey. Not long after all this broke, Lacey released a statement through Brand New’s social media accounts essentially glossing over the core aspect of these revelations – that the girl in question was 15 when their interaction began – and blamed any and all past indiscretions on his sex addiction. I don’t know that throwing sex addicts as a whole under the bus is as bad as Kevin Spacey essentially using his coming out as being gay as a cover for addressing the awful things he did in the past, but it’s the same tactic. This kind of non-apology is bullshit and is designed to distract attention from what the abuser did on to how sorry we should feel for them – Lacey for having to deal privately with this addiction, and Spacey for having to live in the closet for so long.
This shit will not stand anymore. I am done. This weekend has been hard for me but I don’t want any sympathy. Your thoughts should be with the countless millions of people who suffer sexual assault and harassment every day. I don’t know the name of the girl in question, or really any details about her, but I believe her. And I believe all the other people coming forward with similar stories about Lacey, and I believe all the stories of every other person who says they’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted. This shit isn’t going to go away because a few pieces of shit get exposed. We, and by that I specifically mean men, have a responsibility to treat all women with respect, and to be vigilant about the behaviour of the people with which we associate. If you see it happening, say or do something to stop it. No more excuses.
This shit will not stand anymore.