Abuse of Power and the Legacy of Jesse Lacey

Emily Driskill, writing on Medium:

My biggest fear now is that Brand New will tour again in 2018. Quite frankly, in any other job, in any other industry — Jesse would have been fired and blacklisted. But this is the music industry and Brand New clearly doesn’t have a fucking HR department. […]

How do we change any of this? I know holding yourself and others accountable is paramount. I know supporting Women Of Color and LGBTQ artists in the music and touring communities is of the utmost importance. I know boycotting or picketing shows of artists who don’t speak out against abuse of power in the industry is necessary.

What to Do With Brand New on End of the Year Lists

Brand New

Matt Melis, writing at Consequence of Sound:

There’s a glaring, Brand New-size hole in our year-end coverage. Many of you have noticed it. Indeed, anyone who has followed our take on the musical narrative of 2017 can tell a significant plot point has been torn out. Over the past several months, we’ve delved into the Long Island rock band’s legacy, celebrated their return on the suddenly dropped Science Fiction, and praised the band for their commitment to going out on their own terms. Hell, until allegations of sexual misconduct were brought by multiple women against frontman Jesse Lacey in early November, Brand New were set to place high on both our year-end albums and songs lists and even appeared on our shortlist for Band of the Year. None of which, given our coverage of the band, should surprise you, and all of which, despite allegations against Lacey, might disappoint, if not outright anger, some of you.

I thought this article, and the conversation within, does a good job of distilling where I’m at right now as well. The band won’t be on my end of the year list and a statement about why will be. The main reason is that I want two things at this point: To not use my platform and voice to promote this kind of behavior (the accusations themselves and the subsequent silence while women were harassed), and to make sure that this history is part of the band’s legacy as well. It can’t just be swept away and forgotten.

This passage in particular left me with a lot to think about as well:

Geffen believes it’s a personal choice to stop listening to a band’s music, but she doubts the legitimacy and value of separating music from its creators. “I don’t think artists and music are necessarily separate; it’s on a continuum. A huge part of the music economy in this country comes from live shows. It’s the physical presence of these artists,” explains Geffen. “If they can’t be given a stage or platform without abusing that power, they shouldn’t get to play. It seems pretty simple to me. Playing shows is part of the art, part of the story of the artist, so I don’t see what’s useful about drawing a line.”

The Specific Betrayal of Brand New

Zoe Camp, writing for The Outline:

There are those desperately searching for an argument that will let them reconcile their love of Lacey’s art with the admitted events, or offering limp defenses of his actions by noting that of course a teen girl would want to exchange flirty photos with a rock star, never mind the myriad reasons why a grown man is supposed to know better. (Equally toxic have been the invocations of Lacey’s mental health as excuses for his indiscretion, suggesting that he just couldn’t help himself.)


The bleeding heart angst of emo’s singers leaked down to its boy fans; just ask any female emo fan about her experience with the men who treated them worse than the jocks they supposedly despised for being uncouth. It’s depressingly unsurprising now when a powerful man is revealed as having acted shittily toward the women around him, and less so when he comes from an environment as male-focused as emo – even when it’s somebody who was supposed to be as thoughtful as Lacey.

There’s been a swath of these articles written today and I recommend reading them all. Over the past few days I’ve received countless emails and messages from people wanting to talk about the rot at the heart of our music scene. I’ve heard from people who were abused by some of the more well-known frontmen in the scene, but aren’t ready to come forward yet. And I’ve heard from many that are. We, as a community, are going to need to face all of this head-on and come to terms with our own culpability as well.

I also want to say I am extremely disappointed that Brand New (with or without Jesse’s name attached) have not come out and asked their fans to not harass the women that have come forward with their stories. This has led to conspiracy theories spreading, harassment, and some truly disgusting behavior. Bands, labels, and all those associated with artists or celebrities need to know that part of their job when something like this comes out into the open is to make sure they’re active in the process. You can’t be silent while someone is re-victimized and think you’ve taken the moral high-ground. I believe it’s important to use your power and platform for good, and healing, not just when you want to sell records.

The End of the Emo Era Is Breaking My Teenage Heart

Shannon Keating, writing for Buzzfeed:

As a 15-year-old, if I had been approached by the lead singer of a band I believed had saved my life, there’s no telling what I would have done for him, had he asked. He and other punk-rock icons stared out at me from my bedroom walls every day, where I’d obscured my pathetically girly cloud-swirled blue wallpaper with posters and photo spreads from the Alternative Press. Lacey was my hero. I have a feeling I would have given him anything he wanted.

Like Garey, like every teenager, I was a know-it-all who thought I was a grown-up, so I wouldn’t have recognized that kind of behavior for what it was. But I also believed, at 15, that emo boys — and men — were different from “regular” guys. Emo guys were, yes, “emotional,” and introspective, and artistic, and they imbued everything with the kind of emotional weight I did as a shitty-poetry-writing teen

Unraveling the Sexism of Emo’s Third Wave

Jenn Pelly, writing for Pitchfork:

Third-wave emo—bubblegum emo—needed its female fans, as evidenced by the swaths of girls who screamed this music back, who took photos, who muscled against stages to get as close as possible without being crushed. But the scene did not really want us.

I am suggesting here that there is a correlation between misogynist art, the young people who make it, and the younger people who consume it. That is not a radical idea, and it strikes me now as dubious that any longtime Brand New fan would be completely shocked by these allegations. Women have long been shouting about the fucked-up power dynamics of pop-punk and third-wave emo, which have continued into the present.

Woman Accuses Jesse Lacey of Soliciting Nude Photos From Her at 15

Brand New

Last night Brian Keith Diaz, who was in the Long Island band The Reunion Show and guitar tech for Fall Out Boy and a variety of other bands, called out on his Twitter and Facebook feed asking:

So while we are on the topic of outing famous and semi-famous creeps, anyone want to speak up about Jesse Lacey from Brand New?

At that point a woman alleged that when she was fifteen Jesse Lacey solicited nude photos from her, stating:

He solicited nudes from me starting when I was 15 and he was 24. Manipulated the hell out of me, demanded specific poses/settings/clothing, demeaned me, and made it clear that my sexuality was the only thing I had to offer. He knew what he was doing was shitty so he wouldn’t touch me until I was 19. I should’ve known better by then, but he had screwed me up so much psychologically that all I wanted was his approval. It fucked me up to the point that I STILL have nightmares and wakeup in a sweat. I still breakdown and have panic attacks when people play Brand New in a bar.


Oh and yes he made me watch him masturbate on Skype. Apparently that’s a common thing with sexual predators. I took screen shots at some point, they’re probably on a computer in my basement if I ever really wanted to rehash my past that much (I don’t think I do).

I’ve reached out for comment from the band and management, but so far have not heard anything back.

Update #1: Pitchfork have ran an article detailing two alleged victims’ accounts:

Another woman, Emily Driskill, was 16 years old when she first met Lacey in 2002; she’s now 32. A concert photographer, music journalist, and Brand New fan, Driskill says she was given Lacey’s instant messenger screen name by a mutual friend. The first time they met in person was for an interview, during which Lacey stared at her chest and made “lots of comments about [her] body and breasts,” Driskill tells Pitchfork. “He was the first person to ever tell me that I was hot. In hindsight as an adult woman, I know I was preyed on.”

Update #2: A woman has written about an alleged relationship with Jesse that started when she was 17:

Reading the accounts from other women has been heartbreaking, as it has forced me to confront that Jesse used many women for his own selfish, and as he put it, “narcissistic” needs. I felt special and I wasn’t special. I had been duped. What has been more difficult that realizing that I was not the only one who was harmed by his behavior, has been reading the comments of his fans. I have felt so proud and empowered by those who have thanked the women for stepping up and out, which I was too afraid to do alone. After all, he wanted me to keep the secret and I did not want to disappoint him.

Update #3: More details have emerged via Vulture:

A year ago, a friend from Boston reached out to Garey with a similar story. That woman told Garey that Lacey had allegedly masturbated in front of her when she was 19 and that she considered the incident “borderline” nonconsensual because she and Lacey had been talking since she was underage. “It was a similar kind of grooming thing,” Garey says, “in that [it] came off like she did give consent but didn’t really feel like she had a choice, which is how I see my situation too. Of course we all have a choice, but with societal norms and the culture, at some point, you don’t feel like you do in the moment.