Photo by Ben Kaye
Beach Slang have announced the departure of guitarist Ruben Gallego from the band just hours before their first concert behind their new LP, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings. The parting of ways comes amid allegations of sexual assault levied against Gallego.
In a statement posted to Facebook, the remaining band members said that though they’d like to think Gallego is innocent, “We believe survivors.” The incident in question occurred four years ago, prior to the guitarist’s involvement in the Philly punk outfit, but the band said that “until we learn more information, we don’t feel it’s appropriate for him to be a part of Beach Slang.”
“For us, Beach Slang has always been and will always be a safe place for everyone,” they wrote. “It was built to be welcoming. It was built to be soft. If we are going to continue to exist, we have to exist in this way.”
In two separate statements, Gallego responded by saying that although he believes the accuser’s memory of that night is “inaccurate” and “contradicting” to his own, his departure from Beach Slang was the proper response. “I think it’s totally possible for people to see a situation completely differently,” he told Pitchfork, “and if this person feels I harmed them then that’s what I care about and I want to make that right. I also care deeply about how this affects other victims of sexual assault specifically the ones who attend Beach Slang shows and felt that sticking around would further isolate them.”
The band’s Facebook statement also linked to national anti-sexual assault organization RAINN, to whom they will be donating at the conclusion of their tour. With Gallego out of the mix, the Bleached Slang tour alongside punk pop trio Bleached will continue as scheduled with frontman James Alex performing solo acoustic as Quiet Slang.
Below, read Beach Slang’s full message and both the statements made by Gallego.
Gallego’s official response:
“Hey everyone I was writing to say that because of an accusation of sexual assault that was leveled against me we all agreed that it would be best for me to take a step away from Beach Slang. This band has been the greatest thing that has ever happened to me and obviously I’m floored to have to walk away from it. James, Ed and Charlie are some of the best friends I’ve ever had.
When this call out first came out we sifted through our options and contemplated the possibility of addressing this and continuing forward but more and more we found ourselves asking what kind of repercussions this would have and concluded that letting this fade away would be contributing to the further isolation of survivors and as a whole contributing to rape culture. Something we all vehemently stand against. As difficult as it will be for me nothing is more important to me than making sure that people feel safe around me and in general, at shows, in everyday life.
All of this said there are always two sides in a situation like this and with respect to this person I want to make it clear that I’ve thought a lot about that night and we both seem to have contradicting ideas about what happened. Its difficult for me to defend myself because any defense I make is only going to serve to discredit this person and I don’t want to cause them any harm. To me it seems that for her to make this call out means that she is clearly working through some of her own issues and I hope that whatever they may be that she finds peace, clarity and resolve. I’ve made myself available to her if she decides she wants to reach out to me directly or through an intermediary and we can try and find some kind of resolution.
I want to thank every single person who I’ve met through all of this. This band has allowed me to be in the same room with some of my greatest personal hero’s and generally some of the sweetest people Ive ever been lucky enough to meet. No matter how bleak my life feels right now I’m grateful for everything and I’m hopeful that I too can find some resolution. Im starting therapy today and hopefully this will help me to work on myself as a person and trying to move forward in a positive way.”
Gallego’s statement to Pitchfork:
“I’d like to say that what’s important to me is that people stand with survivors and that we continue to foster an environment where people aren’t afraid to speak out against their abusers.
Although I do feel like what’s being said about me is inaccurate it’s irrelevant. I think it’s totally possible for people to see a situation completely differently and if this person feels I harmed them then that’s what I care about and I want to make that right.
I also care deeply about how this affects other victims of sexual assault specifically the ones who attend Beach Slang shows and felt that sticking around would further isolate them.
James [Alex] and Ed [McNulty] are the sweetest most caring people I’ve ever known and I feel they did the right thing and I will always support them.”