Last week, Brian Diaz, a former guitar technician for the landmark emo band Brand New, wrote a Facebook post inviting anyone to share their stories about the band’s frontman Jesse Lacey. One woman, Nicole Elizabeth Garey, responded in the comments, detailing alleged abuse from the singer. She stated that the sexual misconduct began when she was 15 and he was 24. (The post has since been made private, but Garey gave permission for her comments to be reprinted):
“YES. 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 sh*tty 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. JESSE LACEY IS A PIECE OF SH*T…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).”
Over the weekend, Lacey shared a statement, acknowledging and vaguely apologizing for his past sexual misconduct. “The actions of my past have caused pain and harm to a number of people, and I want to say that I am absolutely sorry. I do not stand in defense of myself nor do I forgive myself,” he wrote. “I am sorry for ignoring the way in which my position, status, and power as a member of a band affected the way people viewed me or their approach to their interactions with me.” Lacey chalked it up to a “dependent and addictive relationship with sex,” but nowhere in the post does he acknowledge Garey’s specific allegations or the fact that she would have been a minor at the time of the alleged incidents.
After tour openers Martha pulled out of the band’s shows in London and touring guitarist Kevin Devine stepped away from the band indefinitely, Brand New has postponed their remaining tour dates in the U.K. and Ireland. The band wrote on Facebook that refunds will be offered at the point of purchase. Their manager of two years, Zack Zarrillo, also wrote on Twitter, “I support the victim. I condemn those who harass her.” Zarrillo said that he had no knowledge of the situation before this weekend, and will “be working from here forward to do my best in support of this community in regards to this situation.”
Brand New had been indicating for a few years that the band would end in 2018, and confirmed as much during a recent show in support of Science Fiction, when Lacey said that they’d only be a band for “about 14 more months.”It remains to be seen if that timeline will be cut short in the wake of these recent allegations.
We’ve reached out to Garey and representatives for Brand New for comment, and will update this post if we hear back.
Update (11.13, 6:00 p.m.): Garey and another woman, Emily Driskell, have given detailed accounts of Lacey’s alleged harassment and child grooming to Pitchfork. Both women met Lacey when they were teenagers, and say that he solicited nude photos and masturbated over video chat for years.
Garey met Lacey when she was 15 in 2003, after photographing a Brand New show. They exchanged email addresses, and Lacey began to ask for nude photos from Garey over instant messenger. She tells Pitchfork that the last time she spoke with Lacey was when she was 22 or 23, and he Skyped her while masturbating:
“I know I should’ve turned it off, but there’s something in me that couldn’t,” she says. “This will definitely stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Driskell outlines a similar pattern; she met Lacey at age 16 in 2002, and connected on instant messenger through a mutual friend. He began to ask for nude photos when she was 17, and tried to pressure her into troubling video chats (via Pitchfork):
He allegedly sent photos of himself undressing, subjected Driskill to “countless masturbatory video chat sessions,” and “attempted to manipulate [her] into engaging in sexual situations with other people, on camera, for his viewing pleasure.”
Driskell also describes an incident in the green room at a Brand New show in Austin, when she was 18. She says Lacey lured her into the room under the pretense of getting his things, but closed the door, pinned her against it, and began kissing and touching her in ways she did not want. She highlight the specific incident as one of “several instances of coercion during physically intimate situations” with Lacey.