Oliver Reed as Urbain Grandier in The Devils (1971, dir. Ken Russell)
Oliver Reed as Urbain Grandier in The Devils (1971, dir. Ken Russell)

Against the “Sin” of Association

February 2024

Against the “Sin” of Association

I’ve taken some time to collect my thoughts on the recent accusations levelled against my band and bandmates, despite fervent demands that I make an immediate statement of disassociation. I will not be rushed by those on the periphery who have offered no other interest in my presence than spiteful gossip.

I’ll spare repeating the accusations raised over the past week, as they’re clearly in the public record. The deliberate and wilful misrepresentation of an ill-posed photo taken over three years ago, and an interview from last year where my bandmates were asked their individual opinion on a number of topics. Opinions which, although distasteful to some, remain theirs to state.

Solstice is not a band which demands blind compliance to any belief. Within, many vigorous debates have occurred where each member is permitted and encouraged to speak their mind. If consensus cannot be achieved, then we agree to disagree without holding grudges.

I firmly believe an individual is responsible for their own words, and should bear their consequence without bad-faith misinterpretation. I also believe that it is possible to understand the reasoning behind another’s perspective without necessarily condoning it. That such opinions are not immutable; and can evolve positively through open communication.

An expectation among collectivists is that all those who associate are of the same mindset. That if one speaks against their self-imposed authority then all must believe the same, and are thus “fair game” for collective punishment.

Since these accusations coalesced, my life outside and apart from the band has been assailed by the main accuser and their associates. Targeting work and career with absolute intent to cause harm to both reputation and livelihood.

For no more than the “sin” of association.

If proof of my perspective is required, then I would simply suggest one scroll back through the accuser’s Facebook timeline, (past the stream of selfies and self-aggrandisement), to Monday 27th May 2019. The last time we met in person, at the Visigoth gig in Newcastle, and well within my tenure in Solstice. A matter considered sufficiently important that they were happy to celebrate our amicable meeting. Were I of the same inviolate mindset that my bandmates are incorrectly alleged to hold, would such a meeting have been amicable?

I have been (and remain) supportive of the accuser’s transition into their lived reality through the thirty years I have known them. Their band was the first I put on when booking gigs back then, and I admire their persistence as an artist.

That they choose to exploit our acquaintance to further sustain a decades-long vendetta against another is disappointing, but not unsurprising. Opportunities to engage with a will to mutually make peace were plentiful, and even possible only four years ago. Instead, I have since received private correspondence demanding I denounce my bandmates and threatening personal consequences should I not.

This is the wholly unwarranted, yet expected, scenario that now plays out.

Those who know me for even a fraction as long as the accuser would know me a man who lives by the principles of compassion, respect, and empathy for all. Although pragmatic challenges test the ideal, these principles have seen me well over the past half-century. I thank those who have reached out to me in disbelief at this blatant attempt to discredit.

I will not march beneath a banner of any denomination, for those who encapsulate their ideals under a flag prove as flimsy as the fabric itself. Nor will I be cajoled into performative acts of superficial compliance, soundbites and empty actions – such as making a snap judgement of anyone without first looking them in the eye. A strength of character not exhibited by the accuser’s associates.

I will not apologise for my beliefs; nor is it my responsibility to apologise for the beliefs of others.

I will remain in Solstice, for I see nothing in the band’s music or lyrics which reflect the theme of these accusations. Neither do I see proof that any member’s beliefs intend to encourage harm, actionable or otherwise, to any community.

Outside the band, I will continue to forge my own path through the music industry, treacherous as it is, despite the cowardly totalitarian tactics that threaten the way.

And perhaps most important of all, I will not submit to the scrutiny of strangers.

Now back to work.

Photo: Oliver Reed as Urbain Grandier in The Devils (1971, dir. Ken Russell)