As someone who has always felt emotionally attached to the bands and artists I listen to, it can be difficult to let go when they prove to be toxic. This was the case with frontman Jesse Lacey of Brand New, a band that had been a defining part of my early teenage years. When I found out that Lacey had a history of committing sex crimes against underage girls, I knew that I had to withdraw my support from the band.
While some fans may propose “separating the artist from their music,” I find myself unable to do so. It may be that the story behind Lacey is so personal to me that it would make me physically ill to hear his voice. (If somehow you are able to sit through “Me vs. Madonna vs. Elvis” without wanting to puke, then, by all means, go ahead.) But it’s also because I cannot continue to support artists whose morals do not align with mine.
As fans, we are the reason these bands exist and have the influence that they do in the first place. Is it not our responsibility, then, to condemn those whose actions we disagree with?
We assume that good musicians are inherently good people. (John Lennon fans are evident of this.) We see them as these non-human entities that are incapable of doing anything wrong. But we have to realize that they are not above criticism, and unfortunately, sometimes they do terrible things.
I’m not saying that we should stop listening to our favorite bands. In fact, I can understand why some Brand New fans may choose to continue to listen to their old albums. Those albums likely mean something significant to them, and it’s unfair to blame the entire band for the actions of Lacey, after all.
I am saying, however, that we should be conscious of the musicians we support. Whether that means buying their merch, attending their concerts, or some other form of endorsement. Remember that these artists would be nothing without us.