Ex-Agalloch Members Don Anderson and John Haughm are Mending Their Friendship After Bitter Band Split
Things did not end well for Agalloch upon the band’s demise in 2016, but some of the band’s former members have taken steps towards reconciling with one another.
After initially announcing the band’s break-up in May of 2016, frontman John Haughm announced a short while later that they had not actually broken up, but that he had simply let all of the other members go, and that Agalloch would continue as a one-man project. A few days after that, Haughm shifted course and announced he would “permanently put the band to rest.”
Since then, the three non-Haughm members — guitarist Don Anderson, bassist Jason Walton and drummer Aesop Dekker — joined forces in Khôrada while Haughm launched Pillorian. Both bands have ceased to exist in the ensuing years: Haughm’s bandmates bailed on him in 2019 after he posted anti-Semitic comments on the information superhighway while Khôrada recently called it quits for reasons that remain unclear. Haughm’s anti-Semitic comments inspired a strong condemnations from his former bandmates and a firm rejection from the metal world at large.
Which brings us to yesterday’s interview with Decibel Magazine, in which Don Anderson, promoting reissues of Agalloch’s The White and The Grey EPs, revealed he’s been communicating with Haughm again and the two have begun to mend their relationship.
Here’s how the conversation went down:
These reissues come as a bit of a surprise considering, to approach a sensitive subject, the happenings in the Agalloch camp over the past few years. Have things changed behind the scenes?
“I am really happy to say that, yes, things have changed for the better. John and I remained in contact all through the three years following the breakup, but it was all business. Gradually, those emails became more casual and we were both moving towards finally meeting and hashing things out — essentially doing away with the weight that had been burdening our shoulders for years. I carried a great deal of bitterness and hurt during those years and eventually I got tired of it. I know John was tired of it, too.
“Then he made that anti-Semitic comment on Facebook that I, Jason, and Aesop condemned. We still condemn it. But, I think it’s critical that our culture does more than ‘call out’ bad behavior, but tries to call someone in and discuss things like this. The first person I emailed after our statement condemning the comment was John. John’s comment accelerated our meeting and we not only talked about the breakup, but we talked about his comment. We discussed the ways it was harmful. I’m not defending him in this regard, but having been close friends with him for over twenty years and this being the first time I had ever seen him say anything anti-Semitic, I felt it necessary to talk with him and reach an understanding. I know John regrets the comment.
“Through all this I’ve learned a lot about forgiveness and compassion, and I think that goes for John as well.”
Anderson’s approach strikes me as incredibly fair, and I have to imagine that any Agalloch fans who felt they had to throw their records into a bonfire after Haughm’s anti-Semitic comments can rest a bit easier now knowing he regrets making them (although it’d be much better if Haughm himself came out and said so). What’s more, Anderson’s tone of compassion and reason while still confronting the issue head-on and standing by his condemnation is the absolute right approach here.
Those hoping for an Agalloch reunion anytime soon shouldn’t hold their breath, though:
Could these reissues be taken as a sort of outward forgiveness? Or am I looking too far into this?
“No, I think there was enough demand for it and interest from Eisenwald to do a really nice presentation of the EPs. As for a showing of amends, I think that happens whenever we have beers together.”
It should go without saying, but Anderson’s relationship with Haughm is only one part of the picture: he doesn’t speak for Jason Walton and Aesop Dekker. That said, Anderson did end the interview in quite an optimistic fashion:
Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to add?
“When Agalloch broke up there seemed to be a division in our fanbase and even the people who worked with us. John vs. us; Pillorian vs. Khorada. I hope now that we’ve put the breakup behind us, everyone else can as well.”
Say, anyone know a good watering hole in the Portland area? Beers on me if Jon and Don are willing to meet up and hug it out.