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The Ghost Inside Express Regret Over Firing Bassist for Use of the N-Word

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This past June, both Bracewar drummer Rashod Jackson and Terror guitarist Martin Stewart accused The Ghost Inside bassist Jim Riley of using a racial slur while on tour some years prior. The allegations came during a particularly sensitive time: George Floyd had just been murdered by the police, and in response, The Ghost Inside had subsequently released a t-shirt to benefit to benefit the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Additionally, the claims were made the very same day the band was releasing a new, eponymous album — their first since a horrific 2015 bus crash, which left several members with life-altering injuries and cast serious doubts about the group’s future.

Riley was subsequently fired from the band. In an interview conducted just a day later, the bassist admitted to his use of the slur, and was appropriately contrite:

“…I have to do what I can to make amends for it. Some people will forgive and some people will never forgive me. And I’ve gotta own that. And I’ve gotta own all the consequences that come with that. The damage I’ve done to the reputation of the band can’t be undone.”

Now Lambgoat reports that in a multi-episode arc of the Defiance Podcast, members of the band express regret over Riley’s firing.

Said drummer Andrew Tkaczyk during the interview:

“We were just feeling the pressure from fans, people on social media, and even some peers… we felt the pressure and we made a decision against the wishes of our management and label and as soon as we made that initial post about Jim not being in the band anymore… like it went live, and I’m not trying to sound dramatic or ‘feel bad for me’ or anything like that, but it’s the first time in my life, I hadn’t eaten for two days straight, and that post went up and I vomited out of straight anxiety. I have never in my life, personally, even with the accident, felt or dealt with anxiety on a level life this, where I didn’t eat or sleep. I think we all just saw something going on that was like a lose/lose and we just felt like that was the call to make at the time, and immediately felt bad and felt wrong. We knew that. We never stopped talking to Jim or anything. We literally have chatted every day since. It’s difficult for me to even talk about. This is such a sensitive subject.”

Tkaczyk continued:

“The outrage makes sense from people. I get it. But when we instantly realized that we made the worst mistake in the band’s career, probably, it felt too soon to correct it or even address it. I think we all, for our own sanity, had to step away from this for a long time and I’m telling you right now it was the worst few months that I can remember in recent history and I think we had to step away and just still talk to each other, but almost ignore all these comments we’re seeing like, ‘you did this to your brother’, and it’s like… mentally, imagine how frustrating it is to not be able to reply to reply to someone and be like, ‘I woke up from a ten-day coma to Jim holding my hand in a hospital. He IS my brother. You don’t know him like I do’. The mental toll that has taken on us, to have to just sit there and take it has been hard, but guess what? I’m sitting here admitting it, and we’re taking it on the chin. We fucked up. We are also just human. We fucked up and that’s it. If people don’t want to support the band and all that, I accept that. That’s everyone’s decision to make but regardless of anything we’ve even just said, the most important thing is that Jim is still our brother.”

Added guitarist Chris Davis:

“It felt that incident was going to take away the band again. It just felt so overwhelming that it’s like we have to… all five of us felt like we had to do something. Looking back now, we definitely acted hastily and definitely made the wrong call. It’s so hard to understand all the mental gymnastics you have to do in a situation like that, under pressure, and how hard it is to process everything that’s coming at you all at once. It’s so easy to jump to the wrong decision just based on the pressures of what’s going on on the Internet.”

Finally, Riley himself weighed in:

“Hindsight is 20/20. It’s easy today to look back and say we could have handled things a different way, we could have said things a different way, but it just didn’t feel that way in the moment. The five of us talked and I told the guys, ‘the four of you have to make this decision, this is my mess and I have to be the one to deal with the repercussions of this and I have to take accountability for myself’. I felt like it was not fair for the whole band to get dragged down, especially on the day this album is coming out. For the whole band to be taken away again and watching in real-time on your Twitter feed, to watch the band be taken away from you, was unfair and the responsibility for that falls on me. I told the guys I would gladly step away from the band if that was going to be what it took for The Ghost Inside to move forward. In the moment, it did definitely feel like that was the only decision that could be made. If it felt like there was some other way to navigate this, we would have done that instead. It just didn’t feel that way.”

Lambgoat says that the episodes do not make it clear whether or not Riley has now been reinstated into the band.

You can listen to all five of the relevant episodes below.

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