Gloryhammer Respond to Leaked Racist and Sexist Group Chat
Eleven days after a leaked group chat showed the members of symphonic power metal band Gloryhammer using racist terms and sexist innuendos, the band — as well as keyboardist Christopher Bowes, who is also the singer in Alestorm — have finally issued statements directly addressing the matter.
Bowes went first by posting a photo of a handwritten letter on his personal social media accounts with a link to a transcription, blaming the delay on “legal advice to maintain ‘radio silence’ while all details were being investigated.” After apologizing directly, saying, “Words cannot express how remorseful I am to have hurt you with my actions,” Bowes explained that the band had built a “private puerile culture for ourselves of always trying to one-up each other” with increasingly offensive messages, and that they justified the behavior by telling themselves they didn’t actually believe those things.” He added that the behavior is still “unacceptable” in any context, and that he’d realized as much on his own, and at the urging of friends, since the group chat dated 2017.
Gloryhammer’s statement, which followed a short time later, echoed Bowes’ sentiments, saying that the “joke” was “wholly unacceptable.” Without saying so directly, but presumably addressing the accusations of abusive behavior leveled against bassist James Cartwright by a former girlfriend, the band referenced “false” claims that “will be addressed and passed on to the relevant authorities.”
Both parties expressed the sentiment that they accept that some fans will find their behavior “unforgivable” (the band) and that “None of you are obligated to give me another chance” (Bowes), but they hoped that most of their fanbase would accept their apologies, and that they all strived to be better people.
Both the leaked group chat and abuse allegation surfaced in the Twitter comments of Gloryhammer’s post last Sunday, August 22, in which the band announced that they had fired vocalist Thomas Winkler for unspecified reasons. The chat and allegations quickly spread throughout both the band’s fans and the media.
Bowes’ statement reads in full:
“Hi everyone. Chris here.
“Before I get started, I want to explain the delay in me saying anything. Serious writing like this doesn’t come naturally to me, and I’ve received a lot of legal advice to maintain “radio silence” while all details were being investigated. However, this issue is weighing heavily on me and I feel like there’s a lot I need to say to you all.
“By now you’re probably all aware of a series of leaked screenshots from the online band member chat group of Gloryhammer, showing a conversation that took place in August 2017.
“To my fans, my friends, and anyone else who has had the misfortune of having to read what I said, I must apologise. From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry. Words cannot express how remorseful I am to have hurt you with my actions.
“Today I want to take full responsibility for this whole situation, on behalf of everyone in Gloryhammer. I’ve let you all down, massively. I can’t imagine the pain some of you must be feeling reading the racist, misogynistic, and frankly horrific things I’d said in conversations with my bandmates.
“Some of us in the band built a private puerile culture for ourselves of always trying to one-up each other by sending progressively more deliberately offensive messages in our chat group, always justifying our incensive language to ourselves by thinking “It’s fine, we don’t actually believe this in real life, it’s just a joke”.
“It’s not fine. This behavior was totally unacceptable. While I understand it is not my place to decide if I am a misogynistic and racist person, I want to stress that I have never held personal beliefs that would reflect the things I had said. But I know this does not excuse anything, either.
“As time went on, I found myself increasingly more repulsed by the things I’d said. Over the past few years I received pushback, and the occasional stern lecture, from close friends who gradually impressed upon me why this stuff is wrong, no matter the context. I’m a slow learner, and change is hard, but in recent years I’ve been trying my best to not act like the kind of person you see in these messages anymore. However, I know that’s not enough, so right now I’m working with professionals to help me get a better understanding of the damage I caused, because I know I’m still a long way away from being the good person I could be.
“I know I can never take back the things I said, or completely undo the damage I’ve done. To the fans of my music who once looked up to me, I bear the most grief; my betrayal of your faith in me must hurt beyond measure. I want to commit myself to making amends with everyone who feels wounded by what I said, through working alongside charities and in whatever other ways I can.
“None of you are obligated to give me another chance, but I will continue working to become someone worthy of your trust.
“To everyone affected by recent events,
“Following Christopher’s statement today (https://tinyurl.com/2s5r9zdu), Gloryhammer wish to sincerely and unreservedly apologise for the disgusting and inexcusable comments made by band members in a private group chat from August 2017 which have recently become public.
We are deeply sorry for the hurt, distress and anger caused by the use of misogynistic and racist language and the shameful attitudes displayed within those messages. Most of all, we are sorry for letting you, the fans down by behaving in this way. To speak in this way, even in private, even as a ‘joke’, is wholly unacceptable.
“While we have wanted to comment on this situation from the beginning, we felt that we must respect Christopher’s wish to address the issue himself first.
“Regarding other allegations that have been circulated involving members of the band: we wish to make it clear that these are false and all claims of this nature will be addressed and passed on to the relevant authorities.
We understand that for many of you, this episode is unforgivable.
“Nevertheless it is our hope that we can move forward from this in a new spirit of humility and understanding, so that the mistakes of the past are never repeated. We promise to dedicate ourselves to making amends in whatever way we can moving forwards.
You can see the original social media posts below.