EXCLUSIVE: Sumerian Records Owner Ash Avildsen Responds to Social Media Backlash


Last week, there was a story making the rounds about Sumerian Records’ social media accounts posting what looked like anti-vax statements, which led to fans expressing outrage over the whole thing. It was a situation that shocked fans and prompted plenty of reaction posts on TikTok, as you’d expect on the internet in 2023.

The label’s owner Ash Avildsen came out and admitted that he was the person who made the initial TikTok post, and continued expressing his opinions on Twitter over the FDA’s recent proposed annual COVID booster shot. He interacted with musicians and fans alike, and naturally the discussion only spiraled even further.

Long-time readers of MetalSucks should expect that this is something we would cover, given our opinions on anti-vax rhetoric are well documented. In the interest of getting the full story, we reached out to the label for a comment to explain Ash’s position on the matter, what exactly is his problem with a simple suggestion by the FDA, and why he would use the label’s social platforms to express these opinions.

Given how fast the internet moves, the following original post that was superimposed over a clip of Woody Harrelson’s COVID conspiracy-tinged SNL monologue is no more, but it went a little something like this:


In Avildsen’s exclusive statement to MetalSucks below, he says he’s against a supposed government mandate that everyone must get COVID boosters every year, saying he’s against the government forcing people to do anything. That’s a fair statement and we agree! But nowhere does it say in the FDA’s proposal that people would be required to take the shot, only stating that it would be encouraged like the flu shot. He also stated he was concerned that venues would bar bands from performing if they’re not all caught up with their shots.

I’d like to begin by stating that neither Sumerian nor myself are in any way “anti vax”. I just had my first child and we gave him several vaccinations at the professional recommendation of our doctors. Most of our staff who were medically able chose to take the covid vaccine and some have taken boosters as well.

What we ARE is pro-an individual’s right to the freedom of choice.

In any facet of personal autonomy – Reproductive. Medical. Gender. Sexual. Art. Religion. Politics.

The topic doesn’t matter. Every human being should have the right to make their own informed choices about how they want to live their life, free from harassment, as long as it doesn’t impose genuine harm on others.

What I am NOT, is the founder of a company that will take part in dividing and/or vilifying music fans, artists or anyone else for their personal choices because of ignorant mob mentality, inflammatory social media rhetoric and bullying. Something I have always been vehemently against, for example when I spoke out against Kid Rock’s derogatory and divisive t shirt in 2016 and still stand by every word.

If a Sumerian artist or employee were to find themselves unable to properly do their job in the state they lived in due to their decisions regarding vaccination status, we would support their personal choice and pay to move them to another state where they would be allowed to participate in normal society.

If a Sumerian artist or employee happened to live in a state where abortion has (wrongfully) become illegal, we would support their personal decision and pay for them to go to a state where it was legal.

The same would be the case if an artist or employee was prevented from living their life in accordance with their beliefs and/or choices when it comes to LGBTQIA+ rights, race, religion or any other faction of their existence, as long as it causes no harm to others.

The point is, our main focus is and always has been allowing and respecting personal autonomy and the right to choose.

When it comes to the topic of Covid, it’s important to remember that all sides of this sensitive subject emanate from the same place: fear.

Those who do not want to take the vaccine are fearful they will face negative repercussions if they do due to the potential risks that come with taking any vaccine, especially one that is new.

Those who support mandates and want everyone to take the vaccine and boosters, are fearful that Covid will continue to hurt people and potentially take lives if they don’t. This is very understandable.

It’s OK to be fearful. Fear is natural. Fear, especially of the unknown, is part of the human condition. Of course we have all been very scared over the past 3 years as our generation has never truly dealt with a pandemic.

What is not OK is how we have vilified and attacked each other and how society, exacerbated by news and politics, has weaponized this conversation by playing into all of our natural human fears.

My tweet about annual Covid boosters and reposting woody’s SNL skit are views of my own, not my staff. I understand why it caught so many people off guard because it came from a record label, but the iconic labels I grew up admiring in punk, hardcore and hip-hop were not afraid to take a stance about cultural moments with government and society.

I love all of my artists, employees, colleagues, friends and family equally regardless of their personal beliefs and statuses on this and all the aforementioned topics.

In closing, I want to remind us all that we as humans formulate a lot of our perspective and perception based on previous experiences in our lives. If you care to keep reading, I will share with you a very personal story.

When I was a child, my godfather was a gay man in Manhattan who died of AIDS. His name was Steven Marry. I grew up without a dad and my mom made my godfather a real part of our lives. I first learned about Dr Fauci as a kid because when the AIDS virus first became part of mainstream news, Dr Fauci went on record and said that people could catch AIDS just by being in the same household as someone who had the virus. Obviously we now know this is an egregiously false statement, but back in the 80s it created so much more prejudice and vilification of people who were HIV positive. It was official medical government comments like this that made one of my childhood heroes Neil Young make an insanely ridiculous, hateful homophobic comment in an interview in the 80s about gay people handling his groceries at the store.

This was my first experience with Fauci, learning about him being blatantly wrong about a new virus that was directly affecting someone I loved. Ever since then, I have always been sensitive to early government data in regards to newer diseases and health issues.

My significant other and I caught Covid very early on before the vaccine existed. She was a front line Covid nurse. After we both recovered from Covid (I lost taste and smell for over a month but still ate a lot of burritos and tacos even without taste lol) and had what we understood to be natural immunity, our doctors advised us that it wasn’t necessary to take the vaccine and because of recent infection, there was a greater chance of side effects, especially as we had just found out she was pregnant with our first child. She lost her job because of this.

My personal belief, especially now that the medical community has acknowledged the equal or greater validity of natural immunity to the vaccine, is that millions of people were wrongfully discriminated against by the US government in where they were allowed to go and what they were allowed to do. There were other countries who treated proof of previous infection for travel the same as a vaccination during the pandemic. The country I love and call home did not.

The last thing I’ll share is this- Rage Against The Machine was my favorite band growing up. They are what got me into playing music and starting my own band, which then lead to me starting Sumerian. As a grown up, I ended up living across the street from Tom Morello. (I had no idea he was my neighbor when I bought my house.) As fate would have it, I ran into him for the first time ever after being neighbors for years walking my dog the same week when Austria announced they would force the entire population of the country who were 18+ to be inoculated. (Link below) I asked him to his face if he agreed with Austria doing this. I’m thankful to say he didn’t agree. He said something along the lines of it’s unfortunate a lot of people aren’t trusting science right now, but no you cannot as a government force your entire population to put something in their bodies against their will. Luckily, the people of Austria united against their government in the streets and were able to stop their personal autonomy from being taken away from them.

Thank you for listening. May peace, love, open minds and understanding prevail through this challenging era of war and polarizing politics that has taken over our daily lives.

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