Beach Slang removed guitarist Ruben Gallego from the band this week after a woman alleged that he sexually assaulted her four years ago. Now frontman James Alex has given his first interview about the decision to fire Gallego.
Speaking to Columbus Alive, Alex said there was no doubt in his mind Gallego had to go:
It’s a tough situation all around, but it’s blindingly apparent what you need to do. I’m raised by a single mother. Women in particular need to feel safe at our shows, and we did what we needed to do to ensure that happens.
Alex said he did not see the social media post that brought the allegations to light. When the information began circulating, Gallego approached Alex and “poured himself out,” after which Alex nearly decided to end the band:
I didn’t see the post. [Gallego] came to me when it was up and poured himself out to me and us, and it felt like the way people describe how the world can stop. It was like, “What do we do now? Maybe this is the time where we call it quits.” I live by signs, and I started to think maybe this was one where Beach Slang was one of those special things where it exists for a moment and affects who it affects, and then it’s meant to go away. And we wrestled with that. We went through all the stages you imagine we’d go through. But [quitting] didn’t sit with us right, as close as I came to doing it several times.
Alex plans to retool Beach Slang after their current tour and eventually return with a new four-piece lineup. In the meantime, he’s playing the band’s scheduled dates as a solo act:
I’m playing with my electric guitar and I’ve got my amp and it’s still distorted and big. It can still have that wild abandon to it and be loud and feel like a rock show. Last night in Virginia Beach someone came up and played drums when I covered [the Cure’s] “Just Like Heaven,” and then someone else came up and played bass on another song. I think what this tour has kind of become is this thing where we’re almost having fellowship with one another to help each other through it.
Gallego is the second Beach Slang member to depart the band this year after drummer JP Flexner left of his own volition in July. The band also nearly broke up after an onstage implosion in Salt Lake City last April but decided to stay the course. Beach Slang were the subject of a Stereogum cover story earlier this year.