Pinegrove Address “Sexual Coercion” Statement, New Album Skylight Out This Friday

Pinegrove will self-release a new album, Skylight, this Friday (9/28). Proceeds from the Bandcamp sales of the album will go towards three charities: the Voting Rights Project, the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, and Musicares. They also plan to play shows later this year.

In an extensive new Pitchfork piece, Evan Stephens Hall and the band address the statement they released last year and their year-long hiatus. In the statement, Hall said that he was “accused of sexual coercion” by someone he “was involved with for a short but intense period of time.”

As Pitchfork reports, the alleged victim who was alluded to in that statement came to a private resolution with Hall via a mediator in late 2017 that the band would take a year off from touring and that Hall would enter therapy. “We wanted to honor that,” Hall said in the piece. “She recognized that we’ve honored it, and has since approved our plan to release an album and play some shows later on this year.”

The mediator told Pitchfork that the alleged event involved “verbal and contextual pressure” and that “the accusation is not of a physical nature at all.” The alleged victim wants to remain anonymous. The mediator told Pitchfork that: “She and Evan had a brief relationship, and she was in a relationship when it started. She felt that he coerced her into cheating on her partner with him, and she felt that she said no to him several times… and he continued to pursue her.”

Earlier this year, Spin reported that Pinegrove’s allegation was incited by a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization called PunkTalks. Sheridan Allen, the founder of the organization, contacted Pinegrove’s label, Run For Cover, and a Cleveland-based festival where Pinegrove were set to play last year saying that she had become aware of an allegation against Hall. Parts of Allen’s accusations reportedly stemmed from a meeting between Hall and Allen after a 2016 tour in which Hall says he was under the impression that Allen was a licensed therapist and thus subject to confidentiality. (Stereogum reached out to Sheridan Allen, who had no additional comment at this time.)

Looking back on the statement that was released, Hall had this to say to Pitchfork:

At first, I felt defensive. I was trying to understand what the accusation was. It really didn’t jive with my memory of what had happened. I take consent seriously. All of our encounters were verbally consensual. But, OK, certainly this isn’t from nowhere. If she came away feeling bad about our encounter, feeling like she couldn’t express how she was feeling honestly at the time, that’s a huge problem. So I have been reflecting a lot about how a relationship that promotes honesty is an active process, and that maybe there are conversations we should have had that we didn’t, or maybe there’s something else I could have done to make her feel like she could have said how she was feeling. I’ve been thinking about that all the time.

[…] A lot of people took issue with the phrase ‘sexual coercion,’ because they understood it was evasive, like I was obscuring a more serious accusation. But I included that phrase because that was the language used by the person I was involved with. It was meant as a symbol of respect to have her dictate the language of the conversation. In the context of our relationship, she felt that I had sometimes pressured her into having sex—not physically, but verbally and contextually.

Hall also addresses the part of the statement where he wrote that he “could sense who from the crowd would be interested in sleeping with me based on how they watched me perform.” He says that he included that in direct response to Allen’s internal email, where it was mentioned, and it derived from something he said to the alleged victim in conversation:

I was noticing people act towards me in a certain way, from the audience. And then those same people would sometimes approach me at the merch table or in person after the set, and be very directly solicitous, or proposition me. This was an observation based on a correlation. I was not objectifying people from the stage.

[…] I categorically do not target fans for sex. Nevertheless, I understand why reading what I wrote would make people reflect on their experiences at our concerts through an uncomfortable lens. And I’m so sorry to anybody who read that and felt uncomfortable. When I really think back about the statement, the language is just so dissonant and horrible. It’s not ever what I’ve meant to convey. We have always prioritized the safety of fans at our concerts, and we always will prioritize the safety of fans at our concerts.

Read the full Pitchfork piece here.

Skylight will be self-released this Friday (9/28). The album was originally set to come out on Run For Cover. Label head Jeff Casazza told Pitchfork that they were not dropped, but Hall said that there was “some discomfort expressed” from other artists on the label about Skylight’s release, which led to them self-releasing it.

Stereogum reached out to Pinegrove’s management and the band does not have any further comment at this time.

Tags: Pinegrove