Avi Zahner-Isenberg, former frontman of the Long Beach, California indie band Avi Buffalo, has been accused of rape by his former bandmate Rebecca Coleman, currently of the band Pageants. Warning, the following content is graphic.
In a lengthy statement posted to Instagram, Coleman (foregrounded in the 2010 band photo above) details her experience with Zahner-Isenberg (pictured at left). Her story begins with meeting him when they were both teenagers, turning down his romantic advances, joining his band in 2006, agreeing to date him in 2008 when she was 17, and abruptly being dumped. She writes that they continued in this on-off pattern for a while, with Zahner-Isenberg repeatedly breaking off the relationship and then shortly asking Coleman back. She claims he emotionally abused and cheated on her, and ultimately she got back together with her ex-boyfriend Devin O’Brien, who later joined Avi Buffalo as a guitarist and tour manager and now is part of Pageants with Coleman.
Coleman says on April 22, 2009, when she was dating O’Brien, Zahner-Isenberg invited her and O’Brien to his home for a photo shoot promoting the band. “When Avi opened the door he began immediately undressing me,” she writes. “I agreed to fool around but made it very clear that we were not going to have sex.” She describes Zahner-Isenberg climbing on top of her and engaging in sexual intercourse despite her protests, continuing the sex and covering her mouth to prevent her from screaming when O’Brien arrived at the house. Afterward he allegedly asked her to leave through the bathroom window and told her the following day at school, “I know, I raped you and stuff, I’m sorry.”
Coleman later describes a subsequent rape by Zahner-Isenberg while on tour and a range of abusive behaviors once she began seriously dating O’Brien. She says she has avoided Zahner-Isenberg ever since quitting the band in 2010. She writes, “Upon my exit from the band I signed a contract not to talk negatively about Avi/Avi Buffalo, etc. I do not know if this contract still stands, but honestly, I do not give a fuck. Time’s Up.”
The final slide of Coleman’s post is footage of a song she performed on the KXLU show Demolition in 2009, accompanied by Zahner-Isenberg and O’Brien. “I hate to say, I’m struggling with what felt like rape,” the song begins. “Avi was pissed I played this song,” she writes in the caption.
Avi Buffalo broke up in 2015. Stereogum has reached out to Zahner-Isenberg for comment. Read Coleman’s full statement below.
View this post on Instagram
Releasing this personal information into the world was a decision that took me ten years to make. Hoping I can feel a little lighter now 🍃 Last slide is a song I wrote called Night and Sun for my project at the time, Family Blankets, about what had happened the day of the “photoshoot” and him cheating on me. I played this song alone on Demolisten KXLU (5/15/09) but Avi and Devin joined me on guitar on other tracks. I thought I had to have him play on my music in order for it to be “good”. Looking back now it really didn’t add much. Avi was pissed I played this song. #avibuffalo
If you or someone you know is suffering from sexual violence, please contact RAINN or call the National Sexual Abuse Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.