Merge Records Cuts Ties With Ian Svenonius After His Post Admitting “Inappropriate” Behavior Toward Women

Last Friday, seemingly inspired by the wave of misconduct allegations centering on Burger Records and its affiliated bands, Washington, DC punk veteran Ian Svenonius — a member of bands including Nation Of Ulysses, the Make-Up, and Chain And The Gang — posted a confession of his own “inappropriate” behavior on Instagram. Svenonius has since deleted the post. After investigating his situation, Merge Records, where Svenonius has recently been releasing solo albums under the name Escape-ism, has decided to cut ties with him.

As archived by Brooklyn Vegan, Svenonius wrote, “I want to use this forum to say that i support people speaking out for the eradication of abusive predatory modes and also that i am absolutely one of the guilty parties. That, through my narcissism, egotism, and thoughtlessness, i have acted the creep. That i have made people i cared about and respected feel terrible, have been completely inappropriate to women.”

His full message reads as follows:

BURN BABY BURN : the trash fire burning through underground music is long overdue. It is not happening in other spheres of the music industry. It is unique to the underground rock music scene because this scene is predicated on the concepts of access, participation, respect, and honesty. It rejects the capitalist models of hierarchy and exploitation. For all of the degenerate posturing of the punk progenitors, we exist in a highly moral scene where accountability is paramount. Accountability takes many forms and faces; at one time this manifested in fairness of pricing of records and concerts, or all ages shows where anyone could enter. Record labels that were accountable. This battle is over; the fans are few and most labels and money are gone.

Now the scene must address personal behavior. The interactions between people. As a lifelong punk i am permeated in the myths of rock. While we loathe the rock prescriptions of misogyny, power imbalance, sexual objectification, et al, we have also lionized the exploits of the greatest public degenerates (outside of politics, industry &military), the top sinners, the scum and the perverts and, at times i too have manifested aspects of their tawdry behavior. I want to use this forum to say that i support people speaking out for the eradication of abusive predatory modes and also that i am absolutely one of the guilty parties. That, through my narcissism, egotism, and thoughtlessness, i have acted the creep. That i have made people i cared about and respected feel terrible, have been completely inappropriate to women. While this may seem like virtue signaling, its not. We are interested in creating an accountable world where this kind of dialogue isn’t necessary . To anyone i have made feel bad or uncomfortable, i sincerely apologize and throw myself at your mercy. I always believed that i was a revolutionary and now my revolutionary act is self immolation. If rock ‘n’ roll behaves like its mortal enemy — the imperial war machine and the capitalist consumer cannibal factory, then it must be eradicated, burned, destroyed. So it can be borne again, free of the pollution that has infected it since its inception.

Today Merge posted the following statement about Svenonius:

Merge Records has severed ties with Ian Svenonius moving forward, and we are pulling down his catalog from our webstore, physical distributors, and streaming/download services. The information and allegations surrounding Ian’s post last Friday have been illuminating and disheartening. We see and stand with all those who’ve come forward and all those who haven’t, and we will continue working and listening to do our part in making the music community one that is safer and more inclusive for everyone.

Stereogum has reached out for comment to Dischord Records, which released an album by Svenonius’ band Too Much earlier this month.

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.