Starcrawler’s Arrow de Wilde (photo by Kimberley Ross) and The Growlers’ Brooks Nielsen (photo by David Brendan Hall)
The Growlers were at the center of the accusations recently raised against Burger Records, which ultimately led to the label shutting down. At the time, frontman Brooks Nielsen said the band was “committed to conducting ourselves in a way our mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters would be proud of.” However, it seems as recently as January the band was engaging in misconduct, as Starcrawler’s Arrow de Wilde has levied new accusations against the band.
Starcrawler joined The Growlers on their 12-date Australian tour at the top of the year. When de Wilde got off stage after finishing a Melbourne show, she was covered in sweat and fake blood, a typical part of Starcrawlers’ performance. When she entered the dressing room, she said she “was immediately ushered onto a couch.” Then, “a dude in a paramedic uniform burst into the room,” which she at first took as someone from the venue thinking the fake blood was real. However, he quickly ripped “off his uniform and music starts playing. I realized then, it’s a male stripper & begin to laugh as it honestly was pretty funny to me at first,” said de Wolfe.
As the striptease dragged on for an uncomfortable 10 minutes, the humor faded. The other members of Starcrawler had attempted to get backstage, but the doors had been locked. “Every time I tried to get up, [the stripper] pushed me back down,” de Wilde recalled. “It started to feel more and more degrading as each layer of clothing peeled off his body, the growlers just continued to laugh and film the whole thing.”
At this point, de Wilde said she “put my hands over my face as I felt his bare dick and balls rubbing and pressing against my chest and face as he continued to hold me down. I started to feel really panicked. My heart was beating so fast… Everyone in The Growlers were standing all around me, laughing and taking videos the whole time, no one ever stepped in. Once it was finally over, I ran to the bathroom to collect myself (aka cry) and wash the dick off my face.”
She said that while none of The Growlers directly assaulted her, they continued to laugh at the videos they’d taken. de Wilde later discovered the band’s frontman, Brooks Nielsen, had orchestrated the “joke,” which cost them “a few hundred bucks.”
In a statement to Pitchfork, Starcrawler guitarist Henri Cash corroborated de Wilde’s story. According to him, when they were finally able to get into the dressing room, they “saw a naked man standing over Arrow. Arrow was very upset and told me the whole story right after in the bathroom. We were all shocked and horrified and didn’t know what to do.”
Nielsen has issued his own statement in response to the mounting allegations. In addition giving a blanket apology for any of the band’s actions that “have hurt, offended or damaged any person or made anyone feel less than 100% safe,” he said he takes “full responsibility and accountability for the behavior of all Growlers’ band members, past and present.” He continued,
“Most recently including lack of judgement in arranging a male stripper as an end-of-tour prank to dance for the great Arrow De Wilde, who I admire so much as a person, artist and performer. This was a horrible idea that turned out even worse.
To Arrow: I was supposed to take care of you. I was supposed to protect you. I let you, your bandmates and your family down. For that, I am forever sorry. I am deeply saddened that I’ve lost your friendship and trust. I hope that one day you can forgive me.”
However, he once again categorized the numerous accusations against the band as “antics of the early Growlers.” Again, the incident with de Wilde occurred in January.
Nielsen went on to say that Growlers co-founder and guitarist Matt Taylor would be “taking temporary leave from the band” in light of specific assualt against him. “Although he adamantly denies the allegations made against him, he has hired independent representation to best evaluate and navigate his situation.”
For Nielsen’s part, he claimed to be “contacting a range of peers and collaborators across the music scene, asking them to share their feelings and advice. I will be listening to their feedback with the intention of improving myself and The Growlers, finding ways to make our fans feel safer, and creating healthier environments in the future.”
The initial series of accusations against The Growlers ranged from asking a 15-year-old girl to flash the band for free tickets, to predatory behavior from former drummer Scott Montoya, to a groping incident by Nielsen himself.
Find de Wolfe and Nielsen’s statements below.