Hookworms disband as frontman Matthew Johnson denies sexual abuse allegations
Hookworms announced that they 'can no longer continue as a band' and Johnson has issued a statement flatly denying the allegations
Hookworms, the psychedelic rock quintet from Leeds, UK, have officially announced that the band is splitting up following allegations of sexual and mental abuse made against the band’s frontman Matthew "MJ" Johnson, Pitchfork reports. The Leeds-based group posted a statement on their Twitter account which announced all upcoming shows had been cancelled and they "can no longer continue as a band".
Johnson has since issued a statement denying all allegations. He posted a statement to Twitter stating: “I deny, and always will deny, the allegations that were posted yesterday.”
“We’re deeply shocked by the allegations that came to light yesterday regarding MJ, and take them very seriously,” Hookworms wrote in a statement posted to their Twitter. According to the note, “other members of Hookworms, their collaborators, various agents, and record labels had no prior knowledge of the allegation before it went public yesterday, and are still coming to terms with the news.” Read the full statement below.
The allegations came from Alanna McCardle, ex-frontwoman of Joanna Gruesome and current singer of Ex-Void. In a note posted on Twitter, McCardle – who said that she used to date Johnson – claimed she was contacted by a woman identified only as "L" who was reportedly involved with Johnson in 2016.
McCardle claimed that "L" told her she suffered "horrific abuse", including sexual assault, from Johnson. She alleged that in the two years following his and L's relationship, he had "pursued an emotionally abusive love-bombing campaign towards L in an attempt to reframe his actions".
In his statement, Johnson claimed that "L" had contacted him recently and asked him to “characterise some of my actions towards her as abusive to assist her... with her ongoing recovery from historic sexual abuse that occurred prior to us knowing each other. I regret now accepting any blame. I felt pressured into disbelieving myself and also believed I was helping her. I offered her support in other ways so to read what she has told someone else about me is confusing and upsetting. More importantly, the picture painted of me yesterday is untrue.”
He added: “I have attempted in all of my work and private life to maintain good ethics.”
McArdle replied to Johnson on Twitter, calling him “a despicable liar”. McArdle had described L as a “survivor of sexual and physical abuse”, a situation that Johnson allegedly mocked. “Over the course of numerous interactions, he made jokes about the specific details of L’s past experience, joking about raping her, mutilating her body and punching her in the face,” McArdle claimed.
You are a despicable liar and you should be deeply, deeply ashamed of yourself— Lan (@alannamcardle_) November 1, 2018
“He sexually assaulted her, triggering her PTSD, and at the time remained unapologetic for his actions.” She also claimed that Johnson had recently texted L admitting to the alleged abuse although Johnson’s bandmates said they were previously unaware of these allegations.
TW: sexual, physical, emotional abuse. Concerning Matthew Johnson (MJ from Hookworms) pic.twitter.com/GulQcqDrEp— Lan (@alannamcardle_) October 30, 2018
Johnson is a prominent member of the UK indie music scene. Along with Hookworms, he released three critically acclaimed albums – 'Pearl Mystic', 'Hum' and most recently, 2018's 'Microshift' – the latter two being released via acclaimed indie label Domino Records.
He is known for being open about his experiences with depression and has previously taken vocal stances against musicians who have been accused of abuse. McArdle cited Johnson’s politically progressive public stance as a motivation for sharing L’s allegations.