Chicago band The Orwells have broken up amid allegations of sexual abuse and claims they “used teenage girls for sex” – allegations they’ve strenuously denied.
The five-piece rock band, whose songs contained lyrics about violence against women, references to drugs and underage girls, announced they’d parted ways just a day after putting out a statement denying all accusations of sexual assault made against three of the musicians.
Just this week, after cancelling their Chicago gig when social media rumours started swirling, the band put out a statement.
“We emphatically deny these baseless allegations brought as a personal attack against us,” the band – made up of lead singer Mario Cuomo, drummer Henry Brinner, bass guitarist Grant Brinner, and two other members who have not been accused of sexual abuse – wrote.
“While callow altercations and vulgar language we’ve used in the past must be recognised and owned up to, the accusations of sexual assault are completely unfounded.”
Their statement followed a Reddit post to r/indieheads that contained allegations Mario had sent teenage girls aged 17 or younger unsolicited pictures of his penis – again, which he has denied.
A Google Doc containing allegations of the band’s behaviour has been circulated, including messages, social media posts and pictures from fans alleging they’d been treated badly at Orwells gigs and afterwards.
One – who the creator of the ‘dossier’ said had given her permission to share her story – alleged that Mario had anal sex with her in his van when she was a 17-year-old virgin and had left her bleeding and crying in pain.
“At the time I didn’t think the situation was bad I thought that it was cool (everything I did with him was consensual btw) but I was still underage nonetheless,” she wrote.
“And he never asked my age. Ever. I was 17 at the time and the night I hooked up with him, he didn’t have a condom so we ended up doing anal. He didn’t ask me he kind of just did it.. I remember how horrible it felt but I just went along with it to be cool.”
She went on: “It didn’t feel good at all & I remember tears running down my face as it was going on & how much pain I was in after. I bled.”
The woman, who didn’t give her name or age now, went on to say she felt “starstruck” by Mario’s fame and “didn’t realize how much I was getting taken advantage of”.
Other people have made claims about Orwells gigs where Mario allegedly became violent, with claims of him throwing his microphone into the crowd, kissing fans in the front row and even slamming one person’s face into the stage.
One young woman, who was left bleeding when he “spiked” his microphone into the crowd, was ‘bought off’ with free merchandise, the dossier claims.
Drew Potenza, who used to work as The Orwells tour manager, said in messages to the Google Doc owner that he got fired by the band for being too strict.
“Since then I have not associated myself with them or their management due to a total lack of respect, etc,” he added.
A number of other bands have cut contact with The Orwells in the wake of the allegations, including Twin Peaks, which used to tour with the threesome.
“I’ll go ahead and speak for the rest of @twinpeaksdudes because i know we all feel the same,” tweeted Jack Dolan of the band on August 25.
“We don’t affiliate, condone or support anything about these dudes. they have a lot to answer for.”
The band Grapetooth have also denounced The Orwells, quote-tweeting Jack the following day.
“fyi – we 100% back jack up on this – we don’t condone any of the actions associated with them & hope all venues/people stop supporting them,” they tweeted on August 28, the same day the band denied all allegations against them in their official statement.
And the band The Symposium, which used to employ Henry Brinner as their drummer, have also responded to the claims on Twitter.
“Hey Everyone, We just read up on everything relating to The Orwells and the allegations against Mario/ Grant/Henry,” they said on August 27.
“Before this information surfaced, we invited Henry Brinner of the Orwells to fill in on drums while we went on our first US tour. It was made clear to us that he was unable to be a member of our band due to his pre-occupation with the Orwells.
“Henry was never a member of the Symposium. We do not tolerate abuse, we are not a refuge for abusers. We make music that all people are free to enjoy,” they added.
Mirror Online has contacted reps for The Orwells’ record label Fortress for comment.