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The Smith Street Band’s Wil Wagner Shares Open Letter, Cancels Band’s Upcoming Tour

Written by John Ritchie on March 14, 2019

CONTENT WARNING: The following article discusses allegations of emotional abuse

The Smith Street Band‘s Wil Wagner has just shared a lengthy open letter addressing allegations of emotional abuse that arose after a series of private messages from the frontman, allegedly sent to former partners including Camp Cope’s Georgia Maq, were posted online.

In the letter, Wagner apologises for his past actions and provides further context surrounding the exchanges, writing: “I said some incredibly hurtful things that I should never have said and expressed myself in a way that I completely regret and I wholeheartedly apologise for”.

He’s also used the opportunity to announce the cancellation of the band’s forthcoming tour, which support acts Sweater Curse and The Beths already pulled out of in the wake of the situation, writing: “I’m struggling and unfortunately it won’t be possible for me to do our upcoming tour as planned”.

The Smith Street Band published Wagner’s letter on their official Facebook page, expressing support and solidarity for their singer.

“Here’s an open letter from Wil, in response to some old, private emails and messages being published on social media and serious claims being made against him,” the band prefaced the post.

“The original posts have been removed and it’s time to add Wil’s voice to the conversation.”

Their statement continues: “As his band, friends and family, we stand by Wil and continue to support him.”

Wagner’s letter reads, in full:

Hey everyone.

Thanks in advance for reading this.

I was incapable of making a fuller statement until now because after the initial shock I spiralled into a very dark place. With the love and support of family and friends, and because there is so much at stake for so many people, I’m writing this now.

Firstly, the emails and messages, some of which date back to 2013, were private correspondence. They were recently posted on social media in breach of confidence and in breach of my privacy. They were selectively published with running commentary by someone who wasn’t the recipient of those emails and messages.

Secondly, I would like to provide some context to these emails and messages as they were published only in part. Omitted from the correspondence were responses by both me and my former partners. They were small snippets of two-sided correspondence and conversations within two different relationships.

The Facebook messages were written almost 6 years ago when I was 23 years old and grappling with the stress of international touring while attempting a long-distance relationship. I feel embarrassed rereading these messages now as they show how young, immature and poor I was at communicating and resolving arguments in this relationship. I take responsibility for my part in this and I apologise to my former partner for any hurt that I caused her during this time.

The private emails were written almost 3 years ago at an incredibly low point in my life at the end of a long-term relationship with someone I loved and cared for very deeply.
Towards the end of the relationship and after we broke up, I was heartbroken and hurt, depressed and angry.

As a result, I said some incredibly hurtful things that I should never have said and expressed myself in a way that I completely regret and I wholeheartedly apologise for. I am embarrassed that everyone has now seen me at my absolute worst.

Our relationship had very big highs and also very deep lows. It could at times be a toxic relationship. We could speak lovingly to each other and also horribly to each other. I take my share of the responsibility for the toxicity which existed between us. And I apologise to my former partner for my part in the hurt caused.

As many of you know I have long suffered with depression, anxiety and other long-standing mental health problems. Over the years I have been dependent on different drugs and alcohol, neglected therapy because of feeling beyond help, let myself down by behaving irrationally, lost my strength and my self esteem and held deep-seeded suicidal ideations. I have relied on immediate comforts to bring fleeting relief, hence my recent drastic weight gain. I don’t say this to excuse or justify the things I said in those emails or Facebook messages, but to at least provide some further context. The life of a touring musician is one of turbulence, pressure and exhaustion – things that I’ve always struggled to deal with. I also think it’s important to say that as these issues are deeply personal, sensitive and private, dealing with them so publicly has had, and will continue to have, a very real impact on my (and I’m sure others’) mental health.

There are some things that I need to make clear from what has been posted online-

I have never made any fake online profiles;
I have never stalked anyone;
I have never had an intervention or restraining order made against me.
Nor have I acted in a way to justify an intervention or restraining order being made against me (including by being physically or sexually abusive or emotionally or psychologically abusive).
The comparison that is being made about me with Ryan Adams who is accused of sexual misconduct with a minor and being a serial abuser of women for his own sexual gain is completely unfair and untrue.

Finally, the alleged ‘death threat’ was nothing of the sort. It’s a reference to a stupid, dark, long-running joke my former partner and I shared. It stemmed from slightly goth/emo and perhaps wannabe minds claiming we had a ‘Kurt and Courtney’ or ‘Romeo and Juliet’ type of connection. A kind of self-destructive love/hate relationship, which could only end badly. We joked about this subject often. It was completely lame, plainly in poor taste and is utterly embarrassing. But it carried no intent or menace from either of us.

I cannot change the past. I’m trying to learn from my mistakes. I’m learning to express myself in better ways. I’ve been in therapy for many years, and while I’m still a work in progress (and always will be), I continue to strive towards improving myself in every way I can. And at 28, I’m further along that road than I was when these emails and messages were written.

As for my own health, I’m struggling and unfortunately it won’t be possible for me to do our upcoming tour as planned. Right now, I just have to take things a day at a time.

Finally, I’m so sorry for the mistakes I’ve made, and for the pain and distress this situation has caused everyone involved, especially all of the people I love. I’m trying to be a better person.

As this can’t have been easy for anyone connected to anyone involved I ask that you be respectful of everyone and, most importantly, be kind to each other.

Love,

Wil

f you need assistance, 1800 RESPECT – the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service — can be reached on 1800 737 732.

For help or information regarding mental health, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

The views expressed by people and organisations quoted in this article are not the view of Music Feeds or its employees.

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