SWMRS respond to sexual misconduct allegations against Joey Armstrong

"I wasn’t going to condemn my friend," said Cole Becker. "Because we refused to condemn him, we got cancelled"

SWMRS have issued a statement regarding the accusations of sexual misconduct levied against their former drummer Joey Armstrong.

In a statement shared on Instagram in July 2020, Lydia Night – singer of LA band The Regrettes – detailed her experiences with Armstrong (son of Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong) during a one-year relationship that began in mid-2017.

Night said in the message that the relationship began when she was 16, and ended “right before my 18th birthday”. Armstrong was 22-years-old during that period.

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“Every time we took a step sexually it was because he wanted to and made it clear by either putting my hand on his crotch, shaming me for saying I wasn’t comfortable, gaslighting me or ignoring me when I didn’t my consent,” part of Night’s post read.

She explained that she’d taken the decision to make the claims publicly after SWMRS “released an unbelievably hypocritical statement on social media”, adding: “This band’s delusional positioning of themselves as woke feminists is not only triggering for me as a victim, but is complete bullshit and needs to be called out.”

Elsewhere in Night’s statement, she wrote that it had taken her “years to finally understand that I am a victim of abuse”. She also accused Armstrong of using his “position of power” as a musician of a headline tour band with which to exert his control. “That professional power dynamic had made its way into all aspects of our relationship,” she said.

Night added that she spoke to Armstrong before sharing the statement online whereby he “seemed very empathetic” but that when she received a handwritten note written by him and delivered by his bandmate, Cole Becker, Armstrong “didn’t address any of the abuse, my age, his position of power, or anything sexual at all” within the letter.

Later, Armstrong responded to the claims in his own statement that he shared on SWMRS’ official Instagram account.

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“While I don’t agree with some of the things she said about me, it’s important that she be allowed to say them and that she be supported for speaking out. I respect her immensely and fully accept that I failed her as a partner,” it read.

“I was selfish and I didn’t treat her the way she deserves to have been treated both during our relationship and in the two years since we broke up.”

Armstrong added: “I have apologised to her privately and I hope she can forgive me, if and when she is ready to do so. I own my mistakes and will work hard to regain the trust that I lost.”

SWMRS’ Cole Becker and Max Becker have now posted a video message in which the former read out “an open letter to our fans”. Cole revealed that the pair were “going to keep the band going”, and confirmed that both Armstrong and Seb Mueller had departed.

“First of all, sorry this has taken so long,” Cole began. “It’s just been hard to find the right words to say. The last time we were really in touch is over two years ago. The world around you and me had shut down.”

The frontman went on to talk about his bandmate and brother’s 2019 car crash and subsequent period of recovery. “It’s against that backdrop that my life changed once again,” he continued.

“In July 2020, my friend and the drummer of SWMRS, Joey Armstrong, was accused of emotional abuse and sexual coercion by somebody that he had dated years before. They were not the same age when they dated; he was 22, she was 17. But nonetheless, the accusations came as a shock to me.

“Lydia was somebody who we considered a friend. When I first heard that she was going to call Joey out, I immediately called her. I remember that Joey and her had met up months before to discuss their relationship after the fact, and I believed that it had gone well. So I wanted to figure out what had changed.”

Cole continued: “We talked twice and it was going well until she made light of my brother’s car wreck, and suggested that we could post about The Regrettes on our Instagram story to prevent her from going public with her accusations. At which point I had to step away from the situation.

“When she published her statement, I immediately saw that certain details were embellished to make it appear worse than it was. I was there. I remember their brief relationship. I remember when he spent Mother’s Day with her family.”

The Regrettes
Lydia Night of The Regrettes on stage during the band’s Coachella weekend 1 performance CREDIT: Rich Fury

The singer then disputed Night’s claim that Armstrong had forced her to keep their relationship a secret. “Everyone involved in both of their lives knew about it,” he said.

“I was also confused because they never had sex, and yet many people began to refer to him as a rapist. And to us as rape apologists.”

He added: “There was no accusation of sexual assault, and yet the statement was written to make it appear that Joey was a sexual predator. Maybe he wasn’t a good boyfriend, but he is not a sexual predator. Maybe they shouldn’t have dated, but they did.”

Later, Cole said it “felt wrong” to get involved with the situation: “Ultimately, it isn’t my story to tell and I really didn’t wanna discredit her story. But the discrepancies were too glaring for me to take her side over his.

“I wasn’t going to condemn my friend. Because we refused to condemn him, we got cancelled. We started getting death threats. Private information about our lives was being passed around casually by people who felt betrayed by us. People were finding every creative way to tell us that we sucked and they hated us.”

Cole continued: “If you were one of these people, I get it. You had believed that we stood for something, and yet here we were seemingly contradicting ourselves by standing by our friend amid these allegations. People that I had considered friends began posting statements condemning our band.

“I recalled in horror how I had participated in this frenzy several times before from the other side. I thought that I had been using our platform for a good thing. But in the end, I was participating in a culture that rewards cruel behaviour in the name of justice. And I only learned this because of how cruel people were being to us. We were being media flogged.”

As for the future of the band, Cole said: “SWMRS is not breaking up, but a chapter of our lives has emphatically closed. Joey and Seb have both stepped away from the band to grow their personal lives. Max and I are going to keep the band going.

“After everything we’ve been through, it feels stupid to quit. He has worked relentlessly on his recovery since the accident with this sole intention of being able to play rock music on a stage again. Our band means a lot to us, and I think it means a lot to a lot of you as well.”

SWMRS; Lydia Night; Joey Armstrong
Lydia Night; Joey Armstrong. CREDIT: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for Life is Beautiful Music & Art Festival; Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Cole then explained that he’d been “scared to say anything” as he was aware that his thoughts on the situation were “controversial”.

“It doesn’t fit neatly into the cultural binary of good versus bad. And I was scared because I don’t want to fight anyone – that’s the last thing I want to do. But as this continues to interfere with our ability to do our job, I have no other choice. The time has come for us to set the record straight.”

Anticipating SWMRS fans’ reaction to the statement, Cole said: “Some of you will hear this and it won’t be enough. If that’s the case, you don’t have to listen to our music. I’m only trying to tell you the truth. I’ve not always done the right thing.

“But anyone who really knows me knows that I always try to treat people with respect, and to work from a place of love. No matter how this letter finds you, we’re sending you love, respect and gratitude. It’s always been an honour to share our music with you.”

You can watch the statement in full in the video above. NME has contacted Lydia Night’s representatives for comment.

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