Artist News

Hookworms split follow allegations of abuse against frontman

By | Published on Thursday 1 November 2018


Hookworms have abruptly announced that they are splitting up, with immediate effect, following abuse allegations against frontman Matthew ‘MJ’ Johnson. He denies the claims.

Yesterday afternoon, the band said in a statement on Twitter that they are “deeply shocked by the allegations” and “take them very seriously”, saying that “as a result, we can no longer continue as a band”.

They then added: “This is a matter for MJ as an individual, external to the band … the other members of Hookworms, their collaborators, various agents and record label had no prior knowledge of the allegation … and are still coming to terms with the news”.

The allegations against Johnson were made by former Joanna Gruesome frontwoman Alanna McArdle, on behalf of another woman, whom she identified on as ‘L’.

“L is a survivor of sexual and physical abuse, something she made Matt aware of”, she wrote. “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. He sexually assaulted her, triggered her PTSD, and at the time remained unapologetic for his actions”.

McArdle said that Johnson had defended those actions over the last two years and had attempted to “reframe” them. However, she added that she has now “seen evidence of Matt texting L a few weeks ago admitting to these sexually and emotionally abusive actions”.

Following the band’s statement yesterday, Johnson issued his own response on Twitter, saying: “It feels impossible to address this comprehensively so soon and especially given subsequent developments and decisions that have been made by others. To be clear, I deny, and will always deny, the allegations”.

He went on: “I understood that L and I were both unhappy with parts of our short relationship, but we had not been in contact for some time. She contacted me recently and in our exchanges – we did not meet – she asked me to characterise some of my actions against her as abusive to assist her, she said, 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 believed I was helping here”, he continued. “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 and image painted of me yesterday is untrue”.

Hookworms released their third album, ‘Microshift’, in February, and were due to perform shows in Birmingham, Manchester and London this month.