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Chicago indie rockers The Orwells disband amid sexual misconduct allegations

On Wednesday, The Orwells announced they had officially disbanded. The move came on the heels of sexual misconduct allegations against some band members. | Facebook

The Orwells, the suburban Chicago indie rockers known for frenzied live performances, has disbanded following accusations from multiple women alleging sexual misconduct by band members.

The announcement came Wednesday via the band’s Twitter feed.

The wide range of allegations, mentioning band members Mario Cuomo, Henry Brinner and Grant Brinner, surfaced publicly this week in a Reddit thread and a Google doc. In addition to allegations of sexual misconduct, the accounts include charges band members sent unsolicited nude photos to women and used homophobic language.

The band released a statement on Pitchfork.com Tuesday denying the claims:

“It’s come to our attention that certain allegations of abuse have been made against one or more of us on social media and in social circles of Chicago. We’d like to first state that sexual abuse in any form is abhorrent. We do not take these accusations lightly and consider this matter incredibly serious. We emphatically deny these baseless allegations brought as a personal attack against us.

While callow altercations and vulgar language we’ve used in the past must be recognized and owned up to, the accusations of sexual assault are completely unfounded. No member of this band has ever acted without consent or maliciously taken advantage of anyone. We encourage anyone who’s been affected by sexual abuse to speak up and make their abusers known; however we also encourage everyone to be cautious of the things they read and say on the Internet. No victim of abuse should be hesitant to make their voice heard and if someone does feel that we’ve hurt them, we encourage them to contact us properly and privately (not via social media or anonymously), as to respect their identity.”

The Orwells’ manager did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Sun-Times.

A Chicago police spokeswoman said the department had “no reports of sexual misconduct” connected to the three band members.

When the allegations first surfaced, the group canceled its Nov. 23 show at The Metro, although a tweet from the band did not give a reason for the move.

The band includes the two Brinners, who are fraternal twins, as well as other friends from Elmhurst. They got their start while high school students in 2009. They’ve toured nationally, even appearing on the “Late Show with David Letterman” in 2014. They’ve recorded five albums since 2010, including “Terrible Human Beings,” which was released by Atlantic last year.

Some local bands with previous ties to The Orwells spoke out against the group in light of the developments, including members of Twin Peaks.

“We were unaware of The Orwells’ actions during the short time we toured with them, but learned about several incidents through private discussions within the Chicago community in recent years. We never felt it was our place to make public these stories that were not ours to tell,” the Chicago band said in an Instagram post on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, the Chicago band Rookie issued a statement via Facebook distancing themselves from The Orwells — specifically, drummer Henry Brinner, who reportedly directed one of Rookie’s music videos.

“We’ve removed our video for ‘One Way Ticket’ in light of the allegations of the videographer, Henry Brinner, of the Orwells. We’re sorry to have associated with this person. As a band, we can assure you that until this past week — we were not aware of the actual events that have been since revealed. We have never attempted to be complicit in any manner with anyone accused of abuse/assault.”

The Metro released a statement Monday night denouncing acts of violence, but did not call out The Orwells by name.

“Metro does not tolerate acts of violence, victimization, or predation,” the venue wrote in a tweet. “We always encourage our patrons to voice their concerns and want you to know that we not only hear you—we support any effort that makes our local music scene safer and more equitable.”