The founder of indie giants Crystal Castles has been accused of rape by the group’s former lead singer Alice Glass. On her official website, the former frontwoman of Crystal Castles said that she had been subjected to sexual, physical and mental abuse from Kath. That abuse, she says, led to her departure from the band in October 2014. In response, Kath issued a statement to Pitchfork saying the allegations were “pure fiction” and that he was looking into his legal options.
When Glass left the band, she released this statement saying, “My art and my self-expression in any form has always been an attempt towards sincerity, honesty, and empathy for others. For a multitude of reasons both professional and personal I no longer feel that this is possible within Crystal Castles. Although this is the end of the band, I hope my fans will embrace me as a solo artist in the same way they have embraced Crystal Castles.” Shortly after that statement was released, the group’s management said the band would continue with a new singer. In April 2015, the band returned with new frontwoman Edith Frances.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Glass Says Kath ‘Forced Me to Have Sex With Him or, He Said, I Wouldn’t Be Allowed to be in the Band Anymore’
According to Glass’ statement, Kath “forced me to have sex with him or, he said, I wouldn’t be allowed to be in the band anymore.” Other allegations include Glass saying that Kath curtailed her financial freedom. In a statement through his lawyer, Kath replied saying, “I am outraged and hurt by the recent statements made by Alice about me and our prior relationship. Her story is pure fiction and I am consulting my lawyers as to my legal options. Fortunately, there are many witnesses who can and will confirm that I was never abusive to Alice.”
Glass’ statement concludes with:
Leaving Crystal Castles was the single most difficult decision I’ve ever made – that band was everything to me. My music, my performances and my fans were all I had in the world. I gave that up and started over not because I wanted to but because I had to.
As difficult as it was, I knew that leaving was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It has taken me years to recover from enduring almost a decade of abuse, manipulation and psychological control. I am still recovering.
2. Kath & Glass Formed the Band After Meeting in Toronto in December 2003
Kath and Glass formed Crystal Castles together in Toronto in December 2003. In her statement accusing Kath of rape, Glass says, “I met Ethan Kath (Claudio Palmieri) when I was in the 10th grade. The first time he took advantage of me was when I was around 15.” In April 2015, a Noisey article on the pair said that Kath “spotted Glass shortly after she ran away from home at age 14, moved into a squat and started playing with a crust band called Fetus Fatale.” Kath told the Guardian in 2010:
[Glass] was getting high all summer. I found her on the street; she was higher than anyone I’ve ever seen in my life.
Prior to joining up with Glass, Kath performed in a hardcore bands Jakarta and Kill Cheerleader as a drummer and bass player. Not to mention a period Kath spend in a folk group with his friend Pino Placentile. Kath said in an interview about this band, “We both played acoustic guitars and wrote songs for years and just as we were about to record our first album he passed away. He died in his sleep of an aneurysm, brought on by medication he was taking for Rheumatoid Arthritis. I miss him so much, I still think about him every day.”
During a February 2008 interview with Now Toronto, Kath was fawning over what Glass brought to the band saying, “The live show is where Alice comes in. She’s the face of the band and fills up that space quite nicely. As soon as a I saw her perform [with her old band, Foetus Fatale], I knew I could trust her and that I wouldn’t have to look over anything she does. Whatever she’d put on my tracks would be fine, and she’ll never write a cliched lyric.”
3. Kath Threw Shade at Glass When She Left the Group Saying ‘She Didn’t Appear on Crystal Castles Best Known Songs’
In releasing his first song since Glass’s departure in April 2015, Kath was accused of throwing shade at the group’s former singer when he said:
I think it can be empowering for her [Glass] to be in charge of her own project. It should be rewarding for her considering she didn’t appear on Crystal Castles’ best known songs.
Glass responded, according to Pitchfork:
I was a founding member of Crystal Castles and shaped the sound and aesthetic from the very beginning… manipulative statements about my contributions to the band only reinforce the decision I made to move on to other things.
In keeping the back-and-forth going, Kath said, “I wish my former vocalist the best of luck in her future endeavors. I think it can be empowering for her to be in charge of her own project. It should be rewarding for her.” Kath then said in an interview with Pitchfork, “I was making a point that my vision for CC was continuing. When I realized it came off as shade, I pulled it because I have no desire to throw any shade, I really do wish her the best.”
Since Glass quit the band, Kath, along with new singer Edith Frances release an album, Amnesty (I), in August 2016. At one point, Stereogum put forward a theory that Edith Frances and Ethan Kath were the same person. Frances told Under the Radar about how the pair came together in May 2017 saying, “I knocked a guy over in the pit at a Negative Approach show. Hours later I went to a friend’s house to stay the night. The same guy I knocked over answers the door, “Hey I’m Ethan.” He was staying there too.”
Throughout the summer of 2017 and into the fall the band has been on tour in North America and Europe. Frances said of the group’s new efforts, “This album has themes of freedom and liberation from oppression. So it just seemed natural to support what we’d written about. I’ve been writing papers about things that are violating human rights and I think it’s really important to get the people who are listening talking about it, and talking about change.”
SF Gate reports that in the wake of the Glass allegations, the band canceled a performance in the San Francisco-area. In March 2016, NME reported that Crystal Castles had been dropped from a feminist showcase at the South-by-South-West festival due to protests from Glass.
Glass released her first solo EP in the summer of 2017.
4. Kath Is Married to Artist Au Vyst
According to the blog, Crystal Fake Castles, Kath is married artist Au Vyst. The blog says that at the time of their marriage, Kath was 39 and Vyst was 21. The post adds that they first met when Vyst was 15 years old and that Vyst was known as a Crystal Castles’ devotee on Tumblr going by the moniker Katzekind.
Vyst was listed as doing the artwork on Crystal Castles’ comeback single, “Frail.” DIY Magazine speculated in July 2015 that Edith Frances and Au Vyst were the same person.
5. Kath Said in 2012 that He Hoped that Girls ‘Would Learn’ From Glass’ Advocacy for Sexual Assault Victims
According to Noisey, during her performing career, Glass has “battled through sexual assault from audience members.” While in a 2008 NME feature, Glass showed off a knew knuckleduster to help her deal with misogynistic fans, “It for f***ing motherf***ers up. It makes it hurt more.” Glass added, “I’ve never f***ing punched someone who didn’t deserve it.” The piece says that after one concert in Spain, a fan ripped Glass’ skirt from her body only for it later to appear on Ebay. Kath said, “We let it be known that we would kill him, and it was taken down.” Glass continued:
I understand that people can be victims of circumstances. When somebody accidentally touches whatever, I understand that’s part of putting myself out there. But if someone tries to put their fist in your vagina or whatever, if you try to finger-f*** me, I’m going to follow your arm and punch you in the face.
And if you do it in front of our younger female fans, I’m going to make a point that they see that this is what should happen.
‘Cos the reality is that there’s no justice for most people that sexually assault women. Whether it’s unreported or a lot of police want to look the other way or the blame victim.
While Kath commended his former bandmate saying, “Hopefully girls could learn from Alice. Hopefully she can wash away all the lessons from the mainstream media. I think she has the power to.”
During an interview with Spin Magazine in November 2012, Glass showed her passionate advocacy for sexual assault victims. The reporter notes that through email, Glass ignored his initial questions and instead responded with this statement:
America is still not doing enough for human trafficking within itself. The [FBI] estimates 50,000 women will be trafficked into America every year, that number is probably higher than reported… There is a lack of shelters for victims, many victims are placed in juvenile treatment facilities.
In the state of Missouri there are only 25 available beds for girl victims in these facilities… One in 12 children in America will be sexually assaulted… In America, the greatest threat to women’s health and safety is domestic abuse, yet there is little funding to inform and support women.”