Ontario based punk band Zex has found itself unexpectedly thrust into the headlines following the release of its sophomore album Uphill Battle, which arrived in June.
Over the last weekend, news quickly spread that the first side of the album had been mistakenly pressed onto several vinyl copies of Beyonce‘s Lemonade. Days later, on Monday (Sept. 18), it was revealed that the band’s label, Magic Bullet Records, had dropped the outfit due to sexual assault allegations against guitarist Jo Capitalicide.
The label released a statement explaining its decision to drop Zex from its roster — “In light of ongoing and recent accounts of alleged sexual assault tied to ZEX guitarist Jo Capitalcide… Magic Bullet Records is hereby dropping ZEX from its roster of artists, effective immediately” — and citing both Vex singer Gretchen Steel (who the statement mentions as having been in an “open relationship” with Capitalcide) and an anonymous survivor as having shared first-hand information about the guitarist’s assault.
“[The past few days] have been strange to say the least,” Steel expresses over email. “Almost unbelievable.”
Both Steel and Capitalicide say they found out about the allegations through the label’s statement. “I haven’t heard anything else. It’s false,” Capitalicide also insists over email.
As for the accidental vinyl pressing, Zex first found out about it through a friend who works at London’s Rough Trade after a customer brought a copy back.
Capitalicide tells Billboard over the phone how others who ended up with a mis-pressed copy were using Shazam to identify the unknown punk music that had replaced Lemonade Side A. “[People] were writing to us seemingly confused,” he says. “Some [Beyonce fans] have even written to us saying, ‘Hey I figured out it was you guys and now I went back to the record store and bought your record.’ That’s pretty wild for someone who’s into Beyonce.”
Steel and Capitalicide agree that above all else, their initial reaction to the vinyl mishap was to laugh it off. “It was funny, absolutely,” Capitalicide says. “I’m pretty big into record collecting, so I’m aware that kind of thing does happen, but the odds of being paired with essentially the biggest [pop star] in the world right now is something.”
Capitalicide says that because he’s so out of the loop, he had never even heard Beyonce’s music. “I knew the name, and [Gretchen] is a fan, but I had only heard the album a few days ago.” Gretchen confirms by adding, “[Beyonce] a strong, powerful woman with a lot of attitude; what’s not to love?”
Media attention aside, Capitalicide offers, “It’d be nice if people would actually take a moment to go past the novelty and have a look at the music and what we’ve got to say.”
For more intentional promotion of their new, full-throttle album Uphill Battle, Zex has plans to tour — though the recent drop from its label leaves certain details unclear.
“The only thing we know about these accusations are from the Magic Bullet Records statement,” Steel says. “Otherwise, this is all news to us.”