Agalloch’s Don Anderson + John Haughm Detail Reasons for Breakup; Discuss Future Plans
In May, it was announced that atmospheric folk black metal act Agalloch had disbanded after 21 years. The news came on the band's Facebook page, with frontman John Haughm initially stating the uncertainty if he would continue Agalloch on his own. He later retracted the comment shortly after. Billboard reached out to ousted member Don Anderson as well as Haughm for clarification about the band's dissolution.
"He wanted a band that could rehearse all the time," began Anderson, who is a literary professor at SUNY Westchester Community College. Continuing, he stated that he understood the notion, adding, "He’s getting tour offers from all over the world, South America, Australia, places we’ve never been and he had to turn ’em down. That must be very difficult." Citing being "friends first, a band second," Anderson explained that this relationship had shifted as the band had now become a full-time priority for Haughm, though this was not the case for the rest of the members.
"We never assumed or imagined there would be a day he would chose that over playing with his best friends that he’s been playing with forever," Anderson candidly stated, going on, "but I think when the band becomes the business, and when some members depend on it for their livelihood and you start playing gigs to pay rent, that is the beginning of the end because you’re not playing music just to play music."
Haughm agreed that he and the rest of the band did not carry the same ideals, summing up the breakup saying, "...the band became a classic case of one member having totally different ambitions and goals than the other members and it eventually couldn’t work anymore. The band hit a wall." He stated that the turmoil began back in 2005, but didn't fully begin to present itself until 2014 when Anderson relocated to New York from the band's Oregon home. Harboring no animosity, the frontman explained, "That was his life’s ambition and I can’t fault him for it. I think everyone should pursue their passions in life. However, it created a huge roadblock for band activity."
Echoing the sentiments of turning down tour offers "most band would kill for," Haughm revealed that Anderson's schedule was completely incompatible with band ambitions. While replacing Anderson was a possibility, the Agalloch frontman detailed, "If the band were to continue, I would’ve had to find replacements, which obviously would’ve been an uncomfortable and unpopular transition. Had this happened 10 years ago, maybe it would’ve worked, but not now. The roots were simply too deep. On the other hand, had Don quit or decided to step aside, the band might still be around right now."
Billboard also stated that Don Anderson, Jason William Walton and Aesop Dekker will be moving forward with a new band while Haughm is keeping busy with an ambient project. The Anderson, Walton, Dekker project has yet to decide on a name for their new band and will reveal their fourth member soon. The group has also yet to decide upon a label.
“We’re very excited about it,” says Anderson. “We’re currently demoing new material, and we hope to play live and tour ... We’re definitely going to try to do something different, [but] we don’t want to soil the Agalloch name. We don’t want to recall it too easily.”
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