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Neurosis' Scott Kelly admits to abusing wife and children

Scott Kelly (left) performs at the High Voltage Festival with the metal band Neurosis in 2011.
Metal Hammer Magazine
Future via Getty Images
Scott Kelly (left) performs at the High Voltage Festival with the metal band Neurosis in 2011.

Scott Kelly — vocalist, guitarist and an original founder for the metal band Neurosistook to Facebook on Saturday to "address some rumors and set the record straight" about the "emotional, financial, verbal and physical abuse of my wife and younger children." Kelly writes that he kept his abuses secret and "found ways to keep my wife and kids from work and school and created divisions with friends and family members. I became obsessed with control and used threats, manipulation, threats of self-harm and suicide, inflicted physical damage on people and their reputations all to keep that control."

In the same statement, Kelly announced that he is "100% permanently retired from being a professional musician."

The remaining members of Neurosis issued a collective response to Kelly's post: "We cannot overstate the level of disgust and disappointment we feel for a man who we once called Brother." The band is quick to share that Neurosis parted ways with Kelly in 2019, "after learning about severe acts of abuse he committed towards his family over the previous years." Initially, Neurosis members did not go public out of privacy concerns — a direct request from Kelly's wife, they say.

Neurosis was founded by Kelly, bassist Dave Edwardson and drummer Jason Roeder in 1985. Initially a hardcore punk band, Neurosis took on doom-metal influences as guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till joined in 1989 and, later, synth/visual artist Noah Landis in 1995. Albums such as Souls at Zero, Through Silver and Blood and Times of Grace not only left indelible marks on metal specifically, but also influenced the broader world of heavy music.

Kelly has been involved in several Neurosis spin-offs including Tribes of Neurot, Shrinebuilder and Blood & Time, not to mention his own solo recordings and new band Absent In Body, which released an album in March.

When his wife attempted to leave the abusive situation, Kelly writes that he "tried to convince her and others that I was crazy, and seeing things, and that I did not know what I was doing ... She tried to help me with therapy and psychiatrists. My lies and deceptions fell apart in front of the professionals." In his starkest admission, he continues: "I stalked and harassed her day and night and caused her and our youngest to live in a constant state of fear."

This is not the first time Kelly has made such a statement. In 2017, he wrote about struggling with and hiding his mental illness "from the people around me at work and in public." After going off medication, Kelly said he "abandoned his family for a week while constantly terrorizing my wife with vicious phone calls and text messages."

"For the last twenty years we have lived far apart from one another and only saw Scott when meeting up to work on music or play shows," Neurosis continues in its statement. "We had no idea what the reality was for his family when we were not around. By Scott's own admission, his abuse was intentional, targeted, and a closely guarded secret — even from those of us closest to him."

The producer and musician Sanford Parker, Kelly's bandmate in Corrections House and Mirrors of Psychic Warfare, also had "no idea the level of abuse Scott was inflicting onto his family. He always talked about his 'mental illness' and things he did in the past he regretted, but nothing like this." However, Parker is even more pointed in his response to members of the metal scene: "I see a lot of people praising him for his honesty and that's total bulls***, he deserves no praise. I have no sympathy for Scott and neither should you."

Neurosis has spent its long career excavating the deepest recesses of darkness through its music and the lyrics written by Kelly and Von Till — pain is part of the work. While the remaining members "grieve for the loss of our life's work and a legacy that was sacred to us," they are unequivocal in their rebuke: "There is nothing brave about systematically abusing your wife and children."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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