ARCH ENEMY frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz says that getting fired from THE AGONIST was "the worst betrayal" she has ever felt in her life and has vowed to never speak to her former bandmates again.
White-Gluz was announced as the new singer of ARCH ENEMY on March 17, 2014. That same day, THE AGONIST revealed that they had recruited Vicky Psarakis as Alissa's replacement, saying in a statement that they wished White-Gluz "all the best with ARCH ENEMY and her future endeavors." A day later, Alissa released her own statement in which she claimed that she "had every intention of (and had even started) writing and recording yet another killer album [with THE AGONIST] this year," but explained that her "former bandmates decided to choose a different path." She also said that "the unfortunate decision" to part ways "was made beyond [her] control" and added that she would "always be proud of the three albums [she and THE AGONIST] created since 2005."
Alissa, who co-founded THE AGONIST in 2004 (then known as TEMPEST), has been largely quiet about the circumstances that led to her departure from the band, choosing instead to focus on the touring activities in support of ARCH ENEMY's 2014 album "War Eternal", which marked her recording debut with the latter group. But during a recent appearance on HATEBREED frontman Jamey Jasta's official podcast, "The Jasta Show", Alissa aired her side of THE AGONIST split for the first time, saying that she "never in a million fucking years" suspected that she would get kicked out of her own band.
Recalling some of the early discussions she had with ARCH ENEMY about replacing that band's singer of thirteen years, Angela Gossow, Alissa said: "It was in 2013, and Angela and Michael [Amott, guitar] from ARCH ENEMY had asked me if I wanted to join, and so I said, 'Well, can I keep doing the band that I'm in?' [referring to THE AGONIST]. And they were, like, 'Yeah, we want you to be happy, so if you want, we can work out a schedule where both bands can be fulfilled.' And in my head, at that point, I had already been spending a lot of time with KAMELOT [touring as a guest vocalist], so I was, like, 'Oh, well, with KAMELOT, I'm just a guest. They can replace me easily. So I'll just stop doing KAMELOT and focus on ARCH ENEMY and my current band.' 'Cause that band was my baby. I built that band, I picked the name, I drew the logo, I directed all the photo shoots… You know, it was my band."
She continued: "I thought that we made great music together [as THE AGONIST]. I really liked the music that we were all making. I think everyone was very talented in that band. And so I told them. I was actually on tour with KAMELOT when I started having discussions with ARCH ENEMY, and that was earlier in the year. And so when I got back to Montreal, and then the next time we were all together, we did a short run, I think, in New England. And so I got all the guys together and we were in, like, a Walmart parking lot. I think the van was getting an oil change or something, so we were sitting by the trailer, and I called them all over and I told them. I'm, like, 'I've signed a confidentiality statement, so I can't tell you the name of the band, but I just wanna let you guys know I'm gonna start working with another band. I've been working with KAMELOT a lot recently, and that's been taking up my time, but I've decided that, to make sure I have enough time for both, I just won't do KAMELOT anymore. But I'm gonna be working with this other band. I think it's gonna be great for us, because it's a band that we all like. It's a band that we've wanted to tour with for a long time.' And they were, like, 'Who is it? Is it NIGHTWISH?' So they weren't happy, but then I told 'em, I'm, like, 'But don't worry, because I've worked out with the manager a schedule where we're gonna have enough time to do our stuff. The manager's totally cool with me keeping my band. So it's gonna be fine.' And the manager [of ARCH ENEMY] is Angela. So with Angela, I worked out a schedule that would have made it totally fine for ARCH ENEMY to do some tours and record our album and me to still have enough time to devote to that band. And another thing that I told 'em, I was, like, 'At this point, I'm also not gonna be working my dayjob anymore, so those forty hours a week I can devote to music.' So I was, like, 'Okay. Perfect.' And this was in, like, June or July of 2013. In July and August, I was on tour with [THE AGONIST], and then September I had a KAMELOT tour, October I had a Europe tour with [THE AGONIST], November I had a KAMELOT tour again, and then December finally, I came back and [THE AGONIST] did some local shows. And the whole time everything was good, and we were, like, really positive. I was actually really happy. 'Cause I was, like, 'Wow, things are finally going well. They are being really understanding.' And I have e-mail chains back and forth with Angela where I was, like, 'No, they're being really cool about it. I'm really happy. And the schedule looks good.' And I forwarded them the schedule. It was literally broken down for, like, the next three years. Like, March and April will be ARCH ENEMY time, June and July will be your [time]… Like, really, just perfectly laid out. And it was great. Michael was happy with that too. And we did a show in a city in Quebec. It was around mid-December . We did the show, and I was on a video interview from a local TV station, in French, and they asked, 'What's going on? How's the band going?' And I remember being really happy and telling them, 'Yeah, I have five songs written, and we're making a new album now. And it's really cool music. I'm really happy. I'm excited to get the album done.' And I remember just being really proud of what we were doing musically and where we were going. And then the next morning… One of the guys [from THE AGONIST] doesn't live in Montreal, so the other three guys showed up at my door and came into my house. And they were just, like, 'We need to have a meeting.' So I was, like, 'Okay. Well, what's wrong? This is a crazy emergency meeting. For sure, let's talk about what's going on.' And never in a million fucking years would I have suspected that I was getting kicked out of my own band. They basically sat down and they told me that one of the guys in the band gave them an ultimatum and said, 'Either we kick her out or I'm gonna quit the band, because I don't want her in the band anymore.'
"While this was happening, I was in complete, complete panic mode. Even as we were having the meeting, I was, like, 'Well, we don't have to do this. Why is this even a thing?' And so then it ended with them leaving. And I was, like, 'I'll write to…' We had just gotten a new manager at that point; he hadn't done anything yet at this point. But I was, like, 'Look, I'll write to him, and I'll tell him what you guys think, and we'll figure something out.' And I thought I was still gonna work this out. And so as soon as they left, I went to go into my e-mail to get the manager's contact, and I couldn't get into my e-mail account. So then I went to go into my Facebook, I couldn't get into my Facebook. I went to get into Twitter, I couldn't get into Twitter. I went to get into our YouTube, I couldn't get into YouTube. And these were all accounts that I created, and I had only recently — because I had been so busy with KAMELOT — I had only recently given access to some of the other members to start posting on, and because I had been so busy, I didn't notice…
"It was the middle of the night in Europe at this point, so I was calling Angela freaking out, calling Michael freaking out, 'Oh my God! What just happened? I don't understand.' I was trying to get hold of the people at Century Media [THE AGONIST's then-record label], trying to get hold of this manager guy. The manager guy didn't seem to understand what was going on. And he was, like, 'Well, you quit.' And I was, like, 'What? I didn't quit. This is my band. I would never quit this band.' And he was, like, 'They told me you quit.' So I was, like, 'Can we get on the phone, please? I don't know what's happening right now.' My whole life was basically being destroyed.
"So finally, I was freaking out. I couldn't get into my accounts. From my personal account, I wrote to Angela and whatever. And so finally, I actually managed to just, like, guess the security question and I got back into my e-mail account. And so then I was able to get the contacts that I had been building up for twelve years — everybody at the label, the manager, all this networking that I had been putting all of my life into, all of our contracts were saved in PDFs in that account. So I got back into there, and then I saw the e-mail chain that was accidentally forwarded from the label dating back to September where [the guys from THE AGONIST] went and found some other person to replace me on vocals. So now I had a name. I had no idea who this person was. I've still never seen her, never spoken to her ever. I just thought a professional courtesy would be, 'Just letting you know… Are you cool with this? Because I'm gonna be taking over your baby and your brainchild and the art that you've worked your ass off to create. I'm now gonna be representing that. Is this okay with you?' But I never received anything like that. Another thing that was super weird was I wrote these lyrics [for THE AGONIST] about being vegan and about being straight edge. And so I'm, like, 'Is this person vegan and straight edge? Is this person just gonna be singing something that they don't even believe in?' And I still don't know.
"Basically, I saw this happen. It occurred to me that they had been lying to my face throughout an entire thirty-day tour of Europe. Me talking about 'em, 'I'm so excited for the album. Listen to this. I did this on a song.' It now occurred to me that they were smiling to my face but secretly knew that they had found someone else."
Asked why she thinks THE AGONIST chose to kick her out of the band the way they did, Alissa said: "It was ego. I think it was ego. I still don't get it. I don't understand what the point of that was. Because I'm the kind of person, if there's a conflict, let's talk about it right now and solve it. I told them everything that I could. I literally had signed a confidentiality agreement, so I couldn't say the name 'ARCH ENEMY' to them, but I literally told them, 'It's a Swedish band we all love. There's a female singer I'm replacing.' What else could it be? [Laughs]"
She continued: "I had fans writing to me and being, like, 'Why did you quit? We loved you in that band.' And I was, like, 'I didn't quit.' And if you want proof of it, listen to the song 'Avalanche' on 'War Eternal', because that's exactly what I wrote that song about."
Alissa added that she hadn't spoken about her split with THE AGONIST before because she didn't "wanna publicly shame anyone." She explained: "I block those people. I don't see any news about them — nothing. Because, honestly, with social media, you can control what you see. So I just decided I don't wanna feel that betrayal anymore. Honestly, it's like… picture being in a marriage. And we had three albums, so say you have three kids and then suddenly you walk into your home that you built one day, and your husband or wife is literally cheating on you with another person, and then, rather than talking about it and trying to figure out what happened, they kick you out of the house and they steal your kids. And that's literally what it feels like. And so rather than dwelling in that pain, I just decided I was gonna not talk about it and be really thankful that I have ARCH ENEMY, which is a great band with great people, great management, and just focus on the fact that I have a band that I love. I can still do KAMELOT, which is another band that I love. And now I even have a solo project, where I can kind of revisit the music that I used to do. And so rather than bringing up the past and being super negative about it, I wish them the best. I don't agree with what they did. I don't have respect for what they did."
Asked if the door was open for some kind of mending of the fences if the guys in THE AGONIST wanted to "make it right," Alissa responded: "No. I'll never talk to them again — ever! That was the worst betrayal I've ever felt in my life. They stole a lot from me. It was not right. I know because fans have told me, 'Hey, they're saying this about you, they're saying that,' and rather than sinking to that level and actually presenting the truth… which I had to do at one point with the manager because he was actually being really rude to me and did not understand the situation. And finally, I was, like, 'Hey, I'm gonna forward you every e-mail concerning this situation.' And then finally he read those e-mails and understood that I was the one telling the truth. And then he stopped working with them. Because he was, like, 'Woah, wait a second. I was lied to.' And it wasn't by me. That was the only time that I've had to really be, like, 'Okay, I'm just gonna stand up for mysef and prove the truth here.' Otherwise, I just took the standpoint of I'm not gonna say anything negative about those people. I'm not even gonna talk about them at all. They've stolen enough from me. I'm not gonna let them steal any more of my energy. Instead I'm gonna put my energy towards the good things that I have, which is from this point and into the future."
THE AGONIST has released two albums so far with Vicky Psarakis on vocals: 2015's "Eye Of Providence" and 2016's "Five".
In a 2014 interview, THE AGONIST guitarist Danny Marino spoke about the band's split with Alissa, explaining: "Once we found out about the ARCH ENEMY thing and what it meant, we talked about it and decided it really can't work for us. It wasn't a case of Alissa filling in for a tour or an album, it was for everything and it was permanent. So basically, what we were going to go through for this new album we would go through for every album for the rest of our career… For example, one of the things we would have had to do was cancel all the European festival dates we [had] coming up if Alissa stayed with THE AGONIST. We were told we'd have to cancel those dates even though she'd be playing some of the same festivals with ARCH ENEMY. Their management said that can't really work. And even before this, we'd passed up a couple opportunities because of Alissa being out with KAMELOT. That wasn't as serious, obviously, and we were able to work with it."
He continued: "Not to say anything against Alissa, because I would understand if after six months or a year of being in ARCH ENEMY, she said to us, 'I've bitten off more than I can chew, I can't work with THE AGONIST.' I could foresee that possibility because I've seen it with other bands in a similar situation. Sometime it can work, but that depends on whether the 'B' band is will to become something of a side-project band, and we're not that band."