Back in 2016-2017, PWR BTTM was a band that was on the brink of breaking through to become a hot new queer punk duo and perhaps even a household name. All that changed when singer/guitarist Ben Hopkins was accused of sexual misconduct. Now the musician is ready to move forward and is releasing a solo album that bears all.
It all started in March of 2016. Hopkins, who identifies as non-binary, met a woman before a PWR BTTM show. "After the show, she invited me back to her house and we eventually engaged in sex. Based on the nature of our communications and our interactions with one another, I understood our interactions to be fully consensual."
However, Hopkins’ version did not line up with what the woman claimed. She said Hopkins raped her.
In the next few days, rumors began circulating on social media and an anonymous interview with the woman (who kept her identity anonymous) was released. As a result, the group was dropped by their management and their record label and taken off at least one festival date. Their career was basically over.
Hopkins tried to seek legal recourse but doing so would put him through a $150,000 lawsuit and he decided not to put his family through the financial and emotional strain.
Now Hopkins is ready to move on.
The years he spent trapped in his Brooklyn apartment gave him time to reflect and create. Now he emerges with an album that is a distinct departure from PWR BTTM’s style. Instead of the campy punk sound accompanied by Hopkin’s high-pitched, theatrical voice, the overall tone of Hopkin’s new music is one of pain and weariness.
Hopkins plans to release the first single, “Laugh Track” at midnight tonight (July 3). That will give him some indication of how well received he will be in coming back to the music world. Here is a lyrical sample from the song.
Try and recall how it used to be
Before the summer
When there was a sense of possibility
And you and I like sisters
Everything felt alright
Little did I know about the fire on your mind
Now I am burning
Why in the hell were you lying?
Hopkins plans to release the remainder of the album later in the fall.
There are currently mixed feeling concerning the allegations against Hopkins. His new manager, Lisa Barbaris, who represented famous LGBTQ community champion Cyndi Lauper, feels he deserves a second hearing.
Debra Katz, a lawyer known for representing clients in prominent #MeToo cases points out, "People don't typically lie about these allegations.” If it happens, it happens in “a very small percentage of cases.”
“Every allegation needs to be looked at seriously and critically,” says Katz, although she adds that it’s very difficult for journalists to write about anonymous allegations. "It puts you in a pretty hard place. You have [one] person saying this stuff happened and [the other] denying it, and you can't quite adjudicate it."
In the meantime, whether Hopkins album works to move his career forward remains to be seen. We can only wait to find out.