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Sunk Loto Fire Guitarist, Allege “Abusive And Controlling Behaviour”

22 August 2023 | 9:31 pm | Ellie Robinson

The newly reformed alt-metal band will still tour nationally in November.

Sunk Loto

Sunk Loto (Credit: Luke Henery)

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Earlier today (August 22), founding Sunk Loto guitarist Luke McDonald made a statement saying he’d been “fired by the band through an email”. His (former) bandmates have now confirmed the news, however they claim the blame lies squarely with McDonald.

After 15 years of inactivity, Sunk Loto reformed last May. McDonald was instrumental in the comeback, having first reached out to his former bandmates amid his journey to embrace sobriety. But at 1:00pm today, he posted on social media that his tenure with the band had ended for a second time. He wrote: “The last few months have been really hard for me, because I have wanted to tell you that I was fired by the band through an email. Of course, I was very shocked and hurt by this, as I worked very hard to get the band back together.

“But because the band has made negotiations so difficult, in relation to money that they owe me from the last tour, I have not been able to speak out. Negotiations are still going on, but for the sake of my own wellbeing and the fans, I felt I needed to come out with this information as soon as I could. I hope you understand that I love you all as fans, and I’m sorry that I won’t be seeing you on this tour.”

The band’s official response came just shy of seven hours later, and confirmed that McDonald had in fact been booted from his role as lead guitarist. “We had hoped to release a joint statement and part ways gracefully as was discussed,” they wrote in a social media post of their own, “but unfortunately, a completely false and one-sided version of the accounts has been posted prematurely.”

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The band went on to state that they found themselves “in a very volatile situation where we had to make one of two choices”, being to either “allow the band to break up again for the exact same reasons as we did 16 years ago” or “stand up against abusive and controlling behaviour and move on with a new member”. According to the statement (which is jointly credited to frontman Jason Brown, bassist Sean Van Gennip and drummer Dane Brown), McDonald’s firing “was the only way for Sunk [Loto] to carry on into the future”.

They continued: “This was not a decision we made lightly, but when someone is repeatedly abusive and threatening toward people they claim to love and respect, the relationship needs to end.”

Sunk Loto also confirmed that their impending national tour – a five-date run to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their seminal second album, Between Birth And Death – will go ahead as planned, with McDonald replaced by “one of the best musicians in the country”. While their identity has not yet been revealed, the band confirmed they would “strap on the guitar as a full-time member”.

The tour will start in Boorloo/Fremantle on Friday October 20, with subsequent stops in Meanjin/Brisbane, Eora/Sydney, Naarm/Melbourne and Kaurna/Adelaide (the lattermost coming as part of this year’s Froth & Fury festival).

Reviewing one of Sunk Loto’s comeback shows last August, Tim Price wrote that their set “would have been cathartic to put together and to perform for the band, and by god, it was cathartic to experience as a punter as well”.