Those of you who have been fortunate enough to see Sólstafir on tour recently will have noticed the absence of the band’s founding drummer Guðmundur (“Gummi”) Óli Pálmason. Today he released a long personal statement about the reasons for his absence. In a nutshell, the other band members “fired” him from the band before the beginning of the recently completed North American tour, both sides have retained lawyers, and there are obviously some very hard feelings in the aftermath of this split. Most of Gummi’s grievances are directed against the band’s vocalist/guitarist Aðalbjörn “Addi” Tryggvason.
I almost decided not to write this post. I have met both Gummi and Addi. I had fairly regular communications via the internet with Gummi over several years as we have covered what is one of our favorite bands on the planet, and I had some long conversations with Addi during Sólstafir’s two recent visits to Seattle. I certainly can’t say that I know either of them very well, but based on the time I spent with them, I liked them both a great deal — and of course I greatly admire what they have accomplished in Sólstafir. So, this controversy is for me a sad occurrence, more so than when things like this happen within other beloved bands whose members I don’t personally know.
Addi told me about what had happened between the band and Gummi after Sólstafir’s show in Seattle in early May, explaining that because of the legal entanglement, the band could not make any public statement. He was very respectful of Gummi when he spoke of him, and seemed very sad about what had happened, rather than angry. It didn’t seem my place to say anything about these events on our site, so I kept it to myself.
The statement that Gummi released today is a long one, a mixture of anguish and anger, and one that ends with an expression of hope that some reconciliation may still be reached that would allow him to return to Sólstafir. That seems unlikely; the chances may have been remote to begin with, but I can’t imagine that they have been improved by Gummi’s decision to publicly air his grievances.
It’s hard not to feel sympathy for Gummi based on his statement, which is painful to read. But I know there are two sides to this story, and I suspect the band (or their lawyer) will prepare and release some kind of response. Fans of the band, and even people who don’t know much about their history or their music, will undoubtedly weigh in with their opinions about who’s to blame. Ignorance of the facts rarely stands in the way of expressing opinions, but this is one of those instances where I can’t imagine anyone could have a meaningful opinion unless they really lived through whatever happened to bring the band to this point — and that includes me. I don’t know who is “at fault”, or whether there is any “fault” to be assigned.
Given how often we’ve written about this band, I think it might have seemed odd if we hadn’t at least made you aware of Gummi’s statement (though you probably would have learned about it elsewhere), so now we’ve done that. I don’t have more to say about the controversy, other than to repeat that it’s sad to see this happening.
Here’s the link to Gummi’s statement:
UPDATE: As expected, Sólstafir have now posted a response to Gummi’s statement on their Facebook page:
It is with great pain but quiet respect, that we are making this official statement to inform you that for personal reasons beyond reconciliation, Sólstafir and Guðmundur “Gummi” Óli Palmasson have parted ways indefinitely.
There are always two sides to every story. No one knows the whole story other than those directly involved. As is the case in any relationship, all parties play their roles in creating and ending it. Both parties have their versions, and often at times, the point gets lost along the way, buried in emotions.
The bottom line is, Guðmundur is no longer in the band, because of a deep personal conflict that involves all three remaining members and cannot be solved. He is well aware of this.
The decision to part ways was absolutely not something that happened overnight, and we are genuinely pained by the way things have turned out. If the three of us had felt there was any way of mending the damage and moving forward with Guðmundur, then of course we would have – and we did make genuine efforts to do so. That is the reason for our silence. Waiting so long to make a statement was wrong on our part, and for that, we apologize. There are so many personal levels to this split. It has been very difficult to find the words while still respecting our individual privacy, Guðmundur’s included.
Despite what we have read that appears to have been written in anger, bitterness, and seemingly spite, we continue to hold no ill will toward Guðmundur and sincerely want to thank him for all of his hard work and being such a huge part of the band for all these years. We acknowledge this fact every day and of course, he will receive his fair share. There was never any intention not to do this. We will never forget his role in Sólstafir, which is why we remain silent about the reasons now and in the future. We can only hope you respect and understand this.
Sólstafir will continue as a three piece with a session percussionist, just as we have since January of this year. We hope to see you all on the road and can only ask for your continued support.
With much love and respect,