Recently, a Medium article began circulating, detailing the relationship between Death From Above’s Jesse Keeler and alt-right leader and former Vice correspondent Gavin McInnes. As the article points out, Keeler made several appearances on McInnes’s video podcast The Gavin McInnes Show, and seemed to share similar ideologies with the host. However, in a long post to Death From Above’s Facebook page, Keeler detailed his relationship with McInnes, saying that, “in short, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.” He clarifies that he has always been anti-violence and anti-war, and that his appearances on McInnes’s and other events were purely out of a “morbid curiosity.” He then goes on to say, “The reality is that I am not ‘Alt-Right,’ nor a White Supremacist. The facts are I am a mixed race father of two and a musician.” Check out the full, earnest statement below.
It’s difficult to know where to begin with this letter, so I’ll start here: I recently learned that last year I was the subject of an article written by the very controversial and provocative media figure, Gavin McInnes. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, it may be for the best. Unfortunately the bells it rings play a sour tune in the key of “Alt-Right.”
In his article, Gavin claimed that I was part of his group, the “Proud Boys.” This is completely false. I would never join that group. My connection to Gavin however is real, but begs to be clarified. I first met Gavin in 2003 or 2004 as a founding member of Vice Magazine. Vice had started a record label and my band released records with them in the US. Through that connection, we became loosely acquainted. Our first interaction was back around 2004 when he called me up to do an interview with our band for his magazine. He offered to either do an interview or “just make some stuff up.” The latter seemed more fun/interesting to me at the time and so that’s what he did. Back then he was mostly known as the writer of Vice magazines famed, and often not so politically correct fashion section, “Dos and Don’ts.” In short, he was a comedian. Through the years we remained friendly and as our lives diverged, we spoke only on occasion, mostly about dad stuff as we both have kids. After leaving Vice, Gavin had been doing stand-up comedy, making movies and writing books, all seemingly a continuation of the reckless comedy style he had implemented in the magazine. Over time, I watched many people distance themselves from Gavin both professionally and personally. I always perceived that as people just thinking he was “a little much.” In short, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.
When he started a video podcast and invited me on as a guest, I obliged. When he invited me to his talk-show and a party on election night last year, regrettably, I attended. Never without a morbid curiosity. Anyone who knows me, or has met me for longer than 5 minutes knows how curious I am. I never thought that my curiosity would lead to this moment, where now it feels like I’m walking through a lake of mud.
Soon after the election, I began noticing that Gavin was promoting violence and a form of radical politics that I absolutely do not agree with. I have always been anti-war and anti-violence. That is my baseline position. As far as immigration and nationalism: I am the child of an Indian mother and a Canadian father. I was raised in Canada by my immigrant-Indian family who struggled to make it in a new country. I watched my highly educated Indian grandfather deliver the newspaper his whole life, instead of working in his proper field. My skin tone may not tell this story, but it’s a fact. Growing up I didn’t identify as either race, as choosing one group seemed to somehow betray the other. I’m sure this is the plight of many mixed-race people.
So here I am, again caught between two things. Reality and fiction. The reality is that I am not “Alt-Right,” nor a White Supremacist. The facts are I am a mixed race father of two and a musician. I am so sorry for putting my family, friends and fans in this position. I never wanted to talk about politics, I just wanted to make music and leave that stuff alone. Unfortunately, my actions have brought me here, and I am deeply heartbroken about it. To a fault it seems that I give people the benefit of the doubt, and I hope that you will give me the same in return.
Jesse F. Keeler