Rachel Taylor of He Is We checked in with fans on her Tumblr earlier this month, talking about the impact of having ankylosing spondylitis, the physical toll touring had on her, the phoniness of the “Get Well Soon Rachel” tour with fill-in Stevie Scott, who ended up being her replacement, and being a victim of superficial marketing. Taylor writes:
I can already see the repercussions of the honesty I have shared. I did not do this to start drama, but to merely share the truth about what is really going on.
He Is We started as a fun little gig that required no contracts, no merchandise, no selling out and no vision of getting to where we have. This was a project that I became passionate about because I saw it as a way to reach people. I felt like God had placed me specifically to help others. When I was told that I could be paid to do what I love, I was overwhelmed with joy. Next thing I knew, we were in New York and this new life with He Is We, the product, began.
We were given a lump sum of money and told we could record whatever we wanted to. It felt like a dream. As the touring and songwriting became more intense and strenuous my health began to worsen. I kept to myself for the majority of it and ended up in the ER several times over a course of 2 months. It no longer was something I lived to do, but I did it to live. Money made itself to the front of the line and I began losing myself. With all the ER visits, the bills were adding up. I realized that touring was killing me, but I couldn’t afford not to go. I would play a show and then throw up immediately afterwards. Lock myself in the green room, isolating myself from everyone, just to catch my breath.
If that wasn’t enough, alcohol became a huge part of touring. That whole, “sex, drugs and rock & roll” is a very real thing. The life style began to look very grim. All the while, I was having a very tough internal struggle. Who had I become? What was this band becoming? I noticed more and more that answers were rehearsed, responses to emails were copied and pasted, and the genuine love I was had was overshadowed by my hate for the industry.
A couple months ago I was told I have an auto-immune disease called ankylosing spondylitis. I was put on two chemotherapy drugs and told it was going to be a rough ride. I shared this with my management and my band, but still the touring plans were made. As it got closer and closer to tour time, I was in a panic. Two doctors were telling me if I left I would be killing myself and then I had management telling me I would be destroying He Is We if I cancelled the tour. So. I was given options.
At first I was told that a fan from each city would be chosen to sing the songs in my place. Soon after that, I was told that a mutual friend named Stevie Scott would be singing in my place for the tour. I was told that she was to come over to my place with Trevor so I could meet her and introduce her to all the fans. This made me feel good knowing I could give her my blessing. That morning came and they didn’t show. A couple days went by and I heard nothing. I called my manager and his phone was dead. I was left feeling confused and alone. Reading tweets like “welcome to the family Stevie!” were all over my newsfeed and my heart broke.
The tour was marketed as a “Get Well Soon Rachel” type of thing, but I heard nothing from my band. No one emailed, called or texted me to say such things. I have had to sit back and watch fans support a cause that didn’t really exist. I had had enough after reading a Facebook reply to a mother about how distraught her daughter was about the whole thing. Whoever runs the He Is We Facebook replied with something very superficial. A lot of smileys and no substance. At that point it hit me… I have lost my baby. The project had become about marketing, money and numbers. So I reacted.
Many will be upset at my honesty, but I hope that in the end people realize that I did what I felt was best. I am protecting the sanctity of the words that went into building this “brand” and this awesome fan base. Think what you will. You have every right to tell me I’m wrong or I’m out of my mind. I will have peace knowing I followed my heart.
Check out her now former bandmate Trevor Kelly’s response after the cut.
Hey guys, so here I am sitting in the green room here in Chicago just hours from playing the third show in the Give It All Tour! Just in the past week there has been a lot of changes I understand, some may seem unconventional and pointless, but as a fan base I feel as if it’s my duty to remind you guys what this band is built upon, what the purpose, intentions and vision that this group Rachel and I have created from the beginning is all about! He Is We is bigger than any one band member, bigger than Rachel, bigger than me. This band was not a fabricated band, but a group we’ve built on opportunity and we never measured our “success” in money, friends or amount of Facebook likes we could accumulate, but more so in the more opportunities we got to interact and spread our music. This group has turned into an outreach of songs to inspire, give hope and relate to, reminding you that your not alone. With that over the years we’ve been able to travel nonstop spreading that message, interacting with fans making new friends and ultimately inspiring us to continue making music. This past year has been tough for us with health issues and you guys have stuck by our side every step. This past week though we were faced with a decision no one wanted to make but one that had to be made. You guys have to understand and respect what Rach is going through. She is unwell and not able to tour. Well, why don’t we just give up touring and just record albums?!? That’d be an easy way out I suppose but ultimately felt that it was needed to stay on the road and spread the message of He Is We. No, we didn’t just want someone to come out to karaoke sing our songs with us, but someone who could relate and pour their heart into the message we have built. Someone to inspire and grow with us and understand the pains and struggles we’ve all been through. I see all these “Team Rachel” things going around and quite frankly I’m Team Rachel, were ALL Team Rachel, even Stevie is Team Rachel. But we all need to realize there are no teams here, sounds cheesy but were team He Is We. Through thick and thin. We have built something great with this and want to reach as many of you as possible. Rach made it perfectly clear to me that she was not gonna be able to tour again and agreed to have the tour continue to give her time to heal and reflect and figure what the next step for us would be. We’re not doing this tour out of greed or prior obligations but because I believe in this band and what it stands for. Call me a fool or a “bad” friend, but there is nothing more to the story than that. I will not let this band go away. To many hours of tears, sweat, honesty, have gone into this project to quit touring, which I consider to be the best opportunity the band has to make a connection and impact! We know many of you have read a series of tweets and a tumblr post from Rachel that paints a very cold and dark picture. It would be so easy in a situation like this to lower ourselves to a “he said, she said” scenario, but we genuinely love and care about Rachel. She isn’t well. We want her to get better, emotionally and physically. I am not concerned with trying to “undo” some of the claims she made about myself and the band. Every one of you that I have met at ever show knows my character and commitment to the fans and the message of He is We. He Is We will continue. We have learned through all this that He Is We is more than Trevor, Rachel, and a bunch of songs. My relationship with so many of you is proof of my commitment to spreading the movement of He Is We. The emails we get saying “you helped me get through a breakup, tough times with friends, losing friends/family, depressions, thoughts of self-hurt or suicide” motivates me to keep spreading the message of positivity, hope, and truth that I truly believe in.