ex-War On Women guitarist Nancy Hornburg speaks out against band
Nancy Hornburg, former guitarist of feminist hardcore punk band War on Women, is now publicly lashing out at her former bandmates. Prominent among her many allegations are that band founder Brooks Harlan was mentally abusive and that ex-drummer Evan Tanner engaged in criminal behavior.
Hornburg, who was a member of the Baltimore group from 2011 until 2016, has issued the following, extensive statement (in addition to various TikTok videos) detailing her experiences:
My name is Nancy Sophia Hornburg and I am the former guitarist for the Feminist Hardcore Punk band War on Women. I am writing this statement to share some of my experiences while being in the band and my experiences after leaving the band War on Women. These experiences have greatly impacted my life, to the point that I now speak of my experiences with War on Women in therapy.
In 2010 Evan Glenn Tanner handed me a CD with 6 rough cuts of songs on it by the band War on Women. Evan Tanner and I both worked for a bar/restaurant in Baltimore called Johnny Rad's Pizza Tavern. Evan suggested I try out for the new band War on Women. I did and I started playing shows with them in early 2011. I played my first show with them at Charm City Art Space (now closed) in Baltimore.
When I first joined the band, Brooks and Shawna presented their ideas to me and I liked them. They spoke of equality and women's rights. I too share these same ideas and was happy to finally find others that felt the same as I did. The singer Shawna Potter and the guitarist Brooks Harlan run a guitar and amp shop called Big Crunch. I thought that was really interesting and it was just another thing that convinced me to join them in their punk quest for feminist ideals. After joining the band, I slowly learned that I had no voice or creative input in War on Women. I also learned that I had no say in recording or mixing and I was never allowed to see actual money totals or documentation of money. Brooks Harlan and Shawna Potter created a hierarchy in the band. They were to be the leaders and everyone else in the band was not going to get a chance to share their ideas. Brooks would write all the music and Shawna would write the lyrics. This was not up for discussion and was quietly implemented by these two people.
When I first started playing with Brooks Harlan, Shawna Potter, Evan Tanner and Rusty Haynie, I felt accepted. Over time I realized my opinions and concerns were not important enough to listen to, let alone take into consideration. I was laughed at when I spoke up about anything while traveling in the van. Shawna often said "Nancy, you sound like a little child", when I would try to join in on conversations in the van. Brooks and Evan would belittle me on any subject that I spoke of. They treated me like I had no brain of my own to formulate ideas and thoughts. This was frustrating to feel like this all the time while traveling with them. One time in the van, I warned Brooks that we were in need of a gas fill up and he proceeded to argue with me that he knew what he was doing. He had run out of gas and caused the band to be delayed twice before this time of me speaking up to pull over and get refueled. I reminded him of those two times of being stranded and he finally agreed to get fuel. Brooks always had to be correct.
Brooks Harlan treated me kindly when I first joined the band. He offered to help make me an amp and I thought that was really nice. He really convinced me that his gear was the best gear to use. Brooks set the tone for me. He chose the distortion I would use. He chose the pedals I would play with. Brooks had songs already written when I joined War on Women. This did not bother me because they were a brand new band and I needed to learn how the direction of the band was going. I did not realize that he just needed women to play his songs. I considered Brooks a friend and I personally enjoy collaboration with others. Brooks Harlan does not collaborate with other women. He only considers his partner Shawna's ideas.
Brooks's rise over me came slowly, at first I really thought that he and Shawna had everyone's best interests in mind. Over the years I slowly realized that Brooks and Shawna considered themselves to "be the band" and that anyone else was just a "hired gun" with no creative say in the project War on Women. Brooks would slowly begin to criticize me continually. He did this in private, often pulling me aside from everyone else. When I would voice my ideas or concerns, I was met with minimization of them by Brooks or eye rolls from him. Brooks told Sue and I that "Evan Tanner and him were a good song writing team.". This was to reassure that no ideas from the other women in the band could be valid ideas. The men knew best, according to Brooks Harlan. I felt like everything I said was questioned and disregarded as not important. This made me feel defeated and bullied.
Over the years of 2011-2016, Brooks Harlan showed me that he had to be in control of this band. Along with deciding what equipment I would use, Brooks decreed all songs and set lists. If Brooks came up with a song, we were playing that song. There were no discussions on this. He also decided what sides of the stage we would all stand on. When we recorded at the Mag Pie Cage Studio for War on Women's first record on Bridge Nine, Brooks was my Engineer. I did not work with Jay Robbins at all while recording with War on Women. I only worked with Brooks Harlan. Brooks coached me through the songs and told me to repeat my parts until they were to his liking. The backing vocals I performed were coached by Brooks Harlan. It was nerve racking to play for Brooks over and over again. He was extremely demanding. I had no say in song structure or order. No say in mixing or mastering. The artwork on the cover of the record came from Brooks's "dream he had ''. We did not vote on the artwork, it just got placed on the album because it was Brooks's idea. That first record was Brooks's own work, he just needed women to play his songs. There wasn't anything equal when it came to working with Brooks Harlan.
After a few years of me being in the band War on Women, Brooks Harlan started to place a recording device on top of my amp. He only did this to me. When he first started doing this, he told me that he was "just checking some things out". He continued to place a handheld recording device on top of my amp, reassuring me that it was ok for him to do this to me. He would then keep the recording to himself, would listen to my playing in the van and use that recording to critique me. Brooks could record and critique my playing, but I could not critique him. This act of him recording me constantly made me very, very anxious. I was constantly seeking Brooks's approval. He made me feel like I had to play to his standards all the time. There were no set standards for him and he constantly made me feel like I had no control over anything, including my own thoughts or artistry.In 2015, I sang the backing vocals on the song "I am a Rifle" with Sue Werner and Shawna Potter. This was a collaboration with the band Propagandhi. A short time after we recorded that song, Brooks and I went for a walk around a block after enjoying a party at a mutual friend's house. During that walk, Brooks let me know that "he could have taken away the opportunity for us to do that song with Propagandhi.". Brooks let me know what power he had over all of us women. It was shocking to hear those words and at the time, I believed him. He continued to be kind and then cold to me. Helpful and also extremely critical, to the point of causing me severe insecurity with my musicianship.
Brooks was older than me and he treated me like I was a child. When War on Women played in Tulum Slovenia for Punk Rock Holiday, Brooks had me in tears after the show because I was a few minutes late to the van call. This was unlike me, I was always on time to van calls. I was late because I had been talking with Laura Jane Grace on her bus and lost track of time. When I arrived at the van I apologized for being late and I was in a bubbly mood when I arrived at the van. Brooks proceeded to berate me for being late, to the point that I broke down sobbing in front of him. We all got in the van and he proceeded to say cruel things to me while in the van. During this incident, no one else spoke up for me in the van. Everyone just let Brooks brutally yell at me for being late. He later apologized to me in the van. This was how Brooks operated with me, breaking me down and then bringing me back up. I now know this is a manipulation tactic.
When WOW (War on Women) was touring with the band FLAG, we were in Nashville and I had injured my hand the night before. The show that night in Nashville was poorly attended and we were the opening band. I walked up to Brooks and told him I was in pain and asked if we could omit one song from the set that evening. Brooks scoffed at me and said to my face "If you don't want to play that song, you can sit on the side of the stage while we all play it.". I played that song that night, while holding tears back in my eyes from the pain in my left hand. Brooks threatened embarrassment if I didn't want to do what he wanted. Brooks ignored my actual physical pain and laughed when I spoke of serious issues within the band. It was incredibly frustrating to feel like I was working for Brooks all the time.
In November of 2016, Brooks Harlan asked me to meet him at a local bar. I agreed and we met at Rocket to Venus in Baltimore. I thought we were finally meeting to discuss our drummer Evan Tanner's behaviors. Instead, Brooks proceeded to tell me I was a bad guitarist and that I "got too anxious and messed up alot". He also told me I had "mental issues". He stated he did not want me to play on the second recording for Bridge Nine. I was in shock. I could not believe what he was saying to me. At this point in time, Brooks had already handed Sue and I a CD of all the new songs he wrote. Those songs were to be the next album. There was no discussion about these songs and they did all make it to the second record. After Brooks told me he no longer wanted me in the band, I asked him if I could have some "time to get myself together'. He stated that "he didn't think so". I asked him if he was going to keep Evan Glenn Tanner and he stated that they were going to continue to work with Evan. Brooks left me sitting alone at the bar shortly after saying these things. That was my exit from the band. No other band members were present for this conversation. Brooks had decided that I was not good enough to play his feminist songs. Brooks once again isolated and intimidated me into submission.
While being in the band with these individuals, I started to have major issues with the drummer, Evan Glenn Tanner. Touring with him was extremely difficult. He was argumentative about every subject. We were constantly catering to him in many ways. Those being things like; him getting his own hotel rooms (paid for out of the band fund), him getting to decide sets, catering to his ever changing diet regime that was not medical and that changed often, catering to his alcoholism by letting him drink alcohol in the van while traveling and watching him constantly throw tantrums if he didn't get his way. I started to catch Evan in blatant lies. Lies about his phone not working, lies about him working, lies about sending women unsolicited nudes of himself to multiple friends of mine and lies about where his money was going. Evan was always broke, sick and incredibly hard to work with on tour. Evan could not play more than 9 songs without vomiting afterwards and his musicianship was some of the worst I have ever seen or worked with. This caused everyone in the band distress. I was told by Brooks Harlan on multiple occasions to "not brother Evan" and that "Evan is going through a hard time.". Those being the reasons why we should cater to Evan. I spoke up many times about Evan's behaviors and was told I was "wrong" every time by Brooks Harlan and Shawna Potter. Evan and Brooks worked on songs together often and I was never allowed to join them.
In late 2015 I started to see Brooks Harlan groom Sue Werner to take Evan into her home as a roommate. I would watch Brooks tell Sue that she needed to help him and give him a place to live in her house. At this time, Evan was homeless from not paying any bills at his last house. I also witnessed Brooks telling Sue Werner to give Evan money because "he was in a bad way.". Brooks pushed and pushed for Sue to take Evan into her home. Evan couldn't keep a roof over his head and he never had any money even though he had jobs. There was no logical explanation as to where his income was going. I convinced Sue to not lend Evan more money, but in 2016 Evan moved into her basement. Evan lived in Sue's basement for 2 years and paid no bills or rent. He left the basement room a complete mess. Brooks Harlan did not help with rent collection or eviction, but it was his idea to have Evan live in Sue's house. Brooks also never helped Sue clean her basement of Evan's mess and abandoned possessions.
In 2016 War on Women was abruptly kicked out of our practice space on Sission St in Baltimore. The locks were changed on us and at the time, Evan Tanner was the caretaker for the entire practice space. Brooks and Evan were able to retrieve our music equipment, but we had to immediately find another practice space. I was told by Brooks to not "bother" Evan about getting kicked out of the practice space. Brooks told me that I should be quiet and that Evan and him were "handling it". Nothing more was said about the incident and we continued to practice in a new space across town. I found out in 2020 that Evan Tanner was robbing the practice space we used at the time on Sission St. He was taking cash from the owner's safe. The cash was practice space rent from other bands and was supposed to be collected by Evan. Evan was taking that rent money and pocketing some of it for himself. Instead of calling the cops, the owner asked Evan to leave immediately and only let him back in the building to retrieve the band's gear. It is my opinion that Brooks Harlan knew Evan stole cash. It is my opinion that Brooks Harlan helped cover up a robbery for Evan Glenn Tanner.
I have had to help a friend take a car back from Evan Glenn Tanner. I helped a friend find Evan Tanner and retrieve a car that he defaulted on. I have had multiple people tell me that Evan has hurt them financially. In 2020, I started to do a deep dive into the past ten years of Evan's interactions with people. I have now found out that he has been reselling a pickle business (Tanner's Pickles) that he started with a woman in 2010. His original partner was unaware he was reselling their business. He has been fraudulently selling a business that no longer exists and at this point in time the business has been "sold" 3 times after signing a contract with Evan's original investor. Evan Glenn Tanner has taken thousands of dollars from multiple people with the promise of shares in a business that doesn't exist. It is through my findings that I have uncovered his decade long scam. Evan has received upwards of $120K plus from multiple sources. He has received multiple free places to live, he defaulted on several cars that people cosigned with him on and he has received many other items that he requested from others for "help". There is no pickle business to sell. Evan has been lying to anyone he has interacted with. He is a thief and I truly believe that he will continue to steal from people if he is not stopped.
I have spent a year trying to get people to document their stories of Evan so that I can bring him into the eyes of the law. I have interviewed a woman that is too afraid to speak out about this man because he physically harmed her in 2016. I was forced to tour with what I now know is a scam artist and an abuser. My assumptions about Evan Tanner were not wrong. Evan Glenn Tanner is a criminal and has been committing criminal acts since 2011.
When I was in the band War on Women, Shawna Potter treated me like I was beneath her. I felt like Shawna Potter would often put me in unsafe spaces. One time we stayed at a random person's house on tour and Shawna kicked me out of a room where she and Brooks were planning on staying. I had to sleep in a basement with a knife under my pillow because the house had random people coming in and out of it at all hours.
At some point in our travels, Shawna nominated herself as Tour Manager. She was to oversee all the money, merch ordering and tour logistics. She was a bad tour manager. Shawna didn't care if the rest of the band was comfortable while we slept, she only cared if she got a bed and access to the showers first. Shawna didn't care if the rest of the band ate dinner and didn't look out for us in any way. It wasn't until I spoke up about the food, that she finally started to make sure that we had access to dinner every day. If I ever asked Shawna about the money, she would reassure me that I didn't need to see anything that pertained to money. She started to make me feel like I was in the wrong for ever asking to see receipts or tour logs. It got so awkward to speak about money with Shawna, that I did stop asking about money intake and usage for the band.Shawna Potter is one of the most self-serving women I have ever worked with or played in a band with. I truly think she lacks all empathy towards others. Shawna knew I was a survivor of sexual assault, but she never cared to learn my story. When War on Women filmed the video for "Say It" I was not notified that there would be others in the video that would be "outing" themselves. Shawna and Brooks had already laid out the video and didn't care to hear my thoughts on it. They did not think that singing a song about rape in front of the Monument Quilt would affect me in any way. I was extremely anxious to film that video. Shawna once again talked me down and assured me that it was ok that she and Brooks designed the whole video without other people's feelings or experiences in mind.
I have received messages from other artists that print t-shirts that Shawna Potter did not compensate them correctly. This was upsetting to hear and this prompted me to look into what I had been paid by Shawna from the years 2015-2020. In my Venmo transaction history Shawna potter had been sending me $5 a year, with a note each time saying "royalties". I looked into it deeper and realized that I had zero receipts or documentation of payment in any of my records other than the Venmo transactions. Nothing was ever sent to me to accurately document money within the band. Shawna also did not pay Samantha Pearl for filling in for me on guitar in the summer of 2016. Samantha has told me that she toured with them for 30 days and was told by Shawna at the end of it, that she would be receiving no compensation for her work with the band. I was unaware of all this until I spoke with Samantha Pearl in 2020. This was very upsetting news to hear.
In September of 2020, I wrote a letter to Shawna Potter. I had found out via Facebook that the first War on Women record 10" on Exotic Fever Records was being repressed and re-released. I saw that my photo had been changed and I was not notified of any of this. I was credited on that record. In the letter to Shawna, I stated that she did not own my likeness and that I should have been notified of this release. I also asked for some copies of the record to be sent to me, since they had already been pressed and sent out. She sort of apologized for not contacting me and did send me some records. This made me start to look into money. I was never shown any money statements. I was made to feel like I was wrong for asking where the band money was going and how it was being split.
In December of 2020, I wrote a single letter to Brooks Harlan. I was prompted to do this after hearing from many people that they were not compensated correctly by Shawna Potter for T-shirt printing or artwork. In the letter I asked to know why Brooks pushed for Evan and why he catered to him. I asked to see the money, because I was never allowed to see where the money went while in the band War on Women. I asked why Brooks thought it was ok to abuse women mentally and emotionally for his own good. I also asked him to state publicly that he was sorry for controlling women and catering to Evan Glenn Tanner. I told Brooks I would come out publicly with my abuse from the band and Evan's crimes.
Brooks did not respond to my asking for an apology. He did respond with a newly made up royalty statement and Shawna Venmo'd me 200 or so dollars. In the statement it stated that we received a 25K advance from the label Bridge Nine. I was never told about this amount, why we asked for that much or how it was actually spent. Shawna hid that from me. This made me angry and I felt like I had been duped by these people. The band War on Women still owes money to the label Bridge Nine. I had no knowledge of any of these things.
My experience with Brooks Harlan, Shawna Potter and Evan Tanner left me with emotional and mental distress. My self esteem was destroyed by Brooks Harlan. These experiences made me feel like I could not trust people in music. Being in the band War on Women made me feel like I had no voice. These individuals took advantage of my kindness and the kindness of others. I was in an abusive setting and it affected my ability to defend myself and caused performance issues. I was never in a "safe space" when I traveled or worked with these individuals. Shawna Potter writes about and teaches "safer spaces', but I feel she does not actually care to practice these things. I was traveling with dishonest individuals and this makes me very sick to my stomach to know all this now.
I was forced to travel with a criminal, Evan Glenn Tanner. My face is permanently next to his on 2 records. Evan was pushed forward by Brooks. Being in a "feminist band" was an "in" for Evan with others. Brooks enabled Evan to gain access to others, which has allowed his crimes of fraud and abuse to become prolific at this point in time. I feel disgusted by this. I was consistently ridiculed when I spoke up about issues within the band. It is my opinion that Brooks Harlan started a band for himself, but needed women to sell it. I was lured in with the promise of Feminism and equality, only to realize it was a Man's game all along. I have had to speak of these individuals often in therapy.
Shawna Potter should not be teaching Safer Spaces. She is charging money to teach businesses crisis control and how to respond to individuals in distress. I have an issue with her teaching these things because she has no education, no degree, no former job training, no certificates and no licensing. This is dangerous when we have people offering counseling advice and they are not trained properly. It is my opinion that Shawna Potter and Brooks Harlan started War on Women to promote their businesses and themselves. It is my opinion that this band is an abusive marketing ploy.
I am afraid that other women will have to go through what I went through while in the band War on Women. I do not want this to ever happen again to anyone. It is my opinion that cis men do not need to write the music of feminism for women. A feminist band should not be controlled by one man and his girlfriend. A feminist band cannot cater to an abuser and then try to cover up robberies for him. I was foolish to trust these individuals and that is why I am speaking out. I want Evan Glenn Tanner brought into the eyes of the law. It is my opinion that he will continue to hurt women and commit acts of fraud.
I was forced to cater to a criminal while I was in the band War on Women. I witnessed Brooks Harlan advocate for Evan Glenn Tanner on many occasions. Brooks Harlan broke me down mentally in order to bend me to his will. I feel Brooks Harlan should not work with women at all in the music industry based on his behaviors with me. Brooks Harlan should be held accountable for controlling women in order to make money from them and for catering to a criminal named Evan Glenn Tanner. Brooks Harlan was my judge, jury and executioner in the band War on Women.
Shawna Potter should be held accountable for being dishonest with payments, money collection, not helping other women and not saying anything about Evan Glenn Tanner. Shawna should be held accountable for teaching crisis counseling without having any sort of background in the field of crisis counseling. Shawna knew Evan had taken cars and money from people, but she just did not want to say anything about it. She could have used her platforms to help warn people. The band never said a bad word about Evan Glenn Tanner. Equality only exists with Shawna if she is the one standing in front. Other women around Shawna do not have a voice or say in around her. Shawna Potter is only interested in fame and not the well being of women as she so promotes.
I asked Sue Werner to help me warn the public about Evan Glenn Tanner. I texted her multiple times begging her to help me. She ignored me. I stopped trying to contact Sue in 2021. When I saw Sue in public, she told me "she didn't believe me about the abuse and that she didn't think she could help with Evan." Sue Werner could have helped. She sings about helping women all the time. She knew Evan hurt a woman in her own home and she said nothing about it. Sue has access to publications and punk platforms. It is my opinion that Sue Werner should also be held accountable for ignoring the crimes of Evan Glenn Tanner and deliberately not helping other women.
The public needs to be warned to stay away from Evan Glenn Tanner.
Evan Glenn Tanner deserves to have his assets seized and to be forced to pay back all money that he has taken. I have the amounts totaling over 120K and that is not including housing, cars, laptops, phones and other items he was given for his fraudulent business Tanner's Pickles. This is also only what I currently know about Evan Glenn Tanner. I feel there are more people out there that Evan has hurt and I wish them to come forward with their stories. Evan should be held accountable for everything he took and did. It is my opinion that he is a true scam artist and he will continue this scam of reselling a defunct business.
War on Women is a feminist marketing ploy, designed to only benefit Brooks Harlan and Shawna Potter. I would like the public to be aware of this. I gave the band a full year to say something about all the actions I have stated. They helped no one and did nothing about their former drummer. I do not want young people to listen to this band and think that this is what feminism is supposed to be like. No one should work with these individuals or listen to their fake feminist songs. War on Women is the Patriarchy, wrapped in a glossy coating of feminist lyrics.
Update: War On Women have responded to Hornburg's accusations, issuing the following statement yesterday (January 17):
In response to a recent public statement by Nancy Hornburg:
Nancy Hornburg and Evan Tanner are former members of War On Women. They were both asked to leave the band over 5 years ago and have not been involved with the band since. Evan was asked to leave because we could no longer deal with his unreliable and manipulative behavior. The events that have recently been revealed about the level of his manipulative behavior, including criminal activity, were unknown to us until recently, and certainly not something we would ever knowingly endorse.
Nancy Hornburg was asked to leave the band because there were repeated instances of lateness, inability to play, and overall inconsistent behavior; the core cause of this behavior was a serious personal matter which we do not feel comfortable disclosing or detailing publicly.
Our prior requests to discuss any issues with Nancy directly have been refused and it is unfortunate that she has chosen to address this so publicly, making inaccurate claims and assumptions about the feelings and motivations of her past band members. It is also disappointing that no current member of War On Women has been asked for comment by any press outlet who chose to publicize Nancy's claims.
None of us are perfect, and touring is hard, but Nancy’s memory of these events is vastly different from what the three of us experienced. It is upsetting and unfortunate that this situation has led to uncertainty about the integrity of the band, especially when we have worked so hard to uphold it, but it is important to us that we are transparent with our friends and fans.