Mitt Romney is the latest target in a string of disputes between unlikely foes: politicians, and the rock stars who say they use their songs without permission. This time, the rock stars in question are the alt-rock band the Silversun Pickups who issued a cease-and-desist order on Wednesday against Mitt Romney for playing their song "Panic Switch" in his presidential campaign.
In a public statement released by the band on Wednesday, they allege that neither the band members, nor their rep, were contacted by the Romney camp for authorization to play the song. Adding further insult to injury, the band says that not only do they not endorse Romney's campaign, but that the song in question negatively describes "his whole campaign."
"We don't like people going behind our backs, using our music without asking, and we don't like the Romney campaign. We're nice, approachable people. We won't bite. Unless you're Mitt Romney!" said frontman Brian Aubert, in the statement. "We were very close to just letting this go because the irony was too good. While he is inadvertently playing a song that describes his whole campaign, we doubt that 'Panic Switch' really sends the message he intends."
By "irony", the band might be referring to the song's lyrics, which continuously invoke the colors red and blue, and mention, "red views," that "keep ripping the divide." The chorus of "Panic Switch" continues:
When you see yourself in a crowded room
Do your fingers itch, are you pistol-whipped?
Will you step in line or release the glitch?
Can you fall asleep with a panic switch?
The spurned Romney camp responded to the attack by saying they were all too eager to oblige, and that they had not even used the song on purpose.
"As anyone who attends Gov. Romney's events knows, this is not a song we would have played intentionally," wrote Andrea Saul, a spokesman for Romney, in an email. "That said, it was covered under the campaign's regular blanket license, but we will not play it again."
Ken Weinstein, a publicist for the Silversun Pickups, said that the band did not agree that the song was covered under the blanket licensing agreement Saul referred to in his email. Tamara Milagros-Butler, an attorney for the band, said that her team had received a call from Romney's general counsel within an hour of submitting the letter and were pleased with how well their strategy had worked. Milagros-Butler referred to the band as "hard-working folks" who "have worked for years, and years and years building the value of their copyright," and that they knew how important it was to be watchful and closely guard their rights.