The Silversun Pickups have asked Mitt Romney’s campaign to stop using their song “Panic Switch” at events. The band has issued a cease-and-desist order and released a statement Wednesday, roundly denouncing Romney and his campaign.
“We don’t like people going behind our backs, using our music without asking, and we don’t like the Romney campaign,” frontman Brian Aubert wrote. “We’re nice, approachable people. We won’t bite. Unless you’re Mitt Romney!”
UPDATE: Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul sent The Huffington Post the following statement: “The song was inadvertently played during event set-up before Gov. Romney arrived at the location. As anyone who attends Gov. Romney’s events knows, this is not a song we would have played intentionally. That said, it was covered under the campaign’s regular blanket license, but we will not play it again.”
The original article continues below.
A spokeswoman for the campaign told the Associated Press that while the campaign did not ask for permission for the song, it was allowed to play it under a “blanket licensing agreement.” The campaign also said it would not play “Panic Switch” again.
The band suggested that Romney’s use of the single was ironic because “he is inadvertently playing a song that describes his whole campaign.”
Here’s the song’s chorus, as posted on online lyric websites:
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?
Romney wouldn’t be the first politician to run afoul of a musician’s wishes. Tom Petty sent Rep. Michele Bachmann a cease-and-desist after she used “American Girl” when announcing her presidential campaign. Talking Heads singer David Byrne sued then-Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for using “Road to Nowhere” in an attack ad Crist’s campaign used in a race against Marco Rubio.
In fact, Romney himself faced similar issues in February, when singer K’Naan said the campaign used “Wavin’ Flag” without permission. Like the Silversun Pickups, K’Naan said he did not support the Romney campaign and would not have given allowed the use of the song even if he was asked. (More examples of artists suing politicians are available at the bottom of this article.)
TMZ has obtained a copy of the letter the Silversun Pickups’ attorney sent Romney’s campaign. “As the former governor of the state of Massachusetts, a graduate of Harvard Law School, and candidate for U.S. President, we’re pretty sure you are familiar with the laws of this great country of ours,” the snarky missive reads. “We’re writing because, like you, we think these laws are important.”
Here’s the full statement:
Seems as if the GOP is once again whimsically ignoring our great nation’s laws to do whatever it wants to do, and shooting itself in the foot in the process. Without any regard for copyright or intellectual property laws, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has, without permission, begun to use Silversun Pickups’ 2009 smash “Panic Switch” at campaign stops across the country. Neither the band nor its representatives were contacted to gain permission for the use of the song and the band has no intention of endorsing the Romney campaign. The band’s attorney issued a cease and desist today.
“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! 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.”