A few weeks ago, I blogged about my reaction to hearing the Violent Femmes' "Blister in the Sun" featured in a Wendy's chili commercial.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who found the placement puzzling.
Femmes' bassist and Milwaukee native Brian Ritchie, who now lives in Australia, took a moment to post a Talkback to my blog.Â He wrote:
"For the fans who rightfully are complaining about the Wendy's burger advertisement featuring Blister in the Sun, Gordon Gano is the publisher of the song and Warners is the record company. When they agree to use it there's nothing the rest of the band can do about it, because we don't own the song or the recording. That's showbiz. Therefore when you see dubious or in this case disgusting uses of our music you can thank the greed, insensitivity and poor taste of Gordon Gano, it is his karma that he lost his songwriting ability many years ago, probably due to his own lack of self-respect as his willingness to prostitute our songs demonstrates. Neither Gordon (vegetarian) nor me (gourmet) eat garbage like Wendy's burgers. I can't endorse them because I disagree with corporate food on culinary, political, health, economic and environmental grounds. However I see my life's work trivialized at the hands of my business partner over and over again, although I have raised my objections numerous times. As disgusted as you are I am more so."
After I read his response, I contacted Ritchie for a little more clarification.
He said, "â€¦ It's a common misconception that 'we' sold out and 'we' are doing idiotic things when it's really Gordon exclusively.
"The sad thing is he makes almost all the money on these things but 'we' share the blame and humiliation equally. Which sucks."
I've met and interviewed all three Femmes several times (though my conversations with Gano were by phone), and both Victor DeLorenzo and Ritchie are great guys. Gano, to me, seemed more aloof and "rockstar," an attitude he's certainly earned. Hanging out with them in their apartments, studios and backstage hasn't changed the fact that the Femmes are still my favorite band of all time.Â But this may be one case in which ignorance is bliss.
I haven't spoken to Vic yet about this commercial, but Brian's response is both encouraging and a little unfortunate.Â I'm so glad that he still maintains a high level of integrity about his art.Â I'm a little disappointed that he apparently loathes Gano enough to publicly call him out on the carpet.
I mean, the Violent Femmes are still touring.Â I'm not sure I'd want to watch a band play out knowing they hate each other's guts.
So take it for what it's worth.Â In the coming weeks, I'll try to get feedback from DeLorenzo and Gano on the fallout from the chili commercial -- and the impact the flap has on the future of the Violent Femmes.Â
I have loved the Femmes since my buddy Rob Boyle from the Smoking Phones (later Mary on the Dash) from Chapel Hill turned me on to them in the early 80's. It is too bad that their music has been prostituted for the sake of burger sales but like he said, "that's show business." Are the Femmes coming to NC any time soon?
boo freakin' hoo ritchie. seriously. you were in a band called the violent femmes not the beatles. gano's songwriting bought you a lotta "gourmet" meals, you ungrateful snob.
dude, YOU sold out everytime you sleptwalk through a set at the Miller freakin' Oasis at summerfest. i bet you had no trouble cashing their corporate check. gano can do what he wants with the songs he wrote, just as you can now choose which high horse you wish to ride. write a memorable song. just one. i promise you gano won't complain what the hell you do with it, though i'm sure he'd have a suggestion.
3 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published April 28, 2016
Angry readers, self-righteous writers and surly social media speculators are in a tizzy about an uptick in "clickbait," and in many respects, they have every right to be. In lots of cases, it's a bogus attempt to lure gullible readers, and ultimately, it won't and doesn't work.
Published April 25, 2016
I've known about Mel Brooks' upcoming June 11 visit to Milwaukee for a little while now. Make no mistake, this is a "bucket list" show for me: Brooks is one of my all-time favorites in Hollywood, and "Blazing Saddles" has sat atop my favorite movie list forever.
Published April 15, 2016
For the many dozens of times I've visited the historic Pfister Hotel - for meetings, meals, weddings and drinks - until prepping for OnMilwaukee Hotel Week, I never spent an overnight at this Victorian masterpiece. Cross that off my bucket list - and I didn't even have to meet a ghost to do it.
Published April 14, 2016
As today's the wonderfully-made up "414 Day," or "Milwaukee Day," depending on who you talk to - it's a sexy day to look back at this excellent video from 2014 by the Five Card Studs.
Published April 11, 2016
I've been binge-watching HBO's "Vinyl." During a scene at an L.A. beach party, the camera panned to a sideburned record executive, smoking a joint and talking about Elvis. Even 25 years since I saw him last, I knew immediately that was my friend from high school, Dave Shalansky. I'd recognize that guy anywhere.
Published April 4, 2016
I'm sitting here on Opening Day, in the first row of the press box at Miller Park, and it's quiet. Too quiet. I mean, I can hear the fans in the ventilation over the sound of stands in this not-sold-out stadium. Apparently, other people here are either rolling their eyes in the fifth inning (or they're passed out).
Published April 2, 2016
It's been a long while since we interviewed FOX6 meteorologist Vince Condella for a personal profile, but with the long-time weather man's upcoming retirement, it was time to catch up.
Published March 15, 2016
I'm a big fan of Atlas Obscura, a website that calls itself "the definitive guide to the world's wondrous and curious places." And it does a good job. Yesterday, it took a look at Milwaukee and its 12 quirky treasures.
Published March 3, 2016
Sometimes, the `90s in Milwaukee feel like a distant memory; other times I can't believe they're so long gone. But then I looked at some of the photos I took while building the shell of what would eventually become OnMilwaukee, and these scenes seem ancient, indeed.
Published Feb. 19, 2016
On Saturday night, Mills Entertainment is bringing Christopher Lloyd, known to a generation as Doc Brown from the "Back to the Future" trilogy, to the Riverside Theater for a first-ever event. Not only will the theater show fans the first blockbuster movie from 1985, but Lloyd will be on hand to take questions and speak about the experience making the movies.