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 Sept. 25, 2017
The arranged marriage of patriotism, the national anthem and the American flag is completely broken. Anyone who can't see this isn't looking hard enough. So let's not just stand and mumble our way through the national anthem anymore. Let's follow our hearts and our consciences, and respect those who have a different viewpoint than we do.
Published Sept. 22, 2017
On Tuesday, we published a piece looking at some of Glendale-native Kato Kaelin's, uh, passionate tweets about the Brewers and the Packers. After it ran, Kaelin offered us some clarification on tweets.
Published Sept. 19, 2017
Kato Kaelin, America's most famous (infamous?) houseguest, has a lot of things to say on Twitter these days. A self-described Brewers and Packers fan, he has some pretty harsh words about his favorite teams on social media.
Published Sept. 15, 2017
Kieron (Elwood Blues) Lafferty and Wayne (Jake Blues) Catania don't just look and sound like the Blues Brothers - they melt into the characters. At first, I felt like was looking for reasons to remind myself they weren't the real deal, but by "Rubber Biscuit," I embraced it.
Published Sept. 15, 2017
If you go back into the '80s and '90s, you'll see some weird commercials on Milwaukee television. Asking around the office, we all had some spots to share - but a lot of these gems remain only in our memories. Thankfully, some still exist on YouTube.
Published Sept. 2, 2017
Larry Powalisz was an MPD officer from 1973 to 2001. Even though he now lives in Houston, Milwaukee was a natural setting for his first crime novel, "Circle of Terror," which weaves local history and fiction - often in such a vivid way that it's hard to tell what's real and what's invented for the reader.
Published Aug. 25, 2017
"Adulting" has a pretty negative connotation on social media. But when you're in your forties, there's no better way to experience the magic of Door County. Farm-to-table dining, galleries and great coffee, it's time to indulge your grown-up side.
Published Aug. 20, 2017
Gtting good photos of the total solar eclipse will be hard. Not only will you need some proper filters and a bunch of prep time, but you will probably spend more energy in composing the shot than you will in actually seeing the eclipse. Shooting great night photos, however, is relatively easy.
Published Aug. 18, 2017
In Milwaukee, GE Healthcare's engineers and developers are coming up with the latest innovations in the ultrasound industry. The company first entered the medical ultrasound industry in 1990 and expanded its operations in Milwaukee County to become a global industry leader in just 11 years.
Published Aug. 17, 2017
Beck Hansen's music has always been a Venn diagram of art, with balls-out unironic rap occupying one circle, and beautiful melodic folk in the other. Right in the middle is when Beck rocks, and it was super cool to see all slices of him a live performance.