Metallica cover band Sandman didn't expect to have a FedEx package waiting for them over the weekend when they arrived at FitzRay's, a London, Ontario club where the band was scheduled to play Saturday night. Inside, the Canadian group found an official, 41-page cease and desist letter from Metallica's lawyer for using "official, stylized logos … to identify or promote live musical performances through Facebook and YouTube." The cover band, formed in 1994, had been using their logo, an approximation of Metallica's redesigned logo introduced for 2003's St. Anger, for more than a decade. Yet this was the first time they had even heard from the band, much less received any sort of legal documents.
"The band have been using this logo for years with no problems at all," guitarist Joe Di Taranto tells Rolling Stone. "I only joined the band last summer and feel a little guilty that perhaps my (albeit humble) success with my main/original band WARMACHINE have brought a little extra attention to the band, leading to this little fiasco."
Now, Metallica has clarified the situation in a statement to Rolling Stone, denying any involvement in the letter and blaming an "overzealous attorney" for the misunderstanding.
"We hear that a Canadian Metallica tribute band is a little upset with us and with a little digging, figured out why," the band tells Rolling Stone. "It turns out that a certain letter was delivered to the band Sandman that neither we nor our management were aware of until it surfaced online. Lucky for us, the band was kind enough to post it for us to see, and it turns out that we have a very overzealous attorney who sent this letter without our knowledge."
The group pointed to Garage Inc., their 1998 covers album, as proof of their support of groups covering other artists' work. "We have a long history of not only enjoying tribute bands, but we started as one," the group says. "Heck, we even recorded a two-disc album of covers! We will always remember those days and continue to enjoy tribute bands, even inviting them to support us on various tours over the years."
Di Taranto says that Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich called him on Wednesday to apologize and quash the situation. "He gave me and the band his full blessing to continue on as we were," says the musician. "They want us to continue paying tribute to Metallica with their full blessing and approval. We will continue to fly the Metallica flag, loud and proud!!" The band says they will continue using their logo with impunity.
As for the original cease and desist order, Metallica has rescinded the letter. "Sandman should file the letter in the trash," the band says. "Keep doing what you’re doing ... we totally support you! And in the meantime, our attorney can be found at SFO catching a flight to go permanently ice fishing in Alaska."