Hours after Survivor co-founder Frankie Sullivan chastised Mike Huckabee for an unauthorized use of the band’s “Eye of the Tiger” at a campaign rally, R.E.M. issued a public rebuke against politicians who use their music without permission.
“Go fuck yourselves, the lot of you — you sad, attention-grabbing, power-hungry little men,” R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe said (via bassist Mike Mills’ Twitter page). “Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.”
The statement was in response to Donald Trump using one of the group’s songs at a Washington, D.C. rally Wednesday afternoon. Trump and fellow presidential nominee Ted Cruz appeared together at the rally to lambast President Obama and the recent nuclear deal with Iran alongside Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. During his intro, Trump came out to R.E.M.’s 1987 hit “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” presumably to reinforce his thoughts on the effects of the Iran deal.
After the rally, Mills took to Twitter to write, “Personally, I think the Orange Clown will do anything for attention. I hate giving it to him.” He added, “The R.E.M. statement will be regarding Trump’s use of our song. Nothing more than that!”
Shortly after, the band issued a statement condemning the use of their music at political events, but asking fans to look at the “bigger picture.”
“While we do not authorize or condone the use of our music at this political event, and do ask that these candidates cease and desist from doing so, let us remember that there are things of greater importance at stake here,” the band wrote. “The media and the American voter should focus on the bigger picture, and not allow grandstanding politicians to distract us from the pressing issues of the day and of the current Presidential campaign.”
A spokesperson for Trump was not immediately available for comment.
This isn’t Trump’s first controversy with musicians this year. In June, the Rolling Stone cover star used Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” to kick off his presidential campaign, sparking condemnation from the musician.
“Donald Trump was not authorized to use ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ in his presidential candidacy announcement,” a spokesperson for the rocker’s Lookout Management said at the time. “Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States of America.” The Trump campaign agreed to stop using Young’s music in the future. It is unclear if the campaign will continue to use R.E.M.’s music.