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  Metallica Lawsuit Hoaxsters Explain Bogus Story. 


07-18-03 antiGUY
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The band behind the Internet hoax that duped media organizations ranging from radio stations to Jimmy Kimmel Live and MSNBC, has offered up an official statement about what they did and why they did it. The statement is below: 

UNFAITH’S OFFICIAL STATEMENT ON THE METALLICA E-F CHORD CONTROVERSY
by Erik Ashley

You might have heard about this on CNN, MSNBC, Ananova, or on one of the thousands of radio stations across America since Wednesday.

International rock superstars Metallica is suing an independant [sic] Canadian band over unsanctioned usage of the E and F chords ; that band being Unfaith ; us. Let’s make this clear: This story is SATIRE.

But as with most parodies, it is also a statement in sheep’s clothing ; one that inadvertently[sic] ended up making a point FOR the band, as much as anything else.

We all know about the Napster issue, the perfume company, the lipstick company, the tire makers... Metallica has sued them all. Rightly or wrongly, no one is judging that. However, the idea behind this parody was to gauge, after all that litigation, just how willing America was to buy a story as extraordinary[sic]—as outlandish—as them claiming ownership of a 2-chord progression. 

If this week was any indication, America is all too willing to believe it. It all started here :  The story was originally planted on 411mania.com, who were in on it. 

Within minutes, literally hundreds of message boards lit up, including those of legitimate music news sources. Then, Fark.com jumped on board and promoted the 411 link. With the help of these two websites, the story got rebroadcasted from one news source to the next. 

Jimmy Kimmel treated the story as fact on his ABC talk show, his researchers never bothering to contact any of the parties involved. MSNBC’s Jeannette Walls printed the story as fact in yesterday morning’s “The Scoop” column... and retracted it minutes later with no explanation.  

Dotmusic.com did the same, as did Ananova.com in the UK. 

Radio stations across America have been broadcasting the news as fact for days, going so far as organizing boycott petitions against Metallica on the stations they work for... and even playing our MP3 samples on the air simply to spite them. What is wrong with this picture? If you want to play us because you enjoy our music, that’s one thing. But playing us just to spite another band..?

Rolling Stone was the first publication to contact the parties involved. Then came Court TV / CNN, and MuchMusic. They took the time, and got the real story. 

As for the hoax itself, it generated over 200,000 hits in just two days, and crashed our servers repeatedly.

Beyond the numbers, however, I think it was TANSTAAFL — one of the thousands of internet message board posters discussing this story this week — who said it best : “I’m not sure what’s worse, that the story is a fake, or that it was actually conceivable that Metallica would do that.”

In truth, none of us ever expected the parody to reach as far and wide as it did. What originally began as something of a psychology study on Metallica’s reputation instead turned into an exposé on how dangerous the internet — and its media — can be.

“Because if it’s on the net, it’s got to be true” ™

Both the supposed “MTV.com” and “Metallica.com” pages were painstakingly recreated for the parody to be effective just as Saturday Night Live goes through great lengths to recreate a celebrity’s facial features and voice — but both pages have a clear “ScoopThis.com” notice at the bottom. And although ScoopThis.com had been technically offline since 2000, its documents still very clearly state that anything found on its domain is fake. So who should Metallica be St.Angry with over this? Us, for what we thought was an obvious parody (we didn’t even bother masking the url fields)... or every single so-called legitimate news outlet for spreading it as truth? It’s hard to ignore the fact that the runaway hoax ended up exposing the internet for what it is, with legitimate news sites spreading one of the most incredible fictional stories we could come up with without pause, much less research.

You would think it was 1938, and this was War of Worlds.

I can’t help walking away from this whole bit actually sympathizing with the band. Because even as the hoax was exposed, diehard Metalli-bashers maintained their positions on the grounds that this was something Metallica COULD have done. Overlooking one very important fact : They didn’t. 

In the end, I am left wondering... is this the kind of unbiased  journalism I can expect if I become a public figure?

Reactions now that people are slowly catching on to the hoax have ranged across the board from people thinking it was a brilliant and well-executed prank, to people being upset by what they feel is a cheap publicity stunt... to those people, I can only offer the reminder that we have nothing to sell. No CD’s were printed in preparation for
this, and we haven’t responded to a single donation offer made to us towards our fictional upcoming legal battle.

Unfaith may have received some short-term exposure out of this, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think this was great. Wouldn’t you? Sure, some people will stick around with us when this is over, but most won’t. As James Hetfield once put it, however, the Memory Remains.

As for the fallout, Jimmy Kimmel has already apologized for spreading an astonishing story as truth. MSNBC, Ananova and others, however, haven’t — content in simply laying low after eliminating the evidence. To each their own.

As for me? I’ll quote from an interview I did with UGO.com last year, which you could easily Google-up. On the subject of my influences, I answered, among other names, “the ‘commercial era’ Metallica. Everything since the black album. Yep, that includes Load and Reload.”

I didn’t mind saying it then, and I don’t mind repeating it today. This hoax was merely a joke that America wished so hard to be true, that it slowly stopped mattering if it was or not.

In the end, this leaves us with two ultimate ironies :

First, none of our songs were ever based on an E-F progression (I can’t sing that high). 

And second, MTV.com remains the only entertainment news website never to have touched this story.

Erik Ashley
Singer/Songwriter
Unfaith | www.unfaith.net
Montreal, Canada
 


For the record: antiMUSIC didn’t pick up on this story either, until now. Having had a few jokes inserted into our news stories picked up by major news sources, we know how sloppy reporting can get. It’s not just the internet. We sourced an interview with Kelly Osbourne from another publication for a story awhile ago and along the way, we got credited with the interview. Imagine the surprise when we were sourced by publications ranging from the New York Post to New Music Express, to our home town paper—The Orange County Register. 

As for Unfaith, long time antiMUSIC readers may just recognize the band. Their cover of Duran Duran’s “Save A Prayer” was featured in our mandatory media section back in January 2002. Our editor said at the time, “unFaith have performed the perfect balancing act with their cover of the Duran Duran classic 'Save A Prayer'. They stay true to the original while at the same time making the song all their own and giving it 21st century flavor.” 

The lesson here is, it’s hard for indie and unsigned bands to get attention these days from the more mainstream press. Although it was a hoax, we here at antiMUSIC hope that beyond Erik’s intentions for planting that story, that this little excursion may actually help turn some people on to the band’s music.  If anything it was a great publicity stunt. 

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