Published May 24, 2011Last week, Vancouver pop punks Living with Lions stirred up controversy with the Christianity-baiting artwork for their album Holy Shit, which referred to the Bible as the "Poo Testament" and portrayed Jesus as a turd. This attracted the ire of Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, who criticized the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings (FACTOR) for helping to fund the album. Now, the band and their label, Black Box, have responded by returning the FACTOR money and recalling the disc.
In a message posted on Black Box's official site, label boss Ian Stanger posted an open letter, weighing in on the controversy and explaining the label's plans to resolve the matter. The statement reads:
In light of the recent controversy regarding the artwork for Living With Lions' album, "Holy Shit", the band and label have voluntarily agreed to return the loan of $13,248.00 in its entirety, which was offered in support of this record. The product will be withdrawn from the domestic market immediately, and we requested our international partners to withdraw product internationally as well. We understand the band's desire to maintain their creative integrity. Therefore the album will be re-released as a non-FACTOR supported project in the coming weeks.
The material was not intended to be offensive, though we regret it was interpreted that way. Further, we regret the negative attention that this matter has brought to FACTOR. FACTOR is an integral part of supporting and sustaining Canadian music domestically and internationally, and their support of our work and that of other Canadian musicians is invaluable.
While this controversy has likely helped to earn Living with Lions to a little extra publicity, the news that copies of the album are being withdrawn can't be good for the cheeky Vancouverites. But, hopefully, this recall means that it will be business as usual for Black Box and FACTOR from here on out.
Look out for non-FACTOR copies of Holy Shit to arrive soon, and catch the band on tour at one of the dates listed here.
UPDATE: Living with Lions themselves have now issued a statement of their own. You can read it in full below.
The content of our artwork for our new recording was created out of our passion for satire and absurdist humor. The lyrical and musical content of this record does not contain any commentary on religion, nor does it use a pejorative or malicious voice against any particular group of people (excluding possibly some of our ex-girlfriends).
When the idea came up to simply alter the artwork for HOLY SHIT without having to expedite the repayment to FACTOR (The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings), we chose to entirely return the money so that HOLY SHIT can forever remain true to the original format.
The debate about government funding contributing to potentially controversial art is neither new nor truly resolved; but when the offended public complains, the politicians habitually remind groups like FACTOR, the NEA and the Arts Council that they can pull the plug rather than encourage discourse or scholarly debate.
We would like to thank our fans, friends and family for their continued support. We'd especially like to thank some of our newer fans in the media whose stance(s) on free speech has been really influential:
"Only a fool would think that censoring and gagging someone is equivalent of changing their mind." - Ezra Levant
"I'm a mad believer in free speech and standing up to those who want to stifle free speech and impose standards of expectations." - James Moore
- Living with Lions, May 24th 2011