Published Jan 21, 2011The Smith Westerns released their highly touted second album Dye It Blonde earlier this week. Despite all of the critical acclaim for it, in a recent interview with singer Cullen Omori, Exclaim! felt the need to ask him about how they got away with stealing Nirvana's iconic Nevermind cover for their own debut album.
"It was more the decision of our friend Jason Lee who does the artwork for a lot of our stuff," Omori explains. "He did both [the art of] that record and the new record. He just did it on his own, as part of this Internet thing he does. When he showed it to us we just really liked it and decided to use it. We thought it was kind of funny, a 'fuck you' kind of thing. And it wasn't like we were huge Nirvana fans, but we thought about how many millions of copies [Nevermind] had sold and how famous it was, and how funny and clever [Jason's cover] was."
Despite the obvious legal ramifications that come with using such a famous image without permission, Omori says they never expected any phone calls because they never thought it would be seen by more than a few people when the album was first released by Hozac Records in 2009.
"We were never releasing it with any kind of mass distribution and I think it becomes your own image legally if you only use 30 percent," he says.
As for whether he's ever heard from Courtney Love's cavalry of lawyers, Omori says they've never come a-knockin', even though the album received a wider re-release by the band's new label Fat Possum. But if Courtney's people do come, he isn't too concerned.
"It was never distributed in a way where it would draw enough attention," he says. "If someone wanted us to stop using that cover I wouldn't care, I would switch it. I guess the image was altered enough for Fat Possum."
As previously reported, Smith Westerns will soon kick off an extensive North American tour in support of Dye It Blonde. You can check out all the dates below.
1/28 Nashville, TN - The End *
1/29 Knoxville, TN - Pilot Light *
1/30 Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506 *
1/31 Athens, GA - 40 Watt Club *
2/1 Atlanta, GA - Drunken Unicorn *
2/3 Orlando, FL - Backbooth *
2/4 Tallahassee, FL - Club Downunder *
2/6 Houston, TX - Fitzgeralds *
2/7 Austin, TX - Emos *
2/8 Dallas, TX - The Loft *
2/10 Phoenix, AZ - Rhythm Room *
2/11 Los Angeles, CA - Echo *
2/12 Costa Mesa, CA - Detroit Bar *
2/13 San Francisco, CA - Bottom of the Hill *
2/15 Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
2/16 Vancouver, BC - Biltmore Cabaret
2/17 Seattle, WA - Crocodile Cafe
2/18 Boise, ID - Neurolux
2/19 Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court
2/21 Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge
2/22 Kansas City, MO - The Record Bar
2/23 Omaha, NE - Waiting Room
2/24 Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock Social Club
2/25 Madison, WI - The Frequency
2/26 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
2/28 Toronto, ON - Legendary Horseshoe Tavern
3/1 Montreal, PQ - La Sala Rossa
3/2 Boston, MA - Great Scott
3/4 Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel
^ with MGMT
* with Yuck