Saying No to the Hummer

(Blogging from the road here. The hotel has WiFi in the rooms, but I couldn’t get enough signal to get an IP address, so after 30 minutes on the phone with tech support I moved to the bar, where the singal strength is excellent. Were I of a more suspicious nature I’d wonder if that was on purpose, but since they didn’t force me to buy a drink and are letting me click away in peace, I’ll overlook it.

Since I worked so hard to get online, I may as well take advantage of the opportunity, so…)

Now this is standing up for principles.

The Thermals, a rambunctious rock band from Portland, Ore., were en route between gigs last year when they got a phone call from their label, Sub Pop. Hummer wanted to pay them $50,000 for the right to use their song “It’s Trivia” in a commercial.

“We thought about it for about 15 seconds, maybe,” lead singer Hutch Harris said.

They said no.

Washington D.C.’s Trans Am were offered $180,000 by Hummer for the song “Total Information Awareness.”

“We figured it was almost like giving music to the Army, or Exxon,” guitarist Philip Manley said.

They said no.

The post-punk band LiLiPUT, who broke up more than 20 years ago, could have pocketed $50,000 for “Heidi’s Head” after making close to nothing during their five-year existence. But they, too, said no.

“At least I can sleep without nightmares,” Marlene Marder reasoned.


Lyle Hysen runs Bank Robber Music, a licensing group that pitches songs to film, television and advertisement companies. He’s gotten his clients featured in shows like “Six Feet Under” and “The L Word” and in car ads by Volkswagen and Jaguar.

Hummer, however, has been a nonstarter.

“My standard line is you guys will play a hundred million gigs before you see this amount of money,” Hysen said. “Usually they come back with, ‘We’ll do anything BUT Hummer.'”

It’s really easy for most of us to say we’d never sell out, because most of us are never given the opportunity to do so. You can call ’em stupid if you want to, but I’ll remind you that money isn’t supposed to be everything. I say they did the right thing by being true to what they believed. Link via Kos.

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5 Responses to Saying No to the Hummer

  1. helliemae says:

    They stuck to their beliefs, even when it cost them something significant, so I echo your applause.

    However, Dogbert would question whether those beliefs would have the intended consequences…

  2. pix3 says:

    I have to applaud them for their conviction, even if I think it’s ultimately misplaced.

  3. FJL says:

    This isn’t misplaced conviction. Enough bands turned down Hummer that a news story got written about how so many bands think Hummer is morally repugnant. This story is now out there reinforcing others’ beliefs Maybe someone’ll read it and decide against a new H3 or someone else may speak up when a friend considers getting a hummer and talk them out of it. Is one fewer Hummer sold worth $50,000 to you? Is 50 fewer worth it? To these bands it obviously is. It’s pure economic brilliance. They were actually given the opportunity to say exactly how much their hate for Hummer is worth.

    Me? I’d a sold out in a heartbeat.

  4. Steve says:

    Liliput is a great band, too. (Trans Am are dandy, but Liliput are pretty damn obscure — their album was out of print forever, but I believe K Records put out a new edition recently.)

  5. Mathwiz says:

    Dogbert’s wrong. It’s true that oil-producing nations will sell all the oil they can pump, regardless of our attempts to save it, but they’d do so at a lower price if we Americans got serious about fuel economy. Supply and demand.

    Also, we’d have less incentive to threaten them with bombs just to keep the oil flowing. That would reduce terrorism too.

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