From time to time, one of my friends will ask, “Hey, whatever became of the Relient K ordeal?” This is my attempt at answering that question…sorry it took so long!
A few months ago, I saw that Relient K had posted a teaser video for their upcoming album. I’m a longtime fan of Relient K, so naturally I was excited to hear new music and see some behind-the-scenes footage. But when I clicked on the link and the video started playing, what I heard didn’t sound new at all. Instead, I heard the main riff of one of my own songs, Biting My Tongue.
For comparison, here’s Relient K’s video:
And here’s my song:
Flight Metaphor has been playing Biting My Tongue live for more than two years; the studio version above appears on 2011’s Eastmost Peninsula.
As I watched Relient K’s video, my head started spinning. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or upset. I knew that if their song appeared in a finished form on Relient K’s new album, it meant that I’d have to defend the integrity of mine. It would only be a matter of time before someone accused me of “ripping them off.”
I showed the video to a few of my close friends, and almost all of them flipped out. A few told me to seek legal counsel, others started “ralllying the troops” for an online revolution, and I started composing a reactionary blog post. I dug up all the demos I ever recorded of Biting My Tongue, preparing to “put Relient K in their place.”
Thankfully, none of that happened. Instead, my friend Dave passed along Ethan Luck’s e-mail address, as he receives the music credit in the video (For the uninitiated, Ethan plays drums for Relient K). Remembering Jesus’ teaching on conflict and Paul’s exhortation to stay out of legal disputes with other believers, I decided to send Ethan an e-mail presenting my dilemma.
The next day, I received an extremely gracious and kind response. Ethan assured me that he had never heard my song before, that it was a freak coincidence. What follows is a portion of his e-mail:
I’m pretty blown away that the first chord/melody is pretty identical! So crazy. I put that RK video together and needed some music behind it. I, literally, wrote and recorded that guitar thing about 10 min before posting the video. I hope you don’t think there was any ill will here. I apologize for the confusion! Also, we have no intention of using that for our new album. Again, it just came out quick, while playing guitar.
He even went so far as to offer to take the video down and re-upload it with different music, but I told him it wasn’t necessary. I was happy enough with the fact that I could keep playing my song without having to justify it to my audiences.
All in all, it was a pretty surreal experience. Never in a million years would I expect to pull up a video from one of my favorite bands and hear a song nearly identical to something I had already written. Thankfully, the entire matter was wrapped up in less than a day, and Ethan was real cool about everything. Moral of the story: following God’s instruction can keep you from doing something stupid.
As for Biting My Tongue, every version I ever recorded of it appears below. I’ve always wanted to make a blog post highlighting the “evolution of a song,” and this experience has afforded me the opportunity. Enjoy! (Oh, and be sure to pick up Relient K’s new album when it finally drops 🙂 )
December 25th, 2009, 2 AM – Instrumental Idea
December 2009 – Vocal Idea
February 2010 – “Wait And See” Full Band Instrumental Demo
March 2010 – “Wait and See” Full Band Demo
October 2010 – Biting My Tongue (Biding Time) Studio Version, Released June 2011