UPDATE: The Echo Friendly and Pete Yorn hopped on the phone shortly after all this transpired and worked things out: “Pete Yorn called me directly yesterday afternoon and suffice to say we had the kind of conversation two people can only have away from the toxicity of the internet.”
Last month, Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson put out “Bad Dreams,” the first track from their forthcoming collaborative EP, Apart. The song is a cover of the Echo Friendly’s “Worried,” off their 2014 album Love Panic, though that’s not noted on streaming services or in the press release for the song.
Today, the Echo Friendly’s Jake Rabinbach posted a statement to the band’s Facebook page, saying that they feel “exploited” by Yorn after agreeing to give him 25% of the band’s publishing rights for the cover, believing that Yorn was “adapt[ing]” “Worried” into a “new composition” and that the band would be credited as co-writers.
“We have zero legal claim, but we do feel exploited and like we were lied to a little,” Rabinbach wrote. “It’s a bummer because you would think there would be more solidarity between songwriters and that maybe the bigger artist would make sure the little indie band didn’t get screwed.”
Here’s the statement in full:
So a year ago I signed an agreement with Pete Yorn (via his lawyer) that said he was going to “adapt” our song “Worried” into a “new composition” called “Bad Dreams.” The new song would be listed as a co-write with both our names on it, with Yorn taking 25% of my publishing income. I asked to hear a demo of the song to make sure it wasn’t just going to be our song with his name on it but was denied. Shannon and I were going to have a kid so I didn’t say no to an extra income stream and signed the deal anyway even though it didn’t feel totally right. Two Fridays ago, it came out as the lead single off Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson’s upcoming EP and no one can deny it’s a straight cover of our song, down to the bass and guitar lines. I remember Jake Vest, our friend, and bassist, laboring over that bass part in the middle of the night when he had to be at work the next day. The only lyric they changed was the one about my credit card debt (like most people, I still have a bunch) which I guess is authentic of them. Pete Yorn just signed to Capital and we didn’t even have a label for our last record so I don’t know why he needed to take 25% of my songwriting money and not give us credit in the press release. We have zero legal claim, but we do feel exploited and like we were lied to a little. It’s a bummer because you would think there would be more solidarity between songwriters and that maybe the bigger artist would make sure the little indie band didn’t get screwed. This probably happens all the time, so if you are a small band who has the goods, and someone in Hollywood tries to take you for a ride, maybe tell them no and to write their own song. Thanks to our fans for noticing and to Pitchfork for making a correction on the original article and saying it’s a cover of our song. Sorry to be posting this a couple weeks after the song came out, but we’ve had real life stuff going on and it took a minute to get around to this. -Jake
A Facebook account that appears to belong to Yorn commented on the post, apologizing and directing the band to an interview he gave a few weeks ago crediting the band with the song. “You know i Love the echo friendly and always loved the song and video since my cousin max showed me the cut he worked on,” he wrote. “Of course i want to bring attention to the band…And always planned to so when we do actual press for the record.”
We’ve reached out to Yorn and Johansson’s label and will update when we hear back.
Here’s the two songs: