The bass player for the now-defunct rock band R.E.M. wants to stop President Donald Trump from using the group’s songs after Trump’s reelection campaign played two of its tunes at a rally in Milwaukee Tuesday night.
R.E.M.’s Mike Mills said Wednesday the band ― which broke up in 2011 after decades of success ― was “exploring all legal avenues” to prevent Trump from using their tunes at the political gatherings. Mills went on to characterize the president as a “fraud” and “con man,” saying the band does “not condone the use of our music” by him.
The R.E.M. songs “Everybody Hurts” and “Losing My Religion” played at Tuesday’s event before Trump took the stage and celebrated his administration’s assassination of Iran military leader Qassem Soleimani, one of the most powerful figures in the Middle East.
Soleimani’s death escalated conflict between the U.S. and Iran and, many experts worry, intensifies the danger facing American assets and troops in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Mills is a vocal opponent of Trump and his policies, often insulting him in tweets. On Sunday, he called Trump an “Adderal-deranged idiot” who is “renting our troops out as mercenaries” in response to Trump’s questionable claims about Saudi Arabia paying for additional U.S. troops dispatched to that country.
Mills has railed about Trump’s use of R.E.M. songs since 2015, when the New York businessman began his first presidential campaign.
“Go f*** yourselves, the lot of you―you sad, attention grabbing, power-hungry little men,” Mills tweeted that year. “Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.”
At that time, Trump’s campaign was using R.E.M.’s song “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”
Other musicians and singers have pushed back against the use of their music in politics without prior approval, especially when they have been played at Trump events.
Adele, Rihanna, Aerosmith and Elton John are just a few pop stars who have urged the president’s campaign to stop using their material at such gatherings. Aerosmith and Rihanna have even sent Trump cease-and-desist letters, though it is hard to enforce this type of legal action.