Do you like American lawsuits?

Fresh off their latest tour that included shows at the Oppikoppi music festival and elsewhere in South Africa, 1980s folk-punk favourites the Violent Femmes are headed for a surprise gig in a United States court.

Bassist Brian Ritchie sued lead vocalist Gordon Gano on Wednesday, saying he was deprived of credit for some of the group’s songs and a proper accounting of its earnings.

The lawsuit, filed in a US district court, also accuses Gano of trashing the band’s reputation by allowing its signature hit, Blister in the Sun, to be used in a Wendy’s fast-food commercial.

Gano called the lawsuit “a complete surprise”—especially since the band still regularly perform and just returned from their South African tour.

“We just played a really, really good tour,” he said. “Since the early 1980s, everything’s really good. We’re playing better than ever.”

In the suit, Ritchie claims he founded the band in 1980, taking on drummer Victor DeLorenzo that year and Gano in 1981.

After releasing a self-titled debut album, Violent Femmes, in 1983, the band gained fame with hits including Blister in the Sun, Add It Up and Special.
They recorded at least 10 albums and toured the world at least a dozen times, the lawsuit said.

“This action is the unfortunate culmination of an ongoing intra-band dispute between Ritchie and Gano over Gano’s misappropriation and misadministration of Ritchie’s interests in the jointly owned songs and assets of the band, misappropriation of assets solely owned by Ritchie, improper accounting and nonpayment of royalties,” the lawsuit said.

The suit seeks a ruling declaring Ritchie half owner of the band’s songs and an accounting of past and future royalties and unspecified damages.

Gano declined to respond to the claims in detail, except to say he wrote the band’s songs with one or two exceptions.—Sapa-AP

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