CMU Daily - on the inside Wednesday 27th June
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- It was 99% suicide: Spector trial update
- The Verve reunite
- EC restart SonyBMG investigation
- Jay-Z's nightclub sued by Michael Jackson et al
- McCartney for iTunes fest
- New Britney material delayed
- Jo'burg Live Earth changes venue
- Big guitars go on display
- Green Day t-shirt news
- Album review: Port Royal - Afraid To Dance
- Will Warner stage one more EMI bid?
- Samsung ally with Girls Aloud
- Virgin play down HMV takeover reports
- Qtrax confirm all majors on board
- Groove Mobile pilot SMS download service with Vodafone
- Vodafone reportedly in talks re iPhone
- Vidzone sign up EMI's DRM free catalogue
- Parky quits chat show
- Abdul reckons Idol panel her destiny
- Turner forming supergroup, or not
- MCR man brands Manson "two-faced"

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TOP BIT >>
I do seem to have been moaning a lot lately - what's that about? Ah well, here's my latest moan, though it's a relatively quick one, so that's good news. As mentioned a couple of weeks back, I've been downloading a stack of back catalogue tracks off the iTunes Music Store of late, basically getting all those songs I love but only currently own on good old (actually, rubbish old) cassette into my MP3 collection, on the basis I'll never get round to plugging a tape deck into the back of my computer.

Obviously I've already complained at length about the fact that shoddy cover versions of classic tracks available via the Apple download service are not clearly labeled as such - something that a few of you catalogue label types confirmed was actually a bigger issue than just my own personal trauma of accidentally acquiring an actually-quite-like-the-original-but-that's-not-the-point cover of Aztec Camera's 'Somewhere In My Heart', and something which Apple, frankly, failed to respond to in any practical way when we approached them about it (as is their way).

But this new moan is presumably the fault of the record companies. Have you noticed how big a difference there is in the gap at the end of tracks bought via iTunes? And how some tracks are much quieter than others? Now, both volume and gaps at the end of tracks have always varied from album to album, which in itself doesn't really matter. But once you mix those tracks into your MP3 collection am I the only one that finds it a bit irritating that there are random gaps between my tracks (sometimes several seconds) and that the volume of tracks varies from one song to another? What I don't understand is why when the record companies were doing the big and, by all accounts rather expensive, digitisation of their catalogues, why didn't they decide on some consistency for between-song gaps and track volume?

Of course, you might tell me to use the function in iTunes that fades one song into the next, but then those songs with nice dead endings don't end in a suitably dead fashion. What I do is drop my iTunes purchases into a sound editing package, and cut off the silence and fix the sound levels, which is a good thing to do because at the end of the process you can save your file as a more user friendly MP3. All of which is possibly a bit illegal. But if I'm being sold what are essentially inferior goods - and let's not forget I am buying these for the second time - then I think I should be let off. And be given full permission to moan at length in the Top Bit.

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JOBS N STUFF>>

PRESS OFFICER/ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE - MATERIAL
Material is seeking a Press Officer/Account Executive to work on a leading Northern Irish contemporary music event. The successful candidate will be highly efficient and organised with strong writing skills, good knowledge of music, ability to work to short deadlines and a proven ability of working on live music and/or brand projects. Knowledge of Northern Irish media also beneficial. Computer literacy, including confidence with Microsoft Office is essential. The role is temporary, from July to September, and is based in Belfast. Please send a CV with covering letter to lauras@materialmc.co.uk by Tuesday 3rd July.

REGIONAL PRESS ASSISTANT NEEDED
Chuffmedia is seeking a Junior Regional Press Assistant to help with a variety of campaigns for both high profile and brand new acts. The ideal candidate will possess good writing skills and be computer literate (mac),highly motivated and have a desire for gigging, music and an appreciation of a good tune a must. Email CV and covering letter to Warren@chuffmedia.com

SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER
London based boutique PR agency specialising in music, events and youth lifestyle is looking for an experienced PR to work on exciting branded music campaigns. You will need to have: excellent contacts in music, consumer and national newspapers; strong presentation skills and the ability to create stunning PowerPoint presentations/excel documents; great organisational skills and time keeping; and the confidence to deal with corporate clients. We are a small team so it is important that you're motivated and enthusiastic. Travel is also part of the job - you will need to be attend evening gigs and festivals. Competitive salary. Please send CVs and examples of written work and PowerPoint to Rhiannon@spring-pr.com

Advertise your vacancies in the CMU Daily for just £80 for five days. To book your space email ads@unlimitedmedia.co.uk.

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MYSPACE OF THE DAY: BONO MUST DIE

I'm not sure I care whether the music's any good, Bono Must Die is a great name for a band. Not, I absolutely hasten to add, that I believe that the lead singer of U2 should be hunted down and slain, but I do, I have to say, relate to the sentiment, being just a touch bored with all that pretending to be a statesman, telling us all to donate money and then avoiding paying taxes as much as he possibly can stuff. Anyway, I went to look at the page based pretty much entirely on the band's attractive moniker, and found I wanted to stay and listen for a while. Which is interesting, given that this lot have labeled themselves drum&bass / death metal / zouk, and that, frankly, is not the sort of description to make me come running, not least because I've never really known exactly what zouk is. Anyway, they've got lots of upcoming tour dates, if they pique your interest, and are set to self-release a single soon, claiming the labels are too scared of their controversial name to do it for them. Well, I suppose it could be considered incitement, or something.

http://www.myspace.com/bonomustdie

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IT WAS 99% SUICIDE: SPECTOR TRIAL UPDATE
So, yesterday it was the turn of the defence to take to the stand to try its best to convince judge, jury and watching world, though mainly the jury, that Phil Spector did not kill actress Lana Clarkson at his Beverly Hills mansion on 3 Feb 2003. She, in fact, killed herself.

Unusually for this kind of case, the prosecution did not actually rest its case before handing over to the defence. This is because they still hope they will be able to get former Spector defence lawyer Sara Caplan who, of course, is currently refusing to testify, to eventually answer their questions in court as to what happened at Spector's house after the police had finished their investigation and whether, as she earlier claimed, she saw Dr Henry Lee, a forensics expert working for the defence, remove a small white fragment from the scene of the alleged crime. As previously reported, Caplan is currently in contempt of court for refusing to testify after Judge Larry Paul Fidler refused to accept her excuse that she couldn't give evidence against Spector because of client attorney confidentiality rules.

The prosecution are keen to prove Lee did remove what could have been key evidence from the crime scene in a bid to damage his credibility as a defence witness in the case - mainly because the defence have been, to date, bullish about their as yet not presented forensic evidence which, they claim, will clear their client. While the prosecution had their own forensic specialists offering their thoughts about where Spector was in relation to Clarkson as she was shot, what he did after the gun went off, and why Spector's DNA was not on the gun, it is debatable whether any of that forensic evidence could be said to have proved beyond reasonable doubt that Spector actually pulled the trigger that night in 2003.

And with the defence promising that "science" will prove their client not guilty, a forensics expert was their first witness yesterday - Dr Vincent DiMaio - a former chief medical examiner in Bexar County, Texas who now owns his own private practice in forensic pathology. Although like the prosecution's forensic witnesses, DiMaio admitted he couldn't say 100% what happened in Spector's home that night, he was willing to say 99% what happened, which is pretty damn close.

Soon into his testimony DiMaio told the court room: "She's got blood on her hands, she's got gunshot residue - that's 99 percent suicide. When you stick to the scientific evidence, it's suicide".

Fidler called the proceedings into recess before the prosecution had a chance to question DiMaio, so it remains to be seen if he remains so resolute when up against aggressive questioning. It is not clear just how many forensic experts the defence will present as part of their case, though the aforementioned Dr Henry Lee is still expected to testify, despite all the issues surrounding that possibly non-existent tiny white fragment.

There has also been renewed media speculation this week as to whether the defence will call Spector himself to the witness stand. I thought the consensus was they wouldn't, but some reporters now seem less sure of that fact.

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THE VERVE REUNITE
There was a very good article in Word magazine recently about which living bands (in that their members are still alive) were most and least likely to reunite, should the lucrative reunion tour offer arrive in the post. I don't remember what they said about The Verve. I think they put a reunion down as quite likely. If they did, they were right. The Wigan boys have announced they will reunite for a tour this winter, apparently "getting back together for the joy of the money". Oh, hang on, I think they said for the "joy of the music". Whatever. The band originally split in 1999, of course, after numerous run ins between frontman Richard Ashcroft and guitarist Nick McCabe. The dates of the reunion tour are as follows:

2 & 3 Nov: Glasgow Academy
5 & 6 Nov: Blackpool Empress Ballroom
8 & 9 Nov: London Roundhouse

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EC RESTART SONYBMG INVESTIGATION
The European Commission has announced it has reopened its investigation into the Sony BMG merger, three months after it announced the investigation was on hold.

As you all know, obviously, because we've reported on it 7.3 million times, EC competition officials are currently investigating whether the merger of Sony Corp and Bertelsmann's recorded music companies back in 2004 should ever have been given the green light after the European courts ruled last year that officials did not cover all bases in their original investigation into the impact of further consolidation in the recorded music sector.

Officials undertaking the new review of the merger announced earlier this year that they would be staging an in-depth investigation and as a result requested unprecedented amounts of information from Sony and BMG. The investigation was subsequently put on hold when the major record companies said they'd need more time to get together the requested information.

The decision to resume the investigation presumably means all the required information has now been provided. The three month delay means that officials, who had originally been expected to make a ruling on the merger next week, won't now make a decision until October.

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JAY-Z'S NIGHTCLUB SUED BY MICHAEL JACKSON ET AL
Jay-Z's New York nightclub 40/40 has been hit with litigation from Michael Jackson and R Kelly over allegations that the establishment has broken music licenses. The two stars, plus a dozen further music publishers, filed the federal lawsuit this week claiming the venue had engaged in "unauthorised public performance of musical compositions", and seeking unspecified damages for copyright infringement from co-owners Desiree Gonzalez and Juan Perez. Jay-Z himself is not named in the suit, however.

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MCCARTNEY FOR ITUNES FEST
Paul McCartney is set to play at the previously reported iTunes Festival at the ICA this summer. The former Beatle will play the 350 capacity venue on 5 Jul, and joins a line-up of around 60 acts set to appear there over the course of the month. Other new additions include Aqualung and CMU favourites The Go! Team.

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NEW BRITNEY MATERIAL DELAYED
The release of Britney Spears' comeback album has been delayed until 2008. It was thought the new long player would be out by the end of this year, but now a publicist has confirmed that in actual fact, it won't. Leslie Sloane Zelnik explains: "I put her on hiatus. Brit's album is pushed until '08. If she has no album, there's no reason to do anything. I'm representing her in theory right now. I said that since the album is pushed back until '08, let's go on hiatus until we have a campaign to do".

Reports suggest that the reason for the delay is because the album is so far a bit rubbish, but of course that's just hearsay. Life & Style magazine quote a 'music industry insider' as saying: "I'm surprised the album has not been pushed back to '09. Jive [Spears' label] hated the songs Britney was coming up with, except a few. The executives are not happy".

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JO'BURG LIVE EARTH CHANGES VENUE
The Johannesburg Live Earth concert has been forced to change location due to lack of ticket sales - the lack of interest is thought to be due to the fact that the venue in Maropeng is a 45 minute drive away, and public transport links to the area are poor (which isn't very eco-friendly, is it?). The concert, featuring the likes of Joss Stone and UB40, will now take place at the 18,000 capacity Coca Cola Dome in the city of Johannesburg.

Live Earth all takes place, all over the world, on 7 Jul, as reported ad nauseam. As recently reported, the Istanbul leg was cancelled due to lack of interest from sponsors.

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BIG GUITARS GO ON DISPLAY
That previously reported exhibition of giant 10 foot high guitars in aid of Nordoff Robbins, The Teenage Cancer Trust and the Princes' Trust was launched in London yesterday, and Paul Weller, Rod Stewart and Keane were in attendance. The music stars signed their replica fibreglass guitars prior to their ten week public exhibition at London's City Hall. In addition to the giant Gibsons, 30 normal sized instruments will go on display at the 02. In addition to the three aforementioned, other music-types who've been teamed up with established artists for the project include Kaiser Chiefs, James Blunt, Suggs, Dirty Pretty Things, KT Tunstall Sterophonics and Noel Gallagher. A charity auction of the items is planned for later this year.

Weller told NME.com: "It's not normally my thing this but if I can do something for charity then great. I quite like my guitar that's been designed although I probably would have made it more red and yellow. I like captain [James] Blunt's guitar that's fucking brilliant". Hmmmm.

Keane man Tom Chaplin adds: "It's fantastic. It's a great thing to be a part of and I know I'm biased but I think our guitar is the best one here. It's fantastic".

Bandmate Tim Rice-Oxley says: "We've been involved in the Teenage Cancer Trust for quite a long time. Its very cool to do something for them again and obviously Nordoff Robbins as well because they do amazing stuff for kids".

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GREEN DAY T SHIRT NEWS
Yes, there is a file marked 'Green Day T Shirt News', actually. And this is the news that the band have designed t-shirts to be sold in aid of Amnesty International's Darfur campaign Instant Karma. The clothes are to be sold exclusively through Hard Rock venues from 12 Jul. As you'll remember, because we reported on it, the band also contributed a John Lennon cover to the charity's Make Some Noise album, also in support of their Darfur campaign.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Port Royal - Afraid To Dance (Resonant)
Resonant are steadily building up an impressive roster of acts that marks them out as a label to watch if you're a fan of electronica, post rock and general decent non-pop weirdness. For their long awaited second album, Port Royal continue to create visceral, involving sonic tapestries. We're dealing with windswept, swirling ambient/glitchtronica here, of the Skam, Morr and Warp variety. It helms all the right influences: think Manual, Ulrich Schnauss, Mum, Boards Of Canada, Sigur Ros, Brian Eno, Vangelis etc, albeit fused with spindly Cocteaus/Slowdive-esque guitars. The end results are often hugely impressive, conjuring up images ranging from icy tundras to Balearic sunsets via futuristic alien landscapes, all the while managing to be both tense and calming at the same time. You could criticise it for being a bit samey, but then why change a winning formula? Ebbing and flowing seamlessly, this is an immensely powerful album, and it's as good an example of electronic listening music you'll hear all year, frankly. MS
Release date: 16 Jul
Press release: Resonant IH [all]

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WILL WARNER STAGE ONE MORE EMI BID?
Well, Warner Music are expected to make yet another offer for EMI today. Well, that's what the London Evening Standard reckon, other media commentators are less certain. The Standard says Warner will get in just before the deadline on that other takeover offer from Terra Firma closes later today with a slightly higher bid than the private equity types. Others reckon Warner will let the Terra Firma deal go ahead rather than stage a hostile bid, and then try to buy their rival off the private equity outfit at some point in the near future.

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SAMSUNG ALLY WITH GIRLS ALOUD
The UK division of Samsung has announced a deal with Polydor which will see the electronics firm working with those Girls Aloud. The brand has already had an association with group through extensive branding at a recent live show in Dublin, and moving forward the Girls will be endorsing various Samsung mobile phones and MP3 players, as well as making appearances at various Samsung events. Various Girls Aloud gubbins will also be available via Samsung's Fun Club website which apparently has 2 million subscribers worldwide.

Commenting on the Girls Aloud tie up, Samsung UK Chief Marketing Officer Antony Marsella told Billboard: "Music is a new area for us, compared with other electronic-product companies, but we're are very strong in reaching the under-45 age range, where there is much music consumption. Our strategy is to engage with music for our devices; we're the No. 2 best-seller of MP3 players after Apple's iPods. What's new this year is that the deal is a tie-in with the whole brand, and not limited to a specific product".

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VIRGIN PLAY DOWN HMV TAKEOVER REPORTS
According to Music Week, Virgin Retail are playing down the significance of reports that HMV has had talks with the Virgin Group regarding buying some of its Virgin Megastore chain. Those reports seemingly came initially from the Financial Times, though without any sources cited. The FT said that talks stumbled because the two parties couldn't agree on the value of the Virgin Megastores in question. Presumably any such deal would also need approval from competition officials, making it a potentially tricky deal to strike.

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QTRAX CONFIRM ALL MAJORS ON BOARD
Ad supported legit P2P network Qtrax has told the New York Post it now has agreements with all four of the major record companies. EMI and Warner had already confirmed they had signed a deal with the new service, but the Post says that both SonyBMG and Universal are now also on board.

It is still not entirely clear to me how the Qtrax service works, except that music is free to access to consumers, with advertisers covering the cost. It is one of a number of advertising funded digital music services in development, and one of a number services hoping to develop a legit business model around the P2P phenomenon.

Although business models like those being developed by Qtrax are more or less untested, Brilliant Technologies are reportedly already considering floating the new service in the near future.

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GROOVE MOBILE PILOT SMS DOWNLOAD SERVICE WITH VODAFONE
Mobile music service provider Groove Mobile has announced it is about to test its first 'off-portal' data service with Vodafone UK which will give people access to music downloads via SMS codes (rather than going to a portal on the mobile internet) but without incurring the extra air time cost of doing the download which some other SMS enabled download services suffer from. The Vodafone service will give users of that network access to downloads from the SonyBMG catalogue.

Vodafone's Strategic Business Development Manager Ray DeSilva explains: "Rich media services have to an extent been held back by complicated pricing in the past, something that Vodafone is addressing. Vodafone is undertaking a three month trial with Groove Mobile aiming to stimulate 'off portal' downloads by simplifying the payment process. Additional details on plans for further roll out will be provided once we have received the results of the trial".

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VODAFONE REPORTEDLY IN TALKS RE IPHONE
More Vodafone, and word has it the mobile network might be about to sign a potentially lucrative deal with Apple to have exclusive rights to the much hyped iPhone in Europe. Which would be quite a coup for Vodafone, making the least cool of the phone networks potentially appeal to a whole new audience of high spend early adopters. Well, I say Vodafone is the 'least cool' phone network. The original Cellnet was arguably uncooler, but then they rebranded as the almost cool O2. One To One was probably the coolest phone network, for a time, before it rebranded as the soulless T Mobile. Which probably makes Vodaphone the second least cool phone network at present. Until it launches the iPhone, then I reckon it will be second coolest. Do you ever think I think about mobile phone branding just a little bit too much?

The iPhone will arrive in the US at the end of the week, there via an exclusivity deal with Cingular, the mobile network that has just finished rebranding itself as AT&T Mobility.

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VIDZONE SIGN UP EMI'S DRM FREE CATALOGUE
EMI has announced a "major licensing and distribution deal" with digital music aggregator VidZoneDigital, which will give them access to the major's whole DRM-free catalogue. As I'm sure we must have reported before, VidZone provide both online and mobile download services, and specialise in integrated online/mobile services.

Confirming the EMI deal, VidZone CTO Michael Russo told reporters: "One of the key factors in providing digital content successfully is the process in which it's consumed. We believe music lovers should be able to access their complete music library from a single account, independent of the platform or retailer they consume from. Together with partners like EMI and its DRM free content, we are now able to deliver music in a format optimised for complete portability and customer satisfaction".

EMI Music UK's Head Of Mobile Sales, David Gould, added: "Ease of access to music is at the heart of this deal. VidZone Digital Media has provided EMI with a strong platform to reach more consumers, more quickly, and taking advantage of EMI's new DRM-free product means the consumer can listen to it in any way they wish".

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PARKY QUITS CHAT SHOW
Michael Parkinson is quitting his ITV1 chat show, which is only music news in that it will mean there are even fewer shots at prime time telly exposure for your middle of the road pop acts. Parkinson announced that the next series of his chat show would be his last yesterday, telling reporters: "After three enjoyable and productive years at ITV, and after 25 years of doing my talk show, I have decided that this forthcoming series will be my last. I'm going to take next year off to write my autobiography and consider other television projects". Parkinson moved to ITV three years ago, of course, in something of a controversial move not at all influenced by pay packet, and all about the later time slot the BBC were proposing for his show (though ITV promptly planted the show in a later timeslot and proceeded to move it around the Saturday night schedule on a weekly basis). Parkinson's BBC chat show originally ran from 1971 to 1982 until his somewhat more disastrous jump to the other side as a founding presenter on the initially unsuccessful TVAM. His chat show had a high profile return to prime time BBC 1 sixteen years later in 1998.

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ABDUL RECKONS IDOL PANEL HER DESTINY
Paula Abdul says that, despite her own chart success ('Opposites Attract' you know - what a tune) she feels her judging role on American Idol was the job she was always destined for. Speaking to OK! mag she says: "I knew since I was a little girl that I had this profound way of touching people. My purpose is bringing out everybody's best and being that cheerleader to other people's success. Being a judge on 'American Idol' overshadows being a Grammy Award winner and selling millions of records". No doubt she's making a whole load more money out of the ratings topping TV how than she ever made from her chart topping pop career.

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TURNER FORMING SUPERGROUP, OR NOT
Arctic Monkey Alex Turner, Klaxon James Righton, Dizzee Rascal and Lily Allen are forming a supergroup. No, really. Actually, no, not really. The Mirror has reported that that little lot are planning on collaborating, quoting Turner thus: "It's definitely happening. We're recording an album. It will be out before you know it". But NME reckons that while Turner may have said that, he was taking the piss. The cheeky Arctic Monkey.

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MCR MAN BRANDS MANSON "TWO-FACED"
My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero has branded Marilyn Manson "two-faced", that's right "two faced". This is serious stuff, obviously. The branding follows Manson's previously reported ramblings in which he said that the song 'Mutilation Is The Most Sincere Form Of Flattery' off new album 'Eat Me, Drink Me' was inspired by MCR, adding: "I'm embarrassed to be me because these people are doing a really sad, pitiful, shallow version of what I've done".

Iero reckons that Manson is "two-faced" because he has always been so "pleasant" to the band whenever they have met in the past, meaning that the sudden outburst against them was something of a surprise. I don't know whether Iero is normally "pleasant" back to Manson, but he wasn't being all that "pleasant" now that the gloves are off.

"The funny thing is" he told reporters this week, "that he seems to have lashed out at us about the make-up. That's weird to me, because I had heard of Alice Cooper before I heard of Marilyn Manson. I don't know how he could be mad at us. We never came out and said we were going to call ourselves by a girl's name and then a serial killer's name. I'm really sorry if he feels we ripped him off. It would have been nice if he could have said something to our faces but he's been all smiles every time I've seen him. Maybe he's doing it for the press. Some people just like to talk".

It's not the first time MCR have responded to Manson's bitchiness, of course. Iero's bandmate Gerard Way told Rock Sound the other week: "If Elvis Costello said we sucked we would think about it a bit, but usually it is comments from someone with a new record to promote so the remarks ring hollow. We still haven't found someone that has knocked us down that we need to take seriously".

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