‘Animaniacs’ Voice Actor Jess Harnell Explains Why His Metal Mash-Up Band Got Sued
Modern technology has allowed for just about anyone to create mash-ups of different songs, but actually performing them is a different story. Rock Sugar is a band fronted by Animaniacs voice actor Jess Harnell that combines hard rock and metal songs with pop anthems, and they're so spot-on they've actually been wrongfully sued.
"One day we were talking and I said, 'You know what'd be really funny? If there was this band from like the '80s, like a Def Leppard or a Poison or something, and they got shipwrecked at the end of the '80s, and they got brainwashed because all they had to listen to for 20 years was pop hits from the '80s,'" he explained.
"And they got brainwashed into thinking metal was pop and pop was metal."
The exampled Harnell came up with was a combination of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" — "Don't Stop the Sandman."
The video became so popular on YouTube that they started receiving offers to play live. They eventually made an album of mash-up creations called Reimaginator, which came out in 2010.
"We got sued because one of the singers I imitate... I guess the impression was a little bit too close, because he actually thought that it was his voice. He thought we sampled his voice without permission," Harnell recalled. "So we had to go to court with this dude and prove, using forensic audio tracks, that it was me singing and not him. But it created so much complication that we can no longer sell the music online to people."
The judge in the case deemed the recording "misleading to the public" as it would make them believe it was actually the singer Harnell was imitating.
"It's a strange thing when the person who made you wanna be a singer sues you to make you stop singing," he added.
To hear Harnell's Ozzy Osbourne impression and more about Rock Sugar, listen to the full interview above. You can also check out their latest mash-up "Shout at the Devil Dog All Night" below, which is a combination of "Shout" by Tears for Fears, "Shout at the Devil" by Motley Crue, "Up All Night" by Slaughter and "Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin.
Rock Sugar - "Shout at the Devil Dog All Night"