"Kaiser Thiefs" - Sturmey-Archer attacks Leeds band for "blatantly copying" logo
Artwork for group's forthcoming album apparently inspired by bike component brand's packaging
One of the British cycling industry's oldest brands, Sturmey-Archer, has accused Leeds-based post-punk band The Kaiser Chiefs of "blatantly copying" its logo and packaging design for the cover of its forthcoming album, as well as for its revamped website. The band says it wanted to "pay homage to the legacy of Sturmey Archer" and it did not intend to upset the company.
As the picture above shows, there do appear to be striking similarities between the artwork for the Sturmey-Archer packaging and that for the album Education, Education, Education & War, which will be released next month.
What some might see as an affectionate tribute to a brand with more than 110 years of history behind it hasn't gone down well at Sturmey-Archer, however. Indeed, you could be forgiven for thinking their first reaction on learning of the album cover was, "Oh my God, I can't believe it."
The now Taiwanese-owned company's general manager, Alan Clarke, said: "I have worked for the company for more than 40 years and I have never known anything quite as blatant as this.
"We are used to this sort of thing from backstreet suppliers but did not expect it from such a big band.
"They did not even contact us up front and they have not responded to questions posed since we were alerted by customers."
He added: "A customer has suggested that the band should be re-named Kaiser Thiefs - which might not be grammatically correct but does reflect how we now feel."
In a statement sent to road.cc, the band said: "The lyrics of our new album Education, Education, Education & War look into Britain's past and our designer has deliberately created artwork that references Britain's Heritage.
"We hoped to pay homage to the legacy of Sturmey Archer and by using this design we did not expect, nor did we intend to upset them."
From Andy Warhol's Brillo Box scupltures and Campbell's Soup tin paintings through to album covers such as Procul Harum's A Salty Dog, inspired by the design of Player's Navy Cut cigarettes, artists have long taken inspiration from the world of commerce, and even cinema.
The process works in reverse, too, with advertisers often borrowing from art to plug their wares - in 2005, Nike apologised to Washington DC punk band Minor Threat and its record label after the sportswear giant publicised a skateboarding tour with a poster that lifted text and imagery from a 1981 album cover.
Album covers and the like clearly inspired by something else tend to be viewed as a "pastiche," defined by Oxford Dictionaries as "an artistic work in a style that imitates that of another work, artist, or period," and such artwork deemed as fair use.
Nor are Kaiser Chiefs the first band to have been inspired by bicycle componentry - the name of 1990s indie dance band Campag Velocet [sic] was inspired by the Campagnolo Veloce groupset.
Kaiser Chiefs' own name was taken from the South African football club Kaizer Chiefs, where former Leeds United captain Lucas Radebe had started his career.
Tribute, homage, pastiche or blatant rip-off - let us know your favourites from the world of music and beyond in the comments below, and if there's a cycling link, so much the better.