The Titus Andronicus vs. Kurt Vile Twitter War (and Peace)

Last week, a Twitter war of sorts broke out between Patrick Stickles of North Jersey punk-rock band Titus Andronicus and Philadelphia's own hirsute guitar-rock hero Kurt Vile.

Or at least, Stickles, who's the bearded fellow with Abraham Lincoln on his shirt in a photo I snapped when I interviewed him at SXSW last year, went out of his way to tweet his displeasure with Vile letting his song "Baby's Arms" be used in a commercial by Bank of America, the financial institution much vilified of late for their (recently retracted) plan to bill account holders an extra $5 a month for using their debit cards.


In a series of tweets let loose by the never at a loss for words Stickles on Thursday after being treated at Long Island Hospital for a 200 volt electric shock he received during band practice, he announced that he was "two hundred volts high! I feel like putting someone I love on the #S---LIST."

That someone turned out to be Vile, who was then excoriated in a series of less than 140 character salvos in which Stickles explained that a perceived betrayal by Vile hurt him so bad because he loves the Philadelphia guitarist and his excellent second album, Smoke Rings For My Halo, so much. To wit, "Come on, Kurt Vile, yr a million times better than that" and ""if it is real, then you get to get real, man. I thought you were like, the best dude in music!"

Vile, whose only previous tweet had was a one-word celebration in 2009 when he was first signed to Matador, then took to Twitter to respond, and quite successfully put a soon-to-be-contrite Stickles in his place. "Sorry Titus," KV tweeted. "I did it to be like the carpenters.and to buy my daughter high end diapers .... and to pay back my publishing advance. and because I never cared about that sorta thing." 

Chastened, Stickles soon retreated with his tail between his legs, lesson learned. "A lot of times, people will open their mouth to talk about someone else, like they can know another people's business ... " he charmingly, face-savingly typed. "but they usually do it because they are feeling insecure or threatened or vulnerable about their own selves...."

The leader of Titus Andronicus, who's 2010 The Monitor was on my list of the 10 best albums of 2010, then put on his critic's hat and correctly stated that Vile "blessed us with one of this year's best with 'Smoke Ring for my Halo.' Heavy rotation in the Titus Vandronicus for months," and opined that Vile "is the new Tom Petty/ I'm just petty." 

Speaking of Vile, his new EP So Outta Reach, which features a ripping cover of fellow Titus crush object Bruce Springsteen's "Downbound Train," comes out today. The EP is also available as part of a package deal with a deluxe version of Smoke Ring, which also is released today.

Vile and his excellently named band the Violators headline Union Transfer on Saturday, with Blues Control and Far-Out Fangtooth opening. Check out "Downbound Train," recorded live this April at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, here. The "Baby's Arms" video is below. Thanks to Pitchfork and Steve Klinge for this.

Previously: Review: Tony Bennett at the Academy of Music Follow In the Mix on Twitter here