Car Seat Headrest’s Teens of Denial Physical Release Derailed by, of All People, Ric Ocasek

Music News Car Seat Headrest

There’s a silly Car Seat Headrest/The Cars pun to be made here, but we’re in no mood to make it: the physical release of Car Seat Headrest’s much-anticipated Teens of Denial has been delayed to “sometime in July” because Ric Ocasek, lead singer of The Cars, took issue with a “Just What I Needed” sample Car Seat Headrest, aka Will Toledo, had used on the album. The song in question is being reworked, while thousands of Teens of Denial LPs and CDs have been recalled, and will be destroyed.

Fortunately, the album will still see its digital release next week, as planned. But this is still a bummer for those of us who 1) love us some Car Seat Headrest and 2) prefer our music in the form of an actual, physical object. Call us old-fashioned, or just trust Toledo when he says, “It does sound GREAT on vinyl.” But Toledo is maintaining a positive outlook on the situation, noting, “Most of my music only exists online anyways, so it makes sense that this album should start the same way.”

Matador Records, also, are maintaining a great sense of humor about the whole thing, joking around in their email announcement:

We were so inspired by Radiohead and Beyoncé’s recent success with surprise albums outta-the-blue that we decided to do the REVERSE with Car Seat Headrest’s hotly anticipated Teens Of Denial; instead, we’re pulling the LP and CD versions from circulation on the eve of the album’s release.

The label’s official legal statement explains how exactly this foul-up went down:

The release date for the Car Seat Headrest album Teens of Denial has been pushed back from May 20 to later in the summer due to a recall of physical product, so that a song containing elements of a composition by Ric Ocasek (of The Cars) could be removed and replaced. Matador had negotiated for a license in good faith months ago, only to be told last week that the publisher involved was not authorized to complete the license in the United States, and that Ric Ocasek preferred that his work not be included in the song. Matador regrets that it was not informed of this much earlier, and has made changes to respect Mr. Ocasek’s wishes.

And Toledo himself penned a lengthy, even-keeled letter on the situation, which he describes as “not a freak-out scenario”:

Life happens and sometimes not in ideal ways. If you’ve heard anything about the new album, then you’re probably aware that one of its songs made use of The Cars song “Just What I Needed.” Now, obviously, when we called the record ‘done’ and sent it off to be printed, we were working in full confidence that we had the legal side of it all worked out. We found out last week that this was not the case. I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty of email chains and invested parties; suffice it to say that Matador (and I) were neither pulling a Banksy nor operating in ignorance of the law, but that we truly believed we had the issue resolved months ago, until last week.

As you may have heard, vinyl is being pulled from stores right now. There’s a total recall out, and all copies with the original version of the song will be destroyed. Nevertheless, Teens of Denial WILL COME OUT ON MAY 20TH, at least digitally. I spent the last 48 hours working on an alternate cut of the track, which is now called “Not What I Needed”. It’s not merely an edit – it is its own thing, about half a minute longer than the original track, and goes in a much different direction. Honestly, despite the apparent clusterfuck, I had fun doing it, and I think it’s a stronger song now. In any case I’ve grown up accustomed to working on an album right up to its drop date, so this is not a freak-out scenario for me. The album is going to come out on time and it’s going to be good.

The physical release will not come out on time, obviously. We’ll likely see a street date of sometime in July. I’m very sorry to everyone who was anticipating a preorder (it does sound GREAT on vinyl). It will be in your hands eventually. But it was very important to me that we keep the digital release for May. We’ve all been waiting long enough. Most of my music only exists online anyways, so it makes sense that this album should start the same way.

Thanks for your continued support, and I am very excited for this fucking record to come out already.

-Will Toledo aka Car Seat Headrest

Meanwhile, in what feels almost like sacrilege, thousands of copies of the album await demolition:


Teens of Denial is out digitally on May 20, no thanks to Ric Ocasek. Physical copies are out in July. You can preorder it here.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin