A Portland-based band called the Domestics have put themselves at the center of controversy after a viral campaign inspired by President Donald Trump’s battle with former FBI director James Comey backfired. In order to promote their upcoming album Little Darkness, they sent out 63 cassettes entitled Trump / Comey Recordings and included return addresses for extreme right organizations the KKK, Westboro Baptist Church and InfoWars – giving some recipients the impression that they’d been sent a package by an anti-Semitic group.

The backlash began after it was suggested that the cassettes had been sent anonymously to Jewish industry operatives only. The tape contained samples from Little Darkness along with clips of Trump and another person speaking in Russian. When recipients followed a supplied link to a website, they saw a Russian flag, a human eye and an email address including the phrase “xkeyscore” – the name of a powerful NSA snooping system.

One recipient shared a photo of a cassette on Facebook and wrote: “Even though the postage shows that it was sent from Portland, the PO box listed as the return address is for the Westboro Baptist Church. My friend – who is Jewish, like me – Googled the return address on theirs and it was for the KKK. In fact, everyone I know who has received this tape is Jewish. Music friends: have any of you received this tape? Should I be scared? I'm feeling a bit unnerved. And they say anti-Semitism is dead.”

Saying that the cassettes had been sent out before the shocking events in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend, the Domestics frontman Michael Finn told Paste: “I’m a little bit of a mess at the moment. The idea, in its original incarnation, was just to get our record out to people in a unique, different way. The element about the return addresses being marked from these different hate groups is actually something that was made known to me very recently.

“No one in the band had any role in the decision of who to send it to, when to send it, packaging, or really anything. This was really with our permission, exercised by the label. I wish the return address hadn’t even been put on it. It was just such a small part of the big picture of what we were trying to do. It’s caused a lot of confusion and understandably so.”

The band’s record label and management said in a statement: “Our intention with the project was to troll the right wing media into briefly thinking they were getting the actual Trump / Comey tapes. We had hoped that right wing media would write about it wondering what it was, and in turn be writing about a viral campaign the band was pulling off.

“There is a rumor going around that these tapes were only mailed to Jewish music writers, this is definitely false. Religion has absolutely nothing to do with this project or who we sent the tapes to. Both the label head, the band’s manager, and many people involved with the release are proudly Jewish.

“Given the current political climate, we can see how people could be put off by this project without knowing the facts about it. Our intention was not to offend anyone by sending them a tape, it was to pique interest in the band’s upcoming album.”

In their own statement the Domestics said: “We knew people would fairly immediately know it was not an actual highly-classified tape of the President and former FBI director, but the hope is it would be weird and timely enough to cause them to dig a little deeper and eventually be led back to our new record, which is exactly what happened.

“Today it blew up, and our inbox was flooded with emails asking if we were behind the tapes and for our comments. There was talks of reports being made to the FBI about these actually being the real tapes, which was hilarious and exciting for me to witness.”

Emphasising that the tapes had been posted before the Charlottesville events, the band added: “The claim that we could have intentionally targeted Jewish individuals with this made my stomach churn so I wanted to clear that up immediately, especially in light of all the devastatingly sad hate, racism and violence that has infected this last week.”

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