Being In A Band During The COVID-19 Pandemic Catching Up With Pennsylvania's 'From Ashes To New' July 21st, 2020 • Pandemic Band Interview #29
Metal Pulp And Paper: Hello Matt. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for Metal Pulp And Paper. We appreciate it. So, how have you been holding up during this global pandemic and lockdown?
Matt Brandyberry: I guess I could say pretty well, given the circumstances. Taking one day at a time and trying not to dive too deep down the social media rabbit hole, haha.
MPAP: 2020, the year when almost every concert or music festival has been postponed or canceled until 2021. And 2020 was supposed to be the year of some big reunions. Everyone was excited to see the Rage Against The Machine and the My Chemical Romance tours. So, let's back up and go over the first five months of 2020, the beginning of a new decade. There was the possibility of World War III happening. There were deadly bushfires in Australia. Then we had the acquittals in the Trump impeachment trials. Prince Harry and Meghan decided to step away from the royal family, and NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and his daughter, along with seven others, unfortunately, died in a helicopter crash in California. The deadly worldwide COVID-19 virus. And then, get this, we even had the Pentagon officially releasing UFO videos. So, what did you have planned for the year before all this madness began? Before all the toilet paper hoarding?
Matt: What a year it as been. Just think, we are only half way through it haha! 2020 was supposed to be our biggest year yet, and I still believe it will. Touring ended in March, but we have found other ways to keep ourselves busy and ascending during the downtime. Our album release is still happening, and we are still hopeful that touring will continue before this year is over. I wasn't aware that the Pentagon released UFO vids… checking that out immediately after this interview lol!
MPAP: This coronavirus has been devastating to everyone around the globe. By mid-March, the coronavirus pandemic had brought the multibillion-dollar concert industry to a screeching halt. Now months later, Sammy Hagar, from The Circle, ex Van Halen, says concerts can't wait for a COVID-19 vaccine. Of course, every band wants their fans to be safe, but when your only source of a major income is concerts, it hurts when you have to postpone or cancel a tour. A vaccine could take 12 to 18 months. Do you think he's right for saying concerts can't wait any longer?
Matt: My opinion wouldn't matter in this either way. It's not up to me to decide, but up to the experts to help guide our decisions. I will say that America is a free country, so ultimately, it should be at the patrons' discretion for attending if the industry were to plan to move forward. I don't think there is enough data for anyone to have a valid argument.
MPAP: The experts warn there will be no moshing or crowd surfing when concerts finally return. (Laughing) Who are these experts, and obviously they have never attended a metal music show, right? They say moshing, and crowd surfing are violations of social distancing and must be absolutely prohibited during this pandemic. What are your thoughts? Can you have a metal show with no moshing and crowd surfing?
Matt: Man, that's a tough one. I've certainly seen shows that didn't have these, but they didn't seem like the experience everyone is looking for. I think it's a perfect opportunity to charge for inflatable ball rides over the crowd… like an amusement park ride, haha!
MPAP: Do you think the fans will even follow those rules?
Matt: I think it will be exactly what we have seen throughout this entire process. Some will follow and enforce, while others will do the exact opposite. I think it's important to remember that we are all trying to get past this in the best way we see fit as individuals, and we should respect the decisions of others that are trying to remain as safe as possible.
MPAP: With the exception of a megaband like Metallica, or even Iron Maiden, the coronavirus is hitting most musicians pretty hard. What have you or your band been doing to get through this crisis?
Matt: It sure has! We have been doing covers remotely and releasing them to our fans via social media. It has been hard, but our fans have our backs, and for that, we are grateful.
MPAP: Lzzy Hale, frontwoman for the rock band Halestorm, recently posted on her social media, saying, 'most bands won't make it out of this.' Do you agree with this? Do you think some bands will go out of business like many restaurants are during this pandemic?
Matt: I'm sure some bands will decide to 'hang it up,' but if they share the same love for music that most of us in the industry do, they will be back at it as soon as they can. It's definitely financially difficult for some, so it may have to compete with whatever occupation they acquire in the interim. I'm hopeful that everyone will be able to get back to doing what they love!
MPAP: Other than not being able to play live music and go out on tour, how else has the coronavirus affected you?
Matt: I believe it has affected the social aspect of not just mine, but everyone's lives. There is a huge divide that's happening, and it's unsettling to see so many people attacking each other. Many things have changed from this virus, but the passing of my grandmother really hit hard. My grandmother was labeled a COVID-19 case. She fell ill from the virus. An 87-year-old woman with type 1 diabetes was written off and given zero chance. She battled for a few days and began to make a come around, but the other decisions that were put in place during the process put the odds against her. I am living proof that everything we see and/or hear is not the full story. This virus is truly terrible in many more ways than one.
MPAP: Thank you for sharing that story with us. Very sad. We hope this all ends soon, and we can all get back to a venue and watch some good live music while having an overpriced beer. We hope you stay safe and stay healthy. On behalf of myself, and Metal Pulp And Paper, thank you, Matt, for doing this interview. One last question before we bring this to a close. Are you prepared for the murder hornets that have recently entered the U.S.? Geez, we are only halfway through the year, so far, can only imagine what's next, right?
Matt: I will punch every murder hornet in the face!