Being In A Band During The COVID-19 Pandemic Catching Up With New York's 'The U.$. American$' May 25th, 2020 • Pandemic Band Interview #7
Metal Pulp And Paper: Hello Jeff. 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?
Jeff Weiss: Hanging in there. We recently started getting back together for rehearsals, so that's been nice. We have enough material to record a second album and we're gonna start working on that in the next couple of weeks. This is following about two months of inactivity. That wasn't my favorite, but what can you do, right?
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?
Jeff: We had a lot of shows on the books that we had to either postpone or cancel outright. So far, it's been at least 20. Probably closer to 25. That's not easy for a band like ours because the shows are what keeps us going emotionally, as well as financially. We were looking forward to hitting a few states for the first time and a few new different cities in states we've played before as well. We've had plans to record new material, and in a perfect world, we'd be done already, but things are starting to open up slowly here in NY and we'll get into the studio soon enough.
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 two 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?
Jeff: Sammy Hagar isn't someone that lives in the real world. He's a boomer, he's in Hawaii, he's got a tequila company, he hangs out with Guy Fieri, he can't drive 55... That's not the guy I would be looking to for leadership in this situation. Do I think it's time to start making plans for live music to come back? Absolutely. But you have to be smart about things. Sports have been coming back slowly, bars and restaurants are coming back slowly, and I think we can safely start phasing music back in as well. Drive in shows, socially distanced shows in theatres, singer/songwriters playing in bars that are working at 50% capacity or less... I think these are things that can realistically start taking place in the next few weeks/months.
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?
Jeff: Look, I'm not a teenager anymore. This you can't have blank without blank stuff doesn't really register for me. Things are gonna be strange for a little while until they can go back to the way they were. We've all gotta just grin and bear it. I think at this point, after the last 8 weeks, we should all be happy with whatever we're getting honestly.
MPAP: Do you think the fans even follow those rules?
Jeff: Some will, some won't. That's the way it is, that's the way it's always been. Some people are a little more full of piss and vinegar than others.
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?
Jeff: We released a video of our headline show at the Gramercy Theatre from last August. It's up on our Youtube page. We have some shirts and vinyl for sale if anyone wants to hit us up on Instagram or Facebook. Luckily for us, we did pretty well last year as far as our live shows go so 2-3 months off isn't gonna kill us, but we're definitely feeling it. Like I said before, the live shows are our bread and butter.
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 a lot of restaurants are during this pandemic?
Jeff: Yea, definitely. That's one of the unfortunate realities of this situation. It's not so black and white either. A lot of smaller venues aren't gonna make it and a lot of smaller bands aren't gonna have stages to play on. A lot of it depends where you’re based out of and whether or not you're touring as well. Some states are gonna be out of this a lot faster than others. I think here in New York, a lot of bands aren't gonna make it. 90% of the bands here play a local gig once every 6 weeks and that's it. It's gonna be hard for bands like that to make it out of this.
MPAP: Well, that wraps things up. 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, Jeff, for doing this interview. One last question before we bring this to a close. Are you prepared for the murder hornets? Geez, we are only halfway through the year, so far, can only imagine what's next, right?
Jeff: I live in Manhattan. Those things apparently aren't gonna be making it to the big cities. I think we'll be alright. I don't know about you or anyone else, but I feel some kind of shift in the collective consciousness and the way this virus is being talked about over the last 10 days or so. It feels like we've turned a corner. We'll see. I'm cautiously optimistic. Thanks, Geoff, and hopefully we'll see you at a show soon.