Artists across the world are bunkering down to a life at home amidst eternal pyjamas and stay at home comforts, with no real end in sight and the chance of all summer festivals in 2020 happening being near enough zero, we spoke to five more of our favourite bands from across the globe about how COVID-19 has impacted them personally.
FEET - England
Off the back of their debut album What’s Inside Is More Than Just Ham released last year, FEET were destined to continue their lengthy touring schedule, however, that hasn't stopped the band becoming content machines in the wake of global madness.
When asked about engaging with their audience, Feet say: “Fortunately we’ve got the resources at our home to be able to create lots of different types of content: new music, live videos, anything that can allow for an insight into our lives and the operation of the band. We’re confident we can keep the people interested.”
“Keeping busy is obviously essential, finding new things to occupy your time with. Being stuck in your flat, bound to your Instagram feed isn’t going to stimulate the mind much. So as well as writing a host of new songs that we don’t consider utterly terrible just yet - we’ve so far dabbled in excessive cooking, reading, life drawing, trying to learn just a little of another language. We’ve not driven each other utterly mental just yet.”
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Impacts of the virus go further than just live shows stopping, FEET, who currently live in the same house, describe the experience of living together: “Well this situation won’t be one that any of us planned for, so I imagine we’re dealing with it in different ways. When sometimes the days appear longer, and the walls closer together, it’s always healthy to reconcile, bond over an episode.”
“The nature of the virus and the consequences that have followed has made it quite a lot harder to exist as a band. When there’s nothing on the horizon except uncertainty, motivating one another can be almost impossible at times. Day by day I think our coping mechanisms are beginning to appear. “
Joe & The Shitboys - Faroe Islands
“I work as a healthcare worker when I'm not a punk rock megastar.” Based in the Faroe Islands, life is very different for one of the country’s only punk bands, Joe & The Shitboys.
“In the Faroese music scene, there is no real distinction between people just starting out and people who’ve ‘made it’. Guys like us who play punk, have to hang out with people who play electro-pop, or else we have no other friends,” says guitarist Ziggy Shit. “We won the Faroese Music Awards Artist of the Year then immediately everything went on lockdown. So we couldn’t play the celebration show - the whole showroom was instead empty, we accepted our reward, and they showed a pre-recorded performance.”
Vocalist Joe describes how the Faroe Islands reacted to the news, and what it means for their summer plans: “We were pretty good at closing things down, we’ve had like one new case in the past week, we’re down to seven or eight infected and we’ve had no deaths. Around less than 100 infected in total. The problem is people from Denmark usually come in late-May, and they think that they may bring the virus then.”
“So far most of our gigs in August are cancelled, we expect that for festivals too. The festival season won’t be a thing this summer. We were lucky enough for our May gigs to be postponed until October, so our headline gigs are postponed. I think everyone’s trying to take this year off now, I’m guessing all the bookers and festival bookers are just saying, how about next year, right?” Ziggy adds: “I can also imagine a lot of those festivals will be scaling down because they won’t have any money this year.”
Belako - Spain
Like many other artists breaking through right now, Belako were one of the unlucky acts caught in the uncertainty surrounding SXSW in Austin, Texas.
“We just landed in New York for a tour there when Trump announced the suspension of flights coming from Europe, so we had to come back home two days after, and got home in time for the quarantine. At least we could play a showcase in the Lower East Side thanks to the New Colossus Festival because they changed the slot for us to have time to play.”
We asked Belako how the virus had been impacted their release schedule: “After one month of staying home away from each other, we can say we have at least made the most of the situation. As we are about to release our new album, Plastic Drama, we have been working every day on promoting it, sharing a new single every Friday and doing quarantine covers of the songs. The only good thing to come from this situation is that people will listen to the new songs before watching us play them, and the reactions have been great so far. So we are busy enough not to go nuts during this quarantine.”
Innovation is easy to find with every artist taking to Instagram live streams to showcase what they can. “There are so many things going on right now on the internet, and as we said we've been working every day on creating content for our social networks, performing songs from our confinement, but we try not to be online more than necessary. We've seen friends like Hinds sharing tutorials of their songs, and that is a nice idea for sure.”
“If it takes longer than expected, maybe we could stream a real live show (instead of long-distance unplugged songs) but that takes a lot of work for the sound to work properly so we will see about that. People seem to be very interested by this personal dimension we are showing these days and though we can't help the feeling of 'oversharing' sometimes, feedback is always great so we plan to go on like this during this crazy situation we are all in.”
A.Swayze & The Ghosts - Australia
Opening up about the reaction to the pandemic, A. Swayze & The Ghosts’ frontman Andrew Swayze says: “I’m fucking scared about it, our band was in a position where we were really up and coming quite fast. A big draw to our band is our live performance, not being able to do the live side of things is a real impedance. We’re in a pretty good position, we’ve still got music to come out and financially we’re quite secure compared to other bands that we know. We had this tour booked ahead of knowing we can’t leave, but we didn’t sink a lot of money into that. Another year is a long time to lose momentum in people's eyes and ears.”
With the new-found freedom, many artists are using their time in a multitude of ways. Swayze tells us the different ways he has been coming to grips with the free time: “I’ve felt better than I have in a long time, I think I needed a catalyst to lay down and stop in life, although I'm concerned with the future and how our band is going to move forward, I'm really enjoying sleeping in and not being overly social. I’ve also been writing lots of new music at home, making lots of things, exercising, making food and all of that simple sort of stuff. It’s really funny as my wife and I moved into my mother's house so we can save some money to move to the US, so we’re currently stuck at mum’s indefinitely. It’s very strange being stuck in lockdown with your mum, and your wife.”
Fortunately, A.Swayze and the Ghosts are adapting to their new surroundings with bursts of productivity. “We all have recording software to work on, so we can continue writing music despite everything. I’m about to start a graphic design course online and learn some more skills on art, we’re just going to continue indefinitely and re-educate ourselves and try and get something out of that. I really enjoy that side of things, the visual side of our music is a big thing for me.”
“We were still holding onto the idea that we can still tour, then one day a festival we were meant to be playing in the US got cancelled then we thought ‘Nah, we’re not going anywhere’, which is when the sad reality hit. The bookers were pretty much keeping us updated hour by hour, I feel a lot for the bookers who have already sunk a lot of money into it.”
Ada Lea - Canada
Indie artist Adi Lea was also due to play America’s prestigious SXSW Festival, which offers a global networking hub through live showcases. We spoke to her about how COVID-19 impacted her travel plans. “The only thing that really affected the touring side of things was at the beginning when SXSW was cancelled, as I was already in the states, so I was going to go there. But I guess my goals for the next couple of months would have just been to write new music for my new album, so there wasn't much touring planned already. I also had summer festivals that had been cancelled, overall, the main thing is the social aspect. It’s pretty hard to stay home and be inspired to write when there is crazy stuff happening all over the world. It feels like you’re cut off from society.”
“It was actually someone at my Canadian label that said SXSW was cancelled. It was the day before, and one of my friends was like ‘ do you think SXSW will be cancelled?’ and I was like ‘no fucking way. It’s such a big thing, they’re not going to cancel it for COVID’, I didn’t think it was real. You make plans pretty quickly after that, I booked tickets home straight away. When the festival was cancelled there was still talk about unofficial showcases still happening, and people still going down. I still wanted to play shows, so I was considering going for the unofficial ones, but in the end those were cancelled too.”
Ada Lea adds: “When Bandcamp waived the fees, I had some time on my hands so I made it when anyone pre-ordered the album, they were also able to get a print, which took a while to package and decide which prints to send where. I definitely wouldn’t have done that before because you usually have so much time on your hands.”
Blogs and music websites alike are providing free stay-at-home alternatives to festivals and shows. Ada also says: “I think everyone is reacting to it the ways they feel comfortable reacting. I’m seeing a lot of people are posting about the blogs feeling like they’ve been taken advantage of yet again, because in the end it’s a free service they’re offering, it’s a promotion to the blogs and nothing gets redirected to the artists. I’ve seen more and more of that in the past few days.”
Now we’re set on month two without a physical gig, it’s becoming clear that this Autumn could have the busiest release schedule of all time.