Being In A Band During The COVID-19 Pandemic Catching Up With Philadelphia's 'Corners Of Sanctuary' July 30th, 2020 • Pandemic Band Interview #33
Metal Pulp And Paper: Hello Mick. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for Metal Pulp And Paper. We appreciate it.
Mick Michaels: Thanks so much for talking with me, it’s good to connect.
MPAP: So, how have you been holding up during this global pandemic and lockdown?
Mick: Overall pretty well. Sure, it has been trying at times, but we are all experiencing much the same. I am very grateful that my family and I are all in good health and we are staying as positive as well can during this time. We hope the same for everyone else.
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?
Mick: We had a lot planned for 2020 for sure. We were scheduled for a UK tour in mid-March…which we actually started but had to cut short as the travel bans were going into effect… all our flights home were canceled and we scrambled for two days to get a return flight back to the US. We managed to do two shows, however, and both were great. We had also been planning a US Southeastern tour for the summer and a West Coast tour for the Fall. All those plans have been nixed of course. We were hoping to cover some serious ground this year touring-wise. But in light of things coming to a halt with regards to performing live, we have remained busy. We released a new EP right before we left for the UK in March titled For COS and Country, we have released a free digi-pack download called Quarantined Lockdown, and have a follow up set of releases coming called The Second Wave which include acoustic versions of several of our songs. We also released a COVID song titled "We Won’t Back Down (Do or Die)" along with releasing five videos, two of which were filmed during our short stay in the UK. And the downtime from touring has given us opportunity to finish work on our next album, Heroes Never Die, which we are hoping releases before the year is out. Plus, we are working on scheduling shows for 2021 that should include us heading back to the UK to finish what we started. We are doing what we can to take advantage of the time, staying positive and looking to keep moving forward.
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?
Mick: I would agree. People’s livelihood, and not just in the music industry, are at stake. Our economy is definitely being rocked by all this. Waiting for a vaccine might be like waiting for and watching paint to dry… it will happen at some point, but depending on the weather, temperature, type of paint, etc… so it could be awhile… in the meantime, options and alternatives need to be explored. My uncle would always say, "where there is a will, there is a way." And I’m sure our great minds of today will figure something out, otherwise it may be a free for all as people grow more and more impatient waiting to get back to 'normal.' Look at Sweden, they might be an example to start with…
MPAP: The experts warn there will be no moshing or crowdsurfing when concerts finally return. (Laughing) Who are these experts, and obviously they have never attended a metal music show, right? They say moshing and crowdsurfing 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 crowdsurfing?
Mick: Absolutely. Besides, at my age, moshing and crowdsurfing are avoided at all costs… that’s a young man’s game. But, yes, I am sure of it. If fans want to experience music and their favorite bands to get back to touring and performing live, then some level of modification will need to be made. It won’t be forever… nothing is forever… except death and taxes… LOL. It really is a matter of knowing what’s important… and for most of us it’s being able to see your favorite bands live and experience the music.
MPAP: Do you think the fans will even follow those rules?
Mick: If they respect what the music stands for and what their favorite artists and bands do and represent, then I would hope so. But history has shown time and time again, that we as humans have a very difficult time following rules.
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?
Mick: Staying busy. We have found that by staying busy we have remained positive for the most part. Content has become king in a world where you can’t leave your house. So, if you can’t tour, a band’s greatest asset is the content they create and the catalog they build. Digital technology has made music making a far easier task. This too shall pass, and we as artists need to be ready. We have been given a chance to take some steps forward… to get a fresh perspective and maybe a needed fresh start… so when the time comes, we can hit the ground at full sprint mode. We also were involved in the COVID, multi-artist initiative called Hear ‘n Now. A collection of Rock and Metal artists got together and released a song. The project included Steve Grimmett of Grim Reaper, Patrick Kennison from Lita Ford’s band, Ed Miscke of Veronica Freeman’s band, Bill Metoyer and Corners Of Sanctuary, among others. It was really cool to be a part of the project. I was given the opportunity to write and produce the track, "No Road to Ruin." It was an amazing experience. The song is available for free through Heaven and Hell Records and Keep it Metal Promotions as a way to give hope and demonstrate that if we stand together, we can always overcome. Any donations collected are being given to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and their Global Relief Fund.
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 and businesses are during this pandemic?
Mick: I think some bands are going to find it difficult to start up again, especially if they have completely shut down during this pandemic. If, as an artist or band, you have a name or a product people want, there will always be a place for you. For the rest of us, who are still trying to carve out that crumb of a pie slice, it will be more difficult but no different than it was before the pandemic. It’s all a matter of how you look at it and what you are willing to do or endure to make things happen. As far as general businesses across our nation, sadly, many will not survive and it truly is a depressing thought. Many businesses work year to year, season to season, and quarter to quarter. Businesses for some are just a regular job that helps pay the bills. They are just doing it for themselves rather than with a big company or corporation. Not all business owners are millionaires. Owning a business is far more than that, and having the ability to own your own business and be self-sufficient, self-made and determine for yourself what success is, is what this country is all about. That is part of the American way, and unfortunately, that was taken away from us. So, yes, many will not survive. I think Lzzy will be alright, however.
MPAP: Other than not being able to play live music and go out on tour, how else has the coronavirus affected you?
Mick: It has done what it has done to everyone, separated us from the people we love and care about. The isolation part, the lack of physical interaction part, for those of us who still believe in that, has been the toughest I feel. Some people feel all alone. Aside from the virus and how it has taken lives, there will be a lasting effect felt long after things have gone back to 'normal,' something that will be felt not only here in the US, but worldwide. It’s gonna take some time ‘til people feel comfortable again being around others, because at the moment it is considered otherwise.
MPAP: 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, Mick, for doing this interview.
Mick: Thanks again for talking with me, it was a pleasure. I wish everyone well. Please take care and be safe!
MPAP: 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?