Being In A Band During The COVID-19 Pandemic Catching Up With New Jersey's 'Overkill' July 2nd, 2020 • Pandemic Band Interview #27
Metal Pulp And Paper: Hello Jason. 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?
Jason Bittner: Hanging in there taking it day by day, keeping active working on new Overkill demos and online collaborations.
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?
Jason: You also forgot for us Rush fans, that Neil Peart, my personal friend, passed right on my 50th birthday, so my year started out crappy to begin with. We had tours and festival planned, but obviously that has changed.
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?
Jason: For financial reasons, yes, he’s right; for ethical reasons, no, he’s not. I wouldn’t want to put myself or any of the fans in jeopardy in order to play a show! And I really can’t say when I think we will be playing live again.
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?
Jason: No, not in my opinion
MPAP: Do you think the fans will even follow those rules?
Jason: Who knows, I would hope so.
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?
Jason: Making quarantine videos and live streaming.
MPAP: Lzzy Hale, frontwoman for the American 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?
Jason: I think some will, depends on the levels of success they already have, and their fan bases. Overkill in my opinion will not be one of these bands. I think, and hope, we will be here until we can’t stand on stage anymore.
MPAP: Other than not being able to play live music and go out on tour, how else has the coronavirus affected you?
Jason: It’s difficult to do the same thing every day it seems, let’s leave it at that.
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, Jason, for doing this interview.
Jason: Thank you.
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?
Jason: I’ll stay holed up in my studio where I already am!