Being In A Band During The COVID-19 Pandemic Catching Up With Michigan's 'Upon Wings' June 7th, 2020 • Pandemic Band Interview #18
r Metal Pulp And Paper: Hello Anne. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for Metal Pulp And Paper. We appreciate it.
Anne Erickson: Thank you for the interview Metal Pulp and Paper! It's a pleasure!
MPAP: So, how have you been holding up during this global pandemic and lockdown?
Anne: I've been hanging in! It's definitely been a crazy time in the world. If someone had told me in December that everyone would be in this position right now in 2020 – with this pandemic and everything that goes with it, including no concerts – I wouldn't have believed them. It's such a surreal experience. I feel like I'm in a sci-fi/horror movie.
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?
Anne: It seems like the apocalypse, right?! You mentioned the toilet paper hoarding—the other day, I was so excited to get a Lysol spray, and it was just so funny to think about how Lysol spray could bring such joy, haha. For this year, Upon Wings had planned to release our new rock single in the spring, followed by an EP. When coronavirus hit, we decided to hold on the rock single, it just didn't seem appropriate, and instead, we recorded a special version of "Amazing Grace," as well as a music video, with music by Corey Lowery of Seether. You can see it on our YouTube page and at UponWings.com. We're still planning to release the rock single and EP this year, but no shows for the foreseeable future!
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?
Anne: I understand his frustration. Not being able to have any mass gatherings and concerts is a difficult way to live, especially if that's your main source of income. If you think about it, even if today they said, 'Arena-sized concerts can come back', if there's no vaccine and people are divided on the safety of it, a good number of people won't go anyway. In that sense, even bringing concerts back won't bring the numbers back until the majority of people feel comfortable and safe in a large group. I was actually talking to the great Chuck Billy of Testament about this on my Audio Ink podcast, and it's kind of what he said, too.
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?
Anne: Having a metal show with no moshing or crowd surfing seems impossible! Personally, I would like concerts to return when we're allowed to have a real show, like we remember them, with moshing and crowd surfing and headbanging and high-fiving and hugging. Yes, I hug at metal shows! I'm hearing about all of these hybrid concert ideas, and maybe that will be fine if it's the only option, but I would like to wait until we can have a real show and safely be packed together, shoulder-to-shoulder, enjoying music together.
MPAP: Do you think the fans even follow those rules?
Anne: I don't know if they would follow the rules, but there would likely be someone there to enforce them. But I do really hope that when concerts return, they're real concerts, with all the moshing and headbanging that we want!
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?
Anne: It really has hit the music world hard. We've been staying creative and releasing new music, like the "Amazing Grace" video I mentioned. Staying creative has really helped. And doing interviews like this one has really helped me connect with people during this strange time. I also host a podcast called Audio Ink, which is on all the usual podcast platforms, so that's been a great release. Financially, bands often make a living from touring, of course, so it's been hard for almost everyone, including crews, venues and everyone involved. Focusing on music and projects has really helped me stay positive throughout everything.
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?
Anne: I see what she means. Some bands who are releasing their first albums and had planned on touring a bunch will have a more difficult time getting out there. Also, bands that make a living touring but aren't super wealthy, which is a lot; might have to give up, because of financial instability. I hope it doesn't come to that. What I do know is that a lot of people and industries are hurting, not just those in the music industry, so hopefully it can all turn a corner soon.
MPAP: Other than not being able to play live music and go out on tour, how else has the coronavirus affected you?
Anne: It's impacted nearly everything. I've been doing online grocery shopping for my parents, which is a first for me, and so many little things that I used to do on a daily and weekly basis have changed. It's hard to think of something that hasn't changed because of coronavirus! I'm thankful that I've still been able to work on music during this time, so I suppose that's a constant-- although that has been different, too!
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, Anne, 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?
Anne: Thanks to you and everyone at Metal Pulp And Paper for the interview! I am not prepared for the murder hornets. It's certainly hard to imagine what's next! Let's hope it's all good things like ice cream and rainbows from now through the end of the year, but I'm not holding my breath. Take care, be safe and healthy, God bless and metal on!