Being In A Band During The COVID-19 Pandemic Catching Up With Norway's 'Mantric' May 28th, 2020 • Pandemic Band Interview #11
Metal Pulp And Paper: Hello Ole. 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?
Ole Halvard: Honestly, I’ve kind of enjoyed it, personally. Of course, I feel for those losing loved ones, their jobs and security, and it’s been heartbreaking watching scenes from, for instance, Italian hospitals on the news. But for my everyday life, I must admit it’s actually been pretty nice. Even though I’ve been homeschooling four kids for eight weeks, it has been less stressful, and as a family, I think it’s been good for us, even with all the arguing. I’ve also had more time to write music than I normally have, which I love. And living in Norway, I can’t really complain anyway, with very solid health care and social security systems covering our backs.
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?
Ole: As a band, we definitely wanted to celebrate the release of False Negative properly, after working on it for years. And if the right touring opportunities showed up, we’d love to get out there to play shows for the first time in a long while. Other than that, I didn’t really have a lot of things planned, other than family business. We were going to take our kids on their first trip by plane to Greece this May, we’re pretty strict on not flying unnecessarily, so I haven’t flown in six years, something we have been looking forward to since September, and we had tickets to three festivals this summer. Now, we’ll get to explore new parts of Norway instead.
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?
Ole: No, I think its actually kind of stupid. This virus is obviously extremely contagious, no matter how you look at it, so one single of these huge concerts might of course infect hundreds of people, causing the virus getting out of control, and we’ve seen enough examples what happens when health care systems can’t keep up with these outbreaks. Of course, concerts can wait. And people in all other kinds of industries are also losing their income, so I don’t see why the concert industry should have some special treatment. Of course, I’d love to play shows and go to shows, but here in Norway, I think artists and musicians have been the people whining the most. I feel sorry for the companies delivering sound, and light, etc. going bankrupt, losing all they’ve spent years on building, but famous artists complaining about how hard this is just annoys me. Perhaps I’m just jealous, since I never earned any money on music myself, haha...
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?
Ole: No, it’s pointless trying to put up these shows telling the crowd to keep a distance of 1-2 meters. And economically, you wouldn’t earn much either, since there probably wouldn’t be allowed enough people at the venue to even cover the rental costs. Might as well continue to arrange these streaming events, which are just as far from experiencing real metal shows.
MPAP: Do you think the fans even follow those rules?
Ole: Not if it was allowed to serve alcohol at the event. A lot of people here take these things pretty seriously, so I suppose there would occur some kind of internal justice on such an event. But if people get drunk, there’s not a chance to keep it under control.
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?
Ole: Like I said, we never earned any money on making music. I’ve probably spent a lot more on being in a band than what I got back. So, all three of us have got to have full time jobs to pay the bills and support our families, making us less vulnerable to these kinds of things. And if we got to get on tour, we’d probably earn a lot less on this than from our regular jobs, so this way the coronavirus probably saved us some money.
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?
Ole: I hope so. We might get rid of a lot of crap if this is true. Bands with no artistic vision, musicians playing in a band to get rich and famous... that would be awesome! True artists don’t have a choice - they have to keep creating and performing, no matter the money. But it really sucks for those who maybe finally got to that point where they could make music their main occupation, who now might have to get back to other jobs, taking up most of the time they otherwise could create something awesome.
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, Ole, for doing this interview.
Ole: Thanks a lot for giving us some attention!
MPAP: 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?
Ole: Haha, yeah, bring it on! Weird times, that’s for sure... seems like our western civilizations weren’t invulnerable after all...?