Tales from Quarantine (Part 2): Looking to the Future

In the first part of this virtual roundtable, musicians discussed how they dealt with a pandemic that all of sudden wiped out their touring prospects. In this second part, I asked them to look to the future and talk about how this will affect their careers.

I first wondered if being cooped up at home could mean we’ll get a flood of albums in 2021. But is a lockdown conducive to creativity? I expected everyone to be writing tons of material, but it turns out that restrictions meant that bands used to write together, couldn’t, and for others, the anxiety caused by the pandemic stemmed their creativity.

The wonderful thing though is that all of them are firmly intent on sticking with it past the pandemic. Music is in their blood, and whether or not there’s money to be made, they’ll keep playing and singing. For sure the industry will be drastically changed on the other side of the pandemic, but they all have faith that the music business will find a way to adapt.

If you’re curious about these bands, I’ve created a Spotify playlist featuring a few tracks from each of them. Their music runs the spectrum of pop music, and each of them is worth a listen. Check it out here and it’s also embedded at the bottom of this article.

Big shout out to Rogue PR and Asher Media Relations for the generous access to their artists for this feature.

Note: Answers have been edited for conciseness. In the coming weeks, I will publish the best interviews in their entirety.

Was this time conductive to writing new material?

Reaven: “Yes a lot. We’ve worked like crazy. I took the time to create, compose, write… so much. This was the good point of the quarantine for us actually.”

The Jailbirds: “We went through years and years of old phone demos and started putting together everything we possibly could, and for lyrics as well. There’s been a lot of doom and gloom lately, which for me personally sparks ideas for lyrics and such. It honestly has given us a chance to breathe and put more time into our music. It’s a blessing and a curse!”

Anonymus: “Actually for us no. Our rehearsal space was closed so there was no way we could get together and practice on new stuff. Now things have changed a little bit and we are now able to play together but we had to play and rehearse the new songs from ‘La Bestia‘ which are not easy songs to play. But for now, I don’t see the possibility of playing gigs again so I guess we have now plenty of time to start working on new material. Everybody in the band has [their] own ideas for new songs, so it’s just a matter of time that we get together and blend new ideas altogether.”

Fatality: “100%. We’ve managed to write a whole host of fresh material that we’re bringing out in bursts throughout the year. We still want to give the music fans something new to listen to so it’s been a handy time to be able to write, record and release new music.”

Fanny Meyer: “In the beginning of the pandemic situation I was depressed by the public mood, the fear and everything. I felt like I was frozen, unable to write, unable to sing really, but then I found a little inner peace in writing.”

Søndag: “Nope. We started writing a lot of new stuff in the months before our national lockdown, but ever since this whole thing started we have slowed down a lot the song writing process, mainly because we aren’t in a creative mood right now. But we have got a lot of unreleased material that we can’t wait to share!”

T-Rex Marathon: “For this project? No, not really. We write together and basically it happens organically when we’re in a room together. Seeing as we couldn’t do that, writing took a bit of a break. The problem is we lost a lot of momentum and it’s very hard to get back up to the speed we were at.”

Random Ties: “So much going on around us this year good and bad: what better way to channel that energy and express it via writing music.”

Esteban: “Creating new music is one of the best mental exercises on the planet – lockdown was actually the perfect moment to write. We’ve easily got a year’s worth of material.”

Mark Nelson: “Having a full-time job in the care industry has meant that I’m not at home for most of the day or indeed most of the week, so despite the lockdown I have not had a lot of time to write new material.”

Fatal Switch: “Very! You have to take advantage of your situation and we never skipped a beat. We had regular virtual meetings until our studio was open again and we never treated this pandemic as a vacation and that was key for our us.”

Little King: “The pandemic has had lasting effects on all of us. My son and I quarantined for REAL for 3 months. Our windows to the world were TV news, occasional walks on the trail to the beach behind my old house, and a lot of social media time. Which was and is AWFUL. So I soaked it up and wrote words and music based on my personal experience, and I believe those themes are universal.”

Ali in the Jungle: “Yeah very much so. Lockdown gave us time without distractions. We wrote a score for a short film called Making Waves in this time – to be on iPlayer in future! We also wrote at least four new songs in the first two weeks of lockdown.”

Operation Offbeat: “Clearly yes, of course. Not only was there more time, [but] it’s also that I like writing about idiots. And Corona has fueled idiotic conspiracy theories, worldwide, big time, so watching the news is nauseatingly inspiring these days!”

Chloe Chadwick: “Yes of course! There’s a lot of emotions and frustrations currently and so it’s good to write, get things off your chest!”

Helion Prime: “Mostly just getting the third album ready for release but I have been messing around with some new ideas.”

We never treated this pandemic as a vacation and that was key for our us.

Fatal Switch

Is there a possibility the pandemic will end your career?

Esteban: “No. So long as we are alive, we play.”

T-Rex Marathon: “Absolutely not.  We refuse to let some virus stop us from making music and art. Has it made it more difficult? Sure. There are always challenges though and so this is just another that we’ll need to overcome. This certainly is not the end though and we’re going to come out of this more resilient and able to handle whatever gets thrown at us.”

Fatality: “Not a chance! (…) This is the most tight knit industry in the world in regards to working relationships. You look at the passion and determination of the artists and you cannot find a single fault in these attributes. It will be an uphill, maybe up-mountain, struggle for us all but there is no way in hell that our career and the careers of millions of other musicians will suffer!”

Chloe Chadwick: “Possibly, who knows, nothing will stop me from performing, but it has already stopped me from doing it full time. However, I’m healthy, I have great people around me, and as you get a little older, you start to realize that fame and fortune isn’t the end goal here, happiness is!”

WoR: “I don’t think it will end our career but it has put things on hold as far as us playing our music live. Behind the scenes there is always a lot going on. I don’t think anybody in this band likes sitting around doing nothing for very long so we stay active even if it isn’t necessarily seen by the public.”

Ali in the Jungle: “No. We won’t let that happen. It’s certainly made playing live difficult, but we won’t stop making music, and we won’t stop trying to reach our fans as much as possible!”

Anonymus: “No I really don’t think so. Even though we have no concerts going on, we still like to be together and to rehearse at least once a week. And we are optimistic about the future. I think this will end one day and we will be able to do concerts again. So I guess we will be working on new songs for another album. As far as I’m concerned I still like to play music and I think we all really need that to be happy in life so I don’t see ourselves calling it quits.”

Operation Offbeat: “No. The future is always uncertain anyway, speaking from a musician’s point of view! My goal is to be ready when it all starts again.”

Fanny Meyer: “I don’t think so; I always find the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m that type.”

Liam Naughton & the Educators: “Fuck that, I’m a fighter mate, and I’ll stay fighting. The only thing that’s going to end my career is myself.”

Tete Essen: “Probably not directly, I don’t see that being the case. (…) I love making music, more than any other thing that I get to do, but it’s not my whole world, there’s so much more to it than that and I’m remembering that now. The goalposts have maybe shifted for me a bit and that feels like a good thing. So like I said, I’m not sure the pandemic will end anything, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the person I’ve become since then plays a part.”

The Ocean Beneath: “Nothing going to stop us making this music together so 100% not happening. Well unless it kills us.”

Mark Nelson: “Not at all. My music career is something that I always worked hard at, whatever the situation. I can see that for some full-time musicians who rely on music performance to earn money have been very hard hit by the pandemic but it hasn’t affected me as such, except of course not being able to perform live which is, in itself, a great loss.”

Little King: “Not in a million years, my friend. I have been at this since 1997. If anything, it makes us stronger. The music and lyrics are inspired!  I have survived career changes (4 of them), 2 divorces, the birth of my 2 kids, 3 cross-country moves, the legal system, and more.  I am not going anywhere.”

Skyless Aeons: “Hard to end a career when we didn’t even have one, to begin with! haha In all seriousness, Skyless Aeons is a passion project and a labor of love, and as long as it remains that way and we’re comfortable taking from our own pockets to get stuff done for it, we’ll never die.”

The Jailbirds: “As long as there is breath in our lungs, The Jailbirds will be around. That said, we really have no idea what will happen in the future, especially for live music. Right now it’s pretty grim, but I do have hopes that once we can, we (as a community) will jump back in, full force. Just a matter of waiting it out and keeping busy/using our time wisely right now.”

Tramston Valley: “I don’t think so. But, if I lose imagination and originality I’m gonna finish my music career.”

Fuck that, I’m a fighter mate, and I’ll stay fighting. The only thing that’s going to end my career is myself.

Liam Naughton & the Educators

How do you think this will change the music business in the long run?

Anonymus: “Well, I don’t have the answer to all this, but I think there are a lot of bands that will call it off that’s for sure. Bands that were making a living going on tour will surely pull the plug if this thing lasts for a long time. For us it’s a bit different, we still have day jobs so we have a regular income going on. As for promoters, I think they will still do concerts but they will really be sure that it’s profitable for them and I can understand that. But honestly, I don’t know what the future may hold for us…. hopefully it will make us grow as human beings!”

Dig Two Graves: “I think it’s gonna thin the fat, a lot of bands aren’t going to continue. (…) Once it’s over people are going to want to attend events more than ever. So that could be a positive. Hopefully a bunch of venues don’t go under though; that would be wack.”

Skyless Aeons: “I think (hope) there will be a surge in attendance when live shows do resume. Any local band knows the struggle – it’s hard to convince people to come out on a Wednesday night to see you play when everyone’s got work in the morning, kids at home, or just don’t feel like it…but now that we’ve been deprived of shows for a while, concertgoers won’t take them for granted. Other than that, I don’t think things will change significantly, at least not for heavy metal. Metalheads are ridiculously die-hard and loyal and they’ll continue to support the underground regardless.”

T-Rex Marathon: “I would hope that it makes listeners realize just how valuable recorded music is (we all needed music to get through this) and realize that it doesn’t just happen and are more understanding and willing to pay for the art that we provide as musicians. I also hope that people also don’t take live music for granted and when the time comes the live music scene is bigger and better than ever. 

That’s the optimistic view though. On the demand side I do think that it will be high for live music but there’s going to be the added angle that the economy is in shambles, and if promoters, venues, labels, etc… were strapped for cash before well now this is a whole other beast. I imagine the amount of money actually circulating in the industry will be less but hopefully there’s a bit of a re-distribution towards artists seeing just how absolutely impossible this whole situation has been though.

Now that assumes the suits think about anything other than maximizing their bottom line, so we’ll have to see. “

The Ocean Beneath: “I’m sceptical about music returning properly in a live sense. Sure there’s some small gigs happening and both the artists and venues making this happen are amazing but certain genres of music and certain types of shows wouldn’t work like this. I think whatever happens it’s unfortunately going to be a very long journey.”

The Jailbirds: “It will certainly change a lot. It all depends on the state of things, will there be a vaccine or not etc. If not, I feel that a lot of people won’t feel comfortable going to live shows. It also could affect how venues treat any show, IE the processes of how shows are run and such. (…) The biggest effect I foresee is even less money to go around in this industry, which can mean the demise of more musicians’ careers unfortunately. There’s no going back to exactly the way things were after this, that’s for sure! The world will never be the same.”

Chloe Chadwick: “I think it will certain have an impact for sure. I’m hoping the online streaming will have its day though, it’s just not real in my eyes and I certainly wouldn’t pay to see an artist on tv. That’s just insane.  Bring back the festivals!”

Liam Naughton & the Educators: “There was music long before there was a music industry mate. In fact, (…) the quality they’ve chosen to pump out in the last 20 years is so lame and that’s the sign of any decline. But as Darwin said, those who adapt survive so I see lots of my fellow muso’s doing long distance jams and that on YouTube. Imagine if this happened 20 -30 years ago. Everyone would have gone to ground but with all this high tech stuff at our fingertips it’s not the real deal but It’s a not too far off second.”

Fatality: “I think it will make us stronger. It will show some of the people how it’s better to work as one big team rather than just for yourself. We will be able to rely on each other more and there will be better attended shows for grassroots bands. I know it seems extremely bleak right now but there will be a positive to come out of all of this for the music business. A larger appreciation for what we do and tons more support from people that may not have necessarily supported us before.”

Helion Prime: “I think it’s too soon to say for me honestly. Time will tell.”

WoR: “I’m not 100% sure yet but it will definitely create a shift moving forward. Time will tell if it’s for better or for worse, but we are hoping for the best.”

Fanny Meyer: “Honestly? I don’t really wanna think about that these days. I’m just taking one step at a time and trying to stay hopeful. Hope is key these days. I hope we can make it through together. We’re in this together.”

Ali in the Jungle: “Well obviously this has put an enormous pressure on the live industry, and shifted the focus even further towards the power of online PR etc. Maybe there’ll be more home recording too? But yeah, for the foreseeable future, it’s gonna mainly change the way in which people get their names out there, and impress audiences without the live element.”

Søndag: “This pandemic will surely be a huge game changer for the live industry, leaving big holes into the management of shows in general. Let’s hope there will be a swift solution in the upcoming future. It would really be a huge loss for us all.”

Operation Offbeat: “One might assume, that a few of the people who are in it for the money won’t be there anymore, when things start new again. Although, choosing music as a way to gain a fortune was a bad idea long time before Corona anyway. My money is on all the guys writing and playing because they have to, because there’s something that has to come out.

Obviously club owners, rehearsal studios, PA rental services (to mention only a few) can’t afford the luxury to just wait until it’s over. When the small venues and the small companies go, we lose our window to the real world.”

Tete Essen: “You could see it going a number of ways couldn’t you? I read somewhere the other day about certain labels not been able to afford to put as much into promoting their acts, smaller ones mostly, because of loss of revenue. Starting up and trying to build from the bottom upwards is hard enough without not being able to bank on the support you thought you’d be getting. I could definitely see artists going it alone and staying independent for longer, if they have the means to do so that is.”

Mark Nelson: “During this lockdown musicians have been forced to use social media and online networking to get their music out there, and to perform live over the Internet. When the lockdown does end, they will possibly be more adept at promoting themselves online than before, which has got to be a good thing.”

Little King: “I believe it will ultimately make us better. Strife leads to art. […] I believe that the appreciation for live music will be at an all-time high when it comes back.  And it WILL come back. People are clamoring for live shows, and the feeling of sharing that vibe with your favorite band and 20 or 500 or 10,000 like-minded people will be an epiphany.”

People are clamoring for live shows, and the feeling of sharing that vibe with your favorite band and 20 or 500 or 10,000 like-minded people will be an epiphany.

Little King

Thanks to all the amazing artists who participated in this discussion, and you check them out in our Spotify playlist.

Jean-Frederic Vachon
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