Covid-19 and the taken measures have a big impact on everybody individually, but have also an impact on the music business. Enough of a reason to reach out to clubs, bands,… in the greater Hamburg area to see what the situation is and how everybody can stand together to go though this. Today we continue with Hamburg’s death metal powerhouse Endseeker and guitarist Ben Liepelt, describing how the corona crisis affects the band.
Markus’ Heavy Music Blog: Ben, what were your first thoughts when an imminent lockdown became apparent in the course of March?
Ben: The first thought was of course “Shit, what happens now to our shows?”. We had planned a lot of touring activities for this year and suddenly nobody knew if, and if ’yes’, which of them could still take place. The whole dimension was not directly foreseeable. Nobody could imagine a situation like the one we had during the last weeks.
MHMB: The scheduled Endseeker live shows, to what extent can these shows be moved to a later date?
Ben: We have planned a few live shows, two of them right at the beginning when it started to get really bad in Italy. You could guess that this cup wouldn’t pass from us completely. We should have played in Switzerland and Austria, but since our bass player Eggert had an operation planned for shortly after the shows, his doctors forbade him to tour at that time. We had to cancel these two shows on our own. Unfortunately, not everyone was sympathetic about it, but it was definitely the right decision. If we had done the tour, we would have had to go into a 14 days quarantine and Eggert’s surgery might have had to be postponed.
Due to the subsequent lockdown and ban on events, all the spring shows and summer festivals finally got cancelled. Most of them will probably moved to next year, given that all organizers survive this crisis economically. Who knows what the industry will look like when the virus is done with us?
MHMB: The situation is devastating for the music business. How hard has it hit you and to what extend does governmental financial aid reaches you?
Ben: We are not financially dependent on the band. We earn our money with regular jobs. We don’t get any financial support from the government. Of course the band is missing income, which we need for the production of the next album and we have to see how we can handle this as soon as a studio date is within reach. But of course, we know a lot of people who work in this business, like labels, clubs, promoters, booking agencies, live crews, photographers, gastronomy, etc. They are hit extremely hard. Hopefully the government will support these people adequately, so that as many people as possible get through the crisis. What would society be without music, video content, live streams, etc. to distract and motivate everyone to persevere while looking forward to a cultural life after the virus? The importance of it cannot be emphasized enough and all these people are in urgent need of help and security.
MHMB: Did you guys ever get to a point during the last few weeks, thinking that the Corona crisis might lead to the end of the band?
Ben: No, of course not. Not for a single second. Even though we can’t rehearse at the moment, we are still busy songwriting, sending ideas back and forth and working on them from home. That actually works surprisingly well. Besides that, we are constantly communicating with each other via chat. So the band feeling doesn’t diminish at all, although we all miss the noise in the rehearsal room and the live shows.
MHMB: Beside all the drama, do you also feel a new solidarity between bands, fans and clubs and how does this become noticeable?
Ben: Absolutely! We had commissioned merchandise before the Lockdown which we actually wanted to sell at the live shows. Since that didn’t work out, we put it in the online shop and fans really support us very well, so that we have some income and can save some money for the studio. This is a great help and we are very thankful that people still support their bands despite all the economic uncertainty! We are also noticing that live stream concerts are very well received. Often there are more people watching on YouTube than listening to the bands at a club show. This is a great signal and I would like to see this to continue in real life and see more people going to concerts. Everyone has seen how quickly something this can disappear and it is not a given to be able to go to dozens of concerts all the time.
MHMB: Nobody knows right now what will come next. Festivals and bigger events are cancelled until the end of August. What is your cautious guess about concerts in the future? How do you think such concerts could look like?
Ben: That’s pure speculation and we are no experts in this matter. So I can rather formulate hopes. They look like that from late summer on at least smaller club shows will be possible again, before at some time bigger events with thousands of people will be possible again. Social distancing at concerts is hard to imagine for me. How is that possible? Seated and then with 1,5m distance between each other? Rather unlikely. Masks required at concerts? Collides with beer drinking … I honestly lack imagination to foresee concerts in a way that is different from what I have known all my life.
MHMB: I think that the Corona crisis makes clear to everybody how crucial live music is. Only when you don’t have concerts anymore, you see how important they are. To what extent can music fans support you to survive the crisis?
Ben: As I said above – I really hope that this period will become firmly anchored in our collective mind and that concerts, especially those of small underground bands, will be more appreciated. For example, that you come to the first band and not for the headliner only, because every gig is precious!
One can support in different ways. Buy merch, watch live streams, donate, support crowdfunding projects, etc.. Even simple things like interacting with bands on social media is already a great help, because it gives the bands motivation and strengthens the whole togetherness in the scene, which has already proven to be very distinctive and healthy. This is one of the most beautiful features in the metal scene and should be preserved and developed further.
MHMB: Ben, thanks for making some time. Is there anything else from your side that you would like to mention?
Ben: Thank you very much for taking care of this topic and reporting about it. By politicians, the whole music circus is unfortunately still looked at as being quite dispensable and every contribution helps to focus. It creates an awareness of talking about something very valuable, namely the cultural life of a whole society. Thanks to all who support “their” bands and strengthen the togetherness. We are really looking forward to the time beyond all this and can’t wait to be back on stage.
Photos: Toni B. Gunner