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 metal veterans Paragon and their bassist Jan Bünning, describing the situation there.
Markus Heavy Music Blog: Jan, what were your first thoughts when an imminent lockdown became apparent in the course of March?
Jan Bünning: To be honest I am someone who is always questioning things, especially when they are a big „thing“ in the newspapers, press and TV. So I wondered from the first day of lockdown what the consequences of this lockdown will be and if the cure will be worse than the sickness itself. I am constantly reading news about the matter from a lot of different sources and I think the problem is, nobody really knows what is the right way to stop the pandemic and how worse it really is.
When I check the the numbers in my city Hamburg, I have to admit I am not really worried. About 100 people died of the virus in Hamburg, about 300 are in the hospital for treatment and 100 of this are in intensive care. Not really scary for 1.8 Million citizens. I am more afraid of the consequences of the lockdown, e.g. unemployment, companies going bankrupt, domestic violence, suicides, self-employed workers and artist without money etc.
As Paragon we are lucky because we don´t have to live from the music like other bigger bands. Right now, we put the focus on writing new songs which we maybe record next year. But for our drummer who lives from teaching music and playing in tribute bands and also countless of our friends it´s very hard because they will not make money at all. Also lots of clubs will suffer a lot or even close their doors because of the situation. It´s very hard for the entertainment business as it seems nobody seems to be responsible for this business and our government is more into rescuing big corporations than small music, art, theater etc. business. We will see who survives and how a world with less art and music will look like.
MHMB: The scheduled Paragon live shows, to what extent can these shows be moved to a later date?
Jan: There were some plans for shows, e.g. shows for our 30th anniversary which of course will not happen now.
We don’t have a big booking company. We book our shows ourselves and to be honest, it’s not easy to get fair paid shows for us in general. So with all shows and festivals booked for 2020, now postponed to 2021, it will be even harder for us to get any free spots at festivals or clubs in the future.
MHMB: The situation is devastating for the music business. What were your first measures in the lockdown situation and do you receive governmental support?
Jan: As I mentioned in the previous answers, we are at least lucky not to be be dependant on making money for our living with Paragon as a band. The problem will be the missing shows. We hope to have enough songs latest by the end of the year to record a new album, but for that we would need at least 7.000€ for the recordings, artwork, photos, video clips etc. We normally make this money from shows we playing and selling Merch at these shows. So that means, no shows, no money, no new album!
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?
Jan: No. We already exists that long that we forgot how to split up and some of us maybe die on stage some day without noticing it…
MHMB: Beside all the drama, do you also feel a new solidarity in the world of music? It feels like everyone is moving a little closer together?
Jan: Yes, in Hamburg for sure. The last years a new underground scene arose in Hamburg around festivals like the Hell Over Hammaburg, True Thrash Fest Hamburg, but also clubs and bars like the Bambi galore, Markthalle and Hausverbot. Nowadays you see that even though sometimes bands or people nod at each other a little bit, everybody seems to miss each other as well and tries to help.
MHMB: Nobody knows at the moment how things will evolve. When do you think concerts can take place again in the future?
Jan: I think first there will be smaller shows with a maximum of 1.000 people, which will be ok for me as I prefer small shows with in small clubs with 100 to 200 people. I don´t know if they will already start later this year, but I hope so after the summer as otherwise more and more clubs, bands and music business people will not be able to survive.
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?
Jan: As mentioned before, we always could pay the productions of our albums from money we got for advance payments form our record companies, royalties, merch money and money we made at our shows. I am afraid this will not be possible this time, so we thought about doing a crowd founding for the next album. It still will take some time until this is gonna happen, but it will be great if people would give us their support for that.
MHMB: Jan, thanks for making some time. Is there anything else from your side that you would like to mention?
Jan: At least for Germany the pandemic doesn´t seem so dangerous as everybody expected it to be. So I hope not to many people will suffer from unemployment and other social issues, especially in the music business. And of course I hope there will also be shows and festivals as soon as possible again, so we can meet our friends and fans again!
Photos: Stefan Malzkorn