The New Testament: Bury Tomorrow Believe There Are No Metal VIPs

Let me start by stating that I am well aware of the reasons why bands feel it’s OK to charge people to come and meet them. It is a lucrative business; you know immediately that those kids are going to buy those tickets. Plus, it can be pretty overwhelming if you’re in a big band and you go out front after a show and everyone is trying to speak to you, and I know certain people in the industry will advise bands to be aloof and stay backstage to improve their profile.

But if you are using your position as a musician and a public figure to money-grab off people who are already supporting your band, people who are already spending hundreds of pounds by buying tickets to the show and t-shirts and representing your band, then that is wrong as far as I’m concerned./o:p

We like to think of our shows as a community, not ‘We’re onstage and you’re offstage’, and we need to change the perceived notion that that latter way of thinking is alright. Yeah, of course kids want to meet their favourite band, but how about a different approach? How about actually going out of your way in your own time to meet these people and get to know them on their own terms?

I know that as you get bigger and play larger-capacity venues it becomes harder to give everyone an autograph, but really it’s part of your job description. Surely you should want to do that anyway, for the people that have waited around for hours to meet you? It may not be possible, but it doesn’t have to be exploitative./o:p

I’ve heard stories of bands that have only turned up to meet-and-greets for five minutes, or where some of the bandmembers are too hungover or too lazy to turn up at all, and they’ve got the nerve to charge people for that? Kids shouldn’t think that is normal behaviour from the musicians they look up to, and the more people speak up about it then the more those fans will think, ‘Actually, no. I’m not giving my money over to these guys.’

I know I would personally feel like a hypocrite to be involved with charging people to meet me. It was only a few years ago that I was playing in tiny venues in front of smaller crowds and being grateful that there was anyone there at all. I was more than happy to talk to whoever had taken the time to support my band.

Some of the people that came to see us in 150-capacity venues also turn up to see us now in 2,000-capacity venues, and after all their support in helping us step up to a higher level, I’m now going to turn around and say, ‘Oh no, sorry. I’m too big to meet you for free now. You have to pay an extra 50 quid’? What?! How weird is that?! When we were struggling we couldn’t have charged people to meet us even if we wanted to, so if you are big enough to be able to sell tickets to meet-and-greets then you’re hardly a struggling musician anyway, are you?

I find it very hard to believe that if you’re headlining Wembley Arena then you really need the extra money. So why squeeze even more from the people that have put you there in the first place?

Ultimately, your music should be the thing that validates you. That’s how you make your living, and if you say you’re unable to do that just from playing shows, then find another way to make some extra money. The only reason you got the level of success in the first place that meant you could charge people to meet you was by getting out there and playing shows in front of people.

It’s been a long time since the metal scene has been this strong, and when you think about the rise of so many bands from so many different subgenres right now, it’s great. But, unfortunately, it does mean that more of these mainstream ideas are creeping into the scene.

If it was a pop band then I’m sure that nobody would blink an eyelid – hundreds of those artists do this sort of thing – but don’t we pride ourselves on being an alternative to that stuff? It’s a brother- and sisterhood in the metal scene. That’s what should be setting us apart.