Over the last couple of years, tour cancellations and postponements caused by the Covid pandemic have been coming in thick and fast. But Ghost's frontman Tobias Forge believes that there is now more to the story than merely artists wanting to protect their fans, and that actually, the whole thing is more to do with money than safety.
In conversation with Avenged Sevenfold bassist Johnny Christ on the Drinks With Johnny podcast, Forge offered his thoughts on the current live landscape in relation to Covid and the ongoing cancellations/postponements, as well as how fans are coping with it.
Pulling no punches, Forge says, "Well, the problem now is that a lot of these bands find the bottom line not to be satisfactory. They don't go out and say, 'Look, we're not making as much money as we wish, so we're going to cancel or we're going to postpone till the stars are aligned and the marketplace looks better.'"
"They go out and tell the crowd, 'Oh, because of safety concerns we're not touring,' and that is a fucking horrible message to the crowd, to the rest of the business to everyone that we're all relying on - as in all the promoters and everyone working at the venues, everybody working as vendors, all the crew members, all the bussing companies, all the truck companies, all these people who just had their tour cancelled just because these three, four or five dudes/girls just decided that the money wasn't great.
"And then they go out and tell 'Oh, by the way, don't even go to shows because it's not safe.'"
Christ asks Forge whether he's heard of any bands directly advising fans not to attend shows.
Ghost's mastermind responds, "No, it becomes that. That is what becomes. If one band decides to go and say like, 'No, [it's] because of safety, it's not safe to tour because of COVID.' Of course, you're sending a message to the crowd that 'Oh, maybe it's not [safe]."
"And remember, we have cultivated this agoraphobia and this germaphobia now that is a big problem" he continues.
"And it takes a lot of courage for a lot of people to go out. It takes a lot of courage for people to go to a show. And when one band goes out and says, 'Oh, we're not going to tour because of safety concerns, because the world is not a safe place because of COVID.' It does say to the fan that 'Oh, maybe that's right. I shouldn't even go out now.' That is detrimental."
Weighing in on Forge's argument, Christ suggests that bands shouldn't "fake the fun", and that if they're in financial trouble, they should be honest to their fans about it.
"If you're not going out because you're not making the nut that you want, then come out and say it. No one's going to judge you anymore," he says.
Listen to the full interview below: