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Interviews : The Highs and Lows of International Touring w/ Fleshgod Apocalypse, Psycroptic, Ne Obliviscaris & Eye of the Enemy

By on August 19, 2015

“The Highs and Lows of International Touring”

An Interview with Fleshgod Apocalypse, Psycroptic, Ne Obliviscaris & Eye of the Enemy

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to join Fleshgod Apocalypse, Psycroptic, Ne Obliviscaris and Eye of the Enemy on their recent Asian tour back in June, which was, to say the least, an eye opening experience. I’d imagined what touring would be like, but in reality, what I’d imagined was only the tip of the iceberg. Touring is an amazing, exciting and adrenaline fuelled experience. It’s non-stop activity filled with new people and cultures, yet at the same time it’s exhausting and involves more sleep deprivation and sitting around doing nothing than I’d ever imagined. During the tour I had the privilege of speaking to members of each band to gain an insight into the difficulties and rewards that go hand-in-hand with international touring.

This time around, Fleshgod Apocalypse’s Asian tour was relatively short. However, on previous tours they’d spent up to six months of the year on the road, which can be incredibly difficult for the band – physically, emotionally, and financially. Fleshgod’s singer, guitarist and experienced international tourer, Tommaso Riccardi, explains, “I don’t want to say you get used to it because that sounds bad… It’s just that the first time was really hard, but it’s a matter of getting used to it and also learning how to transform it. At this point I start feeling pretty comfortable with that compared to a few years ago when it was really hard.”

EotE Asia Tour 2015

The Vengeance Paradox Asian Tour (June 2015)

“[On the Summer Slaughter Tour in 2011] we were playing 31 shows and we’d been driving during the nights, about 17,000 miles without a driver. So it was like two hours sleep, then wake up, then drive; then go back to sleep, and then play. Every day. I don’t think we could do that now, we were younger then,” Riccardi laughs.

Tim Charles, vocalist and violinist of Ne Obliviscaris, expands on the difficulties associated with touring, “It’s really hard. Basically your whole life and the people important to you have to revolve around what you’re trying to do with the band.” He continues, “The difficult thing about playing in a touring band that’s aspiring to do it professionally is that you don’t get a million opportunities that you can pick and choose from… If it’s something good for the band’s career, you say yes and you try to work it out. But the hard thing with that is that it can mean you end up in a position where you have to be away from your family a lot or you get fired from your job that you have back home.”

Dave Haley, Psycroptic’s renowned drummer, has a strategy that he feels makes touring a little easier. “After the first week you’re pretty wrecked, but after two weeks it’s like, ‘cool, I could do this forever’. You get into a rhythm and a routine and that’s the main thing: getting into a routine and looking after yourself. Dealing with the lack of sleep gets easier.”

On experiencing international touring for the first time, Chris Kane, guitarist and founding member of Eye of the Enemy, discovered that it wasn’t at all what he’d expected. “I thought I had a good idea on what I was up for before the tour began. On paper it looked like early flights here and there, so we knew there wouldn’t be a lot of time to sleep, but that was a huge understatement.”

Even after three nights in a row with only a couple of hours sleep a night, Kane discovered that the enthusiasm of the crowd is enough to revive the band. He explains, “The lack of sleep was counteracted with the adrenaline of a fantastic crowd and show. The curtains draw, we walk out, the crowd is cheering, hundreds of them in packed room, and all of a sudden I felt perfectly fine. More than fine, I felt like a million bucks.”

For Riccardi, the hardest part of the tour is not the lack of sleep or the gruelling schedule; it’s keeping the energy levels high at every show. “When you go to a place, the people there didn’t see you the day before and they’re not going to see you the day after. I feel really guilty when I play a shitty show.” He continues, “You just have to work and keep doing it to try to push the level always higher and higher and it’s not just the fact of playing well, it’s mostly a matter of really giving energy and taking it back from people.”

Despite the difficulties associated with international touring, Riccardi, Charles, Haley and Kane all agree undoubtedly and wholeheartedly that touring is both an amazing and rewarding experience.

Kane explains “It’s beyond what I can even express in words. Every single show we played on tour was… I don’t even have a word for it. Awesome doesn’t even come close to how rewarding the shows were.”

Charles adds, “If the shows are great, it all becomes worth it. You can have one or two hours sleep and a really long travel day and turn up to the gig feeling terrible or sick, but the reality is that if the show is great and you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile, then everything else becomes worth it.”

Riccardi comments, “We like writing music, but for me, especially for me, live shows are the final result of everything. I think that everybody who started playing music – especially this kind of music – did because they wanted to feel the experience of how it feels on stage and it’s incredible!”

“It is a privilege to be able to do it so I always take notes and never take it for granted,” Haley agrees.

Another thing that the guys agreed on was that international touring is generally a necessary part of being successful, irrespective of the way you measure success.

Riccardi explains, “I think if you take this kind of music [metal] and you want to go to the next step, you need to try and go out of your own country. Of course, for us, being in Italy, there was no choice because there is no way that you can grow only in Italy because it’s not a country where the metal scene is really developed.” He then adds, “If you play metal, you need to convince the whole world, not just one country.”

“[International touring] helps a lot. The Australian fan base seems to gravitate towards bands that have actually gotten out of the country. They’re like ‘they’re getting some recognition’ and it does have a flow on effect,” says Haley.

Charles elaborates, “If you want to actually get somewhere internationally, you’ve got to be able to be everywhere.” He continues, “It’s one of those funny things where not a lot of bands get out of the country so if you become one of the bands that do, it sort of automatically tips you into a certain echelon in the scene. For most bands there’s a better opportunity to do well internationally than maybe there is in Australia.”

International touring may be challenging – emotionally, physically, and financially speaking – but it’s clear that the benefits and rewards clearly outweigh the detriments, and, according to Kane, any Australian metal band considering touring internationally should definitely give it a go if they’ve got the opportunity to do so.

About

Amanda Mason is a music industry and intellectual property lawyer who also crams managing a band, managing a comedian, putting on Heavy Metal Trivia, running Patterns of Bane Records and dabbling in music journalism into her day. You can follow her here on Twitter.