BOBBY GUSTAFSON Says Increased Touring Costs Are To Blame For His Exit From VIO-LENCE

June 16, 2023

In a new interview with Into The Pit, guitarist Bobby Gustafson once again opened up about his fall 2022 exit from San Francisco Bay Area thrash metal veterans VIO-LENCE. The 57-year-old musician, who is based in Florida, said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "[The split happened] for the same reason all these bands are canceling tours. It's just gotten so expensive to do. Even within that three-short-year span, the price of plane tickets really shot up after the pandemic. They're not playing all the time — they're doing sporadic shows here and there — and to spend that much money to bring me out there, it's understandable."

Gustafson went on to say: "I thought it was pretty much a solid band when I had started. But I know Phil [Demmel, VIO-LENCE's founding guitarist] has his eyes on something bigger. So if other projects come along, he wanted to really be with something at the level he was used to, which is understandable. You get used to that level, and it's hard to go back. I wish them well. Whatever happens, happens."

Gustafson previously talked about his departure from VIO-LENCE this past March in an interview with the "Metal Mayhem ROC" podcast. At the time, he said: "Yeah, [the cross-country commute] was hard. And with the economy, the way it was, everything started to get more expensive. I mean, the flights had doubled since I first started going out there in 2020. And to go back and forth, it was a strain on me, but it was a strain on the band as well, to try and keep themselves going. You can't be selfish and be the only one they're wasting money on like that. But they [originally] wanted somebody with a name [to be in their band], and they asked me to do it, and I was, like, 'Yeah. This'll be great.' So it just got to be where it's so expensive, and it's affecting every band, basically. Between diesel for the bus, hotel rooms, flying to Europe. I'm hearing now that they're taking a lot in Europe — they're taking money from your t-shirts.; they are taxing those bands that leave Europe to try and come here to play. Everyone's got their hands in your pockets. It's so hard to make anything… It's not cost effective anymore. It's, like, are you doing it [just to be] doing it, or are you doing it to make a living? 'Cause you still have bills to pay at home, so you've gotta make something. And, yeah, the worst part of it is really the gas and those buses, and everything over there is diesel, and that just went through the roof.

"So, it is what it is," Gustafson added. "There's no hard feelings or nothing. And it's just… move on."

A former member of OVERKILL, Gustafson joined VIO-LENCE in January 2020 as the replacement for Ray Vegas.

When Gustafson's departure from VIO-LENCE was first announced last October, the band cited "logistical difficulties that weigh too heavy to function in a productive manner" as the reason for the split.

VIO-LENCE's current touring lineup consists of vocalist Sean Killian, drummer Adrian Aguilar (EXMORTUS),guitarist Miles Dimitri Baker (VOIDBRINGER, INTERLOPER, ex-RINGS OF SATURN),bassist Christian Olde Wolbers and guitarist Ira Black (VICIOUS RUMORS, HEATHEN, METAL CHURCH).

VIO-LENCE played its first show with Aguilar in February at the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, California. Aguilar joined VIO-LENCE following the departure of Perry Strickland.

When Demmel is unable to make some of the VIO-LENCE dates, he is being replaced by Baker.

Notably, VIO-LENCE's recent shows in Asia, Australia and New Zealand featured only Killian from the lineup that played its first comeback gig in April 2019 at the Oakland Metro in Oakland, California. The VIO-LENCE lineup that appeared at the Metro consisted of Killian, Demmel, Strickland, bassist Deen Dell and Vegas.

Strickland announced his departure from VIO-LENCE in February by sharing a video of him performing with the band and captioning it: "I'll Miss playing these songs !" After one fan asked Perry in the comments to clarify whether he has in fact exited the group, Strickland responded: "yes about a month ago".

Among the people reacting to Strickland's announcement was Gustafson, who wrote: "Good luck with what ever you do in the future. We had some good times finally."

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