DEVILDRIVER's DEZ FAFARA On Increased Cost Of Post-Pandemic Touring: 'It's Insanity What's Happening'
June 7, 2023
In a new interview with the "Heavy Metal Mayhem" radio show, DEVILDRIVER and COAL CHAMBER frontman Dez Fafara spoke about the realities of post-pandemic touring, including increased travel expenses — gas, tour buses, hotels and flight costs. Dez said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "The business of it is getting really called into the forefront now because bands are starting to talk about the business. Before, it was kind of taboo to talk about what you make on tour, what you don't make on tour, if touring is hard monetarily. Five, ten years ago, people didn't talk about how much buses were or how much it was to tour. And now it's coming to the forefront, because everything has tripled.
"I said to somebody the other day, 'I don't know a young guy in a van is gonna do it. I don't know how you're gonna do it,'" he continued. "And to give you an example, I have a huge management company. I had a band go out on a small little run. They came home with 235 thousand dollars [gross], but with all of the costs and with everything else, the band made 12 thousand dollars. And that's with merch — everything. 240 grand — the band came home with 12 grand. I mean, it's insanity. And I don't know what's gonna happen. I don't think the buses are ever gonna come down. I don't think the crews are ever gonna come down. I don't think lighting that's doubled, gas that's tripled, I don't see any of that returning back to form to where people can do this. So it's gonna be a real rough go.
"We're all facing those things now," Dez added. "I've got a second leg getting ready to be announced with DEVILDRIVER and CRADLE OF FILTH — it's gonna be announced for October — and I'm looking at the money, I'm looking at the budgets, and I'm, like, 'Wow. This is rough.' Even COAL CHAMBER going out with MUDVAYNE, I'm looking at everybody's budgets, I'm looking at what everything costs, and it's, like, insane what it costs."
When the interviewer suggested that the increased costs will ultimately be passed on to the fans in the form of higher ticket prices, Dez said: "I just read a thread online — on Reddit, actually — where fans are talking about that, and they're boycotting. They're, like, 'Fuck you. I'm not gonna pay the money.' But, yeah, we have to pass it on to the promoters. We have to say, 'Look, my buses are triple. My crew is double. My gas is triple.' Tolls have gone up because the United States, every fucking five minutes you're stopping at a toll road now. They've taken that directly from Europe; they've learned that they can do that now. I'm just going over a budget for a previous run of a band that I manage, and they paid 4800 dollars in toll costs. So how is this supposed to work?
"So, yes, we have to pass it on to the promoter, which is gonna pass it on to… The tickets are gonna be higher," Dez concurred. "And then the fans are gonna get pissed, and they're either gonna boycott it or they're gonna go, 'No, I'll pay 50 bucks to see my favorite band.' But what they're not gonna do is go to two, three shows a week anymore. And that same fan that used to go to two, three shows, he's going to one or two a month now. So… I don't know. It's rough. It's definitely rough. And it's not just rough for the small guys… And we manage some pretty big bands over here. And I look at budgets all day long; that's my forte, man. And I don't see how we can cut… You can't cut it. It's, like, 'Well, we need to take a bus.' Well, that same bus that was 350 dollars a day is 750, 800 a day. That same driver that was 200 a day is 550, 600 a day. That same hotel for the driver that was 120 a day is 250 a day. That same Uber that took the driver to the fucking hotel room that cost you 23 dollars, it's 42 dollars. I mean, it's insanity what's happening."
Financial issues are continuing to wreak havoc on the touring industry, with the economics of the business simply not adding up.
Acts of all sizes are canceling or postponing shows, with several claiming that it was "not sustainable" for them to go ahead with the tours.
For many midsized acts, ticket sales are not even enough to cover their overheads.
AVENGED SEVENFOLD singer M. Shadows said in a recent interview that the busing on the band's upcoming tour will cost two million dollars more than it did prior to the pandemic.
Earlier this week, MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine told The Jeremy White Show that "it's pretty expensive" for him and his bandmates to tour nowadays. "I think it's about 45 thousand dollars a day for us just to sit still," he said. "I think — it might be 52. But that's just sitting still; that's not doing a show. Show days are more expensive… [That's] salaries, hotel rooms, insurance — everything. The buses, the bus drivers, the trucks, the truck drivers. Yeah, a lot of stuff."
Last October, SHINEDOWN canceled its previously announced fall 2022 dates in continental Europe due to "economic and logistical side of touring". ANTHRAX also canceled shows in continental Europe as part of its fall 2022 touring activities, citing "ongoing logistical issues" and "costs that are out of our control."
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