MIKE PORTNOY Understands Bands' Reluctance To Tour During Pandemic: 'Is It Worth The Risk?'

September 29, 2021

During an interview with TWISTED SISTER bassist Mark "The Animal" Mendoza's Internet show "22 Now", former DREAM THEATER and current THE WINERY DOGS drummer Mike Portnoy spoke about the prospect of going back on the road while the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Honestly, I don't know how I feel about it. I understand the wanting to go out. I had a tour with the NEAL MORSE BAND that was scheduled to begin next month. We ended up having to pull the plug and push it into next year, just because we're seeing all of these other tours coming down and people getting COVID out there, even if they're vaccinated. One guy gets it, and then the show comes down. You watch KISS just firing up their tour, two or three shows in, and then Paul [Stanley] gets it and they have to sit in a hotel for a week. And then they're just getting ready to go again, then Gene [Simmons] gets it. Just the idea of having to quarantine in a hotel for a week or two, putting everybody, the crew and the gear and the trucks and everything on hold and the venues, it's scary. And I understand the hesitation to go back out. 'Cause with the NEAL MORSE BAND, we just made that call. We had to look at the situation and say, 'Look, we really wanna play. We're dying to get out there. But is it worth the risk, both in terms of health and in terms of financial?', to be honest, as well… You've gotta put everybody in hotels for a week, you've gotta [pay for] the crew and the trucks and the gear… And you're losing the show guarantees; you're losing all that income…

"I know we wanna play, but we've gotta be safe too," he explained. "It's a tough call to make… It hurt for us to cancel this MORSE BAND tour, but we said to each other, 'Look, first of all, if we have to cancel some shows and sit in hotel rooms, are we willing to be personally liable for that financially?' And everyone was, like, 'Well, no. Not really.' Nobody wants to be stuck holding the bag. So we said if there was any single bandmember that is uncomfortable being out there and going to do it; we're not gonna make anybody do something they're not comfortable doing. So unless it was unanimous, we said if any one person is not ready to go back out there and take those risks, let's just wait."

A number of hard rock and heavy metal artists have canceled shows or whole tours as the concert industry is rethinking its approach to live shows while the delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading nationwide.

Last month, Live Nation Entertainment, one of the country's largest concert and ticketing companies, announced that it will require all artists and concertgoers to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test starting in early October.

Live Nation's announcement came one day after AEG Presents said that it will be requiring proof of vaccination for entry into its owned and operated clubs, theaters and festivals. The decision was made on the heels of the dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases as the delta variant spreads throughout the United States.

While vaccines are exceptionally effective in preventing death and severe illness from the coronavirus and its known variants, some are far from foolproof in preventing infection altogether.

Most of the people with so-called "breakthrough" infections are asymptomatic.

According to Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC),large-scale clinical studies found that COVID-19 vaccination prevented most people from getting COVID-19. Research also provides growing evidence that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) offer similar protection in real-world conditions. While these vaccines are effective, no vaccine prevents illness 100% of the time. For any vaccine, there are breakthrough cases.

22 NOW | Ep. 80: Mike Portnoy

Mark sits down with special guest Mike Portnoy for a brand new episode of 22 NOW!

Posted by Area 22 Productions on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

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