SMILE EMPTY SOUL guitarist and lead singer Sean Danielsen has once again defended his band's decision to cancel a few of its previously booked shows because the concert venues in question were requiring a COVID-19 vaccine for fans. A number of bars and clubs have adopted the new protocol because the owners say the music industry and the artists demand a safe environment to perform.
Last month, Danielsen released a statement via social media in which he explained that he was scrapping the shows because "I stand 100% for freedom, and medical freedom is especially important to me. I believe that you should get the vaccine if you want it, but should not have to if you don't want it."
Now, in a new interview with the "Cowboy Logic" show, Danielsen elaborated on SMILE EMPTY SOUL's refusal to play vaccinated-only shows, saying that he is "not gonna be the reason that even one person goes out and gets a vaccine that they're not comfortable with."
Addressing the fact that he chose to publicly oppose the idea of allowing only the vaccinated to attend concerts, Sean said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Freedom, to me, is so important, medical freedom being one of the biggest types of freedom that needs to be protected. And so if they're doing that, I'm canceling the show because I'm not gonna be the reason that even one person goes out and gets a vaccine that they're not comfortable with."
Asked if other venues in the affected markets have come forward offering to book SMILE EMPTY SOUL, Sean said: "It really depends. A lot of these venues are blaming the county, so the way it's kind of starting to look is that we're gonna have to figure out… This hasn't drastically affected our upcoming tours — we have a tour in October/November, then we have a tour in February and a tour in April. So far, we've only had to cancel a small handful of these shows, and all the venues are blaming the county. So in those scenarios, we'll just work around that and not hit those counties. And as the stuff progresses and develops, we will just have to figure out what counties and venues are gonna be on this side of the fence and what counties and venues are gonna be on this side of the fence and just book our future tours accordingly."
According to Danielsen, there has been a lot of pushback from the hard rock and heavy metal community to his position on the vaccine issue.
"I posted a big thing just explaining my stance, trying to let people know why maybe a couple of these shows might go away," he said. "I try to stay out of the political scene and just make my art, but in this case I felt like this is something I had to be vocal about 'cause it's so important. So, of course, I knew there would be a ton of negative comments and feedback, and there are, even though I just was simply standing for medical freedom and against medical tyranny. There's just so many people that just come flying at you — publications that haven't supported us in a long, long time writing smear pieces about it, and people from other bands seeing that and then talking smack as well and getting all their little friends and fans to pile on. So there's a lot of hate out there for this position, unfortunately, which seems insane to me.
"If you allow the government to mandate an injection into your body, and you think that it's just gonna stop with this one, you're insane," he continued. "You're giving them that power forever. What happens when it's a different president that you don't approve of and they've got that power over your body? Are you gonna be happy about that then? This is not just freedom of one political side or another — this is all of our freedom. This has no relevance when it comes to one side or the other; this is everybody's freedom, and everybody should want that freedom. And if you trust the government to that extent, you don't know history."
A vaccine passport is a physical or digital document that displays whether someone is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Critics say that such passports are a violation of privacy and an example of government overreach. Meanwhile, supporters point out that federal immigration law already requires that immigrants provide proof of vaccination status for several diseases.
There's plenty of precedent for having to show proof of vaccination whether for work or travel. For a century, nearly every school in the U.S. has been requiring proof of vaccinations for students to enroll. Dozens of countries across the globe require a "Yellow Fever Card" to enter their borders.
Proponents of vaccine passports, including several high-profile heavy metal musicians, have touted them as one of the most effective ways to reopen the nation's economy in a safe manner.
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.