Many of you might be asking “Who the hell are 4ARM?” especially if you’re not Australian. Well I’ll tell you, they’re a thrash quartet out of Melbourne, Australia that formed 8 years ago, have released three albums, and just now broke into the U.S. market. That in a nutshell is who 4ARM is. Now the only reason I know who they are is because I tune in regularly on Friday nights to RNWZ Radio which is Australian run and many of the local bands out there get featured including 4ARM. And as a result I started getting press e-mails from Trinity Management which represents 4 ARM and so far the first press e-mail I get is in regards to their departure from the Zombie Apocalypse Tour which featured quite a few lesser known metal bands such as Casket of Cassandra, Pray For Sleep, and Short Fuse. As you can tell I’m beginning to paint a picture here. Now before I continue with this article if you will, let me post a vid of 4ARM so you can get a sense of the style of thrash they play.
Now you can certainly form your own opinion of the band and in fact if this is intriguing to you, check them out on their Facebook page. Me personally, I’m indifferent to them honestly. They’re a tight band musically but I find nothing from their tracks that I haven’t heard before in the ret thrash movement nor is it anything that particularly stands out from their peers in the genre. I’m fucking picky and use Testament as a benchmark for my thrash likes or dislikes. Take from that what you will. The big reason I’m even talking about this is due to a heated but thought provoking debate in the chat on Ham’s Metal Meltdown show last night. We had thoughts from a blogger, a band manager, and an internet radio host among one or two fans of music that had a pretty good discussion about this.
So back to the e-mail in regards to dropping off the Zombie Apocalypse Tour. I usually don’t share contents of press e-mails because I typically like to put my own spin on it but here is what I received from Trinity Management.
4ARM have been forced to walk off The Zombie Apocalypse Tour owing to sub-standard arrangements and communications on behalf of the tour promoters, Nemesis Records. As an example, the accompanying photo is of an actual venue at which the band were expected to perform. Needless to say, this was the final straw triggering 4ARM’s exit from a poorly organised and misinformed operation. 4ARM warn all bands to exercise caution in dealings with Nemesis Records.
4ARM apologise to fans who were planning on attending any of the US dates, but would like to assure them of a return to the US under better circumstances.
And here is the attached photo.
Now let me talk a bit about this picture and about the town of Ceres, California. On the surface this picture of the The Workshop would lead you to have the instant reaction of “What the fuck is that? A shack?” I know that was my first impression. As for the town of Ceres, I’ve passed through it on the 99 many a times to visit family in the Central Valley. It’s a farm town and you blink and miss it even though it’s just south of Modesto. It’s mostly made up of farmers, illegal immigrants, and trailer trash (If you’re from Ceres or near there, feel free to call me a dick but these have always been my observations every time and I see no reason to change my opinion). By no means is it anywhere near the more glamorous San Francisco or reemerging Sacramento scene.
But see here is the problem. Today’s society derives all of their thinking from knee jerk reactions to pictures or to be more specific, memes. What used to be bumper stickers or t-shirts with obnoxious, funny,or vulgar sayings are now wall feeds of stupid pics with troll commentary from everyone of your friends on Facebook that look shit up all day long and can’t think for themselves. So after having an internal uproar of this e-mail and initially thinking that 4ARM indeed get screwed, it was time to look up more information. The Workshop looks like shit on the outside apparently but quite a few higher profile bands like Six Feet Under and Dying Fetus have played here under the CVDM (Central Valley Death Metal) group that runs the venue and it’s my understanding that the place is great from the inside. So now the opinion is starting to change. As more news comes in and you start to get perspectives from all sides it really starts to change to not be so sympathetic to the band. Case in point is this fully updated article from The Music out of Melbourne themselves.
So here is what I get from this whole thing (I’m spending way too much time on this portion but I think it’s important for later). 4ARM drops off the tour due to poor communication and organizing on the part of Nemesis Records and uses The Workshop as a scapegoat to fully sink in that they were victims and the conditions were unbearable. Once the backlash from other bands on the tour, the organizers and even fans on the Facebook page started rolling in the story changed to expand on just how they were getting screwed and that it really wasn’t about the venue itself, guys, we were just emotionally drained by then.
“We pulled out because we had absolutely no itinerary and the communication with the promoter on our end was very poor if not non existent, we would find out venue addresses on the day, not be told load in times, set times, line up, or even be given any kind of idea of the running of any of the shows. We are a band that likes to have things very well organised and none of our performance needs were met in any way.
“We were promised certain advances to help financially and never received them. It is because of the total lack of organisation and professionalism in which the tour was expected to run that we were forced to re-asses the benefit to the long term interest of the band. We were accused of not showing solidarity toward the other bands on tour with no justification to the claims.
“Everyone claims to throw their arms in the air when they hear stories of bands having to pay to play. We spent in excess of $20,000 to come to the US for a run of shows where we never received what we were told we were going to receive. This is the bigger picture, not what venues we were told to play in. We are sorry to our US fans and promise we will be back.”
So now we get to the question that was asked in the article title. How many dues does a band have to pay to in essence act like a diva? Take into account that I do believe the band forked over 20,000 dollars to come over here from Australia and play because you’ve got the band’s plane tickets plus any crew or merch people and the cost of transporting all the gear overseas plus transportation, food, and lodging (if any) while here. But do we say suck it up if you truly want to make it in the metal business or is their equal finger pointing to go around for everybody? Here are my points to this and this isn’t just for 4ARM but this could apply to any band.
1. Extreme metal be it thrash or death or black metal has never, ever been a lucrative business except for a handful of bands which by now you should know who I’m talking about(especially in the thrash genre). Most of them have spent 80 percent of their touring existence playing in tiny to decent size clubs, bars, or theaters. Arenas only during big festivals and mostly overseas where they get maybe a 30 minute set. In this day in age if you’re in a band and have been around for 8 years you must really love what you’re doing to persevere for that long only to just now get some sort of recognition. Because you’re still not going to make any kind of money at it even if you ever do get the level of recognition you want.
2. After 8 years and being a big deal in Australia I can see having some sort of big head but Australia is barely making a blip on anything over here in the States. It’s like having people from Japan or India with prestigious degrees in their own country and having to redo all of their schooling to be validated here. The same thing applies to metal bands. You might be hot shit in your homeland but you have a fuckton of competition from other bands here not to mention 20 something other countries vying for attention. Some of these bands are ecstatic to even get on a bill as an opener and here you have a band acting like they want to be professional and have no issues and get famous even though they’re on a billing with a bunch of other bands that aren’t recognized nationally. Just because they traveled farther.
3. Get over yourself and play the shows anyway. Learn to adapt and learn from mistakes either by yourself, your management, or by the venue. If you do want to make it over here and win over fans, you play at all shows no matter the size. You spent 20,000 dollars to get here? I’m glad you were even able to have that kind of money because most bands breaking in will never see that much money ever. And you won’t probably make that money back. You have to spend money to make money. Using that as a sympathy plea gets you none in an arena where the fans often times are just as broke as the bands but still make time to attend and buy merch. You don’t like the looks of The Workshop? Looks like a shanty shack in the Outback to me so what’s the difference? Its off a stretch of freeway that usually smells like barley and cowshit. But you know what? Bigger and more prestigious bands than you played there and had good things to say about it. Getting dirty and being broke should be inspiration to make pissed off thrash music. Not be an inconvenience that is below some delusional standard you have set for yourself.
4. Metal music is a giant network within the internet. You’ve essentially labeled yourself as hard to deal with assholes with a sense of entitlement with promoters,bloggers, and the reading public. Good luck getting on a more preferred touring slot with anybody anytime soon and if you do it will be as show openers instead of a higher billing you had with this tour you were just booted from. I would recommend some damage control by you or your management be done because dropping off this tour just made it harder for you to recoup any losses and spotty shows like the Whiskey in L.A. isn’t going to help you try and get back home at a minimum.
Whew. I’m spent from all of this. So after reading my stuff and clicking on links to get a full picture and reading my viewpoint list, what do you all think? Am I off base? Is 4ARM off base or victims in this? Do you think fault should be evenly spread out? What kind of expectations do you think an international band should have should they be fortunate enough to play so far from home? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.