This past Wednesday (July 8), MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn spoke to Primordial Radio about how he is dealing with the coronavirus crisis and what the touring circuit might look like post-pandemic. He said (see video below): "I've been saying this for months, and people don't really like my opinion of it, but I think this thing's gonna go on for two to probably four years, the pandemic.
"I think when it first hit, we were all a little naïve about what exactly was happening. We rushed into kind of, 'Let's reschedule [our European tour].' And then so much changed — it's like the world flipped on its head in four weeks. Everything that you kind of knew was, like, 'Woah!' Every single venue we were gonna play is now permanently closed, at least for the foreseeable future. And yeah, this tour ain't gonna happen.
"Look, nothing would make me happier than doing it," he continued. "I've been on tour since I was freakin' 18 years old. This is all I know. For it to come to a halt like this sucks. And I really do hope that — fingers crossed — [the novel coronavirus] goes away or we get a cure or something happens. But to me, that type of thinking, for my brain, doesn't work.
"Being in a band has taught me that you have to take the harshest of harsh looks at everything in your life — good and bad — and constantly re-evaluate it and go, 'Is this gonna work? Is this not working? Can we do this? Can we not do this?' And then roll the dice and go, 'Yeah, I think this might work,' and just do it. That's what being in a band is.
"After four weeks of so, kind of seeing where the world is, I was, like, 'Yeah, this is gonna last for years.' And even after it goes away, I think people are gonna be so shellshocked that they're not gonna wanna go out to shows. Venues are talking about reopening — even when they do reopen — at 25 percent capacity. That's 2500 people in a 10,000 seater. That's gonna suck. [Laughs]
"So, how are promoters gonna make money? We've already had promoters ask us to take 50 percent reductions in our guarantee. That's a complete devastating financial loss for us that we can't bear. We can't afford to tour. It costs so much money."
Flynn went on to say that he doesn't think most people realize just how much it costs to tour now. "It's freakin' insane," he said. "Most tours that we do operate at a loss. Almost all the tours that we do operate at a loss. And it's three other peripheral things that all revolve around the tour that kind of make it all work. And in my case, I just love playing. The whole 'Burn My Eyes' [25th-anniversary tour] that we just did, it lost money. I just didn't care. I was fine with losing money, because it was so worth it to celebrate this incredible milestone and this incredible moment with the guys that I wrote the music with, and with Vogg [Polish guitarist Wacław Kiełtyka] and [British drummer] Matt [Alston], the new guys, and it was this crazy three-hour show. It was worth it."
According to Robb, he is in no rush to play shows before it is completely safe to do so.
"I can wait till it fixes itself, whatever that 'fixing itself' is. MACHINE HEAD's worth a lot, and I'm not worried about it. When we come back, it's gonna be when we can have that kind of communal religious experience that is a MACHINE HEAD show. Five thousand people in a five-thousand seater screaming their lungs out, everybody's singing their fucking brains out and circle pitting and jumping and you're drinking — all the crazy stuff that happens. And until that can happen, I can wait.
"People are, like, 'Oh, do you wanna do drive-in shows?' No. [Laughs] No. I can wait. I'll wait," he said. "It will correct itself. It will go back to normal. It will eventually be good again. There's probably gonna be things that are different. I don't know what those things are.
"I've been doing this for 33 years, bro. I've seen so many freakin' changes come across the land — things become hot and phenomenons happen and phenomenons disappear. And we just keep on putting one foot in front of the other, and it eventually works out."
On June 17, MACHINE HEAD released "Civil Unrest", a two-song digital single featuring A-side "Stop The Bleeding" and B-side "Bulletproof". This pair of fierce protest anthems were both written days after the back-to-back murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. "Stop The Bleeding" features a guest appearance from KILLSWITCH ENGAGE frontman Jesse Leach, with Flynn and Leach trading lyrical lines that spit anger and frustration at current events.
MACHINE HEAD is donating a significant portion of the streaming proceeds from "Stop The Bleeding" to Grassroots Law Project, the organization representing George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.