As the news about the COVID-19 outbreak intensifies each day, touring musicians face a harsh reality: Brave the crowds and continue to tour, cancel, or be canceled. For bands like the Boston-based metal act Worshipper, canceling the last leg of their US tour is a last resort that’s out of their control.
“At this point, it is up to the promoters and clubs, ultimately, but there are many things at play here,” says John Brookhouse, singer and guitarist for Worshipper. “We are part of a four-band package with Weedeater, the Goddamn Gallows, and the Atomic Bitchwax and recently just started working with a reputable booker. So, we are going to stay out until someone sends us home.”
Brookhouse says that they’re relying on the income from the remaining dates to pay for their rental van among other expenses, but they will cancel and take the loss if they need to.
“We will take the hit if we have to but if the package is rolling on, we are too,” he says. “I know many people are pulling the plug and playing it safe. And that is something we are absolutely aware of and keeping tabs on. We are not diminishing the seriousness of this at all. We’re also having the best tour we’ve ever had, so there’s a little bit of that factored in as well.”
The band has been taking precautions like washing hands as often as possible and doing what they can to keep their immune systems up, even though it’s hard with limited food options and limited rest. Brookhouse says taking vitamin C and avoiding alcohol helps as well.
“I think people are a little more understanding about not wanting to shake hands at least,” he says. “So fist and elbow bumps are met with a little less confusion.”
In spite of current social distancing recommendations—and the fact that back home in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker prohibited gatherings of 250 or more people—Brookhouse says the turnout for their shows has been the best he’s seen and he doesn’t sense much trepidation among fans.
“Honestly, it has been packed at pretty much every show,” he says. “It is by far the best turnout of any tour we’ve been part of. But we will see how the next few days go.”
For fans who don’t feel comfortable about attending shows right now, Brookhouse says they should not feel bad about not going. Instead, he says the best thing you can do to support a band right now is purchasing their music and merchandise.
“I think the best thing people can do is to hop on Bandcamp and buy some stuff from bands they like who may have had to cancel or cut their tours short,” he says. “So many people are going be impacted by this. But bands make next to nothing and in most cases touring is a losing proposition. So if you like a band and hoped to see them, buy something from them. We always appreciate it.”
This interview took place Thursday, March 12. After finishing the tour on March 15, Brookhouse encourages touring bands to try and get home at this point.
He wrote on his Facebook page: “I sure am looking forward to going home and not leaving the house. (that isn’t sarcastic.)”