I spoke to friend and fellow Maritimer, Kyle McDonald of the band Zaum (I HATE records), about his experiences in Europe over the past two few years. Zaum have only been active since mid 2013, yet have experienced a fair amount of success at home and internationally in an astoundingly short period of time. I threw a few questions his way, to which he provided some fantastic insight from his personal experiences.
How long do you normally tour while in Europe/where are some of the places you play there?
To make a European tour worth your while based on the cost of flights – a tour of at least 2 weeks is typically minimum. The only exception to that is if you’re offered 1-2 very high guarantee offers, for example to high profile festivals etc. In those cases it may be still worth your while to even head over to play only a few shows at a time.
I personally love playing Eastern Europe. The market is largely untapped, so a show there is going to typically draw a much larger crowd and people will be generally much more appreciative and enthusiastic in regards to your band (assuming you are good!). You’ll usually get extra special treatment from promoters and show goers, and it’s an unbelievably beautiful part of the world.
How did you first go about booking a European tour?
Booking a European tour is very tiring. Typically, bands have booking agents who will put together a tour for them, and all of the details are taken care of. The issue is this – the lesser known your band is, despite the fact that agents or agencies may really love your music and excitedly agree to book a tour for you – you’ll discover they are incredibly flakey.
For this very reason, many decide to go independent and fill in the rest of the dates themselves. It’s difficult, especially for a first time band – but the idea is to ask favors from bands and/or promoters who have already been over there and have some connections and contacts. Frankly, had it not been for a half dozen friends of mine who helped with me booking contacts, I likely wouldn’t have played there yet. Once you have contacts – the idea is to put your head down, get comfortable and ready to spend days behind your computer sending emails to thousands of promoters/venues/contacts.
What major differences do you find between playing Europe versus Canada?
Europe is entirely different. Firstly, the promoters care about your experience and well-being. When you book a show in EU, you can provide a hospitality rider which is typically filled for you. Expect an early load in, most certainly a soundcheck, a really well prepared hot/fresh meal, a full spread of snacks, drinks of all sorts, assorted food typically including fresh fruit etc, etc. It’s not out of the ordinary for it to be an open bar situation for band members. Also beyond this, people buy light years more merchandise than they do in North America. Crowds are very attentive and enthused. People want to talk to you after the show and make it well known how much they loved what they witnessed. Also expect for Europeans to spread the word. Europeans are interested in discovering new music, purely on the basis of their deep desire and appreciation for it.
David Haddad is an aspiring writer and musician who has been playing in bands since the age of fifteen. As a second year Professional Writing student at Algonquin College, David attempts to balance school while maintaining his band, The Human Comedy, in Moncton, NB.