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Friday, August 6, 2021

For U.Okay. Bands, Touring Europe Is Now a Freeway to Brexit Hell

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LONDON — When the British rock band Two Door Cinema Membership started taking part in exhibits throughout Europe a decade in the past, the group’s three members would leap in a van, throw their devices within the again and drive from their then hometown, Belfast, Northern Eire, to sweaty golf equipment in Amsterdam, Berlin, and Paris.

“We did that hundreds of times,” Kevin Baird, the group’s bassist, mentioned lately by telephone. “Everything was at a moment’s notice,” he added.

Now, it’s not so easy for Two Door Cinema Membership — or any British act — to tour Europe. Final Friday, the band headlined the Cruïlla music competition in Barcelona, Spain, taking part in to an viewers of 25,000 screaming followers. However due to Britain’s 2020 departure from the European Union, referred to as Brexit, the band spent weeks beforehand making use of for visas and immersing themselves in difficult new guidelines round trucking and exporting merchandise like T-shirts.

Visas and journey inside Britain to use for them value 7,500 kilos, about $10,400, for the band, two further musicians, and an eight-person crew, Baird mentioned. New guidelines imply {that a} British tour van carrying audio and lighting tools, or merchandise, can solely make three stops in mainland Europe earlier than it should return residence.

“It’s proved a headache when there was never a headache before,” Baird mentioned. “If we were a band starting out, we wouldn’t have done it,” he added.

For a lot of this yr, Brexit has been a fair greater speaking level in Britain’s music trade than the coronavirus pandemic. Since Jan. 1, when a commerce deal between Britain and the European Union got here into power, a whole bunch of British musicians — together with Dua Lipa and Radiohead — have complained that the deal makes touring the continent extra expensive for stadium acts, and virtually inconceivable for brand spanking new bands.

The brand new guidelines are “a looming catastrophe” for younger musicians, Elton John wrote on Instagram in June. “This is about whether one of the U.K.’s most successful industries, worth £111 billion a year, is allowed to prosper and contribute hugely to both our cultural and economic wealth, or crash and burn,” he added.

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Even musicians who supported Brexit have complained. Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden, advised a TV interviewer in June that, though he welcomed Britain’s departure from the European Union, he discovered the brand new guidelines unreasonable. He then addressed Britain’s authorities: “Get your act together,” he mentioned.

The furor over the laws has led to a blame recreation between Britain’s authorities and the European Union over which facet is answerable for the brand new obstacles, and who made viable gives when negotiating the commerce deal.

No matter who’s accountable, the problem has change into a humiliation for the British authorities. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has mentioned his authorities is working “flat out” on the problem. “We must fix this,” he advised lawmakers in March.

But thus far, there hasn’t been sufficient progress to appease musicians. In June, Britain agreed new commerce offers that the federal government mentioned would permit musicians to tour simply in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. This was met with disdain: “Ah those infamous tours of mountainous Liechtenstein with its total lack of airport,” Simone Marie of the band Primal Scream wrote on Twitter.

“We’re all becoming increasingly despondent,” mentioned Annabella Coldrick, the chief government of the Music Managers Discussion board, a commerce physique. In June, she helped launch Let the Music Transfer, a marketing campaign for the federal government to compensate artists for the brand new further prices and renegotiate the tour guidelines.

“The problems are only just starting to become clear,” because the coronavirus pandemic eases and bands begin reserving excursions, Coldrick mentioned. The most important sticking level was the regulation that vans and vans can solely cease thrice earlier than they need to return to Britain, she added.

A number of British music trucking enterprise have already moved a few of their operations to Eire to get across the guidelines. However Coldrick mentioned this was not a viable resolution: Vehicles would additionally should make longer journeys to select bands up, growing prices. It additionally appeared like a poor consequence for Britain, she mentioned, as a result of the nation was shedding firms and staff.

For Two Door Cinema Membership, the primary subject was visas, mentioned Colin Schaverien, the band’s supervisor. In June, a member of the band’s crew was rejected for a visa on a technicality associated to his job title, so he needed to reapply. One other band member, primarily based in Belfast, was advised they needed to fly to Scotland for a visa appointment.

Regardless of the band’s issues earlier than touring to Spain, Two Door Cinema Membership’s present final Friday went off with out a hitch.

“All the things we were worried about didn’t materialize,” mentioned Baird, the bassist. The band’s tools, touring in a truck from London, cleared customs on the British facet in 25 minutes; checks on the border in France took solely 10. The band, whose members flew to Barcelona, had no issues on the airport.

As soon as in, the group was so excited to be taking part in a present after months sitting at residence through the coronavirus pandemic, they took selfies of each second, Baird mentioned.

The group was equally excited, mentioned Marc Mortgage, 36, a fan who was within the viewers. “I made sure I didn’t drink much, so I didn’t have to miss anything,” he added.

“It was amazing,” Baird mentioned of the evening.

Brexit was the very last thing on his thoughts through the gig, Baird added, however it reared its head the subsequent day when the band and crew headed to the airport to fly residence. Members of the group with Irish passports, which everybody born in Northern Eire can maintain in addition to a British one, breezed by way of passport management; these with British passports solely have been caught in line for an hour.

The band was happy with the journey however Baird was apprehensive about how a extra difficult schedule would work. “We’re all well aware this was a one off concert,” he mentioned. “What we’re apprehensive about is next year when we’re playing three different countries in three days. I expect that will be a lot harder.”

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