Blackpool punk legends THE MEMBRANES are currently undertaking their first US tour. Nearly forty years after they first came together.
But the tour has not been without its frustrations, costing the band thousands of dollars before they even got into the country, with severe delays in the process for obtaining entry visas causing the band to miss the opening dates, leaving them even further out of pocket.
Reporting from the road, in a piece titled Are These The Last Days Of British Bands Touring America? On the Louderthanwar website, band founder JOHN ROBB voiced his frustration.
“It’s an arcane, expensive and ridiculous system fraught with stress and hurdles," he says. "It doesn’t really help when you realise that American bands get into the UK for 50 dollars without any hassle – that’s a good thing – that’s how it should be. The Brits have called that one right. Culture should be able to move around the world and it should definitely be a fair and level playing field in a free market zone….
“Even when you get here there are the taxes. 30 per cent of your gig fee is taken off you every night. Paying tax in a country you don’t even live in is strange and annoying and cripples the already decimated tour budget. Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy to pay tax in a country I live in and vote in but everywhere I go?”
Receiving support from other UK musicians, including THE ONLY ONES’ Peter Perrett and Miles Hunt from THE WONDER STUFF, Robb has set up a Facebook campaign to highlight these concerns and hopefully bring about change.
The Membranes’ tour hits California tonight with shows at The Hideout, San Diego (28 Nov) and Slidebar Rock’n’Roll Kitchen, Fullerton (29 Nov). Then on 4 Nov they play XOXO in Oakland, with their show being preceded by “a no bollocks discussion of punk rock”, featuring Robb in conversation with Jello Biafra, former UK SUBS guitarist Nicky Garratt, SPITBOY’s Michelle Cruz Gonzales and Penelope Houston of THE AVENGERS.
The Memranes’ new album Dark Matter / Dark Energy is out now.
Check out the new Louder Than War magazine from the publishers of Vive Le Rock and Big Cheese!