Written by: Michael Del Vecchio
To fight the spread of Covid-19, non-essential businesses in Toronto are closing their doors. Lee’s Palace, the Horseshoe Tavern, and Sneaky Dee’s are just some of the music venues postponing events until public gatherings are deemed safe. Concert-going Torontonians are respecting their decisions by staying indoors.
“I think a lot of good music will come out of this, and a lot of babies,” says Peter Turik, guitarist of Toronto-based metal band, Witchrot.
Witchrot played their last show for the foreseeable future on March 7 at the Drake Underground (another venue postponing all events). “We played a good show, made some money, good thing that we did,” says Turik.
Last Friday, the band released a B-side, a cover of Neil Young’s Hey Hey, My My, for their next single, Strega, on their Bandcamp page. In support of the online music community, Bandcamp waived their revenue share on all sales that same Friday, to “(rally) fans to put some money” directly into the pockets of musicians during this time. Witchrot planned to unveil a slew of newly-brewed tunes at shows over the spring. But now, until experts determine when the quarantine could be lifted, how to handle when and where to book shows is up in the air.
Bands that don’t have the luxury of being able to practice in their houses turn to rehearsal spaces. But these rehearsal spaces in Toronto are communal, of course, which makes them ideal places to suck up corona droplets from previous sneezes and coughs. The decision to stay home is clear.
“We’re sitting on a lot of music that we don’t just want to play, but we want to nail! I want to get together with the band and be confident in what we’re playing. But, we would have to go downtown to our jam space,” says Turik.
Witchrot intended on making their American debut over the spring. The bassist, Cam, was set to join on and play a show with another band at SXSW. Other upcoming festivals like Glastonbury 2020 and Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2020 have also been cancelled or postponed. Many bands have cancelled tours, here and overseas, to return home and respect Canadian and American travel bans and social distancing guidelines.
In a statement from their Facebook page, the band Reverend Horton Heat announced that “they can’t stop rock and roll,” and won’t cancel any of their upcoming shows. Musicians like RHH and Post Malone face criticism from the public for continuing to hold shows.
“Have a little respect for the old people that are going to be out or people who are weak. It pisses me off. Obviously, you want to play, but think of the greater good, stop being so nihilistic,” says Turik.
The guitarist says now is a good time for bands to release music because of the downtime everyone’s facing.
Check witchrot.bandcamp.com for new music and to stay up to date on the album release.
Consider supporting local bands, musicians, and artists in your area during this social distancing time any way you can.