Rolling Stone checked in with some of rock's heaviest road dogs — and asked them about what it would take for them to head back out on tour.
Most of the artists had road dates either already on the books, or about to start when the pandemic hit. They gave their unique view on how the coronavirus has affected their work.
“All we have right now, if you’re home in quarantine, is time, unless you’re taking care of kids. So, really, you could do anything that you’ve been wanting to do your whole life. That’s how I’m trying to look at it. . . This is the year I was going to talk to everybody about making my movie and do some recording and meet new people. Well, you’re not going to meet any new people, because you can’t leave your house.”
“I don’t think most people know what it’s done to the music business. It’s everyone that I know. They’re completely out of work, and a lot of them don’t make a lot of money. Everyone is like, 'You’re a rock star and you drive in a Cadillac and you burn money.' Bulls***. 90 percent of us are working people, and our job is gone. I hope I’m back on tour next year, but I’m not sure I’ve got a next year. That’s the thing: I’m almost 80-years-old. When you take away my next year, you might have just taken the last one I got. That’s a bitch. I think they are doing the right thing to not have aggregations of people, but don’t kid yourself about the effect. To us? To the musicians? It’s a goddamn disaster.”
“The coronavirus is so real and so scary and life-threatening. I haven’t seen yet a solution that will work until we get a vaccine. I guess I’m more patient than some. I keep telling my family, if it was lions and tigers roaming out there, you could see that, so that prepares you psychologically, so you realize you don’t want to go out there and be reckless. . . I don’t want to be the guy who contributes to that. You go do a concert with 10,000 people, and then find out afterwards that some of them died? I don’t think any of us will really be ready until after we have a vaccine and people feel safe again. I’m an older person, and a lot of people my age have died. Maybe some other guy thinks it’s a good idea, but I’m not dying for Donald Trump. I’m not dying for the economy. How can you have any kind of a crowd?”
“I'll be comfortable playing a show before there’s a vaccine, if it’s declining and seems to be going away. I’m going to make a radical statement here. This is hard to say without stirring somebody up, but truthfully, I’d rather personally get sick and even die, if that’s what it takes. We have to save the world and this country from this economic thing that’s going to kill more people in the long run. I would rather see everyone go back to work. If some of us have to sacrifice on that, OK. I will die for my children and my grandchildren to have a life anywhere close to the life that I had in this wonderful country.”
“I can’t imagine social distancing at the gig and everyone’s six feet apart. Where are you going to do it? In an aircraft hangar? I don’t think that can happen. I’ll just wait. I mean, 'normal' wasn’t very good. Let’s face it, we had gotten used to a normal that was very destructive and very unpleasant, very noisy, very dirty, and very dangerous. If we can recraft the future a little bit, this is an opportunity to do it. And if it means sacrificing things we love . . . Would you rather have blue skies and birdsong? Or would you rather go to a gig?”
STEVE VAN ZANDT
“You gotta think that (there will be shows again). I don’t think that I could handle the sadness of not thinking that. You’ve got to hope that the scientists will come through. I think that day will come, and hopefully sooner rather than later. It could happen as soon as the summer of '21. I’m still hoping for that. But we’d better be mentally prepared for not. I do believe there will be an intermediate stage, where we will actually get in the same room (and perform on camera for a remote audience). That will need fast and accurate testing. . . I think people will be performing like that within the next six months. Even though the audience will be home, that will be helpful in terms of people feeling like life has some normalcy.”
CHEAP TRICK'S TOM PETERSSON
“We can’t afford to just stop. We’re not living paycheck to paycheck, but we’re not a huge act like the Rolling Stones or U2. We haven’t talked about doing (streaming concerts) — to what end? So we can get publicity, so people can go, “Oh! Cheap Trick! I forgot about them. I’m going to go out and steal some of their music'? What good does it do? But we wouldn’t be comfortable playing before a vaccine is out.”
To read all the musicians' full testimonials, log onto: 14 Veteran Touring Artists On Life Without Concerts