"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Chosen Responds to Inquiries on Possibility of Upcoming Tour

After the release of its debut album, "Resolution," back in March, Chosen has received many inquiries on the possibility of an upcoming tour. The Irish extreme metallers weighed in the pros and cons of touring as an independent band. Read on for the band's decision.

"It’s been a couple of months since we released 'Resolution' to the public and one particular subject that has surfaced in comments and interviews is whether we will be playing live. As a quick perusal of our previous gig dates attests, touring is something we have experience of and it’s something we've never ruled out from ever happening again. However, considering all the risks involved and the nature of the underground live music scene being completely flooded with gigging bands, we have seriously questioned the (in)sanity of trying to organise a tour for this album.

"Obviously, there are people out there who would love to see us perform and we are humbled by such requests. But touring, on an independent level such as ours, is likely to invite more complications and stress into our lives than the pleasure of another ‘working holiday’ in a foreign land, playing to audiences, could ever compensate for. We’re not strictly anti-touring, by any means, as it really can be a fun experience when the circumstances are right. But all too often it leads to burn-out, line-up changes and even breakups, as we once discovered.

"While most people now understand that there is relatively little money to be made in selling music, this has shifted the focus onto tours as being the only viable source of income. Yet, contrary to popular belief, touring can be one of the fastest ways for a band to lose money because of the costs involved. That said; some musicians are quite okay with this kind of ‘pay-off’ as it gives them a vacation from their normal life back home. Moreover, given that people typically pay to visit holiday destinations for the experience, if a touring band are also paying so that they can perform music live, what’s wrong with that? At the end of the day, it boils down to what each band is trying to achieve and what they’re prepared to accept.

"The general consensus is that touring has a central role to play in ‘getting the music out there,’ exposing it to new audiences, as well as just putting on a great live show for existing fans. A lot of young bands from the time of their initial formation have aspirations of touring one day. They often start out by saying they want to ‘record and then tour,’ and there are a number of valid reasons for this. Firstly, touring has been the standard model since before the music business even came about and is, therefore, the tried and tested route. Secondly, when everything does fall into place, and there are many variables to consider, it can be the gateway to future financial success and relative stability. But, as with most things, there is another side to the coin.

"Sadly, many underground bands commit to various kinds of tours that do absolutely nothing for them. Of course, the rationale behind such decisions is usually that some good will come of it because ‘every band that ever made it toured at one stage or another.’ While there is a kernel of truth to this statement, it conveniently ignores the probabilities and real life circumstances that are part and parcel of the whole touring dynamic. Some musicians, usually (but not limited to) those who reside within the niche genres, can adopt a heavily romanticised view of the touring lifestyle. The notion of being a ‘road warrior,’ slumming it out as a working musician away from the mundane day-to-day trappings of contemporary life, all in the name of ‘staying true’ to themselves and following their heart, is quite attractive to many impressionable young people. In fact, it is very easy to see how one could become embroiled in such romantic desires fuelled by a sense of symbolic rebellion, as opposed to settling down and working a boring, ‘normal’ job until retirement age, like the majority of people in society end up doing out of basic necessity.

"But while these self-styled musical adherents may proudly dedicate themselves to playing anywhere that supplies electricity and a stage, all in the name of being a ‘true’ artist, the lifestyle can lead many to dire straits, both financially and emotionally. Of course, these particular individuals may downplay the negatives of their chosen regime when the subject comes up in discussion with others, but it just goes to show that playing live music can mean more to some people than having a relatively comfortable life. Perhaps many of these kinds of touring musicians are simply looking for an escape that isn't there. People will go on tour and put themselves through all kinds of situations for certain forms of compensation, not always money. Reputation, attention, social status; these things are all highly valued within society. It’s human nature. People will gladly do tours if it ‘pays’ them in other ways.

"Even bands that decide to ‘buy-on’ to small tour packages will often take the opportunity to publicise how they’re opening for such a band (and doing a number of dates in different cities/countries) as though this is some kind of yardstick for measuring success. But if they had to pay to be there, then just how impressive is it really? While some might look at it as a result of the band’s hard work and talent, those with a different perspective on how the industry operates might see it for what it is: a promoter who needed some financial security by offering a support slot to a much lesser known band that were willing to fork out a significant sum of money for the privilege. Each to their own. Where we (and many others) draw the line with touring is when it starts to interfere with other areas of life.

"While some musicians adopt the aforementioned self-styled image of total commitment to music and remain entrenched in a kind of protective confinement of a limited set of rules (‘I am a touring musician and music is my life’), we have never felt the need to restrict ourselves in such a way. And although certain musicians espouse that touring is a duty no matter what, as though you’re not as serious a musician if you don’t tour, some of these same idealists also tend to omit how they've been supported by their parents their whole lives (which has allowed them to stay in a bubble of their own reality), and no matter how badly they screwed up, someone was always there to bail them out of their self-made troubles.Rock ‘n’ roll, indeed. If there’s any sort of advice or ‘message’ to be gleaned from this entire piece of self-indulgent verbosity, it’s that before diving headfirst into trying to make some money from music, which could involve having to hit the road every few months, one should take stock of the odds. For example, you wouldn’t be able to justify spending half of your income on lottery tickets would you? And why not? ‘It’s a lot of money to sink into something for which the odds are so high; the money could be better spent on other things instead.’ Those are the very same reasons that prevent many people from attempting a ‘career’ in the music industry today. Because, just like the lottery, it is a game of probability. Yes, it requires talent, enthusiasm, perseverance and luck but no self-serving bias can ever shield the true reality of the statistics. There are winners but there are definitely losers (in the sense of not being able to sustain the lifestyle) and droves of them. The other difference is that buying lottery tickets doesn't involve having to ‘hit the road,’ which often means unpaid time off work or having to quit one’s job entirely and looking for a new job when the tour ends. No doubt the perceived status and attractive exterior of the music industry reels many people in but it’s just one aspect to being a musician in the digital age. Maybe in order to understand the persistence of some musicians we need to look at their emotional needs first. How many bands have members who will hack it out and keep going regardless of the repercussions, simply because of pride or an unrelenting desire to be a ‘somebody’? Countless musicians have at one point or another expressed their relentless devotion to making music that they would sacrifice everything else in their lives if it meant they could continue to write and express themselves.

"The search for significance in life is an incredible one. Yet the real significance of our lives is that we are even here. In a world of approximately seven billion people, we are all searching for significance (we evolved to feel that way) but significance is not the same as conspicuous success. Understandably, the actions of many people are motivated by wanting to leave their mark on the world. However, not everyone will have their dreams fulfilled. Indeed, some people can’t handle the possibility that their life may turn out to be nothing more than ‘ordinary’ (a truly subjective term) so they try to make their lives super special and attempt to fill it with things that only a handful of people get to experience in life. It’s a recipe for disillusionment and disappointment in a lot of cases.

"But returning to touring; we are not all that enthusiastic about putting ourselves in a very financially-risky situation just so we can say we’re on tour and feel like we’re achieving something important because there are people out there who will come along to watch us. As it stands, we receive very little money through selling hardcopies of our music and donations and, therefore, are not about to take the plunge into putting a tour together which could seriously jeopardise the budget for our next album. Given how so many new acts are being discovered online and/or through word of mouth these days, we feel it is worth waiting to see how much our music spreads before committing to any tours. In other words: it is early days yet. Though, as time goes on, there is also the possibility that we may never be in a position to tour.Of course, risk cannot be totally eliminated but whether we travel to play in front of 50 people or 500, the expenses are often the exact same. The difference, however, is that the more people who turn up the better the profit margins, thus, making it a worthwhile endeavour. We mean no disrespect to the people who are already willing to come out and pay to see us play, but having spent a significant sum of money on the recording and promotion of 'Resolution,' we are simply not able to perform abroad at such an early stage in our development.

"Much like the internet being oversaturated with music, the live music scene is equally bloated with varying kinds of performing artists. And if many established bands on record labels are having a hard time filling venues for their tours, we can’t exactly expect to be free of the same uncertainties that permeate the music scene. The contrast is that having one’s music online 24/7 doesn’t involve having to take unpaid holiday time off work, arrange transport and accommodation, and haul equipment up and down flights of stairs to play a forty-minute set for a mixed audience (who, in some cases, may not have even come out to see the band but just wanted to get drunk with their friends). The point being made here is this: exposure is not limited to gigs and being ‘on the road’ is not one idealised or homogenous experience either. There are different levels and while every band aspires to play in front of bigger audiences for better money the longer they keep at it, this only materialises for a small minority of people.

"For us, it comes down to weighing up what kind of crowds we think we can pull and offsetting the risks against what we can realistically afford to do. Remember, we’re giving away our music for free but that doesn’t mean we are made of money and can run off to do any tour we fancy. As a niche band, we’ve already experienced the thrill of performing live music in new places for diminishing returns. We don’t expect to make money playing this kind of music. But we’re also at a stage in our lives now where putting ourselves in even more debt for the sake of a small tour is just not something that appeals to us. At this point in time, the internet simply offers us more exposure than any independent tour ever could, as it still allows us to reach new people but without the expense of being ‘out there’ potentially losing money."

"Resolution" is available for download or purchase on the Chosen's website.

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