Enlarge Photo Credit: Mihaela Petrescu Photography

The Agonist’s Chris Kells Has Been Banned from the U.S., Forced to Sit Out Upcoming Tour


Our government has a stellar track record of disallowing metal musicians from touring here, usually for the wrong reasons and/or plain old bureaucratic idiocy. Such is sadly the case for Chris Kells, bassist of Canadian metallers The Agonist, who will be forced to miss the band’s upcoming tour due to what he paints as a rash decision by U.S. border control agents resulting in a five-year ban from entering America.

In a statement posted to The Agonist’s Facebook page, Kells goes into detail on the events leading to his ban, saying it was “a result of misguided information given to me, and the CBP [U.S. border control], by my EMPLOYER, at the time of entry,” referring to a previous attempt to visit the United States for work related to his day job in video production. I’d be really curious to know what exactly that “misguided information” was — is our government really that draconian that a small paperwork error could result in a five-year ban, or is there a crucial piece of info missing here? — but alas, at this point it’s moot.

Pavlo Haikalis, a longtime friend and collaborator of the band, will be filling in for Kells on The Agonist’s upcoming appearing on the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise and the band’s March and April tour with Fleshgod Apocalypse.

Here’s the statement in full:

“Friends, it comes with great disappointment and frustration to announce that I will not be on the 70k of metal cruise, or the upcoming Fleshgod Apocalypse tour this March with The Agonist.

“This comes as a result not of choice but because of US border regulations.

“As some of you already know I work in video production while being home from tour. The corporate video company I work for here in Montreal had me go to the states a couple of times to perform interviews and get video footage of the clients who we were working with.

“Unfortunately, the last time I went to cross into the USA, a CBP (border control) officer deemed me inadmissible and banned me from entering America for 5 years. This was a result of misguided information given to me, and the CBP, by my EMPLOYER, at the time of entry. This essentially led to me being cornered by officers, and forced to sign documents acknowledging my apparent misconduct. (This evidently has nothing to do with playing awesome music for people in our beautiful neighbour country) Sadly I have applied for a waiver from these ridiculous charges but have still been denied entry regardless.

“It has been an extremely aggravating year trying to get all this figured out with Immigration lawyers and has caused me great mental distress, as playing shows with my friends in The Agonist is one of my most cherished experiences of life. I am left at a loss and have no further options but to seek a temporary replacement for all US related shows!

“That being said, I would like to take the time to introduce you all to a great friend of mine, Pavlo Haikalis, who will be filling in for me. Pavlo has always been there on the sidelines for The Agonist. Helping out with gear, pre production process, building my custom PHG basses for me, and just all around being the great dude that he is. Please welcome him with open arms and horns up! I can’t imagine anybody else to better kick ass for me in this trying time.”

Here are the dates of that Fleshgod Apocalypse tour:

Mar 16 – Dallas, TX – House of Blues [Tickets]
Mar 17 – Austin, TX – Emo’s [Tickets]
Mar 19 – Atlanta, GA – Buckhead Theatre [Tickets]
Mar 20 – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Soundstage [Tickets]
Mar 21 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts [Tickets]
Mar 22 – Brooklyn, NY – The Warsaw [Tickets]
Mar 23 – Quebec City, QC – Le D’Auteuil [Tickets]
Mar 24 – Montreal, QC – Theatre Corona [Tickets]
Mar 25 – Toronto, ON – Phoenix, Concert Theatre [Tickets]
Mar 26 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues [Tickets]
Mar 27 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues [Tickets]
Mar 28 – Lincoln, NE – The Royal Grove [Tickets]
Mar 29 – Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall [Tickets]
Mar 31 – Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre [Tickets]
Apr 1 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon [Tickets]
Apr 2 – Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom [Tickets]
Apr 4 – San Diego, CA – Observatory North Park [Tickets]
Apr 5 – Mesa, AZ – Club Red [Tickets]
Apr 6 – Los Angeles, CA – The Regent Theater [Tickets]

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