Dez Fafara Warns That Rising Touring Costs Will Affect Fans Sooner Than Later
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s only gotten harder for bands to get out on tour. Like most things in life, costs have only increased despite ballooning profits, leaving artists in the lurch when it comes to the necessities for putting on a kick ass show. Costs have led bands to cancel tours and in some cases, even call it quits altogether.
It’s not ideal.
Earlier this week, yet another rock star spoke out against the current trend in rising tour costs. While speaking on a recent episode of Heavy Metal Mayhem, DevilDriver and Coal Chamber frontman Dez Fafara went into the weeds while discussing the business side of touring as both a band member and as a manager.
“The business of it is getting really called into the forefront now because bands are starting to talk about the business. Before, it was kind of taboo to talk about what you make on tour, what you don’t make on tour, if touring is hard monetarily. Five, ten years ago, people didn’t talk about how much buses were or how much it was to tour. And now it’s coming to the forefront, because everything has tripled.
“I said to somebody the other day, ‘I don’t know a young guy in a van is gonna do it. I don’t know how you’re gonna do it. And to give you an example, I have a huge management company. I had a band go out on a small little run. They came home with 235 thousand dollars net, but with all of the costs and with everything else, the band made 12 thousand dollars. And that’s with merch — everything. 240 grand — the band came home with 12 grand.
“I mean, it’s insanity. And I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I don’t think the buses are ever gonna come down. I don’t think the crews are ever gonna come down. I don’t think lighting that’s doubled, gas that’s tripled, I don’t see any of that returning back to form to where people can do this. So it’s gonna be a real rough go.
“We’re all facing those things now. I’ve got a second leg getting ready to be announced with DevilDriver and Cradle Of Filth — it’s gonna be announced for October — and I’m looking at the money, I’m looking at the budgets, and I’m, like, ‘Wow. This is rough.’ Even Coal Chamber going out with Mudvayne, I’m looking at everybody’s budgets, I’m looking at what everything costs, and it’s, like, insane what it costs.”
While things are bad for artists and managers, Fafara warned that fans might want to also get screwed by these rising costs, as promoters will look for ways to pass those costs onto ticket holders.
“I just read a thread online — on Reddit, actually — where fans are talking about that, and they’re boycotting. They’re, like, ‘Fuck you. I’m not gonna pay the money.’ But, yeah, we have to pass it on to the promoters. We have to say, ‘Look, my buses are triple. My crew is double. My gas is triple.’ Tolls have gone up because the United States, every fucking five minutes you’re stopping at a toll road now. They’ve taken that directly from Europe; they’ve learned that they can do that now. I’m just going over a budget for a previous run of a band that I manage, and they paid 4800 dollars in toll costs. So how is this supposed to work?
“So, yes, we have to pass it on to the promoter, which is gonna pass it on to… The tickets are gonna be higher. And then the fans are gonna get pissed, and they’re either gonna boycott it or they’re gonna go, ‘No, I’ll pay 50 bucks to see my favorite band.’ But what they’re not gonna do is go to two, three shows a week anymore. And that same fan that used to go to two, three shows, he’s going to one or two a month now. So… I don’t know. It’s rough. It’s definitely rough.
“And it’s not just rough for the small guys… And we manage some pretty big bands over here. And I look at budgets all day long; that’s my forte, man. And I don’t see how we can cut… You can’t cut it. It’s, like, ‘Well, we need to take a bus.’ Well, that same bus that was 350 dollars a day is 750, 800 a day. That same driver that was 200 a day is 550, 600 a day. That same hotel for the driver that was 120 a day is 250 a day. That same Uber that took the driver to the fucking hotel room that cost you 23 dollars, it’s 42 dollars. I mean, it’s insanity what’s happening.”