Hawkwind have cancelled their tour of North America for the second year in a row.
The space rockers were scheduled to perform here in 2013 but ended up postponing the shows until this year; however, the costs and logistics of bringing their show from England to the U.S. and Canada proved to be too much for the band.
In a long Facebook post, the band discussed the barriers they faced including visas, IRS and tax paperwork and the costs of transportation, accommodations and other travel expenses. Even though the band, in some form, has been together since 1969, they have had many ups and downs. Currently, they are working without the support of a record label, as cited below, and are not financially able to front the amount of money needed for such an endeavor. They also discuss the difference between booking in Britain, where 50% of the fees are paid upon signing the contract, and North America, where no money is forthcoming until after the first show is performed.
The open letter to the band’s North American fans provides excellent insight into the current situation with many artists in this day and age of independent production, something that will become more common in the years to come:
It is with great regret that we finally have to accept defeat and realise that the proposed North American dates that we have tried so hard to secure are not going to be possible after all. Together with the promoters of the five shows, which we hoped to reschedule, we have tried everything, but it has become a logistical nightmare.
In Europe and the rest of the world we always work on the premise of a 50% deposit on exchange of contracts, this enables us to make the essential travel arrangements for our somewhat large production. Unfortunately in North America this does not appear to be standard practice. However, on this occasion, as the band and crew were all so excited about the prospect of bringing our show to our North American fans, we put all of our money and savings into making it happen, relying on the fact that deposits would eventually be forthcoming and certainly within a few days of travel, so that we did not arrive on a foreign shore penniless…
The expenses of an undertaking such as this are extensive. We found that even if we could raise the money for airfares etc and the many hidden extras such visa applications, IRS and tax paperwork, for two different countries, which we did; the back line hire, transportation and accommodation expenses, not to mention any wages or basic sustenance of the band and crew, with no record company backing or other sponsorship, and with the onus on the band themselves to raise all of this money, was just not possible.
With the best will in the world, the five remaining gigs, between them, offered us $15000, which would not be payable until after the first gig. This would leave us with all of the upfront real costs of flights, transport and accommodation for 11 people. This did not include the hiring of backline, without which, the concerts could not take place. We have tried individually and collectively to borrow the necessary money from banks in England on the back of the promises from the North American promoters. However, the U.K. banks are not prepared to loan us in excess of $40,000 with only $15,000 guaranteed into an escrow account, which would only become payable after the first concert. Together with the fact that in October the promised deposits did not arrive, the ever escalating costs have reduced any chance of acquiring a UK bank loan for this project.
We are all devastated as we have spent nearly a year trying desperately to make this tour happen for all of our North American fans, and no one is more disappointed than us.
To have abandoned the possibility of doing these shows months ago would have seemed like giving up without a fight and we wanted to make sure that we left no stone unturned in our endeavours to make these shows happen, which was, in fact, all of our goals and all of our dreams. This huge effort to bring the show to our North American fans has become all encompassing and over the last year has affected not only our lives, but those of our friends and families and has undermined our creativity in that period.
Although Dave was not well enough to travel such a long distance in October, in retrospect, it could be considered that the band had a narrow escape as, in these circumstances, arriving in America with no accommodation, no food and no guarantee of payment would have been detrimental, not only to his health, but to all of the other members of our party to which Dave feels a great responsibility.
We always have to consider and respect the fact, that it is not just ourselves that we have to look after…, we have a duty of care to a whole ensemble of people, of various ages and experience, whose welfare in a foreign country must be our prime consideration.
With this in mind, it would be unfair and unethical to embark on a tour where we personally could not vouch for their welfare or safety if we did not have the necessary finances in place to safeguard their situation.
Yours in sorrow, (but not ruling out hope for the future!)
More from VVN Music