The 8 struggles of loving an international band
Over the past few years, I’ve become a musical anglophile. With that comes complications. I heard my friends in Brazil and Southeast Asia with their pleas for American acts to come to their countries with sympathy. Those same bands they never got to see came to my city once every few months. Now I’ve found myself on their side, damn-near ready to move to support the bands I love.
Here are just a few of the woes that come along with loving a band from abroad—as well as some of the perks and opportunities:
Never seeing them live
One of my very favorite small British bands, LostAlone, broke up before they ever made it to my state. Touring is hard enough, but with the added stress of getting visas, transporting humans and equipment over an ocean and traveling across such an expansive country as the U.S., it’s hardly worth the financial burden. Count yourself lucky if your favorite international bands have the backing they need to come to your country. That’s not always the case.
International travel is expensive
Okay, so you’ve given up hope that your favorite band will come to your country. There is only one option left: Going to them. Google Flights will likely tell you the travel alone will cost more than $1,000. And since you’re taking this wild leap, you’ll probably want to make the most of it and follow a few dates, right? As it all adds up (travel, lodging, ticket costs, living essentials) you’ll find yourself in a well of debt so deep you’ll find a demon Brendon Urie dancing at the bottom of it.
No one knows who they are in your country
One of the best ways to form a bond with people in this scene is to share a favorite band. Whether you meet a friend at a show or just find someone who shares your enthusiasm for an artist at random, it instantly connects you. Trying to get someone to share your love for an overseas band is a little more complicated.
Money conversions and international shipping are the worst
£40 doesn’t sound so bad—until you convert it to dollars and find out it actually costs $60, plus a British pounds-to-American dollars conversion cost, then atop that, the lowest shipping rate is about £8 ($12) … Suddenly, what once deceptively looked like it was going to cost $48 actually ends up costing $75. Great.
Music is released on different timelines internationally
One of my current favorite listens, Creeper’s The Callous Heart EP, won’t see its official U.S. release and distribution until next year, which means music fans over here won’t get hyped on it until after it’s old news to everyone across the pond. I’ve learned to dread that awful “this release is not available in your country” message on iTunes.
Most of the international bands I love are English speakers, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t language barriers. The amount of times I’ve found myself Googling “British slang: [insert word here]” is obscene, but also educational. Watching interviews with bands like BABYMETAL, for instance, might spark your interest in learning Japanese, which is great. I know several fans who have improved their English by listening to English-speaking bands. It definitely makes learning everything there is to know about a band harder, however.
Not understanding their references
Wait: Why is everyone laughing all of the sudden? What is this television program I’ve never heard of? Where is this city you’re talking about, and why does talking about it make you laugh? Much like language, cultural references can be hard to pick up on when you’re reading or watching an interview with your foreign favorites. This is also a great opportunity to do some cross-cultural research: Pull up a map of their country, search their references. Learn more about the world while enjoying the music you love.
It’s 5 a.m., and like any reasonable human, you’re still sleeping. On the other side of the globe, your favorite band are wide awake, have already started their day, eaten lunch, launched three music videos, announced a tour and streamed a new song—all things you won’t learn about for several hours when the buzz online has dulled and your fellow fans have regained their chill. Sigh.