Feature Stories

Musicians in the Coronavirus Era 5


The 2020 mantra: It’s the end of the world as we know it and nobody feels fine. Live music has been crushed. Has anyone been to a show that would allow for social distancing? What about a mosh pit? With venues closing and performers unable to do more than live stream or make solo videos, the music scene feels grim. And with what has happened in the last three weeks, it’s harder to accept that things will ever feel “normal” again, although hopefully we will end up with a better world, not the end of it.

That doesn’t mean musicians are sitting on their butts, there’s recording, there’s writing, and there’s those aforementioned online outlets. But musicians don’t want to be off the road and music fans don’t want to be sitting in front of their computers and TVs waiting to see when things return. As if there was a choice…

SF Sonic decided to check in with performers to find out how they’re handling these difficult times. This is the fifth in the series, you can find out what’s happening and check out some links to hear some music.  And if you can spare some change, support your favorite musicians here through purchasing merch and music.

Anthrax (Charlie Benante)

Anthrax (Photo: Jimmy Hubbard)

The pandemic put an immediate stop on everything when it happened back in March, actually a little before that.  We were supposed to play Knotfest in Tokyo on March 19, and about three weeks prior to that, the festival was postponed.  And it sucked so badly because going to Japan was like the greatest place to go.  It’s been one of my favorite places to go since the first time I went there in 1986/87.  I get so excited going there because I love the culture, I love the people, I love the fans there, I love the food, I love the art, everything about Japan just agrees with me.  I’ve always said, ‘if it was closer, I’d probably live there.’  So that was something that really bummed me out and it put things in perspective.  I realized, wow, this is global.  We couldn’t go anywhere, we wouldn’t be able to go and do festivals this summer, we’re not going to be able to do anything.  And it really started to have an effect on me, and that’s why I started making my Quarantine Jam videos because I was getting severely depressed just watching the news.  I had to stop and focus on music again, and on being creative, so that’s what I did.

Watch the Charlie Benante’s Quarantine Jam videos.

Check out Anthrax on their website and Charlie Benante on his website.

Armon Jay

Armon Jay (Photo: David Bean)

How has the pandemic affected your touring plans?

It’s put all touring as of now to a halt. BUT I’m glad to stay apart of the solution in not spreading the virus! Although it’s tough.. it’s the right thing to do.

Thankfully, I have a studio at home. That’s where I spend most of my time. What helps keep me sane is working remotely with other artists and creatives. Normally I often have people coming and going from studio. But I’ve had to adjust the process with with my creative friends by working over the airwaves together. We use Zoom. And the Marco Polo app.. things like that.

What are you doing to keep your creative juices going?

But what really keeps the creative juices flowing is making sure I’m staying healthy and taking care of myself first. If it were me I would want to stay in my studio 24/7. Especially during a time like this. But I know it’s important to recharge. I live in an area that’s great for cycling. A lot of trails. So that helps a lot. Any type of outdoor activity. I also bought an Xbox recently..and that really helps me reset. Im not a big gamer but jumping on it helps me reset. Anything to take my mind off music for a minute.

How are you keeping your fanbase interested?

I’ve done a few Instagram live videos in my studio, walking through the process of mixing and writing.

Check out Armon Jay on his website.

Space Kamp

Space Kamp

How has the pandemic affected your touring plans?

The pandemic hit us a few ways. First we had to cancel our Canada dates due to boarder closing and of course all of our US dates were on hold. Unfortunately some of those venues that were booked and have been supporting us for years were also forced to close for good. We also host charity events locally in Philadelphia and Allentown areas when we’re not on road, those were also were put on hold.

What are you doing to keep your creative juices going?

At first like many of us, the uncertainty and stress that came with the pandemic made it tough to create. We also felt uneasy about promoting projects and content that were already planned. In the end we feel like staying as active as we can is most important. Not only for the band and brand but also for our mental health. We just had to switch some plans and find creative ways to still move forward while remaining respectful to the situation.

How are you keeping your fanbase interested?

We are getting our feet wet with some livestream performances. We also are doing a Summer of Love contest and giving away gift packs and letting winner choose charity that we will donate too.
Just making sure we stay engaged and letting each person that supports us know who much it means, know more than ever.
Find out more about Space Kamp on their website.
Watch “Girl Like You” by Space Kamp on YouTube.

ELM ( Matteo Torterolo)


How has the pandemic affected your touring plans?

We’d say positively: it just skyrocketed our wish to come back live, so we feel damned ready to tear down the ballroom. Anywhere, anytime.

What are you doing to keep your creative juices going?

It’s four of us, and we’re using different strategies: listening to a lot of stuff (discover old and new music, Smog, Peetie Wheatstraw, AcxDc, Bukka White, Young Widows), reading books (Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Carver, Thomas Pynchon or Frank O’Hara), boozing and seeking inspiration everywhere, from news channels to movies and pictures. Even from cars: we do love cars.

How are you keeping your fanbase interested

Woh…our fanbase? You should ask to our social media manager, but he’s mostly sloshed nowadays. What we can say, on our behalf, is that ELM has always relied on one thing: music. That’s what we eat, and that’s how we feed the cult. Since forever.

Listen to ELM’s album “The Wait” at Ghostcult.

Check out ELM on Facebook.