On the one hand, I was never a fan of Madina Lake. I didn’t not like them, they just never had the same effect on me as some of their contemporaries. As such, I will not be, personally, affected one way or the other, should they carry their reunion tour back to the States.
That said, even though I wouldn’t go to a reunion show if there was one to go to, I still find the whole situation a bit infuriating. And by “a bit,” I mean a whole hell of a lot.
But not for the reasons you might think.
See, here’s the thing…
There is a very distinct problem with the American music industry, in general…
Madina Lake is 100% a Chicago band. They cut their teeth on the Chicago scene, they made their name there, they played their final shows there…. When Matthew Leone was beaten and hospitalized for trying to help a woman out of a domestic dispute, it was the Chicago scene that rallied together to host benefits for him and his family.
I had started writing this piece, in my head, earlier today but then I had a conversation that kind of added fuel to my fire. I met a guy today who had been a professional drummer for a Denver-based metal band, nearly 20 years ago. As we talked about music and the like, it came out that his band was supposed to tour with a bigger, more well-known band but the label they were signed to refused to support the tour. Basically, if this guy and his band wanted to tour with this other, bigger band and really get their name out into the world, it was going to be out of their own pockets. Tour costs, merch, the whole works was going to be on them. Unless they could get some other corporate sponsor.
Which brings me back to the current Madina Lake issue.
Yes, it absolutely, 100% sucks monkey balls that they are not (probably) booking a U.S. leg for their “reunion” even though they are a U.S. band. American fans, the fans who made a reunion even necessary, are getting shafted. Again. This isn’t the first time and it damned sure won’t be the last. Because if you take a look at the tour poster that was released to announce this reunion, it is sponsored by Slam Dunk, which is a music festival in the U.K., which Madina Lake are booked to play. This reunion isn’t being sponsored by their label. They are being funded, sponsored, promoted by the company that controls the festival. Slam Dunk is not going to fund a U.S. tour. That would be ridiculous.
And this is where we come to the American industry problem. A good portion of American bands, especially in the “pop punk” and “alternative rock” arenas get big because they get lucky. There are a few, like Fall Out Boy, who worked the system and figured out how to force the masses to pay attention. But, in a lot of cases, you have stellar acts who are at the mercy of whatever whim the staffers at Alternative Press or Filter or Revolver are floating on that day. A lot of whether or not a band is successful in the U.S. is down to how their label markets them but the mainstream music media, like AP, have just as much influence on those careers.
And not just American media. The reason some American bands spend a lot of time in the U.K. is that they get press from Kerrang! or NME when the American media won’t touch them. So they tour where they are getting sponsored, where they are being supported. Slam Dunk is funding a Madina Lake reunion tour, Madina Lake is going to tour where the sponsor wants to send them.
In the U.S., maybe Hot Topic jumps in and sponsors them. Probably not. Hot Topic has more current acts to get behind. Maybe Riot Fest sponsors them. At least their hometown Chicago fans will get a reunion show, but likely that will be the only one. Maybe they get on Vans Warped Tour. A lot of maybes. Plus, the U.K. is roughly a third the area of Texas. Five tour stops in the U.K. would be the equivalent of a U.S. tour stopping in Amarillo, DFW, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi. Which, granted, never actually happens, but it’s not physically impossible, and realistically, a weekend road trip.
A full U.S. tour, on the other hand, is EXPENSIVE. And getting someone to sponsor that for a reunion of a band that had a very strong cult following but not a lot of mainstream success is going to be next to impossible.
All I can say, American Madina Lake fans, is get out your credit cards and warm up your crowdfunding button fingers because that’s probably the only way it’s going to happen. And that really does suck.