Feature: The Van Chronicles

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Words by Jack Webb 

It seems that every other day or so another band is appealing via Facebook to recoup funds lost to robbery whilst touring. In the UK scene alone there has been over 15 cases where a band has had to turn to crowdfunding after equipment and merchandise has been stolen from tour vans. But just how much of an effect does this have for bands looking to do their first “proper” tours or perhaps travel halfway around the world for a new tour.

“It makes you scared”, states Adam Cox of Southampton Slam band Diabolus. “You never knowing any of your equipment is safe and it makes you think twice before you start a tour.” This is a scarily rising case, drum and bass artist Advocate says that “Even just turning up at your local venue to play an opening set has you on edge. It’s not like you feel comfortable leaving anything in your car or even the venue”.

The list of bands falling victim to van or venue robberies is ever growing. State Champs, The Menzingers, Code Orange and Norma Jean have all bore witness to equipment being stolen in the last 5 years. A case with the St Louis band Foxing saw their entire trailer being stolen whilst the band were touring in Austin US. “It’s definitely a dark time to lose everything”, Foxing bassist Josh Coll had to say at the time.

“We had to think twice”, Old Boy guitarist Connor Mason stated. “Your first time ever playing shows outside of your country,  in our case touring Europe for 10 days, should be fun. Not spending every day worrying about theft or someone damaging your equipment or transport”. Putting bands off of touring Europe is a sad side effect of the state of these van robberies. “Especially for us, we are a hardcore band, we are supposed to cut our teeth on playing shit venues in Europe and enjoying it. It should progress us as a band, not put us off going back”.

The larger bands out there which have suffered having their equipment stolen or damaged can easily jump back. Either from their crowdfunding or from record label or sponsorship support. “It’s an entirely different case” Cox mentions. “They can get back £10,000 a lot easier than a band like us can get back even £500”. “Yes it is a sorry fact that they have to get the support, I’d rather they whole thing never happens to them. But it’s a blip to them, to us it would mean a massive gap in being able to play another live show soon”.

It is clear that these thefts are hurting bands on the cusp of touring. Some may never recover property from a small theft, and we may never see them ever perform or write an album ever again. It’s a sad fact that bands can’t feel like their equipment and belongings is not safe on tour anymore.

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