The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is currently mulling the idea of jacking up touring band visa costs by a significant amount. If the raise goes through, short term US visas will go from $460 to $1,615, while long-term visas will jump from $460 to $1,655. Much like the rest of everyone else in every other touring band, Municipal Waste vocalist Tony Foresta is pissed.
In an interview with Chaoszine, Foresta called the potential hikes in cost "bullshit" and that they're basically "punishing poor people." Which is a pretty fair assessment – most bands aren't exactly raking in the big bucks, and a price hike to tour the US may very well make it impossible for some acts to even come over.
"It's scary," said Foresta. "It's still scary. We don't know if we're gonna come home with money or whatever. I mean, if it covers itself and we're out here or whatever, we'll do this and that's great. We've always been kind of a frugal band. We cut corners as much as we can you, but it's harder and harder as the years go on to tour over here.
"It sucks for bands to tour America, too. They're hitting bands with visas so hard now. It's bullshit. It's fucking lame, man. I don't understand. It's like, you're punishing poor people. We don't fucking make a lot of money. So it sucks that there's so many… the costs just keep going up and it's just harder and harder. But we're gonna keep doing it until the wheels fall off."
In an interview with NME, Simone Marie Butler of Primal Scream pointed out that the facts on these hikes are scarce and that if passed, will really hinder the US as a live music market.
"The government have been silent on this, and to be honest if I wasn't already working with the [Featured Artists Coalition] I think I'd struggle to really access the facts on what's going on. The proposed 260 per cent price increase for work visas will be prohibitively expensive for new and emerging bands, as well as small to medium artists and above too.
"Many bands simply can't go over because financially it won't work unless they are prepared to make a loss. The increase of such a large amount seems unprecedented and unrealistic."
So yeah, in the words of Foresta – this is fucking lame, man. Oppositions against the hike an be filed here via the Federal Register until March 6.