Some of you may remember that earlier in the week, we briefly ran a story regarding the recent cancellation of a yet to be announced tour of Australia by The Ocean in January of next year, and the online shit fight that ensued between the band and Robert MacManus, a well known Australian tour promoter. Following our publication of the story, it was brought to my attention that despite appearances, MacManus was not actually involved with promoting this particular tour, and thus we pulled the story in order to dig a bit deeper into this intriguing drama.
As it turns out, another as yet unnamed Australian promoter was involved in a proposal to bring The Ocean to Australia, and enquired with Brisbane post-metallers Helm about whether they would be interested in being the main support band for the tour. According to Helm’s manager, Warrick Trewavas of Crossroad Creative, the band are huge fans of The Ocean, and for this reason, they agreed to sign on. However, it was not long later that this unnamed promoter notified Helm that they would not be investing anything further into the tour.
A this stage, it seemed as if the tour might just be another pipe dream never to see fruition but, rather than let it falter, it is my understanding that a silent investor associated with Helm decided to provide the financial backing necessary to make the tour a reality. In a statement provided to me by Trewavas, he outlined the subsequent events as follows:
“Immediately, plans were set in motion to join all the dots, a full tour was structured, venues placed on hold and all potential crew proposed to. Unfortunately over the two months it became very obvious that the tour would consequently breach the allowed budget by quite an amount and that it would be a major financial risk, given all factors.
Instead of moving forward with a potentially stressful and very, very risky tour, on the 14th August 2014 (5 months out from the proposed tour), The Ocean were given notice that this was not the best possible scenario and we would have to postpone the tour, and maybe look at a better option down the track. For some reason, things have surfaced one month later and it appears a lot uglier than it really is, unfortunately.”
And without a doubt, the drama that unfolded last week on social media was ugly.
It all began when The Ocean posted the following statement regarding the cancelled tour to its Facebook page:
“Australians, we were supposed to tour Australia in early 2015, but unfortunately, the promoter proved to be a flake… at a stage when we are already very far into planning details of the logistics of this tour.”
Soon thereafter, MacManus, whose company Heathen Skulls was involved with promoting The Ocean’s last tour to Australia, took to his Facebook page to attack the band as follows:
“The Ocean Collective Australian tour cancelled, why am i not surprised? When i toured them a few years ago they barely drew 100 people (payers) a show, most shows barely got over 50 payers, which for a tour like this is financially devastating. I lost a FORTUNE touring The Ocean, and having to deal their guitarist (only founding member) Robin’s over inflated ego made the pain of that tour and the money i lost even worse. With that said, the rest of the band he was touring with at the time were all super nice, but they’ve all since quit the band and been replaced by sessions musicians. The Ocean are with out doubt, 100% most definitely in my top 5 major touring regrets.
Just for the record: Tours get cancelled all the time, and for numerous reasons, most of which are financially motivated. I’m fucking sick of bands always making it out like it’s the promoters fault, like they’re the reason as to why the tour lost money, why no one came to the shows, why the band didn’t sell any merchandise, and why the band didn’t make any money off the tour. Touring bands is a thankless game, it’s actually a really shitty business that i don’t recommend anyone getting involved in, if you want to make a fast buck, deal drugs and peddle Porn. If you want to lose big, then gamble on horses, which is pretty much what touring bands is like, it’s a HUGE gamble. Some bands need to seriously take some responsibility for their own actions and ask them selves as to why their tour got cancelled or failed, as apposed to making cheap shots at the one who’s taking all the risks and funding their tours.
To make it clear: Touring a band like The Ocean would cost around $30,000 (flights, fees, accommodation, promotion, etc, etc), who out there has $30,000 they can afford to spend / lose? Answer: Next to nobody!
To this, The Ocean responded in kind:
“Robert MacManus, promoter of our first Australian tour disaster: stop spamming our wall with your bullshit. I can’t believe you are still alive, after fucking so many bands in the ass hard and dry…As a matter of fact, the Perth show was the ONLY show of our first Australian Tour which was successful for both us and the promoter, and you know why? Because Life Is Noise ran the show, and because YOU were not involved. So stop trying to form alliances which won’t back you up, and go back to where you belong. This is not a place for you, you’re not invited to this party.”
Fighting words, for sure, but MacManus wasn’t done, describing The Ocean as “a poor mans [sic] Dillinger Escape Plan mixed with ISIS”, and accusing The Ocean’s Robin Staps of being the worst person he’s ever dealt with.
While it turns out that MacManus bears no responsibility for the cancellation of this particular tour, it seems he is no stranger to public criticism.
Back in mid-2012, Sunn O))) cancelled its Heathen Skulls promoted tour of Australia, with the band’s Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson accusing MacManus of showing “complete inconsideration” towards the band, and being “professionally unreliable”, following which Eyehategod’s 2014 tour was cancelled when the band was apparently left stranded at the airport, for which it laid the blame squarely at the feet of MacManus. More recently, Iron Reagan cited MacManus as the reason for the cancellation of its tour with Toxic Holocaust after a previously planned tour with Toxic Holocaust and Skeletonwitch was also cancelled.
Certainly, there should be little doubt that promoting small and medium sized international bands in Australia is of dubious financial viability, as a result of which the smaller drawing cities of Adelaide and Perth are often omitted from the schedule. Regardless, there are a number of other Australian promoters which consistently book such tours, and appear to run them successfully, and MacManus’ questionable decision to weigh-in on this most recent issue is perhaps indicative of a broader failure in judgment.
In the meantime, Trewavas has stressed that Helm were not directly involved in the business aspect of the proposed tour and are disappointed that they may not get the opportunity to share a stage with The Ocean, which for their part have advised that they currently have a number of dates on hold at venues across the country. Considering Australia’s conspicuous omission from their 2013 world tour, hopefully another promoter will step in to assist in bringing this incredible band back Down Under.