MASTODON: That Time We Played Few Shows For $120,000 And Came Back Home Negative $2,000

MASTODON guitarist Bill Kelliher talked about the prospect of earning money from touring during the latest episode of  Let There Be Talk podcast.

He said: “I’ve done the math. And sometimes it’s a well-paying job. We did this a couple of years ago, we flew to Australia and we were gonna make $120,000. That was the gross for like three or four shows. And that looks great on paper. ‘Holy shit! $120,000 for three shows? That’s great!’ But guess what? When we ended up flying over there with our crew of 12 guys. Because we have to have our crew, our production, our lights, our sound, our sound guy, flying all your gear there, renting stuff, all the internal flights… By the time we got home, our management was making more than we were. They were taking 20% off the top, $24,000, and we were negative $2,000 I think.

“I was like ‘How can this fucking be?’ This is so upside down that I’m just sick to my stomach. We would have never gone over there to do this tour if we knew we were gonna come home negative. Because it’s just so upside down. Because they don’t consider ‘Oh, it’s gonna cost you guys $70,000 to do the show.’ They don’t tell you that ahead of time really. But I don’t wanna talk shit because our management is some of the best in the business.

When asked who is their management, he responded: “RSE, Rick Sales. We love those guys. It’s business, that’s what they do, that’s what we do. They’ve made us who we are today. And it comes with a price obviously.  But a lot of things have to change and I really feel strongly about that. Because it’s not like 1980 or 1990 even, it’s 2018 and there’s no money coming in from record sales. If there were, it would be a different story. It would be like ‘Okay, we could take a couple of losses on tours here and there because we’re gonna make up for it with the record sales at home.’ But it’s not that.”

He also added: “Believe me, we do pretty well because we tour so much. But it’s like what happens that day when someone gets sick? I’m 47, I can’t do this forever. It’s too hard. I have a family, I have a life, I have kids growing up that I’d like to actually be there for the birthdays, take them on a vacation… Which we do, but I feel really like an absent parent most of the time.

“Again, I chose this life to do. And I know there’s guys that drive trucks for a living who are gone. They have families too. That’s how I feel – either I’m a truck driver or I’m in the service. Because I’m gone most of the time. My kids are out here now with me, which is great and I love it, but it’s not the same.”