You Me At Six frontman Josh Franceschi has told Sky News “everything is at stake” over the issue of visa-free travel for musicians in Europe – and has called on the government to “prove us all wrong and show they care”.
The singer-songwriter spoke out about the issue as the British rock band’s seventh studio album, SUCKAPUNCH, claimed the number one spot in the UK album charts.
A massive 85% of the first-week sales were physical copies of the record, the band’s second to top the UK charts, and more than half were purchased from independent record stores – something of a boost for the industry while COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are still in place.
Like all other musicians at the moment, You Me At Six are unable to tour due to the pandemic. But in recent weeks, the issue of playing shows in Europe following Brexit has also made headlines, after it emerged the government’s deal did not include visa-free travel for performers.
“Everything is at stake” if the problem is not solved, Franceschi said.
“Touring is kind of the lifeblood of the music industry. It’s kind of always been that way, in particular for bands like ourselves.
“I mean, we’re experiencing right now, we’ve got the number one album in the country. And for us, the thought of not being able to go on tour in mainland Europe and [that] not be an accessible, viable option is not one that we know that we’re comfortable living with.
“So hopefully the government can prove us all wrong and show us that they do actually care about what people like myself and our peers have made a life out of doing, which is being performers and touring the world doing so.”
Since leaving the European Union, British performing artists hoping to tour the continent must now seek separate permits to work in many of the 27 member states.
They will also have to pay for expensive carnets (permits) to cross borders with their equipment and trucks carrying kit, or they could have their journeys capped.
Earlier this week, more than 100 artists, from pop singers to classical composers, signed a letter calling on the government to resolve the “gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be”.
Stars including Ed Sheeran, Liam Gallagher, Brian May and Sting were among the signatories.
So too was The Who star and Brexiteer Roger Daltrey – who questioned what leaving the EU had “to do with the rock business” during a Sky News interview with arts and entertainment reporter Bethany Minelle in 2019.
After his decision to sign the letter saw Daltrey accused of hypocrisy on social media, he denied changing his opinion of the EU.
“I have not changed my opinion on the EU,” he said in a statement. “I’m glad to be free of Brussels, not Europe.
“I do think our government should have made the easing of restrictions for musicians and actors a higher priority.
“Every tour, individual actors and musicians should be treated as any other ‘goods’ at the point of entry to the EU with one set of paperwork.
“Switzerland has borders with five EU countries, and trade is electronically frictionless. Why not us?”