Drummer Kjetil-Vidar "Frost" Haraldstad of Norwegian black metallers SATYRICON spoke to Hayley Leggs at last weekend's Hellfest in France about the band's decision to stop performing live in the U.S. "We're not gonna have any more ordinary club tours happening," he said (see video below). "It's ridiculous the amount of bureaucratic work involved. What you have to document as a European band going to the U.S. now is beyond irrational. It seems like American authorities try to prevent European bands from going to the U.S. It's like they say, 'Hire American musicians. Have the vocalist over and hire the rest of the band.' It's just weird; I cannot find a better word for it. And nobody I've been talking to — even Americans themselves — understands the very, very problematic process. You have to work for an entire year to plan for a four-week tour to happen, and you don't even know whether you can actually make it and get the paperwork done in time etc. etc. So it takes the fun out of touring, really."
According to Frost, the decision to no longer visit the U.S. as a headlining act was the logical resolution to what had become an all-consuming issue.
"The way we have experienced this, that's the only conclusion that we can draw," he said. "I mean, just thinking about starting a process like that again makes you want to just stop touring, and that's not how it should be. There should be some fun as well — it should be about the music. We still like that, but when more than 99 percent of what you do is just bureaucratic work, then it's just very, very crappy, the whole thing. But it was cool touring there; I'm glad that we got to do this [most recent U.S.] tour… It's still cool to play there, and shows like those that we had in Los Angeles and New York, and Montreal in Canada as well, [they were] just fantastic. And generally, I have to say, everywhere where we went, we got a very, very good reception… We have become very accustomed to great crowds, but still, it was beating expectations, I have to say."
Frost's latest comments echo those made by his bandmate, frontman Sigurd "Satyr" Wongraven, who told Loudwire that SATYRICON's absence from the U.S. shores is not due to the fact "black metal is not big and important like it is in Europe. It's not because flights are too expensive," he explained. "They say that we're not even going to look at [the visas] unless you have a contract saying you are indeed playing there. Then when we go back and say, 'How can we sign a contract with someone if we don't even know if you're going to give us the permits to perform?' Then they tell you that is your problem, not [theirs]. You just have to book the tour and hope everything goes well or else there will be no tour at all."
Satyr didn't completely rule out future SATYRICON live appearances in the U.S. "If some band wants to bring us over there and there's machinery in the future willing to pay for all of this to be organized on our behalf, sure, I'm happy to come back and tour the U.S.," he said. "It is highly unlikely for that to ever happen. Secondly, no one has ever offered me something like that — I really wholeheartedly think that this [most recent tour] will be it."
According to Vulture, a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa is sometimes used by musicians who enter the country to perform — they're technically classified as tourists, and they cannot be paid, whether or not tickets are sold for their concerts. However, border-patrol agents are seemingly eschewing those acquired visas, even for one-off promotional appearances, and seeking P-1 or P-2 visas instead, which is a performance visa most commonly used by musicians coming into the country.
For the entertainment group and its members to qualify for the P-1 visa, at least 75 percent of the members of the group must have had a substantial and sustained relationship with the group for at least one year. Also, the entertainment group must be internationally recognized, meaning, it must have a high level of achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above what is ordinarily encountered. The reputation of the group, not the individual achievements of its members, must be internationally recognized.