SMILE EMPTY SOUL guitarist and lead singer Sean Danielsen has defended his band's decision to cancel a few of its previously booked shows because the concert venues in question were requiring a COVID-19 vaccine for fans. A number of bars and clubs have adopted the new protocol because the owners say the music industry and the artists demand a safe environment to perform.
Last month, Danielsen released a statement via social media in which he explained that he was scrapping the shows because "I stand 100% for freedom, and medical freedom is especially important to me. I believe that you should get the vaccine if you want it, but should not have to if you don't want it."
Now, in a new interview with the "Hall Of Mears" podcast, Danielsen elaborated on SMILE EMPTY SOUL's refusal to play vaccinated-only shows, saying that "allowing the government free rein on just mandating one vaccine gives them free rein to mandate any vaccine they want in the future."
Addressing the fact that he chose to publicly oppose the idea of allowing only the vaccinated to attend concerts, Sean said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "We have several tours booked right now. We have an October/November run. We have a February run. And we have an April run. We stay very busy; we stay on the road. And it's just started happening where some of the clubs that we're supposed to be playing, even though they're small clubs, have been announcing that they're gonna be requiring proof of vaccination. And I just felt like, rather than just vaguely canceling those shows, 'cause I can't stand for that, as I think that freedom, and medical freedom specifically, is so important.
"The track record that the government has is not one to allow them to infringe upon your right to reject medical injections, medical procedures of any kind," he continued.
"Allowing the government free rein on just mandating one vaccine gives them free rein to mandate any vaccine they want in the future, and I don't think people really follow that timeline forward the way that they should be. Allowing them to mandate one is allowing them to mandate endless boosters on top of whatever else they come up with in the future. And I don't know about you guys, but I just have mistrust for the government in general.
"It only makes sense if you understand that these people are power hungry," Danielsen added. "They aren't your uncle and your aunt or your grandma. I think people are losing sight of that these days and they're looking at these politicians like, 'They care. They just want what's best for society.' They don't. They want what's best for their own power and their own wealth and their own ability to control. So, I feel like you need to question their motives and where they're coming from.
"Our country is great — it is so great for the freedoms that we've had, that the Constitution has set up and allowed us over the two hundred-plus years, and when you start allowing those freedoms to be knocked down, the end result of that is gonna be really ugly. And I don't think people realize what they're signing their kids and their grandkids, and even us in the very near future, up for by fighting for government-mandated vaccines.
"So, anyway, that's the longform version of why I decided that I had to explain to people why I was gonna be canceling a couple of these shows. Because if I just canceled them and didn't explain, there would be questions, and I'm not gonna sit there and just dodge the questions out of fear of being canceled, because it's just not the right thing to do; it's not the right way to go. The right thing to do is to stand up for what I believe is right. So I did."
A vaccine passport is a physical or digital document that displays whether someone is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Critics say that such passports are a violation of privacy and an example of government overreach. Meanwhile, supporters point out that federal immigration law already requires that immigrants provide proof of vaccination status for several diseases.
There's plenty of precedent for having to show proof of vaccination whether for work or travel. For a century, nearly every school in the U.S. has been requiring proof of vaccinations for students to enroll. Dozens of countries across the globe require a "Yellow Fever Card" to enter their borders.
Proponents of vaccine passports, including several high-profile heavy metal musicians, have touted them as one of the most effective ways to reopen the nation's economy in a safe manner.
A number of hard rock and heavy metal artists have canceled shows or whole tours as the concert industry is rethinking its approach to live shows while the delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading nationwide.
Last month, Live Nation Entertainment, one of the country's largest concert and ticketing companies, announced that it will require all artists and concertgoers to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test starting in early October.
Live Nation's announcement came one day after AEG Presents said that it will be requiring proof of vaccination for entry into its owned and operated clubs, theaters and festivals. The decision was made on the heels of the dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases as the delta variant spreads throughout the United States.
While vaccines are exceptionally effective in preventing death and severe illness from the coronavirus and its known variants, some are far from foolproof in preventing infection altogether.
Most of the people with so-called "breakthrough" infections are asymptomatic.
According to Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), large-scale clinical studies found that COVID-19 vaccination prevented most people from getting COVID-19. Research also provides growing evidence that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) offer similar protection in real-world conditions. While these vaccines are effective, no vaccine prevents illness 100% of the time. For any vaccine, there are breakthrough cases.