A Scare, Some Bad News & Some Good News
(Roster Change & more)
Here we go again, folks, please MAKE SURE TO READ THIS ALL THE WAY TO THE END. This is gonna be a long one.
We applied for visas for Galneryus and Insomnium months ago. As some of you may be aware, the most important category that defines whether or not a visa gets approved by our government is whether or not the band is internationally recognized. Thus, we submitted over 500 pages for each of those bands with evidence that shows such international recognition. Insomnium has headlined tours in the US several times, and thus have been approved for visas in the past. And while Galneryus may not have had a lot of attention in the Western world, they are a phenomenon in Asia – over half a million records sold and signed by major label Warner Music. We had no doubt their petitions would go off without a hitch.
After waiting for a couple of months, the government agency who shall not be named sends us a “Request for Additional Evidence” letter for both those bands. Those letters essentially mean we “didn’t provide enough proof that fulfills their criteria. Again, each petition contained over 500 pages of such evidence. It was all in there. We have since questioned whether or not they even looked through the packet in the first place.
Our visa guy (Marc Gessford, Play America Visas) has done hundreds of petitions over the years and he was appalled to see such big names receive those letters. But knowing we could submit a response, he crafted an incredible letter challenging their decision, and pointing out that everything they had requested had been there from the start. We went as far as including letters from third parties vouching for those bands to get their visas. These third parties were managers, label people, other artists, colleagues, etc. Without approval, the bands aren’t able to go for their consular appointment in order to have the visas “stamped” into their passports. Yes, the consulates overseas need appointments for artists to show up and bring their passports. Bureaucracy at its finest. Milton went as far as contacting the office of Senator Rich Blumenthal (CT, his state of residence), as he has assisted us with visa matters in the past. Their office immediately jumped in to try and assist getting those petitions approved.
The Bad News:
Even though SECRET SPHERE and ANCIENT BARDS have had their visa petitions APPROVED FOR WEEKS, the delays caused by said agency in processing visas across the board this year have caused the consulates overseas to be backed up as well. And because of that, neither of those bands were able to secure appointments at their consulate in Milano. We reached out to different consulates to request an expedited appointment due to urgent circumstances. We went as far as reaching out to the consulate office in Zurich (Switzerland) to try and help those guys get their visas. Senator Blumenthal’s office tried to step in again and help. Sadly, this was all in vain. We regret informing that those bands will not be making it to ProgPower USA, again, EVEN THOUGH THEIR VISA PETITIONS HAVE BEEN APPROVED. This is one of the worst situations we have ever been put in, as both us and the bands have essentially lost a large amount of money between non-refundable visa petitions, expedite fees for visa petitions and flights. We reiterate that the bands did everything within their reach to make it possible, as did we. We have no option but to announce both Secret Sphere and Ancient Bards will not perform at ProgPower USA this year for that reason.
Nathan and I have never faced such adversity in all these years, both when we did individual shows or united for days 1&2. This year has been a nightmare in terms of visas. The delays and the inefficient process have caused us headaches and losses, both financially and otherwise. We’re truly sorry for the changes, but again, we have done everything that was in our reach.
With all that said, we will continue our tradition of making lemonade out of lemons and have secured impressive replacements given how close we are from our show. We hope everyone understands the position we have been put in and enjoy their sets. Major kudos go to them for stepping up to the plate at the last second. Big thanks to both Secret Sphere and Ancient Bards for being pros throughout the entire process. We will make sure to get them over here sooner or later.
Onto the Good News:
We are happy to report that both INSOMNIUM and GALNERYUS both had their visa petitions approved and were able to secure their appointments in time. Insomnium was at their consulate this last week, while Galneryus will visit theirs later this week. This gives both bands enough time to have their passports returned and not miss our show.
We also would like to welcome Theocracy and While Heaven Wept to our show this year. Both bands are ProgPower USA alumn and deserve huge props for accepting the challenge and making arrangements to make this happen. Theocracy keeps getting dozens of requests year after year to bring their melodic power metal back to our stage. As for While Heaven Wept, two days ago they weren’t sure the band would ever play together again. When I approached them about doing this, they went above and beyond to make this happen for their US fans, one last time. I have zero doubt both bands will deliver sets that transcend expectations and will be remembered for a long time. Both bands will issue exclusive updates, expanding on the news.
Thanks everyone for understanding, and for still continuing to support us over the years. See you in two weeks.
Milton & Nathan