Canada's UNTIMELY DEMISE had at least 3 upcoming shows scheduled in the area over the next two weeks as part of a Western US tour, but all that has gone for naught. Here's the story, as told by bassist Murray Cuthbertson. Visas have clearly become the enemy of metal. The only bright spot in all of this is the knowledge that the use of Murray as a first name has not been relegated to the past, at least not in Saskatoon.
UNTIMELY DEMISE WESTERN USA TOUR PUT TO ABRUPT HALT DUE TO BORDER ISSUES WITH BASSIST
It is with great sadness and the utmost regret that I must inform you all that the Untimely Demise Western United States 2012 tour has been officially cancelled. This is the direct result of myself, Murray Cuthbertson, being twice denied entry into the United States on April 7th and the 8th. To make a long story longer, I once had a criminal record for a first (and last) non-violent felony offence, which occurred in 1999 when I was 18 years old. My brother and myself basically formed this band in 2000 as a positive outlet for all the angst and anger that had led me down a pernicious path. Music was, and remains, my only solace in this world. After fastidiously keeping on the straight and narrow for many years (e.g. maintaining the peace, working numerous minimum wage jobs until returning to school and becoming an A+ student, where I obtained a 3 year Bachelor of Arts in History with Distinction) I finally received a full pardon in 2008. That same year I went to exceeding trouble and expense to obtain a waiver to legally enter into the United States, and from my best understanding, it was supposed to be valid for 5 years.
I began independently booking this United States Tour back at the start of January and allocated a lot of time towards forging new connections, making new friends with bands and promoters, filling out heaps of paperwork, and obtaining signed contracts, etc in order to make sure that our band was going through all the standard legal protocol required by the United States government. Planning this tour wasn't as simple as setting up some shows and then crossing the border. The band had to personally shell out what limited cash flow we had saved up to join the American Federation of Musicians just for the privilege of applying for p2 work visas. From there we had to pay $300 USD to Homeland Security for our visa processing, in addition to paying the musician's union to do the paperwork for us. We were told that if any red flags or issues came up we would be informed before receiving the visa. Instead we were given our visa to legally work in the US without the slightest indication that anything was out of order. The United States Homeland Security Bureau had/has all of our personal info, including photocopies of the biometric page of each of our passports - at this point they most definitely knew that there was an issue and never felt the need, or moral obligation, to say 'hey by the way you need to renew your waiver to enter the country if you want this tour to be a tangible reality'. Nonetheless, they gladly took our money and let us wander into the lion's den knowing that the snare was set. The musician's union also made sure not to warn us, or give any heads-up, that if we had more than one thousand dollars of merchandise on us that we would have to go through the commercial entry crossing and not the civilian one which we initially took and were essentially through. After hours of run around the first day we were told that there was no way in hell that I was getting through, nor would our merch (the essential lifeblood that would cover the huge expense of running our own independent tour). Discouraged, humiliated, and frustrated, no doubt the desired wrath which the border patrol sought to inflict upon us, we turned around and took a hotel in Surrey for the evening (more cash out of our near empty pockets).
From there I contacted the band's official legal council, Eric Greif (manager of the band Death and intellectual property lawyer), and he kindly spent the next day, while on vacation with his family, helping to prepare letters of support and faxing/calling the border explaining that I wasn't trying to enter the US to cause trouble, and that we are a signed band that needed to play these shows because American bands, venues, and promoters were counting on the band to be there, as the visa had indicated that we would. On April 8th we drove back to Vancouver (wasting more fuel) to drop off all but the most minimal amount of merchandise so that we could avoid the commercial crossing and try to get in to do the shows. We basically were hauled inside the border station and made to wait for almost three hours while they all took turns repeatedly scolding me for having an expired waiver of entry. They took all our passports into an office and then did a shift change and let us sit there for hours not knowing if we were going to get them back. When I asked to use the washroom the Border agent wouldn't allow me to use it. Finally another agent opened the remote locked door so I could take a piss. After another hour they told us the inevitable, that I wasn't getting in. As final friendly sendoff gesture they re-fingerprinted me and took my mugshot (even though they have them on file from when I received my waiver in 2008) and sent us back to the Canadian crossing.
Thus, in taking all these facts into account we have to officially announce that this tour is not happening. Our next show is in Saskatoon at Amigos Cantina on May 4th, and then we play the Chuck Schuldiner Birthday Tribute Show with Massacre in Calgary on May 12th at The Distillery, and have the privilege to play with them again in Edmonton at The Pawn Shop on May 14th! I want to personally take this opportunity to apologize to all our US friends, fans, promoters and fellow metal bands that are negatively effected by this debacle, and I can assure you all that once we are done the long drive back to Saskatoon I will be applying for another fucking waiver! Also want to say sorry to our very understanding label, Sonic Unyon Metal, and specifically to my bandmates, Scott Cross and Matthew Cuthbertson, who have dedicated so much blood and sweat towards this tour that we all looked forward to for years. This shit just fires us up more to go out and kick some fuckin' assholes in sideways!
If you want to help us contact the band via facebook or twitter, get friends to LIKE us on there, buy some vinyl, shirts, or whatever (either from us or our label) to help us recoup the war-chest for the next tour, and upcoming recording of our sophomore full length album.
Murray Cuthbertson (Untimely Demise)
If you would like to hear Murray tell the story in his own rather adorable voice, listen here. We praise the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (aka CBC) for giving a shit.