the wild eyes.
should this be in news and politics? AND WHOA CONSPIRACY THE SINGER FOR THE WILD EYES IS ASIAN? http://mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?art...ght__national/
Onerous United States visa conditions have dashed a local band’s hopes of playing at one of the most important international music industry showcases.
For the first time, four South African bands were invited to the who’s who of the international music industry, the 2007 South by Southwest festival (SxSW) in Austin, Texas.
Cape Town’s Dirty Skirts, Johannesburg’s Harris Tweed and United Kingdom-based Chris Letcher will all be jetting into Texas for their showcase performances, despite being subjected to a stringent visa application process and required to meet unrealistic qualification criteria.
But Cape Town’s arty indie rockers, The Wild Eyes, will stay at home because their visa application was turned down.
The Economist recently highlighted the fact that the number of overseas visitors to the US had fallen by 17% since 2000, which the travel industry was blaming on “a tortuous visa process”.
One Minute Trolley Dash’s Linda Thompson, who is representing The Wild Eyes, said she was asked to supply press clippings with the band’s visa applications, which could not include online material or interviews. Half the material had to be international — an almost impossible requirement.
Thompson said that, with no dedicated music magazines in South Africa, and the growing trend towards online publication in the entertainment industry, the criteria were very difficult to meet.
“I’ve spent months trying to courier things to New York and it’s just never enough,” said Thompson. “We got them international press coverage by getting them in Billboard magazine, but that still wasn’t enough.”
Wild Eyes lead singer Nikhil Singh said the band was “pretty depressed” about the development. “I’ll be in contact after I have finished breaking the furniture,” he told the Mail & Guardian.
“It’s frustrating when things are out of your hands. The band wants to focus on performing and this festival is a dream of ours, but we must move on,” said Wild Eyes’ bassist Gareth Dawson.
Just Music’s Karl Anderson said local pop band Harris Tweed also had its visa application initially refused, but that the record label had managed to reverse the decision on appeal by hiring a US immigration lawyer. Matthew Covey, who lodged Harris Tweed’s visa applications in the US, said it was the first time in 10 years, during which he processed about 200 applications a year, that one of his applications had been denied.
After extensive interviews at the American consulate in Pretoria, the band members were granted visas. The visa application saga had cost Just Music close to R59 000, Anderson revealed.
Harris Tweed singer Cherilyn MacNeil says it was definitely the never-say-die attitude of label boss Anderson that had pulled through for the band.
“Karl has been absolutely amazing. It actually freaks me out how much he has done for us,” said MacNeil.
“His attitude was ‘we are not taking no for an answer’, so we were like ‘fine, we’re going’,” she said. “We spent the week posting flyers all over myspace.com, deciding what we are going to wear and making up set lists.”
Dirty Skirts’ lead singer Jeremy de Tolly said their applications had also not been easy, but confirmed that the band had secured their visas last week. “It was a God-awful process,” said De Tolly.
Sheer Music’s booking agent Erin Pea**** said Chris Letcher’s visa had been granted in the US, but his interview at the American consulate in London was scheduled for later this week and they were still waiting on confirmation.
“As far as visas go, the guys from the States are very hectic,” said Pea****. “There were lots of requirements and lots of stuff that needed to be put together.”