The arts have suffered greatly due to the ongoing pandemic, and it’s not getting much easier despite the spread of the virus being relatively contained. With a potential second wave looming, The Morning Brunch spoke to Shavindra Tissera of homegrown band Cold Sweat about how they as a musical act have fared during these difficult and uncertain times.
Tissera shared that the pandemic certainly hit them hard, leaving them unable to perform live gigs – their main focus. However, the band has got lucky where they managed to secure a number of sponsorships for some live sessions, providing for to keep their head above water and keep afloat. They even performed at a general meeting via Microsoft Teams for Microsoft employees in South Asia, a live session arranged to provide some sort of relaxation.
He said they have been lucky in that they have taken a rather secure route in having contracts with various venues to perform on a number of nights, which has allowed them some semblance of security and made it so that when the time came they had employment awaiting them. Speaking on the way they operated, he said they had contracts with some hotels lasting for six months or so, which was somewhat similar to a day job, adding that Cold Sweat was the first and only band performing as early as May.
About the potential second wave, Tissera said there is no saying as to what exactly would happen; it doesn’t make a difference now that we have had a stint under lockdown. According to him, there are many bands out there that rely on various private events and functions as they are having a hard time recovering. “If hotels start cancelling contracts, we will also be back in square one,” he added.
However, during the pandemic, they did manage to hone different skills, and as they got some recording equipment, they moved to recording as well. He said it has been a process learning the technicalities of recording at home. Thankfully, one of his bandmates happens to be his brother Viroshan who lives across the street and so they got together and dove right in. He said that while it cannot be determined a “positive” per say, Covid-19 has resulted in motivating them to release some videos on their YouTube channel, whereas they would otherwise be focused more on their live gigs.
Also speaking about the uncertain future of the industry and when it would be safe to perform again, Tissera said that he is not too worried as long as it is declared safe and the Government does not implement any restrictions. Lankans have a very laissez-faire attitude, he said, sharing that while the relaxed approach to the seriousness of the pandemic may not be a good thing, the times they’ve played since the curfew was lifted has been a full house.
“When we first played after the curfew, we didn’t even utilise the full band; the hotel didn’t even anticipate half-capacity. However, there was a full house and from the following week onwards, we played the full band,” Tissera said.
While he is unsure what it says about our society as a whole, he is pretty certain there will be gigs and audiences to play for.