Heartist recently completed their first European tour, opening for Killswitch Engage. When they got back, we called up frontman Bryce Beckley to get his impressions of the continent, and Killswitch.
Had you or anybody in the band been to Europe prior to this tour?
Our drummer had been to Europe on one tour before, and our guitarist had been there on vacation a few times. Only those two. Otherwise, we’d played a couple of Canadian dates on the last tour, but that was it.
Did you meet a lot of fans, or were you mostly playing to people who had no idea who you were?
Actually, we met a lot more fans than we were expecting to meet. It was really weird going to shows all across the world and having kids in the front row who knew the songs, but I loved it. We’re getting a lot more attention than I thought we would.
Well, that's what the Internet's for, right? So what were the biggest cultural differences you noticed?
You know, honestly I was expecting there to be a lot more cultural differences than we actually came across. I noticed that in grocery stores, the cashier’s always sitting down. But that was the only big change. Oh, and McDonald’s breakfast is way better in Europe. And in the States, truck stops are everywhere and you can just stop in and get all the food you want; in Europe, there’s much more preparation for food, so you can’t just go to the grocery store and pick up a bunch of snacks and load them into the van. It’s always food you have to make, so we were lucky that we got catering on the tour, because we didn’t have a lot of food to just snack on while we were doing our long drives.
Did you guys try to eat local food, or did you just stick to McDonald's?
We definitely tried to get beer from every country we were in, and as much food as we could get. We had catering every day, so we ate what they gave us, which was always delicious, so I was happy with that.
What was the worst thing you ate on tour?
Oh, man. All the food was so good, I don’t think there was anything that really stood out for me like, “Wow, I will never touch this again in my life.” Actually, there was a lot of vegan stuff in the catering, and some of it was amazing, but some of it was not. It was the most bland food I’ve ever had in my life, so I was like, “Nope, I’m gonna need meat.”
What country's backstage areas were the best?
Honestly, all the venues had really, really nice dressing rooms. All the venues where we had individual rooms for each of us were great, but they kind of blend together – I can’t remember which country was which. But Sweden stood out for me as just being a really good venue overall. A lot of the German shows were really great as well.
Were they better than venues in the States, generally?
Yeah, it was. It was much, much, much better. All the venues were decked out with showers, catering, it was just a much nicer experience than going to some shitty American club like we’ve played. It seems like Europe has a way of treating bands really well, no matter where they are.
Were there any major mishaps onstage, or did the shows go well?
Actually, pretty much every show went off without a hitch. There was one, I think it was the second-to-last date, where our drummer’s in-ears got pulled out and he almost got off track but he’s extremely solid so he stayed on time. Also, there was one time when our sound design shut off for the last minute and a half of a song, but we recovered well enough. My in-ears broke like halfway through the tour, so I was forced to use the monitors, which got pretty loud onstage. That kinda bummed me out, but I’m gonna get them fixed as soon as I can.
Did you have time to do any touristy stuff, or was it basically show, drive, show?
It was pretty much show, drive, show. We had one day off in Berlin where we walked around and looked at some of the buildings and architecture and stuff, but it was mostly playing and driving.
How were the Killswitch Engage guys as hosts? Did they prank you or anything?
The Killswitch guys were absolutely amazing hosts. All really humble, really awesome dudes. We ended up goofing off with their techs so much for the entire tour, and the techs were the ones who were kind of screwing with us. There was one time onstage where they basically changed my voice through my monitors so whatever I said sounded like a chipmunk on my side, but it was normal to the crowd. But we all got along with each other really well.
Heartist are on the road right now with Crown the Empire and Capture the Crown - find a show near you!