Musician shares how Brexit nightmare was a ‘bomb’ in his life


A Scottish musician and entrepreneur has recounted how the Brexit nightmare has been a ‘bomb’ in his life – leaving him unable to spin and causing huge problems for his online merchandising business.

Iain Kilgallon has performed with the punk band Beerzone and has toured with them across Europe, in hundreds of shows in the United States, as well as Australia and Russia.

In addition, he works with the Celtic folk / punk band The Placks, which is gaining ground in the United States, on stations including giant Sirius XM, which has 30 million subscribers.

Kilgallon, from Dunoon, also ran an online band embroidery design and sales company – Mainstage Merch – and five years ago he started Punk on the Peninsula, a punk / folk / alternative music festival. four-day event at multiple venues, which was the biggest event in Dunoon after the Cowal Gathering.

READ MORE: Iona Fyfe: Westminster Brexit rubs salt in wounds for UK musicians

But Brexit – combined with Covid-19 – conspired to put an end to these two activities.

Kilgallon told The National: “The radio stations here don’t really play a lot of punk-type music, but if you go to Europe, America, Australia, or Japan it’s huge.

“My small merchandising business started receiving lots of orders from all over the world, with around a quarter of sales coming from EU countries.

“But then Brexit came like a bomb that exploded in my life and more or less decimated my income when you throw out Covid-19. ”

He first noticed the Brexit issues when he started receiving complaints from his regular customers in the EU.

“Normally they would get their orders six or seven days after I sent them out. But I started getting calls from some of them who were absolutely pissed off because it had gone from six or seven days to five, six or seven weeks for their orders to arrive.

“It’s crazy. I get orders from Australia, Canada or New Zealand and they ship between five and seven days, but I can’t interact with people compared to a few miles away.

These woes aside, tours with the band became even more problematic, starting with the £ 1,000 fee for a “carnet” permit to pick up a vehicle in the EU, coupled with endless delays at every border. , where baggage and equipment must be unloaded and weighed over and over again.

“One group had to pay £ 1000 for their book, a license to drive their vehicle in the EU, and they were only playing in France. And a friend told me that if your appearance fee is less than £ 8,500 per show, it’s not worth playing shows in Europe, and for the vast majority of bands it’s completely out of pocket. ‘heaven’s money,’ said Kilgallon, adding that groups like theirs would normally not be booked if their fees were over € 1,500 (£ 1,260).

“Boris Johnson and his colleagues were approached by the EU for a special visa to make it easier for musicians and artists, and he rejected it.

“Johnson isn’t going to change anything anytime soon because he doesn’t live in the real world.

“We all knew Brexit was going to be bad, but it’s 10 times worse than most people thought and a lot of people think it’s still hiding under the Covid excuse.”

Kilgallon added that being unable to tour or sell his merchandise due to Brexit and with Covid affecting his local music festival, there was still sunshine on the horizon: “A friend and I are now trying to launch a clothing company that offers tailor-made uniforms and embroidery. for schools, groups, industry and sports organizations.

“As we are based in Dunoon, we named it Breakwater Clothing, and we start trading next week.”

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