"We have spent a five-figure amount of Euros only for the experience of being treated like felons."
Even though Germany is not one of the nations on the Trump administration's just-expanded travel ban -- which now covers Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen -- German metal band Lord of the Lost claim that they have been denied entry into the U.S. for reasons they cannot explain.
The band, slated to begin a spate of opening slots on an upcoming October tour by industrial legends KMFDM issued a lengthy letter to fans on Monday (Sept. 25) explaining why they won't be touring on these shores anytime soon.
"It is with shock, anger, sadness and most of all lack of understanding that we learned that our entry into the USA and thus our tour with KMFDM has been rendered impossible by the U.S. authorities," reads the note, topped by a Photoshopped image of the decade-old dark metal group from Hamburg -- singer Chris Harms, bassist Class Grenayde and synth player Gared Dirge -- obscured behind a brick wall painted with the American flag.
A U.S. spokesperson for the group Austria-based label Napalm Records said that the band, the band's lawyer and German label reps were not available for comment on the incident.
"We filed our first application for work visa as early as January 2017, early enough for a tour scheduled for October and way earlier than usually necessary," they continue. "To make sure everything goes as planned, we hired TCG World, one of the leading American law firms for 'Worldwide Artist and Entertainer Visa Services.' They have fought for and with us until the very end and they did an excellent job."
In a surprise, the band say that after a few weeks their visa process was not completed and they had to "again and again" re-submit documents, "which by then had already reached the extent of several hundreds of pages, compiled and professionally translated into English." The group say they met every demand and submitted countless translated interviews, newspaper articles, concert contracts, endorsement contracts, plane ticket and travel receipts and a number of other documents (including medical and criminal records and royalty statements), and proof that their only interest in "temporarily staying in the USA was merely about playing a tour. It's not that we planned on stealing anyone's job or even considered to stay here illegally."
Describing the process as a "hydra," they say each request was followed by two additional requests, so that by summer they began to feel like "defendants in court who have to prove their innocence." At that point they'd already spent in the high four-figure dollar amount to hire agencies and immigration attorneys to help smooth the path and 80 hours of work compiling documents. With just a few weeks to go before their first date on the tour (Oct. 3), they said they were advised by TCG World -- New York-based Traffic Control Group, which has helped bands sort out their visa necessities for 25 years -- that they needed $1,200 for a "premium upgrade" that was supposed to speed their visa problems.
"Everything was said to turn out fine then," they wrote. "With our departure being only one week away, our necessary appointment at the American consulate in Berlin, Germany, had yet been allocated. Appointments like these are normally allocated 8-10 days in advance. Not really doable with the time we had left, but who knows, after all we had this 'Premium Upgrade.'" When they finally got an email it was not an invitation to Berlin, but another request for documents, which they had already submitted much earlier. "This time, we were asked to submit the same documents again in an extended and refined form, some of them even notarially certified. When we noticed the date of the letter, we were even more shocked than by the requests themselves: This letter was written a month ago and was lying around on some pile of papers in some American immigration agency."
Chalking the Kafka-esque circular document madness up to "arbitrariness of public authorities or chicanery," the bottom line is they are not able to enter the U.S., a fact they found out on the same day they learned that other (unnamed) bands from different musical genres had faces similar fates. According to the group TCG has filed a complaint in the matter, which they say is nice, but not what they were looking for.
"At the end of the day this might be the most bitter disappointment in our career so far and a financial disaster after thousands of dollars spent," they say. "Not to mention plane tickets, merchandise orders and loss of earnings in a month that is now hardly utilizable work-wise on such short notice. We have spent a five-figure amount of Euros only for the experience of being treated like felons, despite the fact that the only thing we wanted to do in the USA was this: Making people who love our music happy by doing what we love most."
A spokesperson for TCG was not available for comment at press time, and Billboard has not yet heard back from a representative from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.