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The Pleasures and Perils of a Pandemic Rock Tour


Scott Murphy, Summer Krinsky and Liam McNitt (l-r) of the Detroit-based indie art rock band, Summer Like the Season

Going out on the road on a cross-country tour is the dream of many young musicians, and the Detroit-based group Summer Like the Season is no different. The three-member indie art rock band just returned home on October 3 from a five-week, 22-city tour promoting their well-received new album Hum. There were highs, like the rhapsodic review from Basement Sports and Entertainment (below).



But this being the pandemic, there were also complications. We caught up with the multi-talented founder of the group, Summer Krinsky, a few days after she returned to Detroit:



FRIDAY (OCTOBER 8)


The Insider:

Hi Summer! How are you?

Summer Krinsky:

I'm doing okay! Woke up with the sniffles, otherwise feel fine, and out of an abundance of caution went to get a Covid rapid test and it was positive. So this morning has been me canceling upcoming work and informing anyone I've been in contact with.


The Insider:

On, no! That’s awful! Are you okay?


Summer Krinsky:

Yep! ! feel totally fine. I was going to work sound for a wedding tomorrow and because i had sniffles decided it was best to get checked before i was around anyone.


The Insider:

I’m so glad you did!


Summer Krinsky:

It could still be a false positive but i canceled everything either way and i’m going back for a PCR later today to confirm.


The Insider:

When did you start feeling sick?


Summer Krinsky:

I had a light cough yesterday but it went away by the evening, I felt a bit off before bed and then woke up with a stuffy nose.



The Insider:

Have you had any other health scares on your tour, you or your bandmates?


Summer Krinsky:

I was vaccinated with Moderna and I would say that if this is a breakthrough case, it is still very much an endorsement to get the vaccine because i don’t feel very ill and lessening of hospitalization or death is a key point that people seem to be missing about vaccination. We did get food poisoning on tour, which was a huge ordeal for a few days. That was a different kind of gross (laughs). Also, pressure headaches when going in and out of the mountains had us a little concerned at times.


The Insider:

No one else has had Covid or a Covid test?


Summer Krinsky:

Not that we know of but now they'll both get tested since I've seen them in the last two days. We were all vaccinated and would definitely not have planned this tour pre-vaccine. One of my bandmates literally bought a cabin in the woods, and for the last year and a half, he saw no one but his dogs and occasionally me. He isolated there until there was a vaccine.


I'd say we were all extremely careful and then took a look at the statistics for serious illness post-vax and decided, came to similar conclusions on acceptable risk.


The Insider:

So this has been a long-running concern about live touring, right?


Summer Krinsky:

Oh yes! I was supposed to leave on four months of tour in March of 2020. And when i am not touring, I do sound for live shows. Everything i typically do has been halted and pre-vaccine i absolutely supported that pause.


The Insider:

What was your degree of physical closeness on the tour? Were you traveling in a bus? Eating together? Where were you sleeping?


Summer Krinsky:

We travel in my van and do just about everything together as a pod--eating, sleeping, sometimes camping, sometimes staying at friend's houses.

The Insider:

Tell me about your band. What are your bandmate’s names and instruments?


Summer Krinsky:

On the recordings, i play everything but the violin, but live, i play drums and sing lead, Scott Murphy plays keyboard, bass, MPC (which triggers electronics) and electric violin, and Liam McNitt plays guitar and backup vocals.


The Insider:

Wow! What instruments do you play on the recordings?


Summer Krinsky:

On the recording, i play drums, guitar, piano, bass, sing and program a lot of wild sampled sounds, electronics and synth textures.


The Insider:

Not bad! How old are you, and how old are the Scott and Liam?


Summer Krinsky:

We range in ages. Scott is 32, i am 28, Liam is 23. He is our powerful Zoomer; his back isn't quite as broken as ours yet. He is Gen Z, so he's young and spry.


The Insider:

Are you all Detroiters? Do you live together there?


Summer Krinsky:

We are all Detroiters! We don't live together now though Liam and i lived together for a year or two before he was in the band. Liam lives in Southwest, Scott in North Corktown and I’m in Dexter-Linwood, so we still are all pretty close to each other.


The Insider:

How long has the band been together?


Summer Krinsky:

Summer Like the Season started as a solo project in 2013 and became a live band in 2016 so about five years now.


The Insider:

The same people since 2016?


Summer Krinsky:

Scott Murphy has been in the band since then, but we have had a rotating cast of other members, Liam just got added this spring.


The Insider:

What date did this tour start?


Summer Krinsky:

The tour started on September 2nd and ended October 2nd.i got home on October 3rd..


The Insider:

How many cities did you go to?


Summer Krinsky:

22 cities. [The list is below.] 13 of them are places we also played pre-Covid.



The Insider:

What do you mean by “pre-Covid”?


Summer Krinsky:

Places we played on past tours before the pandemic


The Insider:

Oh! That’s great that you didn’t get sick during the tour! It’s great that you’ll be able to quarantine at home if you really have Covid. Did you have to notify the last place you played that you are sick?

Summer Krinsky:

First notified everyone I’ve seen in the past few days which is when i would be at highest shed most likely. I’m not sure how seriously the last place we played would take my warning based on some of the sentiments expressed in conversations. Four of the five people I’ve been around all tested negative today--the fifth hasn’t been tested yet--so I’m wondering more and more about false positives as the day goes on.


The Insider:

You were really careful to make sure this didn’t happen.


Summer Krinsky:

I feel really lucky that I—possibly--got it post vaccine and didn't have to find out how my body would react with only natural defenses. One of my housemates had Covid in March of 2020. I didn’t live here yet but everyone was really scared. They all lived upstairs and she stayed downstairs and no one else got it


The Insider:

What month were you last vaccinated?


Summer Krinsky:

Second dose end of March, 2021.


The Insider:

What kinds of Covid precautions did you take while you were traveling?


Summer Krinsky:

We wore masks when places encouraged it, but some places had very loose regulations and almost frowned upon masks, if you can believe that. At this point, I feel those who want to protect themselves against serious illness got the vaccine and those who don't want the vaccine for whatever reasons do not want me to worry about them. I'm not wishing them il--i have friends who are anti-vaxx whom I argue with but love. i just refuse to continue to pause everything Icare about for people who do not want me to pause in the first place. When venues wanted to do vaccine requirements, we were all about that, but also we were open to playing in establishments that didn't have requirements.


The Insider:

Were you playing in clubs?


Summer Krinsky:

Yes.


The Insider:

You were classically trained. What is your reaction to the club scene?


Summer Krinsky:

I was classically trained from before i can remember but I’ve also played in rock bands since i was 13. I've always felt somewhat at home in the club scene. Crowds tend to desire a raw performance and not something that is flawless like in the classical world.


The Insider:

You have been involved with music for a long time! Tell me about your musical life before this album.


Summer Krinsky:

I grew up with two musician parents and started playing classical piano at a very young age Around age 12, I became very interested in learning the guitar, and that quickly turned into an obsession with playing in bands and recording and composing my own music. And from guitar, I naturally learned bass as well. I was extremely interested in writing my own songs and composing for my band and I wanted to be able to share these songs with other people who weren't coming to live shows. They were on the other side of the country. I wanted to be able to put demos on the Internet.


So, I really got into learning how to record and mix and produce and this led to what I ended up majoring in in college in the Performing Arts Technology program at the University of Michigan. In that, I focused on composition, recording, engineering, mixing, mastering production, and also got pretty into programming novel music controllers and sound installations while I was in college.


While I was in college, I interned at Electrical Lady Studios in New York. I also interned in Germany in Munich at ECM Records, which is a jazz and classical label. And after graduation, I moved to Detroit and I began to teach myself how to play drums. Then, that grew into a very intense interest in learning drums. I began studying with Skeeto Valdez, who's a Detroit musician.


In college, I started putting out music under the name Summer Like The Season. I released an EP and a single and music video when I was in college, and after graduating and moving to Detroit, I released a new EP and another single and began performing and touring with Summer Like The Season.


The Insider:

You've been a pioneer in the recent creative renaissance of Detroit. Can you talk about what it was like to move into the city and what your experience has been?


Summer Krinsky:

I've always had a fascination with Detroit as a musically inspiring town – from Motown to techno to J Dilla. The city is a very inspiring musical place, and I moved here with the thought that it was a small enough community that I could have an effect by being an active member in the music scene. But it was also a large enough city and full of so many people that are interested in different genres and exploring new music, that I would have a wide range of audiences to engage with.


The Insider:

Has it been satisfactory?


Summer Krinsky:

Yes! I love Detroit. There are obviously benefits and drawbacks to every place. I travel the country now, so I have been to a lot of cities. For the moment, I am very engaged in the music scene of every city in America. But Detroit is my favorite in that I feel like it matches my vibe and my desire to explore new sounds.


To me, there's opportunity that is very unique to Detroit. Detroit is large enough to live in a big historic city that deeply matters in the world, but small enough to have a local impact that truly matters in the community.


The Insider:

Of course, it's also a poor city and it can be a dangerous city. What about those aspects of it?


Summer Krinsky:

I think those aspects, actually, are what has bred the most important music scenes in American history in the past. When we reminisce about New York, we're thinking about the Patti Smith days and the Chelsea Hotel. New York was incredibly dangerous then and incredibly poor. So, I see it as having similar conditions. You know the saying – "A diamond is only made under pressure."


The Insider:

What inspires you as a songwriter?


Summer Krinsky:

I like to make music that sounds unique, and i think what makes each life unique is the place and time period that you live through. So I am very inspired by modern technology and how humans of today have this cyborg-like relationship with existence, tied to our phones, splintered identities that are just as invested in online personas as they are in physical reality. I like to make music about that, and robots, and relationships, and many more topics.


The Insider:

What’s it like to perform in front of a crowd? Do you ever get stage fright?


Summer Krinsky:

I don’t get stage fright performing with a band, but I very much do when i perform solo. I think it gives me flashbacks to the high-stress environment of piano competitions (laughs), so i really love performing as a group.


The Insider:

Do you have any musical favorites who inspire you?


Summer Krinsky:

Yes! tUnE-yArDs, St. Vincent, Bjork, Prokofiev, Radiohead would be a short list, I could go on for too long! The Beatles are also a major inspiration.


The Insider:

What’s your favorite Beatles song?


Summer Krinsky:

“I'm Looking Through You,” “Tomorrow Never Knows” musically is also a favorite but I don’t know what it is about. “I’m Looking Through You”... I love it!


The Insider:

Even the Beatles famously broke up after a while because of the stress of working collaboratively. Do you and your bandmates ever squabble?


Summer Krinsky:

We do but mainly about frequencies, like i want more 300hz in the bass or something. They're very specific, detailed, nitpicking arguments. But we respect each other's opinions and usually the final product is better as a result of a disagreement. Plus we can typically settle any argument with "let's go get Indian food." Calms us down (laughs).


The Insider:

I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you about the “business” in music business. Without asking amounts, I’m curious about the financial part of having b band now. When you play at a venue, do you take a percentage of the gate, or a set fee? Do you sell merchandise at your performances or online? Is it possible to make money from selling music online?


Summer Krinsky:

Depends on what venue. Some places do a door split, some give artists all of the door, others have a set fee. We always retain 100% of merchandise sales in person but for online sales, Bandcamp takes a percentage. While we sell merchandise online and in person, we sell significantly more at shows. You definitely can make some money from selling music online but if that is your only plan without merchandise and touring, you won't be paying rent from it. But with merchandise and touring, you can make money in music. It's not what it used to be, i actually think crypto is going to alter things in the future. No one likes streaming services, not major labels, not artists. They have destroyed the industry. I Heart Radio just invested heavily in Tezos, an alt-coin. I am really interested to see what the music industry looks like in 20 years.


The Insider:

Thinking ahead, how do you think this Covid experience, real or mistaken, will change your touring plans? Will you be nervous to go out there again?


Summer Krinsky:

Well luckily, there aren't any immediate shows so nothing to cancel. But the only thing that would change my future touring plans would be a variant that has an unsatisfactory risk level for hospitalization or death in vaccinated people. Now that's a hard statistic to gather because it's impossible to know how many vaccinated people were exposed. But you can basically estimate risk around the average flu season death rate which society was willing to accept. I listen to a podcast called “This Week in Virology” and that really helps me have a pulse on up-to-date news from actual scientists.


My whole stance is this: I believe in science. My belief in science is the reason i was fine with everything shutting down that I love for a year and a half. My belief in science is also what makes me go on tour once I am vaccinated.




UPDATE: SATURDAY (OCTOBER 9)


The Insider:

Hi Summer--How are you feeling??


Summer Krinsky:

Almost totally back to normal, sniffles went away. I am pretty sure it is Covid though because i realized that I can't smell anything. [Her test results were later positive, establishing that.]


The Insider:

Yikes! I’m glad, of course, that you’re feeling better. Can you taste anything?


Summer Krinsky:

Definitely can still taste some, not sure if it's off a little because smell contributes a lot to taste- you know what Imean? I thought my coffee tasted weird this morning but didn’t think that much on it and then I realized it's probably because I couldn't smell it. Once iI realized that, i went to sniff spices, flowers, hand lotion, etc. and got nada. But I can still taste chocolate but not smell it-–so i think the main thing that's off is the smell


The Insider:

Are you feeling any other symptoms?


Summer Krinsky:

Not really, A bit of a scratchy throat.


The Insider:

How has quarantining at home worked?

Summer Krinsky:

It's been fine, just spent the day hanging out with my dog (laughs). Spent a lot of time out in our yard, which is giant. The one person who lives on the same floor as me, Ian, was just wearing an N95 in common spaces for the time being


The Insider:

Are your roommates nervous?


Summer Krinsky:

Nah, they are all vaccinated. One of them uses her room as an art space, not for living, so she is just staying away until I i get past the window of infectiousness. Another one is gone for the month on tour. The other three aren't so worried–one had it in March of 2020.


The Insider:

I think people who are older are more worried about getting Covid. How are you getting your food?


Summer Krinsky:

I was mainly really worried that it could have spread to the housemate that is on tour because we hung out a lot right before he left. That would mess up his tour. But he has taken two rapids that have been negative and is waiting on a PCR. In the meantime, he is isolating from the rest of the band and crew just to be safe until the PCR comes back


The Insider:

Are you bummed out about having it, or philosophical that it just comes with the touring?


Summer Krinsky:

Don’t get me wrong. i was extremely worried about getting Covid pre-vaccine. But a breakthrough case turning into hospitalization or death is sooooo unlikely, though it becomes slightly more likely if you are over 60 and if you are male. Everyone in my house is like 25 to 33.


I am really grateful that it happened either at the very end of tour or when i got home instead of during it.


The Insider:

You can go outside for walks so you don’t go stir crazy, right?


Yes, i went on a really long walk with my dog, Whiskey. Just wore a mask and stayed far from people which is pretty easy to do in my neighborhood.



UPDATE: SUNDAY (OCTOBER 10)


The Insider:

Hi Summer! How are you doing health-wise today?


Summer Krinsky:

Feeling 100% other than a total loss of smell.


The Insider:

That must feel unusual!


Summer Krinsky:

It's actually a really fascinating sensation because I'm getting a strange opportunity to separate taste and smell. Certain things taste normal while others taste completely off without the smell


The Insider:

I’m very interested in hearing more about the attitudes regarding Coivd of people who you know who are in their 20s and early 30s, It’s my impression that the younger people are, the less they worry about getting it.


Summer Krinsky:

Well I think everyone is less worried about getting it yes, but it's not out of pandemic-fatigue it's out of fact-based reasoning. If you are vaccinated, whether you are young or old, your chance of s breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization or death is minuscule. Getting sick is a normal part of existence and everything we do on a day-to-day basis involves some risk analysis.


I think a lot of healthy people in their 20s and 30s who had a fairly low risk of hospitalization or death to begin with were willing to pause their entire lives for two years out of concern for their community as a whole. But at this point, with the vaccine widely available and there being no other "end game" scenario, it seems like Covid is here to stay and we'll all get it at some point. If you want a vaccine to be protected against serious illness, hooray, If you don't, hooray, but I'm not going to wait for everyone to decide they want one and I’m not going to force them to protect themselves. At least in my cohort, Ii think that's the general feeling


The Insider:

What would you say to an ant-vaxxer who said, “You got it anyways. Who cares about vaccines?”


Summer Krinsky:

I'd say, my biggest concern this morning was that my coffee tasted a little weird without being able to smell it and someone I know who’s the same age and just as fit as me got Covid before vaccines were available and spent over a month in the hospital. Now would I have had a very mild reaction without the vaccine? Impossible to know, but again, statistically it’s far more likely to have this reaction if you have the vaccine. It's all about the odds being in your favor.


The Insider:

Describe the most Covid-reckless place you played on your tour.


Summer Krinsky:

I think most shows are Covid-reckless, because it's a bunch of people gathering in a confined space. The people that chose to go to shows right now aren't very worried about Covid, whether that's because they have protected themselves or because they think it's all some wacky conspiracy.


The Insider:

Last question; as you’re sitting at home quarantining, I’m sure you’re deciding what your pandemic lifestyle will be like after Covid. Do you expect to change your behavior as a result of this? And if you get a good club offer, will you go back on the road?


Summer Krinsky:

My immunity will be stellar with natural antibodies combined with the vaccine. I definitely would accept a club gig and I'll go right back to work at the venues doing live sound after quarantine. A variant that does worse against the vaccine is my only concern. That could change everything.


The Insider:

Thanks for being such a good sport about doing this interview while you are going through all of this! We wish you all the best and good health!


Summer Krinsky:

Thanks! Just want to add that I hope I don't come off as uncompassionate to antivaxxers because I think there is a very good reason to have a healthy distrust of mainstream media and institutional power. And I think it's very difficult to find alternative sources that are remotely unbiased. It's a hard time to be making decisions which is why I keep trying to emphasize cold statistics because numbers have no agenda.


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