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Punk Legends The Spits Discuss Touring During Omicron: ‘Everybody Knows We’re All Taking Risks’

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Punk Legends The Spits Discuss Touring During Omicron: ‘Everybody Knows We’re All Taking Risks’

Ahead of The Spits’ tour, guitarist and singer Sean Wood shares how the pandemic has affected bands who can’t afford to take any more time off and how fans can best support their faves during this time.

To say that The Spits are rarin’ to go is an understatement. “So, these two tours of the West Coast and the Midwest, we’ve had these booked for two years,” says Sean Wood, guitarist and vocalist for the long-running punk band. The group – Sean, his brother Erin, Sean, and Lance – is set to hit the road in support of VI, the record they released in 2020. The first show takes place tonight (Jan. 20) at Tacoma’s Alma Mater, before the band travels down the West Coast before continuing touring east.

For some fans, these shows will be the first time they hear the songs on VI played live. The album is The Spits’ first since 2012’s VOL. V and continues the band’s high-octane, dirt-stained, fire-breathing gonzo apocalyptic rock. VI is seventeen minutes of living life with the needles in the red – which had to be frustrating to the band who wanted to play this new music and fans who wanted to see their outlaw rock heroes run a wrecking ball through their auditory senses. From the blistering opener, “Up All Night” to the paranoia-inspiring two-step of “Lose My Mind” to the closing elegy in “Wurms,” VI surges. The album gives the rush you’d get from jumping a stolen motorcycle over a canyon while escaping a swarm of cops and pissed-off bikers who want you dead.

VI arrived in October 2020. Was there any talk of maybe holding off on its release until the coast was clear? “We were,  and we did — we pushed it a whole year,” Sean tells HollywoodLife in an EXCLUSIVE interview. “People knew that there was this new record there. And so, if you don’t release it, it’ll leak out eventually – and when you do put it out, it’s not a new record anymore. So, we decided, ‘let’s just put it out.’ And then, hopefully, in like, six months, we can tour it. And that was the plan – and then the pandemic kept going on for another six months.”

With the record out, the band started to book a tour while hoping for the best. “And we kept bumpin’ it and bumpin’ it,” says Sean. “While other groups and musicians rescheduled their postponed dates for fall 2021, The Spits decided to do one better. “This last time, we said, ‘f-ck it. Let’s just go all the way to January 2022.’ We’re like, ‘it’s gotta be done by then!” And then what happens? As soon as we book these tours and are ready to head out, we get omicron, and it’s like – f-ck!”

“We just did a Texas run and month ago, and of course, three shows in, we all got COVID,” he adds. “So we had to cancel San Antoni and Mexico City – which is very painful to do.”

“I think our numbers are already peaking,” says Sean. The pandemic has forced every band to have at least one amateur virologist, someone to monitor conditions and COVID case numbers. “I’m hoping to God that by the time we get to the West Coast, [the numbers will] start coming down,” adds the guitarist. “And then, by February, unless there’s another goddamn variant, the New York shows, and Midwest shows – the numbers will be low, and we can continue that February tour.”

“You know, talking to other band members and other bands, everybody knows right now, moving forward, we’re all taking risks of canceling shows or – you know,” Sean says, with a quiet shrug. That unspoken uncertainty contains a hard, bitter reality that bands have faced for the last two years.

The COVID pandemic has highlighted how hard it is for an independent band to make a living. Streaming made up 83% of recorded music revenues in the United States, according to a May 2021 article in The New York Times.

Spotify reportedly paid out more than $5 billion to music rights holders in 2020. However, critics have blasted Spotify, Apple Music, and other platforms for using a pro-rata model for royalty distribution. This method sees all the money collected from ads and paid subscriptions go into a single pot, which is then divided by a total number of streams. If an artist – say, Adele – drops an album and has 10% of all streams for that month, that artist gets 10% of each user’s money, even if those users never listened to 30.

Plus, artists don’t make a lot off a stream. The New York Times reported that industry estimates suspect Spotify’s payout rate is a small fraction of a cent per stream, or roughly, about $4,000 per million streams. James Shotwell, the Director of Marketing and Customer Engagement of promotional music platform Haulix, wrote a guest blog for Hypebot in 2019 where he said that band with four members “would need to generate 24,250,000 Spotify streams to gross enough so each member’s family would be at or above the poverty line.” (This estimate went by the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) report that a family of four would need to make $24,250 to be above the poverty line.)

There’s making money off of physical media, but that’s not so easy if you’re not an A-level artist. Vinyl sales hit a new high in 2021. Still, as Billboard points out, the top ten best-selling albums belonged to Adele, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift (again), Prince and the Revolution, The Beatles, Taylor Swift (for a third time!), and Kendrick Lamar. The demand for vinyl has caused a well-documented bottleneck at the few remaining pressing plants, and smaller bands/musicians now face massive delays before getting their records.

CDs saw an increase in sales for the first time in 17 years, but Billboard notes that was also due to major label artists like Adele, Taylor Swift, BTS, Olivia Rodrigo, and Carrie Underwood. Plus, CDs have yet to fully experience a revival, so it’s usually LP, MP3, or stream for smaller groups.

(Keith Marlowe)

Touring remains a primary and viable way for a band to make money, and after nearly two years without shows, bands like The Spits have to make a hard decision. “You risk it. You got to risk it,” says Sean. “Bigger bands that have some money already, they can say, ‘you know what? Let’s take another year off. Smaller bands who were living off that shit, like The Spits – you know, I got to work! It’s just really difficult, man. We want to play.”

With necessity being the mother of invention, many bands devised other sources of income. There were plenty of streaming concerts, but those lost their luster. “I talked to a lot of people that at first, they were like, ‘Oh, great, I get to see a band,’ but then after a while, it’s just not the same. I can go and watch a YouTube video of Van Halen, but it ain’t the fucking same as going back to 1984, you know what I’m saying?” says Sean.

There was also a rash of COVID-edition t-shirts and merch, with bands selling masks, hats, and more items to help pay the rent. “It’s hard to say,” says Sean. “Now that people are back to work, it’s a little easier, but for us? Man, it was really hard for us to put up a special shirt and say, ‘hey, help us out,’ because I know [our fans] are hurting too.” The Spits weren’t going to release any pandemic-related merch, but after they found some success after a run of Spits facemasks, their concerns were assuaged. “I’d much rather just be out there rockin’.”

The Spits’ authenticity has always seemingly countered the corrupting taint of commercialism (“They’re here. They sneer. I’m scared,” said John Waters when introducing the band at Total Trash’s Boogaloo in 2018). “We’ve always said from day one, ‘we’re not a band, we’re a gang.’ We’re a family, and that the Spits is a way of life, not a band,” says Sean. “I just want it to keep going forever if I can. But do you become KISS and make everything? Spits Computer Screens! Spits Headphones?” He pauses. “I mean, thinking about it — shit, it’s not a bad idea.”

“But, we’re trying to think of some new stuff,” he says before explaining how the band has approached merch from a different perspective. The Spits have issued dolls, gloves, lighters – all mostly handmade by Erin. “He’ll go to sales and finds like, 20 cool old trucker hats from the 70s, and he’ll make twenty Spits hats. There’s only twenty in the goddamn world! I’m like, ‘damn, we could have sold 500 of those, dude.’ And he’s like, ‘No, I don’t want to be like that.’”

It also means that Spits merch is part of that family element. “My brother says, and he has a really good point — when somebody buys something from the Spits, he wants them to know that it’s been touched by us. And we made that. It was handmade by us. And that’s really special.”

The family will keep The Spits alive. Anyone who can do math can figure out that the group has been around for more than a minute. Yet, the kids keep showing up to the shows. “When we play shows, when somebody comes up – this younger guy or girl – and it’s like, ‘Yeah, my dad turned me onto you guys,’” says Sean. “Or they’ll be wearing a cool old Spits shirt from the mid-90s, and they’re like, ‘my dad gave it to me’ – or their uncle or aunt. I’m like, ‘wow.’ I feel really lucky.”

“And as a band, we’re still selling our very first record. We’re punk for the people,” he says, and the people need punk. The people need The Spits, and their raucous live performances, renegade attitude, and unabashed rock and roll. GenZ needs these flesh-and-blood, analog-minded mavericks offering a stiff middle finger to a digital upbringing. The Spits aren’t heard but felt.

And they’re ready to meet you during their shows, during this tour, the next, and the one after next. “We’re just not going to die,” Sean says with a smile. “Just come to the show. Rock out. Have a good time.”

 

THE SPITS – LIVE DATES

01/20: Tacoma, WA – Alma Mater #
01/22: Seattle, WA – Southgate Roller Rink #
01/23: Portland, OR – Dante’s #
01/25: San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop #
01/28: Los Angeles, CA – Teragram Ballroom #
01/29: Long Beach, CA – Alex’s Bar #
01/30: San Diego, CA – Casbah #
02/11: Chicago, IL – The Empty Bottle ~
02/12: Columbus, OH – Rumba Cafe ~
02/13: Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop ~
02/14: Rochester, NY – The Bug Jar
02/16: Brooklyn, NY – Elsewhere !
02/17: Baltimore, MD – Ottobar !
02/18: Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s !
02/19: Asbury Park, NJ – House Of Independents !
02/22: Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
02/23: Montreal, QC – Bar Le ‘Ritz’ P.D.B.
02/25: Toronto, ON – Velvet Underground
02/26: Detroit, MI – Outer Limits ~

# – with VR SEX
~ – with Timmy’s Organism
$ – with Dark Thoughts
! – with Night Birds

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Jennifer Aniston & Kids: What The ‘Friends’ Star Has Said Over The Years About Not Having a Family

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Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston is fine being on her own and has often expressed disdain for being constantly questioned about that decision. Here we break down all the moments the actress has spoken out about her choices.

Jennifer Aniston, 52, has famously never settled down with a family of her own. After years of scrutiny and questioning about her decision to not have children, we’ve gathered all the moments the Friends actress has spoken out against the rampant sexism still prevalent in our culture and how her not having kids shouldn’t even be a “famous” thing to take note of in the first place.

For her next relationship, she wants things to happen naturally

Jennifer Aniston attends the 75th Anniversary celebration of NBC at Rockefeller Plaza, NY, 2002 (Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock).

For right now, the Morning Show actress is single and happy to be so — even though her friends have offered to set her up before. “Not right now,” she told radio host Howard Stern in October 2019 after he offered to find a great guy for her. “But listen, I just don’t like being set up. I don’t like it. Hate it.”

Moreover, Jen also revealed to PEOPLE in June 2021 that she’s “absolutely [not]” interested in using dating apps. “I’m going to just stick to the normal ways of dating. Having someone ask you out. That’s the way I would prefer it,” she dished to the outlet, also sharing that walking down the aisle for a third time is “not” something she’s considering.

“Oh God, I don’t know,” she joked. “I’m interested in finding a fantastic partner and just living an enjoyable life and having fun with one another. That’s all we should hope for. It doesn’t have to be etched in stone in legal documents.”

Her friends and family have pressured her in the past 

Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston arrives at the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards, 2020 (Shutterstock).

“I don’t have this sort of checklist of things that have to be done and if they’re not checked then I’ve failed some part of my feminism, or my being a woman, or my worth or my value as a woman,” she explained to the outlet. “I’ve birthed a lot of things, and I feel like I’ve mothered many things. And I don’t think it’s fair to put that pressure on people.”

… And she’s kind of over that pressure 

Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston at the 4th Annual Patron of the Artists Awards, 2019 (Matt Baron/Shutterstock).

“[I don’t] like [the pressure] that people put on me, on women — that you’ve failed yourself as a female because you haven’t procreated. I don’t think it’s fair,” Jen said in an interview with Allure in December 2014. “You may not have a child come out of your vagina, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t mothering — dogs, friends, friends’ children.”

She added, “This continually is said about me: that I was so career-driven and focused on myself; that I don’t want to be a mother, and how selfish that is.” The Cake actress also added to PEOPLE in 2014 that there are “a lot of reasons” someone could not be having children, “and maybe it’s something that no one wants to discuss.”

She’s happy to make her own decisions 

Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston pictured in 1998 (John Barrett/Shutterstock).

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter last December, Jen noted that she “used to take it all very personal,” but has since moved on. “It’s like, ‘You have no clue what’s going with me personally, medically, why I can’t … can I have kids?’ They don’t know anything, and it was really hurtful and just nasty,” she explained.

“Although I haven’t seen a tabloid in so long. Am I still having twins? Am I going to be the miracle mother at 52?” she said jokingly. “It’s the same with Dolly Parton; Dolly Parton never had kids. But are people giving her s–t for it? No, no one’s tried to put her in a white picket fence.” 

Moreover, the Dumplin actress wrote an open letter to The Huffington Post in 2016 that clearly and beautifully made a statement about the sexist double standards placed on women with regard to having families and raising children. “We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child … that decision is ours and ours alone,” she wrote. “We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own ‘happily ever after’ for ourselves.”

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Jennifer Lopez’s Kids: Everything To Know About Her Twins Emme & Max

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Jennifer Lopez’s Kids: Everything To Know About Her Twins Emme & Max

Jennifer Lopez shares two teenaged twins with ex-husband Marc Anthony — learn everything about Max and Emme here.

Jennifer Lopez, 52, has worn many hats in the entertainment industry, including actress, singer, dancer, producer, clothing designer and perfumer — but no title means more to her than “mom.” The Bronx native is the mother to twins Max and Emme, 13, with her ex-husband Marc Anthony, 53. Find out everything you need to know about the teenagers here.

When were Max and Emme born?

Jennifer married Marc just months after her first split from Ben Affleck in June 2004 (they divorced, however, in 2014). The two had been romantically linked in the past, and had previously collaborated on Spanish language duet “No Me Ames” on her 1999 debut album On The 6. Three years after the secretive wedding, the Maid In Manhattan star announced she was pregnant on Nov. 8, 2007.

A pregnant J.Lo is seen with ex Marc Anthony in 2007. (Broadimage/Shutterstock)

The then 38-year-old broke the news while she was on the joint El Cantante Tour with Marc in Miami after weeks of speculation. “Marc and I are expecting a baby!” she said as Marc cradled her bump. “We are happy…This is a special time in our lives. And we waited until the last show to tell you,” she said.

Just weeks before she gave birth, J.Lo’s dad David Lopez confirmed his middle daughter was expecting not one, but two babies. “Yes, twins…The thing is in my family, my sister also had twins, so it’s a hereditary thing,” he said on Spanish-language show Escéndalo TV. “I’m very proud. Jennifer has yearned to be a mother for many years.”

The This Is Me…Then singer gave birth to Max and Emme on February 22, 2008 in Long Island, N.Y. The world waited just four short weeks for the first glimpse at the beautiful twins, who were featured on a March 2008 cover of PEOPLE magazine in a worldwide exclusive.

Years later, Jennifer reflected on finding out she has having twins in a YouTube video dubbed Twin Talk with a then 11-year-old Max and Emme. “When I realized I was pregnant, I was in Portugal. I was doing a big show and I had just went away for two days. When I sat there, I was in my hair and makeup trailer, and here’s what I felt,” she said to them. “In my belly, I felt a flutter. I felt like a little butterfly in stomach, and immediately I knew I had life inside of me. I knew it. It came right into my head.”

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Jennifer is seen with Max and Emme at the Pegasus World Cup in Hallandale Beach, Florida in Jan. 2020. (Larry Marano/Shutterstock)

It was at the doctor’s office she was told the news. “The doctor says, you see that right there, that little grain of rice? That’s the baby. You see this other little grain of rice over here? That’s the other baby,” she explained. “I was like ‘What.’ I started laughing hysterically. I just laughed out loud, I couldn’t believe it. And that’s how I found out I was having twins.”

Max and Emme over the years

The “coconuts” (Jen’s nickname for them) have grown up in the spotlight, often being photographed with their superstar mom and her various romantic partners, including ex-boyfriend Casper Smart, who she dated from 2011 to 2016, ex-fiancé Alex Rodriguez, who she was with from 2017 – 2021, and rekindled beau Ben Affleck, who she reunited with in 2021.

Notably, Max and Emme were very close to Alex’s daughters Natasha, 16, and Ella, 13, who they were often pictured with in media and on their mom’s social media channels. In 2021, they’ve been spending a fair amount of time with Ben’s kids Violet, 16, Seraphina, 13, and Samuel, 9, who he shares with ex-wife Jennifer Garner, 49.

As a result of Bennifer’s rekindled romance, Max and Emme have been spending more time in Los Angeles compared to Miami, where their father Marc calls home, and Alex also maintained a residence (their mom also owns a $32 million Star Island home in the southern Florida city). Ahead of the 2021-2022 school year, J.Lo was also spotted checking out various exclusive private schools around Los Angeles, presumably to enroll the twins closer to her home in Bel-Air (and closer to Ben, who lives in Brentwood).

Beyond being photographed extensively over the years by paparazzi, and being center stage on their mom’s Instagram, the two have also been on red carpets! The twins made their red carpet debut at just seven, attending the 2014 premiere of their mom’s animated flick Home.

1644472241 714 Jennifer Lopezs Kids Everything To Know About Her Twins Emme
Max and Emme attend the 2015 premiere of J.Lo’s animated flick ‘Home’ at 7 years old. (Eric Charbonneau/Invision/AP/Shutterstock)

Emme stepping into the spotlight 

Following in the footsteps of her performing grandma Guadalupe and superstar mom, Emma stepped into the spotlight in a big way at the 2020 Super Bowl Halftime Show! The then 11-year-old impressively sang alongside Jennifer, who co-headlined the performance with Shakira.

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Emme performs with Jennifer at the Super Bowl in Feb. 2020. (Mario Houben/CSM/Shutterstock)

Emme popped out to sing a few lines of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The USA” — remixed with J.Lo’s Latina anthem “Lets Get Loud” — blowing the audience away! “If you wanna live your life/Live it all the way and don’t you waste it,” she sang of her mom’s song while positioned in a cage, along with other children on stage. The moment was intentionally political, and a strong statement in response to former President Donald Trump’s immigration policy which separated families at the U.S./Mexico border.

“All I want my girls, the little girls on stage with me and all over the world to know is how to use their voices and be proud of everything they are,” Jennifer said after the performance. “Other people can try to build walls, keep us out or put us in cages. We are proud to recognize that all of us together are what makes this beautiful country truly great.”

Emme’s unique style 

In 2021, Emme embraced a totally unique style of her own! The gorgeous teen decided to rock a funky, shorter due, and embrace her natural curls. Earlier in the spring, she also died her hair blue, which she debuted at a Nobu Malibu dinner for aunt Lynda Lopez‘s birthday early on in Ben and Jennifer’s rekindled relationship.

The 13-year-old has also been channeling the ’90s in a series of retro inspired looks, including loose fitting jeans, vintage t-shirts and argyle sweaters, Vans sneakers and plenty of overalls.

1644472241 133 Jennifer Lopezs Kids Everything To Know About Her Twins Emme
Emme goes shopping with her mom in Jan. 2022 in Beverly Hills. (Broadimage/Shutterstock)

In advance of the release of film Marry Me, Jennifer talked about how Max and Emme are both finding their “own identities” with Jimmy Fallon. “[They’re like] ‘It’s my life, I have my own identity, I am who I am, this is what I feel about the world, this is what I think.’…They need to distance themselves [from me],” she said, explaining that they are now “adult people in a little body.”

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Billie Eilish & Brother Finneas Meet President Joe Biden At The White House – See Photo

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Billie Eilish, Finneas

Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas made a pit stop at the White House while on the singer’s world tour, taking a sweet photo op with President Joe Biden.

As Billie Eilish, 20, continues her Happier Than Ever world tour, she and her brother Finneas decided to make a brief pit stop at the White House — to visit President Joe Biden of course! The newly Oscar nominated singer and her sibling posed with the 46th president as he shared the moment to social media. “When I heard my friends @billieeilish and @finneas were in town for a show, I knew I had to invite them over to the White House,” he captioned the post. “Great to see you and your family — and I’m glad you got to meet Commander,” he wrote, speaking of the family’s new German Shepard puppy.

“Billie Eilish, Finneas and their parents Maggie and Patrick were invited to pay a visit to the White House today to meet President Biden,” an official confirmed to PEOPLE of the visit. “Billie and Finneas were supporters during Biden’s campaign and the Biden family have been long time fans of their music. Billie is in D.C. for her world tour, playing at the Capital One Arena tonight.”

Billie notably voiced her support of the president for the 2020 campaign. More recently, she also petitioned in November — along with Joaquin Phoenix and several other celebrities — for the president to break from tradition and send a pardoned turkey to a sanctuary for Thanksgiving.

For the photo op with POTUS, Billie showed off her notably jet black locks — a hairstyle switch she underwent recently and shared in a Feb.1 Instagram post. Not only was her new color jet black, but her bangs were super cool. They were extra short in the center of her forehead but turned into curtain bangs on the sides of her face.

Tons of fans rushed to the comments section to gush about her new look. One fan commented, “MY FAV HAIR COLOR,” “So gorgeous,” and one person even wrote, “BLACK HAIR ERA IS BACK.”

Meanwhile, just two weeks ago, Billie secretly had her hair dyed red for a week before she dyed it brown. She changes her hair color so often, we’re honestly no longer surprised! But she always manages to perfectly pull off her hairstyles, of course.

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