With the third national lockdown looming over the UK, creatives have once again been colossally affected. The music industry has been hit hard by the country’s never-ending battle with COVID-19. Concerts have been cancelled, recording limited and incomes halted.

Many artists believe that the government has not sufficiently helped them enough during the crisis. In March 2020, the furlough scheme allowed a steady income for workers staying at home. However, many musicians missed out on this scheme due to being self-employed. This left musicians with a fluctuating income during the pandemic with no governmental help. Additionally, we saw the government’s degrading ad campaign resurface, claiming that creatives should “get a real job”.

To find out more, I spoke to the young Colchester-based band The Verdicts, who shared their struggles and strengths from throughout the pandemic. Like above, they also believed that the government hasn’t done enough for their industry, noting how without the musician’s union, PRS and the charity “Save our Venues”, many artists would have struggled significantly.

Lockdown has left many creatives feeling trapped between four walls this past year. Bassist Harry Munson discussed how despite lockdown giving him “a lot of time to write”, he has “found it harder to gain inspiration”. Adding to that point, Lead Singer Archie Chapman expressed how he “can’t help but feel a tad bit heartbroken at the experiences (he) lost that could’ve benefitted (their) music”. Nevertheless, both conveyed how lockdown has allowed self-reflection, with Archie saying that he has drawn inspiration from other artists instead, like Bowie or The Strokes.

The primary devastation the pandemic brought was the vast cancellation of concerts. When asked the thing they missed the most, both bandmates replied with gigging. Harry described performing as “the most exhilarating feeling” while Archie went on to put that “the love, the people and the energy – it’s all just so perfect when you’re all on the same wavelength”. The Verdicts’ last performance was on March 3rd, 2020 at the Colchester Arts Centre, and the boys cannot wait to get out there again.

Despite the setbacks, yesterday (Saturday 30th) the band released their first EP, Quaker’s Alley. With many artists not able to record freely during the pandemic, it was lucky that the boys recorded the tracks just days before the first lockdown. Harry summarised the songs as being written: “mostly from (their) own personal experiences of growing up in Colchester”. One track with a humourous backstory was Liverpool Street.

Archie said that “Liverpool street was about the time I fell asleep on a train home from Norwich and woke up in Colchester Station with the train leaving … I (ended up being) stranded at Liverpool Street with no return ticket”.

Overall, the EP has given the band a chance to look forward and return to some form of normality.

So, what’s next for The Verdicts? They aim to create an album’s worth of material in 2021. Zoom calls will continue between the members. Hopefully, they will get back to performing as soon as restrictions allow them. In the meantime, an online gig is in development with a local company “Get Known Be Heard” after being delayed.

The most important thing is supporting the arts, specifically music, during this pandemic. A website recommended by Harry and Archie is BandCamp which helps artists of all kinds. But the best thing? Just put your headphones on and listen.

“Quaker’s Alley” can be streamed on all major streaming platforms now.