Shapeshifter stands by call for fans to get vaccinated despite backlash

When Shapeshifter made a Facebook post encouraging fans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, some said they would never listen to the band's music again - but band member Sam Trevethick says it was their responsibility to speak up.

Speaking to Music 101's Charlotte Ryan, Trevethick said that while they generally didn't like to "ruffle feathers", the prospect of touring in the age of COVID-19 encouraged them to take a stand.

"We just want people to take music for what music is and appreciate it for what it can bring to people's lives," he said.

"And here we are, dealing with a subject that is far more than that and that's when things switch over to what our responsibility is.

"People that have a voice, people that are public figures, they carry responsibility whether they like it or not and so you do kind of have to choose what you say."

As the band tours with a large crew and often faces massive crowds, vaccination was high on the agenda - and Trevethick said there hasn't been any conflict around it, although he has helped a crew member overcome his hesitancy.

"He was actually pretty apprehensive because he got a hepatitis vaccine when he was younger and had a bad reaction, well he passed out and it was just scary for him and he was fine, but he just had that seed of apprehension in him and it took him a while to kind of get around to having it," he said.

Even Trevethick said he felt some anxiety around getting his second vaccine - something that he attributes to the "noise" of social media.

"Being apprehensive, I think it's natural especially in the day and age we live in, where social media is just sort of twisting everyone up and feeding everyone these antagonistic narratives, stories, comments, whatever," he said.

"I had this weird kind of anxiety about it, it's kind of crazy what this sort of noise can do you subconsciously, so it's important to remember that."

However, he really encountered the full force of this "noise" after posting on Facebook to encourage fans to get vaccinated.

Some said in the comments that Shapeshifter had lost them as fans, due to their pro-vaccination stance - but Trevethick said he isn't too concerned about that.

"In terms of us losing fans, that's pretty low on the priority list for us, because the priority at the top of it all is like we're responsible for so many people, we're responsible for people who come to our shows," he said.

"We're first on the chopping block for a reason, because we gather tens of thousands of people together and there is a move that we can make, a decision that we can make that instantly makes that a lot safer and that's for everyone to be vaccinated.

"Losing fans - so what?"

But Trevethick said it's also important to keep having conversations with those who are hesitant, or against the vaccine.

"We want to keep people safe, we want to be able to play events and we also just want to be friendly as well, because I think there are quite a few people out there that maybe have made up their mind or think they have a view on not getting vaccinated or something like that," he said.

"It's important to be open and still communicate with those people in a calm way and listen and find out why are the thinking that and what their fears are ... and tell them that it's okay if you decide to get vaccinated, it's okay, it's not like you've sort of reneged on some integrity that you thought you had."

Safety remains the top concern for Trevethick, who describes his crew as being like family to him.

"Sometimes you just don't even know who's going to be affected really badly [by the virus] and who isn't, and so we are putting people into risky positions when we're travelling around with bunches of people, interacting with lots and lots of people," he said.

"So yeah it's really important for us that we do our best to mitigate those risks with the best tools that we've got."