Success and recognition in the music industry certainly aren’t easy to achieve, and many bands go without either for their whole careers. However, while failing to please their home crowd there are a few who manage to make waves elsewhere – some more unexpected than others.
Here’s a shortlist of the more prominent ones, from locals to international hard-hitters.
“It is hard at home because we are a massive country with a small population. Here in Europe they have a lot of big rock festivals. Even the way it has panned out with our record company Roadrunner (EMI in Australia). They are based in the States. They wanted us over there to break us.”
In fact, the Victorian natives have never actually recorded an album on home soil, despite going into latest album Breakin’ Outta Hell with this mindset. The band have had unprecedented success across the world, citing Germany and France as the first two places to really take them in.
As their rhythm guitarist has pointed out, being signed to Roadrunner since their debut album Runnin’ Wild (2007) was their gateway to both America and Europe, and those huge rock fests we generally miss out on. Sadly, they haven’t had much traction in Australia, and Roads puts this down to their music not reaching the majority of their fans in our more rural areas.
2. Ne Obliviscaris
“Personally, Romania will always have a place in my heart; I’ve probably said this a few times but it’s raw, open minded and alive. Helsinki (and Finland in general) seems to embrace what we do, we’ve had some of our best responses there and following from that, Switzerland and The Netherlands have definitely treated us rather well too. In all honesty, I wouldn’t really object to playing anywhere though, each country is a different experience, I’ll take the good with the bad…fans are fans wherever they’re from.”
– Xenoyr (growling vocals)
Perhaps it’s the success of their crowdfunding campaign on Patreon, raising over $86,000 for their first world tour, which has granted them much of their success abroad. On that run and beyond, the Melbourne prog metal sextet have stamped their mark overseas, having headlined shows in North America, UK and Ireland while also supporting huge metal bands like Enslaved and Cradle of Filth.
Rewinding five years ago, axemen Benjamin Baret and Matt Klavins even got the nod from the US-based Metal Insider, receiving the award for ‘Best Unsigned International Guitarists’. It’s no wonder the group have barely had time to play shows back in their home town.
“It always feels like home. We actually say that. We get to London, we get to England and it’s like, ‘We’re back home!’ We know the city fairly well, we have a lot of friends over there. It’s typifies why you’d live somewhere you know? Friends, being familiar with the territory…”
– Joey Santiago (guitar)
The iconic alt-punk rockers formed in Boston, yet they’ve enjoyed most of their success in the UK (both album and tour-wise). From their debut record Surfer Rosa in 1988 to their fourth album Trompe le Monde three years later, their efforts in the studio have been backed by a particularly strong British fanbase.
This popularity certainly extends to their live shows, where even just three years ago, fans were unable to secure their tickets to gigs on their UK and Ireland tour because they sold out within just two minutes. By contrast, you don’t hear much about them touring their home country, and support for their albums dropped way off after their sophomore record Doolittle (1989).
4. Judas Priest
“There’s something very natural about driving along the highways in America and turning the radio on and hearing Judas Priest. We were made for America and the youth of America fell in love with the band very quickly.”
– Glenn Tipton (lead and rhythm guitar)
There’s been a trend over the decades of British bands making it big in the US, while leaving their home country somewhat by the wayside. The Birmingham quintet are among the more prolific stories, with their ’80 hit album British Steel ironically very much geared towards their American supporters. The blistering ‘Living After Midnight’ was a smashing success, and the record became their very first platinum album in the States (or anywhere).
None of this is to say that the band don’t have a solid fanbase back home, but let’s face it, it doesn’t beat out America.
“The album sales for [ninth record] Warriors of the World (2002) have been the best we’ve ever had worldwide. Which is really great. It is saying something? People really dig it. Germany almost sold out the whole country. Almost every show was packed.”
– Eric Adams (vocals)
Hailing from 1980, the heavy New Yorkers certainly have a dedicated home fanbase. Yet interestingly, they’ve never broken out of the club circuit in the US, while playing arena shows in Europe.
With albums like Battle Hymn (’82) and Into Glory Ride (’83), the band just didn’t quite fit into the glam and thrash metal dominating the ’80s American scene. However, Manowar’s German fans have taken the world by storm as their biggest and most loyal, to the point where even their live DVDs consistently go gold. Bassist Joey DeMaio was so impressed by the reaction there that he even bought a stack of books to teach himself the native language.
6. Kings of Leon
“We can go to the UK and play all of England, literally the entire country, and it’ll sell out. And then we come back home, and people are like, ‘You guys are nothing.'”
– Caleb Followill (vocals)
To the easy listener who doesn’t know a thing about the Nashville four-piece, you could definitely mistake them for being Brits. While they’re huge in the US now, with singles ‘Use Somebody’ and ‘Sex on Fire’ skyrocketing, those were from their fourth release (it only took Americans eight years to notice the band).
On the other hand, all three previous albums peaked within the UK’s Top 3 charts. I think that speaks for itself.