They were going over to Europe hoping to blow up, but Europe up and exploded before the members of Minneapolis punk band Banner Pilot could get there.

The Icelandic volcano ash that has grounded flights across the Atlantic Ocean has cast a cloud over Banner Pilot's three-week European tour, for which they are supposed to leave Tuesday night. They're especially hoping to make a big gig Friday in Belgium at the Groezrock Festival, but they also have a club date Thursday in Paris.

"I guess it's my fault for booking a tour during volcano season," bassist Nate Gangelhoff quipped. "Last Wednesday, our biggest worry was finding a bag big enough to hold a snare drum and ride cymbal, which of course seems pretty trivial now."

On Monday afternoon, the band members were checking the Web hourly for updates on flights. They plan on going to the airport way early Tuesday, and hope for the best.

The worst-case scenario is that Banner Pilot won't get to Europe in time to make enough shows to break even on its overseas trek, which is always a dicey financial prospect for American indie bands. While it has a little backing from California indie label Fat Wreck Chords, Banner Pilot was relying on the Belgian fest to subsidize the rest of the tour.

As much as they want to go, they're still uneasy about the prospect of flying. Said Gangelhoff, "I was hoping it would be more like, 'The cloud is gone!' and not, 'Hey, you know how we said flying through ash is really, really dangerous? Well, now that we've lost a lot of money, maybe it isn't.'"

The band members are being light-hearted in the meantime. On their Facebook page they asked for "anyone with a really fast boat" and are polling fans on possible tour names ("Banner Pilot vs. the Volcano," "Ash Happens Tour").

Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658