Interview:2008-D-Side

From Death In June
Jump to: navigation, search

"The Rule of Thirds" seems to illustrate the most classic appearances of your songwriting, in relation with the vision you’ve put on folk music. Did you since the beginning wish to touch this very minimal ans acoustic aspect of the music ?

You’re correct in respect that I think I’ve been gradually deconstructing Death In June over this 21st Century. Certainly, in the live arena and now, on record. But, also there appear to be so many groups now, either consciously or unconsciously, sounding like ‘classic’ Death In June that I was very wary that I could end up sounding like a caricature, or pastiche, of myself. I momentarily had my doubts about this raw and naked approach on one of the last periods of recording when I got all my percussion equipment and keyboards out but when the time came to go to the studio I took a look at it all and left it behind in my work room in ‘Fort Nada’. The really deciding moment had already happened on a 4 day road journey across Australia in June – our mid Winter. I was driving with my lover across an area called The Hay Plain which is apparently the flattest place on Earth. For kilometres all around us there was nothing to see except the odd tree far off in the distance. 9 of the songs had already been recorded and I was playing rough mixes on the car stereo looking at a massive electrical storm on the horizon which was coloured by a double rainbow. The whole moment was perfect as we headed towards this apocalyptic vision and I was impressed how well the starkness of ‘The Rule Of Thirds’ fitted the beautiful barren environment we were in. It also showed that we could stop the car in the middle of nowhere, I get my guitar out and sing the songs almost as they sounded on record but, with the accompaniment of the thunder. It is perfect ‘Kampf Fire Music’. Music anyone can play on the beach, or in the woods or anywhere with just a guitar and maybe some friends? That elite communal idea also appealed.

On a song like "Good Mourning Sun", you seem to have portrayed the end of all things and through this, at the end, a kind of hope. Could you please clear-up our minds about what you’ve tried to say in this song ?

The Winter in the Adelaide Hills where I live in Australia can be long and miserable. There are weeks when my property ‘Fort Nada’ is completely shrouded by low clouds and it rains and rains – in fact 1 metre more a year than it does in London – and occasionally it even tries to snow! Sadly, it never really does so the bright, white cleansing that I think snow brings never arrives and the cold, wet, grey weather lingers and effects my mood. I’ve probably noticed it more in the past few years as I am now here all the time instead of travelling around the World on tour. That simple misery was my starting point for ‘Good Mourning Sun’ and then other ideas came to mind – as they always do with anything I write. And, I’m sure it probably evokes different things in different people so to be anymore specific would make the song, any song I write, earthbound.

As far as I have understood the thing, you’ve invited the DIJ fans to create a musical environment around a lyrical piece you’ve wriiten called "The Grass is always browner". How came this text to you and what are the results of your call ? What will you do with the results you’ve obtained ?

The inspiration came when the German novelist Gunther Grass revealed that he had been in the Waffen SS during the War instead of just the Wehrmacht . I had always liked the film ‘The Tin Drum’ which is based on one of his novels and had even named my stuffed crow, which appears in some DIJ photos, Oskar after the main character in it. Coming at a time when suddenly some of my work has been so criticised and vilified by the German government agency that controls and censors the arts I found this revelation by the once darling of the left, who had even led personal campaigns against people he viewed as ‘suspicious politically’, quite amusing. I liked the way he duped the gullible and seized on people’s willingness to conduct witch hunts at the drop of a hat. He kept his true past well hidden for many years and I admire the camouflage he wore in more ways than one! It was a grand illusion. The musical results published on the internet have, predictably, been a mixed bag although I did receive a few personally which, as they’re from major label artists who are fans of mine can’t be published due to their contracts. The idea only ever was to share them in public on the internet. There was never any intention to release them as a commercial venture and I would frown on the idea if anyone even dare think of it. Like the ‘Free Tibet’ recordings I previously issued free only on the internet a commercial venture isn’t in the spirit of the project.

One of the things I will keep from the last album is the superb melody of "The Perfume of Traitors" and these words : "God is now here, God is nowhere". How would you present your current relationship with the divine entity and on another side, the formalised religions ?

As, for want of a better description, I am a New European Pagan I have no time for the formalised religions of the World. Besides being responsible for centuries of death, misery, control and hypocrisy they are dogmas that all seem to have sex as their main stumbling block which in itself is anti-Nature and therefore anti-Humankind. Sex, in all its many varied forms, is completely natural so I can only see the established religions abhorrence of it as completely unnatural and those who seek refuge and comfort in them as being somewhat damaged individuals. Instead of being on ones knees in church or beheading “an infidel” in front of cameras those lost souls would be probably better off seeing a psychiatrist, or masturbating!

My relationship with all the different Gods, Demons and Angels that permeate my Existence is, I feel, a mutually respectful one. I’ve done as much of their bidding as they’ve done for me. However, Death appears to be taking a closer look at me these days than He has in the past. There have been a few moments of late where He has made His presence felt and I know I have been served notice of my own mortality.

Homosexual erotism is often understood like a key of your songwriting, and this thing reappears on the new record. Could you please clear-up our minds on the way you expect to use erotism in your art ? How would you link your way to use homosexual poetry to the way Jean Genet used the sexual imagery in his own writings ?

For a start I would never compare my work to the total genius of Jean Genet. He used the description of explicit sexual acts, emotions and Love making in such a blatant yet beautiful fashion that he made that completely his territory. It was unique. I don’t know how to analyse how I use eroticism in my writing. I’m not even sure if I do write in an erotic way? One man’s eroticism is another man’s play on words. All I can say about the period of ‘The Rule Of Thirds’ was that for 13 months I was in awe of a fallen angel who will probably be the last transient Love affair of my Life. This man had truly fallen from grace with the church, the family the law. It was wonderful, thought provoking and heart breaking all at the same time! I suppose that was my quintessential ‘Genet’ moment. And, it definitely helped see me through a tough period in my Life.

A lot of re-releases and special issues have emerged these last years for Death In June ("Scorpion Wind", "Brown Book"...). What kind of other releases do you expect to publish in the next few months ? Do you still keep some unreleased things that could come to the surface one of these days ?

Since my split from world serpent distribution in 1999 Death In June has been in a perpetual state of re-releases because of the continuing demand for the back catalogue. That will continue for the foreseeable future and even more so as I will depart tesco org. Germany this year which will no doubt result in even more gaps in my catalogue of work that will need to be filled. For me the most important of those gaps to be filled is the reissue of ‘But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?’ and ‘Rose Clouds Of Holocaust’. As these albums are deemed by many as groundbreaking in the ‘Neo-Folk field it’s been ridiculous that they’ve been out of press in Germany for about 3 years due to the recent difficulties I’ve experienced there! I plan a special stone edition of those 2 called ‘Symbols & Clouds’ which has the potential to eclipse even the beauty of the stone 20th Anniversary Editions of ‘The World That Summer’ and ‘Brown Book’. On top of that my getting the vast bulk of the Death In June and associated NER group recordings accepted onto iTunes/eMusic in 2007 has also been a blessing and meant that at least these are gradually available to people for digital download which, day by day, becomes ever more important. I also plan to release a recently found brilliant and exciting live recording of DIJ in Australia in 2000 which will probably be called ‘Esplanade’ and also the last show by my first group Crisis in 1980 where we played with the legendary Magazine and Bauhaus. There’s a great Swedish group called Down In June that we’ll issue an album by of fantastic Death In June cover versions so with the addition of planned Death In June DVD and book releases 2008 promises to be a very, very busy year.

The "Scorpion Wind" re-release appeals this question : do you have nowadays some new projects of collaboration with Boyd Rice and how would you describe the state of your relationship nowadays, on a human and artistic point of view ?

Shortly after beginning the Death In June & Boyd Rice 'Alarm Agents' album at Halloween 2002 in the worst blizzard Denver had on record for that time of year Boyd and I began to feel this would be our swansong. As we dragged ourselves around the World on yet another tour a lot of Magickal things kept happening and there were many propitious ‘signs’ - which isn't all that unusual when the 2 of us are together.

But, there was a moment when we were looking out of the big picture windows of New Centurian Studios, which are situated at the top of a large valley in New Zealand, we looked down on light aircraft and helicopters flying beneath us. It was like being Gods looking down through the clouds on what humanity did. We both looked at each other and knew it wouldn't get much better than this. So when we put the finishing touches to 'Alarm Agents' on Mid-Winter's Night 2003 in, yet another snow-bound evening in Denver, we all knew that was it. The End! And, a very good one too!! I can’t fault the canon of work we’ve done and left behind so we prefer to keep it as perfect as is. ‘Music, Martinis & Misanthropy’, ‘Scorpion Wind’, ‘Wolf Pact and finally ‘Alarm Agents’ are all something to be very proud of. Boyd is the only colleague I now keep in regular contact with. He like me, hates the internet so we speak on the telephone fairly frequently to keep up to date with what each other is up to.

How do you usually work with a guy like Rice ? Are you preparing things in the distance or do your collaborations obey to the logic of physical meeting to make things appear and finally concrete ?

Boyd has described our relationship as a symbiotic and organic one. As soon as we’re in each others presence the creativity and ‘Wyrdness’ starts almost straight away. And, it’s always been the case from the first time I met him in a rehearsal studio in Tokyo in 1989 until the last recording sessions in Denver in 2003. In 1996 I must, however, admit that before Boyd flew to Australia I had already written some of the music for Scorpion Wind as I knew time would be tight for all of us in the recording studio as we were also preparing for our roles in the Australian cult film ‘Pearls Before Swine’ and performing a one-off show in Melbourne where the film was being shot. However, I need not have worried as it all came together very well. During the recording of ‘Wolf Pact’ in 2001 Albin Julius flew into Australia about a week after Boyd and I had started recording and the basics of 10 songs had already been written and recorded! We were just waiting for Albin to put his little touches on it. Boyd and I work well together but all good things must come to an end.

In "Their Deception", you sing : "Falsehood and people / Promote the spirit / Of telling The Truth / But, meaning the lie". What’s this falsehood, and who are these people ?

Many of these words were taken from an islamic website where it explained how to use ‘Takeyya’. As the koran evidently states that lying is a sin this law of ‘Takeyya’ allows a muslim to lie to ‘infidels’ or ‘non-believers’- to safeguard them selves and/or the religion of islam without the repercussions of being sent to islamic Hell, whatever that may be. Personally, I see it as yet another massive indictment on a sexist, violent, retrogressive and ultimately reactionary state of mind, let alone an established and apparently expansionist religion. But, of course people, including myself, can interpret ‘Their Deception’ in any way they deem fit according to the time of day and quite easily be made to fit the likes of the liars in the Whitehouse or simply their neighbours next door!

"My Last Europa Kiss" lets appear some specific words about the "burning Bush", the "Holy Whore". How would you describe in concrete terms the way you see this America that Bush represents ?

Bush is a liar, and a crazy, stupid and inarticulate one at that, motivated by some sort of fundamentalist xtian ‘End Of Days’ game that, perhaps, is the most interesting and attractive thing about him! How America could vote such a buffoon into office leaves a lot of questions to be asked of that nation. I don’t know how he translates into French but in English he speaks like he’s an insane monkey. I’d like to fuck George the Monkey to see if any of my DNA might improve matters. But, my ‘Last Europa Kiss’ isn’t even about him. These are lyrical allusions to the Time we live in and, regardless of all the insanity of the imposed ‘End Of Days’ scenario in which we find ourselves, my last Europa kiss was one of the most beautiful, moving and inspirational kisses of my Life. And, I’ll never forget it!

Do you think you will come back one day to the stage or was the declaration you made during the Brest concert in may 2005 the real final live statement ? Why did you decide this ? Did you feel out of the pleasure that the concert could give to you as a performer ? Are you tired of this if it’s the case, why ?

At this moment in Time I have no inclination to return to the live arena. Shortly before starting the last World tour in March 2005 in Australia I knew that within myself this was going to be the last one. As I previously mentioned I have many other Death In June related projects that need attention and the time taken out of each year live work demands was detracting from these. In 25 years (now 28) of existence Death In June performed in 25 different countries from as far North as Iceland to as far South as Australia and New Zealand, from as far West as America to as far East as Russia and Japan. No other independent group in this genre can make such a claim. No other groups have worked as hard to get to places, even potentially very dangerous ones such as Croatia during the war there and Israel where there are significant amounts of followers that wanted to see DIJ perform. On top of that 25 + 25 added up to 50 the age of my next birthday after that tour.

When I was queuing to check-in with John Murphy my live percussionist for 9 years at some airport after one of the first shows on the tour I told him how I felt and he also seemed to think the timing was right. Luckily all the performances in Australia, America and Europa were good on many levels that culminated in a great comraderie between Death In June and its audiences. Overall the feeling was correct and when it dawned on me that the last 2 performances would be in Brest which is in an area of Brittainy in France they also refer to as Finisterre or The End Of The World/Landsend in English, I knew that all the symbolism was correct and in order. What better place for Death In June to perform it's last show but at The End Of The World!


If it’s the case, do you see today Death In June as the principal project permitting your realisation or will you use the time you won’t pass on stage to open Death In June (or yourself, as a person) to more and more collaborations ?

As the grains of sand in my personal hour glass run out Death In June will be my main recording project so there will be no longer any ‘KAPO!’s, Occidental Martyrs, ‘Ostenbraun’s or collaborations with Boyd Rice etc. There might not even be any more new Death In June! The recording of the train on the very last track of ‘TROT’ called ‘Let Go’ is the same recording of a train we taped at Waterloo Station in London in 1981 and put on the beginning of our very first single release – ‘Heaven Street’. There is a certain feeling of completing the circle which I liked and couldn’t resist. Could this mean the end? We’ll see! I don’t know!! However, in the meantime there will be small cultural incursions made with other people that are already taking place. For some reason my spoken voice is in demand so, besides doing some voiceovers for the soundtrack to the American film ‘The Doctor’ and Thomas Nola et Son Orchestre a couple of years ago, I also recently contributed some spoken vocals to the forthcoming Alkaline Trio album and have done some more for another American film that the actor/director Kenneth Branagh maybe involved with. Personally, I don’t like the sound of my spoken voice and to my ears in the studio it sounds like some creepy child killer speaking on a blackmail tape. If I speak in French I then sound like a Belgian child killer which is even more horrific! I don’t know why people want my spoken vocals on their recordings but, the moment they do! .

How has evolved these last years your interest in politics ? Do you feel today the same person than at the time of "The Guilty Have No Pride" ?

I was 24 when Death In June formed and in 1983 when that particular album came out I was 27 and now I’m nearly 52. Politics is for the young and enthusiastic – I’m now neither!

Does it exist in your mind some kind of perfect political system ? How would you describe the one you would invent and its bases ?

Politics by its very nature involves people so that’s a recipe in itself that is bound to end in tears.

Some commentators declare that Death In June is en entity evolving through a kind of cultural pessimism. Do you agree with this kind of impression face to the Death In June of today ?

It’s an interesting perspective and one I will give some thought to.

DIJ-Dside-2008-1.jpg

DIJ-Dside-2008-2.jpg

DIJ-Dside-2008-3.jpg

DIJ-Dside-2008-4.jpg