With your new LP and CD and touring during the last three years, many different countries and you travel a lot. Are you searching something on your, maybe, vacations or inspiration…
Wherever I go I always work. And, I’ve been traveling abroad since I was 17, quite extensively throughout the world. And so this is like, I’d be doing it anyway, but wherever I go, I’m always utilizing either my photography or, you know, I’m writing in whatever place I find myself. But after the recording of the last LP, The Wall Of Sacrifice, I definitely knew I had to go, to getaway and take some time off because I felt I was drowning in my work. My work, it was my life as well. And I felt like I’d come to a conclusion. And so I went to, you know, many parts of Europe and spent time in Australia and America. And throughout that period, I was always right in, there was, it was not difficult to write things, but nothing came together. It didn’t make any sense. It was all just snippets of things and maybe that only began to make sense. At the beginning of this year, where I thought that I, I had the feeling that it was going to happen and it’s time to go into the studio. And then you could see where parts that possibly I’d written in Rome fitted with bits I wrote in Sydney, Australia, or in Adelaide or wherever I was. And then it began to kind of come together for me and unravel itself. But it’s still not finished because I have lots of work from a period that I want to examine more.
That you will release.
I hope so.
You use some quotations on older LPs or on the Sacred War sampler there, “what ends when the symbol shatter” it was under your address.
Yeah, I already knew the title as soon as I finished the last album. But that’s all I knew. I’ve often felt I knew where the next step was, but I thought at one stage of this was the album that would never be written. It had the title “What ends when the symbol shatter” was nothing, nothing is because it won’t ever be written, but it finally did get written.
There’s a slight changing of style from the last album to this one now.
Yes, I wanted to cultivate more the melody or the sound of things like Fall Apart and Giddy Carousel from The Wall Of Sacrifice. I really wanted to cultivate that much more because I felt that I’d done as much as I wanted to along the lines of say the post-industrial noise type of thing, which had reached the conclusion for, with Death Is A Drummer and the title track of the milestone,
And that’s then finished,
Not necessarily because nothing is ever finished as it can come back again, but in a renewed way. So you can’t ever tell because I never know when I begin to record an LP, how it’s going to eventually sound, it’s as much of a revelation to me as it is to other people. I mean, literally I have an idea and I’ll have a basis of an idea, and then you go to the studio and then it starts creating itself. And then you have to go along those lines,
The sound develops in the studio with the people there or depending on…
It’s only ever really me. I mean, at the end of the day, I’m fortunate enough to have worked since 1985 with either one engineer who has now left for America, and now Ken Thomas who I got on with very well, they always understood me and they could have patience while I’m trying to do something and just let things develop. The people influenced him, you know, in the studio. It gets to a situation where you know, that other people like David Tibet, for instance, or James has to come have to come in now, everything is ready for them to do what they can add to the songs. Although when David Tibet and myself write songs together, we write in a very particular way and it can be either just literally over the telephone, he will mention a title to me. And I would just come up with the music quickly, or I have the music in the studio and then he will write the lyrics just like that. And similarly, it worked for me like that when I wrote the co-wrote the song The Giddy Edge of Light with Michael Cashmore, who I’d worked with in Current93, he had a dream where he heard me singing on the radio, this song, but he couldn’t remember the lyrics, but he heard the melody. So I said, well, come into the studio, play the melody. We played the melody and just, I wrote the lyrics. That kind of thing happens very quickly. It’s not ponderous, like the way I write all my other songs. It didn’t take three years to do that. That takes literally three minutes. Some of them like Daedalus Rising was just, you know, really quick. Tibet and I would work like that since Swastikas For Noddy, we have almost an instant rapport.
Do you also write lyrics together with, maybe David…
Tibet will give me some lyrics, possibly, which for instance, She Said Destroy, and maybe I will adjust some things, but on another level, like Fall Apart, all he gave me was literally say the title and a few other words, and then the rest was completely mine. So I never do that the other way around. I never give David Tibet lyrics. He will kind of have some lyrics hanging around and he doesn’t know what to do with. And I think that can fit in here somewhere. This album was completely different because the only two things he did, he had the entire songs Daedalus Rising and This Is Not Paradise. They were written specifically for this.
You released these songs as the a 12 inch. Why these songs?
Because actually when I was in Rome, I was listening to all the mixes of the new album whilst I took a holiday in Rome and decided what mixes to use, and these all seem to fit together perfectly as one kind of conveyor over an atmosphere. And so I thought, well, I mean, they’re not an obvious choice for a single, but then Death In June is not really a single group anymore, we were never realistically. So it’s because these two songs actually convey a particular type of atmosphere and seem to intermingle with each other, like they’re one song, and I appreciated them on that level. So I thought they should come out like that. Cause it affected me. So why shouldn’t I? If it worked with me, then let’s put it out and see if it does anything to anybody else, have a car crash or something they can think about that.
And now, a question about He’s Disabled,
He’s Disabled was actually inspired from the title of the Jim Jones album. Are you aware of the Reverend Jim Jones? Yeah, exactly. The mass suicide. Well, he actually did an album with the Tabernacle Choir called He’s Abled. And I had an idea of doing a single of some of his songs, and it was going to be reissued as He’s Disabled. So it went from there. And so that was just a distortion of what his title was. I mean, you know, the rest is quite obvious really, isn’t it.
Which God do you mean? Especially the Christian God or God in general?
I think possibly God in general, but it doesn’t necessarily just refer to God. I think it can also refer to people on a personal level. So it’s not just a God thing. It’s not just a religious statement. It’s about people being led down personally. So it has a wider spectrum.
Like most of your lyrics, you can take them literally or word by word, mostly symbolic.
Yeah. They allude, their illusions or their poetry or whatever you want to call them or stream of consciousness or, are just literally presented to me. I mean, some of them as in the past come from dreams or, you know, dreams are never-ending source of inspiration.
And you remember your dreams once.
Yeah. You keep a book by the side of your bed with a pen, it is a good way to remember your dreams. It’s very difficult that you’ve had to practice. As soon as you think you’re going to remember it and you don’t do anything about it, then it’s gone in a fraction of a second. Isn’t it? You have to mentally make an effort. But for instance, Ku Ku Ku is a dream that actually literally dictated to me when I was on tour with Current 93 and Sol Invictus in Austria last year. It was quite a strange dream. There was this television program that was devoted to a special on a year, you know, at say 1943 or 1961 or whatever. And this week it was 1969. And for this special, they managed to get as their special stars, Pierre Trudeau’s wife, Pierre Trudeau is the prime minister of Canada, who is quite famous in the sixties. And Charles Manson released from prison for a concert. And so I was in the audience for this special TV show sitting next to Pierre Trudeau’s wife. And then the curtains come back and everything is with like flashlights. And then Manson appears on stage on a stool with an acoustic guitar, but I’m on stage as well with Tibet and all the other people. And he sings Ku Ku Ku baby. So in the morning I just got up and just wrote it all down and showed the rest of the group in the van. So, I mean, that was a very kind of easy one.
Hmm. And when we’re here at Charles Manson, next contributor to me is Nicholas Schreck. He is a great fan of him. And he worked with you on The Wall Of The Sacrifice.
As, as I said when, you know, his extent of work only really went to repeat in that first line at the very beginning of The Wall Of Sacrifice, it was the first day of recording for that album. And I’d met Nicholas at the launch of his Manson File, at a book shop in London, and we seem to get on fine. And so I said, well come down and we’ll see what we can do. And so they did. And because Tibet had this nice little thing that he heard a girl saying, “first, you take a heart, then you tear it apart”. We thought this would be a nice introduction by Nicholas. And that’s the only thing he’s ever done with Death in June, after that he left the studio to do some tourists things or tourist sightseeing, I suppose. So my working relationship doesn’t extend to kind of a huge metaphysical buddy/buddy type of we’re pals together in this great family of strange groups, because they already have its letters. So…
It’s a theme in Germany since last year when he tried to do some concerts. So I thought it was important to know.
How is everyone always ask that question? I’m intrigued. I don’t know what people are saying, but say, but I get asked the weirdest questions in the post about Nicholas and Boyd and whatever. And once again because you’re dealing with a kind of a particular type of group that is, I suppose, gain a mythology about our existence over the years, you have to deal with rumors all the time. And therefore, you know, it’s such a lot of kind of rumors find about, I mean, there was a, there was a rumour that I was dead at one stage and I was, you know, quite happily alive, but because I didn’t appear for a couple of Current 93 performances…
Another rumor is that you try or that you will record CD or LP with Anton La Vey
This is true. I have all the recording material. But because Anton and Boyd Rice work in kind of a different way, I don’t necessarily comprehend. And they’re quite slow with providing me with all the material I need to issue it. It’s taken a long, long time. I only have like some of the photographs I need to put out, et cetera. So hopefully in the new year, this will happen. It’s one of the art projects along with the Somewhere in Europe CD and the Fire and Ice CD, they’re scheduled to come out at Christmas when Boyd Rice is in England to do a concert with Death in June. We’re also finishing the recording of a 12 inch called the Ragnarok Rune. So there’s a lot of things happening. And Anton is just one of those projects that will hopefully happen in the new year.
Fire and ice is the former member of Sol Invictus.
That’s right. Yeah. Ian Read’s new group, it’s all recorded and should be out, hopefully, maybe three weeks, two weeks…
He made a magazine.
Chaos International. Yeah. He’s the editor. He’s now the editor on it.
Can you tell me something about it. I don’t know it really.
I think it’s basically a magazine dedicated to that magical train of thought, Chaos Magick. I mean, I can’t really say much. You have to read all the stuff yourself and it’s quite an interesting magazine, it does actually branch out and do reviews of other books or records that may be of interest to its readers. So it seems to taken on a better kind of life force now that Ian has taken over the editorial.
Some months ago there was a release of a tape called Ostenbraun by you and came from France.
Yes. It was a collaboration with a group called Les Joyaux De La Princesse. There was actually, I think it was something I did in about 1987 that I almost forgotten about completely. They took ages and ages to be released. And it was slightly strange because it was an interview I did for a radio station. So the interview was on there, but it didn’t have the questions. So it just appeared to me that I was just speaking randomly on one side of the cassette, which most people either understand or don’t understand. I think the questions might have helped. Then the music that you find that Les Joyaux De La Princesse utilize with kind of distortions of Death in June things. I don’t do any music on that, but they kind of do semi copies of some songs.
They did it themselves.
Yes. There was a, I think it was quite a limited edition and it’s quite beautifully packaged and the packaging is quite exceptional. It might come out as a CD in the future, but we don’t know yet.
That was the next question, why and the tape is sold out or
It’s sold out fairly quickly. But I think he only did it three or five, three or four or 500. It wasn’t so many, I’ve only got two myself.
Then the standard question about Joy Of Life, you did an LP with them in the past. And then now this was issued as a CD, but not by you. Can you tell me why didn’t you give it on any art?
Well, it’s probably a combination of two things, first to I issued that on NER in 1986, 87, and then they went ahead and did their own LP and release it themselves. And I think both sold moderately well, but as far as I could tell Joy Of Life broke up. Plus the fact I left the country and I spent most of 1989 outside of England. I just wasn’t there. So we lost contact and obviously they have been approached in the meantime, by Hyperion to do this project. And I guess they thought, well, let’s try something new, you know, good for them. I always thought that they were a very good group, but they seem to take a bit of time in putting things out. It took forever to record. And when it came out, it always sounded slightly delayed. It should have been more immediate, but I always like them and it should do okay.
There were rumors that you yourself have been a member of Joy Of Life.
No, never, I’ve worked with Gary Carey who was a member of Joy of Life. And how we met was because they used to come in on to early Death In June concerts anyway. And that’s how we got to talking. And Joy Of Life did actually support Death In June, in years gone by.
Maybe it’s because they’re sounds quite similar to the early…
Very early Death In June, yeah. There may be one source of rumour I guess. I’ve never worked with Joy of Life outside. It’ll just help him put the records out.
Other now joined together as the band or.
I really just don’t know. I mean, the last I heard was when I did make this phone call to Peter, the lead singer, he did say that they were thinking of getting back together again, at least four of them and doing a tour of Germany about now. So I don’t know if this is true or not. I was going to get in contact with Gary Carey, I’ve phoned the number several times and nothing’s happened. So, you know, life goes on.
You surely heard about a group called Phallus Dei. And there’s this fabulous versions of your songs.
Yes….. This came as a complete surprise to me, because Oliver has been involved in so many strange and illicit things regarding Death In June, which began first of all, with the Flowers Of Autumn LP, which I knew nothing about, but claimed on the back, I’d give him my blessing too, which was a complete lie. Having contacted Oliver. And in fact, the first time I met Oliver Strahl was at this club in (?), when he introduced himself to me and I phoned him up and said, you know, what is all this about? And he gave us 50% of the pressing of the LP. And then I thought, you know, this is completely mad. So at least he gave us 50% of the pressing. And then I hear about this CD, because I get letters coming in to write him, say, why are you collaborating with Phallus Dei? Well, I didn’t realize I was, you know, this is news to me. And so when I eventually have to contact him again, and yes he is, he admits to using it. And he never told me, he said but the distribution company that put it out said they were going to tell me or why, I don’t know, he left it to them, because basically he was lying and evidently he uses the instrumental tracks from The World That Summer, or Break The Black Ice and something that Coil did because he never approached Coil either and did vocals over them, which is really a very bad thing to do. It’s like, I just don’t understand all over. Having met him now again in London, and chastise him about this. I have two CDs as royalties for my labors. And considering he says on the back of the CD, thanks to Douglas P and David Tibet for their help in this project. We didn’t know anything about this project. I can only suggest to other people that read this interview is that if you see anything by all of Oliver Strahl of Phallus Dei to completely distrust it and take it as lies.
He said in interviews that you are a personal friend of him and….
(laughs) Absolutely… So close, closer than Manson… The world is full of sorry people.
David and Rose MacDowall are going on this next tour?
David Tibet will, but Rose will be in Canada, when we come to Germany. So that’s unfortunate because Rose has recently returned from Canada, actually in London has performed with Current 93 and Death In June, this past summer. And it was great to be working with her again after a break of, I suppose, three years.
I thought that she hadn’t been on your last CD, But what ends, wasn’t Rose MacDowall quite surprised about it because she had been everywhere?
Well, she’s been, she’s been since 1987 on Brown Book, that was her first appearance and then To Drown A Rose. And then she was on The Wall Of Sacrifice, but she hasn’t been on everything. A lot of people think she was on The World That Summer, but she wasn’t. That was Andrea James from Somewhere In Europe. Rose had to go and do her travels. So she spent a long time in Canada and went down into America and visited Boyd Rice and people like that. And now she has a new family herself. Life goes.
The World That Summer title. I think it’s taken from a film?
It was inspired by the film, but it was also what I was writing in the summer of 1985. And it was like the perfect title. And I found out it was based on a book and which I did read some sort of book as well. So you’ve seen the film?
No, I just heard of it
Very good film. It’s German.
Maybe I thought that I knew the title, but I don’t know how it is in Germany.
It’s Die Welt Im Jenem Sommer. I’m sure because it’s all in German, English subtitles. It was done by WDR. I can’t remember the director’s name, but that’s correct in Germany, isn’t it? The agents.
And what’s the story of this film?
Go and watch it. Don’t make me make your life so easy. It’s a German film. It should be available. It was made in 1981.
Are there other films that influenced your work?
There’s films that have influenced me along with literature, probably more than records. So there’s any number of films I’m assuming I’ve seen nothing for some years now that has made any effect upon me, except for, I suppose, Blue Velvet, outside of that my favorite films, just off the top of my head, I would say, well, obviously The World That Summer, The Haunting, Taxi Driver, The Night Porter, all the Dollar movies is by Sergio Leone because the music was so brilliant by Ennio Morricone. I mean, especially High Plains Drifter, probably the best, where he paints around the town completely red and renames it Hell. Do you not know that one? That’s fantastic, but Italian films. I used to watch a lot of Fellini things when I was young. I used to love going into film clubs and watching a surrealist films, by Bunuel or Chabrol. So the list goes on
You mentioned Blue Velvet, haven’t you seen newer films of David Lynch, like Wild At Heart, Twin Peaks?
Yeah. Yeah. All of those are obviously interesting, but Blue Velvet really had an effect upon me. When I saw it at the cinema, there was a side to it that I could equate to. And it actually moved me, made me feel uncomfortable. So that was good because sometimes I think all my emotions are dead anyway, and at least I can get moved by things still.
Are there some books in particular or authors that you like?
Yeah. So as you probably, I’ve said this now for some years, but as you probably know my favorite authors were certainly Yukio Mishima, and Jean Genet and the best books I’ve ever read are Funeral Rites by Jean Genet and The Decay of the Angel by Mishima. Now definitely the two best books I’ve ever read. They’re fantastic. They had an effect upon me.
The Torture Garden is also a title of Genet?
No it’s the title of another book by someone else [Octave Mirbeau], it’s also the title of a very terrible horror movie. It’s also the title of a club in London for sadomasochistic sex. So it was just a title.
The club in London. There are some records like Current 93 and Nurse With Wound live at Bar Maldoror. Is it a real bar?
Bar Maldoror is a roving venue. It doesn’t have one particular place, wherever we decide to play, if we think that Bar Maldoror will appear there, then they will do a special performance or Death in June will have a special performance. We did this once and Bar Maldoror then exists, that’s only if we decree that will happen.
Last question. What did you do before you began playing in a band?
Well, I’ve been playing in groups since 1976, so it was really irrelevant. What kind of jobs? I’ve been a student. I’ve done all kinds of work, but I’ve been working like full-time musically since 1980, because I worked for Rough Trade Records for a period of some years, but I was before then working on part-time because my previous group Crisis was already providing me with some money. So I haven’t done a normal job in a long time, whatever normal jobs are.
Crisis had been a punk band. And it’s so well that you can earn some money with it.
Maybe it was end of the seventies. Great punk wave, because today I think punk bands don’t sell everywhere.
They do. As far as I know, they still do, really not surprisingly. I mean, I have no interest in that kind of thing now because there was you know, I was 20 years old or 21, it was new and it meant something to me. It was great cleansing. It was a very exciting period. I don’t wish to kind of look back and think about something that happened 15 years ago. I’m 36 now. It’s not relevant to my life at present.
You will go on playing as Death In June, as long as you are able to do it?
I hope so yes, it seems to have taken on its own life. And my life is my art. It’s very important.
Any bigger aims, that you want to play to greater audiences, bigger audiences, stadiums, like Madonna…
(laughs) Nuremberg stadium, maybe… Just a joke kids…
Okay. Thank you.