An interview with Tony Wakeford
Sol Invictus released their first album “Against The Modern World” in 1988 on Laylah Records. From this point onwards Sol Invictus have shown their opposition to this modern world, and to it’s accompanying values, that have resulted in the decline of the modern world. In turn, Sol Invictus, under Tony Wakeford have put forward values and beliefs which they believe are necessary if we are to be able to survive this soulless age. Sol Invictus revolve around main-man Tony Wakeford, augmented by individuals such as Karl Blake and Chaos International editor Ian Read, amongst others. The music of Sol Invictus has progressed from the sparse acoustic sounds of their debut album, “Against The Modern World,” to a more fuller sound incorporating both keyboards and strings set against minimal percussion as found on their “Trees In Winter” album. More recently Tony has collaborated with Nurse With Wound’s Steven Stapleton on “The Revenge of the Selfish Shellfish”. An album that will surprise followers of both groups, displaying both Tony’s and Steve’s versatility. In addition to this, Sol Invictus released their fifth album “The Killing Tide” which was Tony’s soliloquy on the subject of murder. An ex-member of Death In June, Tony Wakeford has shown more than a passing interest in Paganism, to which the sound of Sol Invictus strongly resembles.
compulsion:The name Sol Invictus is taken from the worship of the unconquered sun. It has been a fortunate choice of title, providing good symbolism and providing some sort of indication to the sound of Sol Invictus. How did you come across it?
T.W. I have been interested in Paganism for many years, mainly of the Northern tradition. I wanted a Pagan name, but as every man and his dog seemed to be jumping on the Runic band wagon, I wanted something a bit different. As Roman and Southern Paganism is a neglected subject, I decided on the name Sol Invictus which became the most powerful of the Pagan cults in Rome, and at one stage nearly defeated Christianity.
compulsion:There was a bit of a time lapse between you leaving Death In June and forming Sol Invictus. Why did you decide to start again?
T.W. It took me quite a while to want to be involved with music again. But as I had continued to write, there seemed little point in doing it simply for myself. So I decided to start recording again. But as I had come to the conclusion that music is better coming from an individual vision rather than as a democracy, by debate, by committee. I wanted Sol to be on my terms and for good or evil to be my expresssion, in the sense of basics. Of course, the other people I work with add a huge amount to the finished material.
compulsion:The line-up of Sol Invictus changes frequently, always revolving around yourself. Is this the way you prefer to work, bringing in people as and when required. What is the present line-up, and has Ian Read left the group?
T.W. I have always liked being able to use different people in Sol. As the main reason for the group is as a way to express my obsessions I think it is unfair to expect people to be tied to Sol Invictus. As the people I have used are very talented in their own right , they have their own projects to work on. Ian left because he went to Germany for a while, and he now has his own group called Fire and Ice. Karl Blake is stiIl in Sol but because he is doing a course at University, he is now taking a back seat for a while, although we both hope to work together in the future. The working line-up at the moment is Sarah Bradshaw – cello, David Mellor – keyboards, Stephane Ruiz – flute and Nick Hall – drums.
compulsion:The lyrics of Sol Invictus tend to be based around various topics “in the case of Sol Invictus that root, that specific obsession is Europe. The decline of Europe and the rise of America, a superpower founded on a rejection of Europe, is not some ancient history, some hazy theory, but a reality, and one that is ever present”. (Quote taken from the Unconquered Sun) Why did you become interested in the decline of Europe ?
T.W. I became interested because I am living it. The basis of what we are, of the way we think is very much shaped by our past. This past has been shaped by the so-called West. In fact, by the European tradition. By her victories and defeats.
compulsion:Sol Invictus wish a return to magical beliefs. Why do you see a return to values of a spiritual and magical nature to be necessary?
T.W. Because the values we have now are of an anti-spiritual, and anti-magical nature. The present system is based on the rational and the material. I don’t particularly like the world as it is. It has lost contact with the natural world, with what moves and motivates us, which I believe in the last resort is irrational. We have replaced god with money and science. It is not enough!!
compulsion:What chance do you think there is of people returning to spiritual beliefs when the oncoming of a United Europe is going to create a mass economic market geared to the accumulation of money?
T.W. I think there is very little chance of people returning to a more spiritual idea. And if they do it will probably only be an excuse to shoot someone else in the back of the neck. Optimism has never played a large part in my outlook!!!
compulsion:Boyd Rice states his philosophy is basically Social Darwinism, whereby “The strong dominate the weak, and the clever dominate the strong”. The insert of “Against The Modern World” reads: “The law of the strong This is our law And the joy of the world . . .The slaves shall serve”.
The fact that Boyd wrote an article in “The Unconquered Sun” is this view similar to the one held by yourself?
T.W. In many ways yes, but not in totality. It really depends upon your definition of strength. To me anyone who creates is strong. It is not a macho thing, which I loathe. To me there are the masses and there are those who attempt to rise above it
compulsion:Lyrics to songs such as “Kneel To The Cross” may seem on the surface to be not an attack on Christianity, but certainly a criticism. To quote lines such as: “Give them gold and they’ll save your soul . . . they wail and weep the march of the sheep”
It would seem to me your concern is not just with Christianity, but also with materialism and a lack of individuality. How would you respond to this, and what are your views on Christianity?
T.W. Your spot on. Christianity is not the problem as such, but an expression of the problem. The Church in many way’s is dying on its feet. This may be good but it is being replaced by materialism and a mass culture. These, not Christianity, are the real enemies.
compulsion:Since you left Death In June in 1984, it’s been quite a coincidence that both you and Douglas have since become interested in magical and spiritual beliefs; whereas up until that point the music of Death In June didn’t seem too concerned with these topics. Would you agree with this view?
T.W. I became interested in Magic and Runes while I was still in Death In June. I started wearing a life-rune around then. In a sense the material was not overtly spiritual, whatever that means. But if you compare it with what Crisis were doing which often at it’s worst was just slogans, it was more than a step forward.
compulsion:You stated the Crisis material was not “overtly spiritual”, likewise some of the early Death In June material verged on being labelled political, although it did seem to express a deeper concern, to the extent your lyrics today are of a more personal and spiritual nature. What attracted you to paganism and how important is this to Sol Invictus?
T.W. I don’t think Death In June were ever overtly political in the way Crisis were. In many ways the early Death In June was a reaction to Crisis. Sol is very much a personal expression. I have no wish to preach any particular message. There are plenty of other people more than happy to do that. I have been interested in paganism for a long time although it is a name that covers a multitude of sin’s!! To me it is in many ways a set of feelings or instincts rather than a set of beliefs…
compulsion:You’ve been working with the Italian band Ordo Equitum Solis on an album. I read this was written to celebrate the Winter Solstice, is this correct? Could you tell us about this?
T.W. You can contact them via BM O.E.S., London, WC1N 3XX. It is not for me to say what the CD is about. I only helped out as a friend, which I was very happy to do. I was a bit upset when it was advertised as featuring Sol Invictus. This of course was the record company’s idea, not OES. They are recording in September and I will lend a hand, if it is needed.
compulsion:You collaborated with Steven Stapleton on “The Revenge of The Selfish Shellfish”. It was quite a departure from your usual style. What made you decide to work with Steve and his legendary musical extremes? “…Shellfish” was a lot more atmospheric / experimental in its approach. Would you like to move into the area of composing film soundtracks?
T.W. I cannot remember how it came about. I did some things for Nurse With Wound and Steve was happy with what I did and it went on from there. Steve is very avant guard (garde!!) whereas I can be mind-numbingly traditional. For me it was a very good way to try and get away from that way of thinking. I certainly intend to do a number of solo releases where I will get away from Sol’s more song orientated way of working. Whether it will work or not remains to be seen. Soundtracks is an area I would love to get involved with. But knowing my luck I would probably only get offered the screen version of “Take The High Road”!!!
“The world is full of Gods and Beasts, Lex Talionis ”
compulsion:What does the phrase “Lex Talionis” mean?
T.W. It means “the law of the claw” or literally “the claw is king”.
compulsion:You’ve often expressed an interest in the topic of murder from Long Live Death to The Killing Tide – where you state “nature is based on killing”. It is obvious you are not dealing with murder as an end in itself, but maybe in the “spirit” of murder. Is this correct and would you view some types of killing as being valid then?
T.W. I certainly do not do it to glorify particular murderers or their crimes. Anyone who has had more than a fleeting contact with the subject is aware that they are usually very sad, and quite often stupid people. What someone once described as the “banality of evil”. Of course there are exceptions. I must say that all those people who do tape releases with badly photocopied pictures of Belsen or Manson on the front really get on my nerves. Most of them live at home with their Mum’s and would faint if they pricked their finger. I wanted The Killing Tide to tackle the subject from a slightly more credible and creditable position. I think I succeeded. I do think some types of of killing can be valid especially if they are happening to somebody else. Seriously, I have never held that all human life is sacred, regardless. It is what we do with our lives or at least attempt to do with it, that give’s it some worth. The world would be a lot more pleasant if some people left it.
compulsion:The lyrics of Sol Invictus were compiled into a book entitled “The Unconquered Sun”. Are there any plans to publish anything else via Sol Books?
T.W. I and two friends hope to put out a magazine called Desire. This was an idea that they had and it will be separate from Sol. I hope to release a booklet called “Misanthropy – Anyone”, which will be a collection of essays from various people on, what I consider the best way to view a large section of humanity (if that’s the right word for them!!).
compulsion:You’re collaborating on the production of a magazine entitled “Desire”, what topics will this cover, and likewise when should we expect your “Misanthropy – Anyone”?
T.W. I am afraid both the magazine and book have been put on the back boiler for a while. The two friends I hoped to collaborate with have been busy with other projects and because I have been working on a new release (“King & Queen”) which will be released at the end of the year I have not had the time to do it myself. Hopefully both projects will eventually see the light of day!!
compulsion:The music press described “Lex Talionis” as “a pagan man at the crossroads of his life”. Do you think this adequately describes the music of Sol Invictus?
T.W. To be honest I do not know how you would describe Sol Invictus. It certainly is a very personal set of visions, or to be more honest – set of obsessions. But they seem to strike a chord with some people, or else they would not buy it. Although in terms of the music business, my sales would hardly get me in the charts; the people who are interested in what I do, are very positive about it, which is good.
compulsion:You played with Death In June and Current 93 in London, are there any plans for more British dates?
T.W. If I play again it will probably be in a small venue doing more acoustic material. I am very afraid of getting sucked into being just another band doing gigs. I would like to keep things a bit special. I enjoyed very much playing with Current 93 and Death In June, as we know each other well; it makes things a lot easier. But of course we all have lives of our own.
compulsion:Would you like to comment briefly on your work with Current 93, NON and Nurse With Wound?
T.W. No. They speak for themselves. (he said dodging the issue).((very briefly!!))
compulsion:Sol Invictus seem to be more popular on the continent. Do you have any opinions on why this is so and on why Sol Invictus seem to be somewhat ignored and overlooked in Britain?
T.W. Because we are so bohemian Daddy O. Seriously, all the groups that get bracketed together do better on the continent. A lot of people in this country especially with regard to the media ignore what we do mainly due to their own narrow mindedness. In a lot of ways some people seem to be a little more open minded on the continent.
compulsion:Anything else you would like to add?
T.W. I am finishing off “King & Queen” at the moment. I will also be doing a solo project in France that will be released next year. I am also hoping to add more articles to the jewellry list and mail-order list. That’s enough to be going on with.