DEATH IN JUNE
An interview with Douglas P. by Oliver Phillipe
In a time of a new and serious wave of acts of racist and especially neo-nazi violence, don’t you think that the message that DIJ used to convey in the past by wearing theatrical dress (masks of pigs linked to the nazi armband) is still more present in the current events, and I particularly think about the song C’est Un Reve (that would be a vigilant attention of the “black beast”, which can be hidden in one of us, i.e. the little nazi)? Would the chorus of this song (“ou est klaus barbie”) be influenced by the voice in loops that constitutes the background music?
The voice loop was purely coincedental and done after the main body of the song was written. One of the few genuine contributions from Richard Butler was this. He taped a random selection of radio stations and this happened to be one of them. To our amazement it sounded exactly like “ou est Klaus Barbie”! Does it to you, as well? Regarding the other part of your question, which is almost a statement unto itself, then it really reiterates what DEATH IN JUNE has been saying from the very beginning. We are all capable of everything.
Recently, at the time of the interview, you said that DIJ has become the beast with several heads of your obsessions and since the ancient members have left, you would never be able to carry some other passangers. Henceforth, isn’t this situation different with the presence of simon at your side? And if it is not too inquisitive, how did you meet him and decide to play music with each other? Why did you choose to show his tattoos (the two swastikas centred on his “tits”) during the concert at amiens in 1991? What are their significance?
No, not at all. Simon Norris helps me, as and when required. DEATH IN JUNE is not dependent on him being in it but, DEATH IN JUNE is, and always will be, dependent on my presence. He is certainly not a passenger! Like so many people I know, I met Simon at a CURRENT 93 recording session (“Thunder Perfect Mind”). Once again, he is another ex-member of PTV and TOPY and is a good friend of James Mannox who also floats in and out of CURRENT 93 and DEATH IN JUNE. Anyway, we were both aware of each others work so the collaboration started from there. More recently he has also worked with FIRE AND ICE and is writing material with Stephen Thrower, an ex-member of COIL. They plan a new group together. Regarding his “swastika tits” in Amiens, weren’t they a swirling delight?! From Sun Tits to Sun Dogs, the progress is steady and certain!!
Can you explain to us the pictures and the motivation of your cd “Something is Coming”? Was the aim exclusively humanitarian as it is explained inside the cd? How were you brought to have the opportunity in this place? Do you consider the croats to be the “good guys” on this war of territory and of religion against the Serbians and the Bosnians? And about the concert, how did it happen? How was the reception of the audience?
The photos on “Something Is Coming” feature myself and Simon Norris, in Zagreb, capitol of Croatia, and scenes of patients at the Bolnichi Clinic, Zagreb. This is the only clinic in Croatia that deals with the rehabilitation of those who have lost arms and legs in the war. Their main job is to try and teach people to try and walk again, using plastic legs or hold and lift things again, using plastic arms. The place was overflowing with men, women, and children all needing attention. Rooms meant for 1 person were now holding 5. There were limbless people lying in the corridors. The toilet was the doctor’s office and that is where we discussed how DEATH IN JUNE could be of help to the situation. The clinic was a natural place for me to visit. Where we stayed in Zagreb was very close by to the clinic. The parade of wounded outside the apartment was constant and close contact with these people inevitable. I thought the music recorded in Croatia could be put to some more meaningful use than just “another recording by DEATH IN JUNE”. The money donated to the clinic has bought machinery to help the patients there. The total is something in the region of 16,000-20,000 pounds worth of equipment. This was not purely a humanitarian gesture. It was a cultural one. A socio-Euro political one. Therefore I feel the concert was a successful one, not only for the actual event itself, which was an experience and a half but, also for the ramifications it had later.
Don’t you think your vision concerning the history of Europe (which in your opinion is the best one) is nevertheless a european opinion? I’m not talking about the americans who have no past and who probably have no more future but about the chinese, for example, who were in the past a very powerful nation…
Yes, I am totally Eurocentric. I’m not overly concerned with the past but, I do care about the present and the future. European culture, morals, ethics, whatever, are under attack from all sides these days. Even, most dangerous of all, from within Europe. Whilst we have room for regret about some of the mistakes of the past (and of the present) regarding our treatment of the earth and some of it’s peoples/wildlife, there is also plenty to be content about. I’m tired of being made to feel guilty about the sins of the world. Europe has contributed a MASSIVE amount to the world on ALL fronts. We will regret the day when we let that position slip from our hands and fade from our memory.
Of course, it is clear that DIJ has been, since the beginning, a band that cultivates a certain ambiguity. In my opinion, persuaded that there’s no link between you and any political and ideological extremes, and always feeling myself a righter of wrongs to the core, even if it means to ruin a bit the myth, i would like to submit some ideas to you. I wouldn’t want to stress these questions (that you certainly used to hear all the time, often asked in a tendentious manner) but i feel the paramilitary image as a symbolic warning against all the things the uniform represents. The provocation is a way to incite reflection, not remaining passive, not being easily influenced or manipulated, with a personal and omnipresent rigor and will. But, on the other side, and don’t think that there’s a mental reservation, the fact that you are homosexual could make the uniform a simple fetish object, indeed sexual (as i’ve read in an interview in ’84). This idea seems to be logic, because i’ve heard that you recently played a concert with non in a homosexual club in london. Furthermore, another explanation would be only for fun, for it’s a sort of “costume” that is put forward in the caricatures of you done by J.Mannox. In this sense, during the concert at Amiens in ’91 David Tibet put on a camouflage jacket over his “oui oui” t shirt, which is very clear for me. Even if this idea can seem to be very torturous, it would be very kind of you to give your opinion, because DIJ is maybe all of these things; and why did you never explain the concept of DIJ clearly? The first degree has frightened lots of your fans.
Except for the idea that anything to do with DEATH IN JUNE is “fun” then I can’t disagree with the other theories you forward. There is more, much more but, I draw the line at “explaining the line of DIJ”. This is because I find that demeaning. Those who understand do and those who don’t, won’t! Life is too short to spend too much time talking, until you are blue in the face. The time for pontification and overindulgence in analysis are over. Actions speak louder than words! Time is running out like water from a sink. Regarding James’ caricatures of me then he will readily admit that I am the most difficult for him to portray. Upon closer inspection you will also find that Noddy or “Oui-Oui” has a depth and a presence that some people, certainly in the English speaking world, now find abhorrent!
In many interviews i’ve read that you said you have no message to convey by your music and you don’t analyze it. In my opinion i don’t think it is true. I think it is a roundabout way to not reveal yourself. Even if you think it is not interesting to reveal you soul in front of the people who do appreciate your music, but who do know fairly nothing about you, i believe you would earn much more for the “up-right-arms” are not an exceptional thing at your concerts. During a concert in london in ’92, you have been the victim of a little physical attack, which is relatively rare in this type of music. The doubt that hangs over DIJ, and that contributed to your success, you might have been able to confirm it or make it disappear… And the fact that you said you don’t feel concerned seems to be out of place because this is DIJ in it’s globality that creates the whole thing. At the moment, i consider that the processes have no sense any more, only to confirm the myth of DIJ for the fans, or for the commercial aim.
Well, first of all, i must disagree with you regarding the presence of the “up-right-arms” which is, in fact, a real rarity. So, also is the violence. The incident that occurred in London has still an unknown reason and probably only to do with alcohol. Such incidents during the 13 year life of DIJ can be counted on one hand! They are irrelevant. The rest of your question really gets approached at the end of my last answer. No sense makes sense – aim to please with Constant Unease…
Groups such as DIJ, C93, SOL INVICTUS or even LEGENDARY PINK DOTS (in another way) have seen a larger audience for many years; it is nearly like a phenomenon of fashion in relation to the myth that the leaders of each group radiate. Today, when you go on tour it is often in a classical way and the concerts of DIJ are no more exceptional. Is it because you could easily work the “live” in getting closer to the “noddy family”? Was there a real change, or is it a logical evolution for you?
What I think we all realized is that just by performing itself was exceptional enough! For that moment in time, at least!! Our performances are now few and far between. The act of performing live seems to take an inordinate amount of time which could be put to more creative purposes. I have no plans for any future live work (my last was with DIJ and NON in Germany, December ’93).
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