Interview:1999-achtung baby

Previously this interview (in cut version) was printed in autumn of 1999th year in rostov-on-don newspaper “gorod n” [ n.44 (349), 3rd-9th november, 1999

It is hard to introduce in few words the man has such a large influence on the image of europe at the end of millenium during 18 years of extraordinary sound existence, and who has today a lot of followers and imitators all over the world. Each of his new works becomes an event at the independent music society, and the performance – the passionate cultural and ideological manifestation.

Douglas Pearce – the immortal leader of the british project – Death In June, the legendary figure of the european music, the image and the symbol of our time, reproduced with convincible power in the deeply dramatic revelations about the fate of the world and its history. His creative activity sounding like a sentence had been the reason of many passionate discussions about connection of art and ideology at the mass media and internet.

“the music is the statement. There is no other statement, for only in their music will you find death in june.”, – one can read at one of their early appeals. Acoustic guitar, wide percussion section, electronic samples, images of the xxth century classics Yukio Mishima and Jean Genet, inspiring Pearce for a long time, references to the occultism and esoteric, symbolism wonderfully mixed at the pearce`s works. All these generates the genuine sense of sorrow, beauty and poetry of despair. And th e constant feeling of tragedy and eternal grief, at the high level connected of the douglas pearce personality and his interests to such tragic periods of history like the world war ii. He is one of the ancestors of the modern music culture phenomenon called “apocalyptic folk”, and one of the founders of one of the most intellectual and influential publishing labels – world serpent distribution, which united the musicians with the commo n creative ideology. It bases on the common feeling of the forthcoming end, when all the mankind history perceives like the history of preparations for the last battle not between the powers of light and darkness, but between the powers of freedom and emptiness.

Now Douglas Pearce lives and works in Australia where he continues his monologue with the world by the mean of his label new european recordings (ner). Late in the 1995 he opened the eastern european filial of ner in Zagreb, which debuted with t he work of the former yugoslavian soldier Tehom.

This is the first Pearce`s interview with the russian journalist. We used the unique possibility to ask him some non-musical questions concerning the image of the modern europe on the eve of the third millenium. Our sincere gratitude to our friend albin julius (der blutharsch, w k n) for his recommendations and help.

1. – looking back and making some kind of the symbolic conclusion to the end of epoch, what are your present anxieties and prophesies about the future?

DP : it’s hard not to be concerned about the “end time” as we race towards the end of the millennium. I do think about it and i do wonder if all the prophecies from all the different religions in the world will come true over the next few weeks/years. I even sometimes wonder how prophetic some of my words could be. I feel that ‘purity of intent’ should always dictate art of worth – in all its forms. I’m very careful with the words i choose. “europa has burned and will burn again” became only too true. Unfortunately!

The world seems to be so full of so many dangers that it’s hard to single any particular ones out. Certainly the most obvious that spring to mind are the growths in islamic fundamentalism and out of control breeding. Even in Europa, with zero population growth in many countries, those who are doing the breeding appear to me, and i think many others, to be of dubious character. They fuck, they have kids and that is all they do! I don’t believe that is enough!! I don’t think i need to tell any russian about islamic fundamentalism. I always backed the former u.s.s.r in Afghanistan and feel the west, by backing the wrong side in that war has still yet to pay the full price of that mistake. I’ve never agreed with the philosophy that if he is my enemy’s enemy he must be my friend. That truly is naive. Australia is now experiencing the consequences of such naivety with indonesia. By the time you get this we could be at war with them. Traditional enemies were never friends!

2. – some years ago you’ve left your motherland, claiming that england to your mind “isn’t the best place for the spiritual development” in europe because of the present degradation of the country and the nation. Can you comment these words?

DP: as i’ve said in a previous question i truly feel that england, and probably to a lesser extent, mainland europa, has severe stock problems. That, as far as i can see has only got worse. Those who shouldn’t be able to breed are doing so with such frequency that the uk is being over populated by morons with nothing to do except harass the rest of the population. There is no other place for them. Britain as an industrial power is a thing of yesteryear. Large pools of manual, unskilled labourers are no longer required. However, the old habits linger on. Money is still given to those who breed. The more kids you have the more money you get. This is totally unreal. In a country that now gains its income from the arts, high technology and tourism there are few places for those capable of only pushing a broom in front of them.

Britain imported millions of unskilled labourers from the colonies for that kind of work and look what a huge success that was! The hatred is barely restrained into the occassional riot. I don’t like being in a place with such an atmosphere. Even germany, the former richest country in western europa seems to be tangibly falling to bits. It is no longer as clean and as well organised as i remember from, say, 10 years ago. It has been flooded by those who want but, with little to give! The west’s liberalism will be its death.

3. – what was the reason of such a serious decision like your leaving for Australia? The instinct?

Dp : Australia revitalised me in every possible way. Creatively, i was ceasing to exist in England. Likewise, with my emotions. When i first visited australia 10 years ago i fell in love with the place so, it made sense to spend as much time as my work allows me here. However, i’ve never lost sight of the fact that the 2 most influential places in the world are Europa and the USA. The recent tours partially reflect that fact but they are also something more. In some ways they are a “thankyou” to all the fans that have supported Death In June during its 18 year existence. They are spread all over the world and i thought it was time to take DIJ to the world, in person. Australia, being the largest island in the world taught me what the ‘tyranny of distance’ meant so i decided to combat those distances. There is currently even discussions with a company to tour parts of the former soviet union! Presently, i’m strong enough to enjoy the chaos of live work and who knows what the new millennium will bring?

4. – back to the beginning of our talk. When you say “europa will burn again!” at the first moment the events in yugoslavia are remembered. I remember your special continuing interest to this state, the concerts of death in june there (you were the first english group performed in yugoslavia). All money from it you’ve transferred for the restoration of the hospitals and the help to the victims. Can you tell about it in detail?

Dp : in the early 1980’s, like many westerners, i visited the former yugoslavia for a cheap holiday. I only later became aware of the different nations there when the problems began. Dij had a lot of interest from that region but then i noticed in the correspondence and in conversations with people at concerts in europe that those who i had previously thought of as yugoslavs were now calling themselves croats or bosnians or slovenians. The war begun within a year of that. Because i was aware of the are as in conflict and had friends in these places, the war i was viewing on the tv was all the more real to me. Friends and fans of mine were being killed in a place only 2 hours flight from london. When death in june was offered a concert in zagreb, croatia in 1992 whilst the war was very much still going i thought it only natural to go and show some sort of moral and cultural support. When i arrived, everything was far worse than i expected. When i saw the amount of wounded and crippled and the primitive state of the hospitals i knew i had to get involved in some way. Fortunately, the recordings of the performance turned out to be usable so i decided to issue “something is coming” which was a double cd/lp of studio and live recordings from dij’s time in croatia. The monies from that went to the clinic you mention which helped rehabilitate soldiers and civilians who had lost limbs during the war. The performances have always been emotive experiences in zagreb. Because of the past it is only natural that they continue to be.

i don’t want to linger on such negativity so, we’ll move on. Yugoslavia was always a false state made up of peoples with natural antagonisms towards each other. It had to break up but the way it happened was stupid and barbaric. After 10 years of conflict there it was inevitable that an outside force should have to step in to stop it. At least for the moment. The war ruined those nations in that area and what do the serbs have at the end of the day besides thousands of coffins? Certainly not a ‘greater serbia’ unless they include the increase in cemetaries.

The french and the british governments have had a long association with the serbs and there have always been machinations behind the scenes between them since the very beginning of the war in’91.

5. – let’s turn for the music. Last time the acoustic image of death in june had had some significant changes.. Is it a part of the natural development for you and what is, to your mind, the meaning of the music for your spiritual quests and life?

Dp : i find music, the most evocative of all the art forms. When i hear certain songs or sounds memories, smells, tastes, emotions can all come flooding back. It has a tristesse second to none. I love it all the more for that. Maybe dij affects others like wise?

As i’ve alluded to in some of the previous questions dij has its own natural development. Those who can’t keep up with it fall by the wayside. It’s probably the main reason why there were so many major personnel changes in the 1980’s. Tony Wakeford, Patrick Leagas and Richard Butler were either unwilling to change or had no idea about the changes happening. So, they had to go. Since then Death in June and myself have been almost one and the same. There is always an inner sanctum i refer to when i work on dij material. All things are gathered there. But, they are not for public consumption. It is not for me to wear my heart on my sleeve – i do not discuss or analyse my work. It is my life and my love and they are not to be picked over like vultures tearing at a carcass. Naturally, i’m interested in runes, magick and spiritual influences but i can’t discuss them. That, in itself, would destroy the magick, the best of which is the best kept secret. I’ve an interest in all the aspects of the third reich. It had such a huge influence on the world who could fail to be intrigued by it? However, i’ve still read more pages of ‘das kapital’ than i have ‘mein kampf’!

After i had finished the “Black whole of love” project which was the remix of “Rose clouds of holocaust” plus “Leopard flowers” i knew i had come to the end of the road regarding that sound in DIJ. It had dominated the ’90’s and it yearned to be set free. The new sound is another new step for DIJ. It is always stepping forward. Its life force demands that. In fact, the new album which albin and i have just recorded, is another development. “Operation Hummingbird” shows us gaining wings and taking DIJ to new heights. We’ll see how far when it gets issued in november!

6. – i heard somewhere that the original title of your last release was “take a closer look”. Why did you change the name to the “take care and control” ? Can you tell me about the reasons ? Also i would like to ask you about your personal impressions from your joint work with albin julius and about some your mutual influences there.

Dp : you’re right about the original title being “take a closer look” . This was because one of the songs in its original state reminded me of a t.v. programme i use to watch as a child that showed close-ups of everyday events. Drops of milk spilt in the kitchen looked like huge white atomic explosions. Minute bed bugs appeared as huge monsters devouring human flesh! All of this was accompanied by very dream-like ambient music. This was also coupled with the fact that i was writing in a similar fashion. I was closly examining words i had written over the years and piecing them together mainly in the studio. Albin and i were writing and recording “take care and control” at an incredible pace. It was all finished in about 2 weeks which is extremely unusual. It is normally a much more drawn out process. However, a phrase that was said to me by a croatian friend as we parted company during the war kept going around my head. As we parted i called to him “take care”! He turned back and said “taking care’s okay but, taking control is better”!! Albin and i both agreed it was a much stronger title for the album: “take care and control”

Both albin and i had been mutual admirers of each others work for some years. Eventually, in 1997 we met up backstage at a death in june concert in munich. We got on really well and one thing led to another and he organised some concerts for us in vienna. When he turned out to be holidaying in australia at the beginning of 1998 it was too good an opportunity to miss. I booked some studi0 time and the rest we left up to instinct and dij’s natural life force. Naturally, albin has influenced the sound of that album but, equally dij influenced him. He was working at the centre of the cyclone. He couldn’t help be influenced by what was surrounding him!

7. – since realization “ostenbraun” is still one of my the favorite albums. In this case can i ask for your opinion about les joyaux de la princesse ?

Dp : i like all of eric konofal’s work – particularly his recent “paris 1937” works but, i only ever meet up with him if i’m on tour in france.

8. – the problems during last blood axis american tour, your own problems with di6 concerts in vienna sometime ago and lately in switzerland… What do you think about one of the most expressive virtue of modern liberal society – censorship in art and true freedom realization.

Dp : i’m never too sure what is true and what isn’t. When i met up with blood axis in denmark nothing too traumatic had seemed to have occurred. Reports always blow things out of proportion. The situation in vienna a couple of years ago was similar. In fact, the police were quite sympathetic towards us and said they enjoyed the music and events of the evening! So, you have to deal with each situation as it comes about. Fortunately, they’re are quite rare although once is even too much. The only place where censorship won the day was strangely enough in ‘liberal’ switzerland where dij was banned from performing for fear of a riot!! The swiss authorities showed how gullible they were to deliberate misinformation. I think at the end of the day they were made to look rather stupid because of their heavy handed way of dealing with me. The press/internet had a field day! But, i find forbidden fruit all the more attractive, don’t you?

9. – please, some words about “pearls before swine” by boyd rice. When and where we can finally see it ?

Dp : “pearls before swine” should be out. Or at least being shown at film festivals, by november, 1999. I’ve seen a full length version of it but it then needed to be reedited and more sound track added. All being well it should prove a great success although i have to say that, 3 years on, i’m slightly bored with waiting for it. The first film festival it’s due at is in stockholm, sweden.

10. – talking about your interest with mishima person can you tell me about your impressions from the film “mishima : life in the four chapters” by paul shroeder.

Dp : the mishima film was good but, nothing in comparison to the novels i read. However, it was a necessary tribute to a great man.

11. – in the repertoire of your group of the early 70th crisis (which was the beginning of death in june – [editor’ note]) i’ve found the song “back in the ussr” (don’t mix with the beatles famous song – [editor’ note]). It is interesting to know your opinion about russia, what do you think about our country? Moreover, we have a lot of rumors about your visit, which your friend david tibet, the leader of famous english group current 93, once confirmed.

Dp : as regards russia then all i can truthfully say is that most of my impressions are only formed from the images i’ve seen on tv or history books. I’ve visited moscow airport twice, enroute to japan, but that was only in transit. I can’t say that any of the information i’ve so far seen. About your country paints a pretty picture. I’m sorry to say!

I suppose “back in the u.s.s.r.” speaks for itself. We were writing from the perspective of convinced trotskists viewing your state as ‘degenerate’ or ‘state capitalist’. We were disillussioned with what should have been a shining example of what communism could have brought about. Of course neither tony wakeford nor myself are now trotskists nor follow any politics of the masses. Total disillusionment finally overwhelmed us!

I did hear some crazy rumours about both tibet and myself performing in russia. In truth they were only ever rumours. Perhaps they came about from our meeting with sergey kuryokhin in london some years ago? All that happened was that he bought some cds from us and gave us a few of his to listen to! However, recently i have been approached by a company with ideas about death in june performing in the former soviet union so, perhaps that may happen next year?

November of 1999