INTERVIEW WITH DEATH IN JUNE, SUMMER 1999.
“THE LAST ACT FOR EUROPA” Death In June represents, from the year 1985 (when the project became a “one-man band”), the artistic-musical epos of Douglas P., personage of heroic fibre in the tragic Wolf Age. The interview invests various themes for then concentrating on the principal ossession of Douglas who, as maybe few others, has not forgotten his own European origin. And they’re his own words to give us, good Europeists and Eurocentrists, a bit of hope. For the last act of the tragedy Europa is going to begin. Maybe it has just started!
1.Hail Douglas! I suppose that you come often in Italy. What do you think about my country? And how do you find Italy in this age?
It’s been some years since I regurarly visited Italy but, it’s still one of the most spiritually disturbing and invigorating countries I know. In comparison to many other European countries it is still relatively pure and aware of its sense of being and heritage. That, I find very comforting and inspiring.
2.I know that in the past you travelled a lot. Are you involved in travelling around the world also now or have you reached a “condition of stability”? What does represent for you “the Journey” and what did you gain, in positive or negative, from your “roaming”?
I certainly haven’t reached any degree of “stability” through my travels. They still continue and they are a necessary addiction. The continuation of a variety of eternal themes are a definitive link connecting all my journies.
3.You live in Australia. Can you explain to me what are the positive or negative sides to live there? Don’t you feel a bit denaturalized to live so far from Europa?
I suppose the only negative about Australia is the distance from other places. However, that can also be a bonus. My antennae spread far and wide here and that is extremely important to me. I was being stifled to death in England by its memories and its present stock problems. England appears to have a surfeit of useless individuals who seem intent on letting you know about their pathetic existance. I became exhausted with dealing with them. Outside of the natural flora and fauna my existence in Australia is an extremely european one. Our cultur travels well!
4.You toured in USA in november 1997. How was that experience? How did the people react to Death In June performances? Did they understand something? And, in general, how have you found the “Great Beast”? It was your first time in USA?
It certainly wasn’t the first time for me in America as I had visited the place on and off since 1977. Unfortunately, there were too many “behind the scenes” problems connected with the U.S. tour that tainted it for everybody involved. As I have found in all the other places I have visited in the world there are always people who equate to Death In June. In fact, there were more than I ever thought there would be in America. Meeting those people was a definite bonus on that tour. It opened my eyes to aspects of the “Great Beast” I hadn’t seen before. It was very reassuring but, also sad at the same time. A lot of people of european descent seem very lost out there.
5.In the past Death In June exibitions were almost rare. I have noticed that in the last few years you have intensified your live activity. What has changed? And why in the past you were not so enthusiastic to play live?
In many ways I had grown sick of the studio experience and I also felt – and still do – that time is running out. Death In June had/has a duty to go out into the public arena and declare its intent. Whilst we deemed it not necessary at the beginning in 1981 in 1999 I certainly feel that Death In June needs to be rammed down some people’s throats. What better way than a public performance? It is the end of the millennium and we are very much here!
6.Death In June experience has always been linked to a certain kind of elitarism: after all these years how do you judge Death In June relation with “the Other”?
You’re right, the Death In June experience has always been an elitist one. It is not for everyone. I wouldn’t want it to be. That extends even into the membership criteria. You either get it, or you don’t. At this stage in the game it cannot be explained in terms the “others” will comprehend. Because it cannot be so base the relationship I have with the “other”, or the mass, or whatever you wish to call it will always be antagonistic. It can’t be anything else!
7.For your project with Richard Leviathan you have chosen the suggestive name of “Kapo!”. There is any particular reason for this name? Maybe is that you, in a way or another, feel like a “kapo-in-life”?
Whilst it didn’t start out as an exploration of my experiences and thoughts about the war in Croatia and the Balkans, in general, it quickly became evident to both Richard and myself that was the atmosphere of the writing and recordings. New Europeans are all “kapos”. We are the prisoners who look after other prisoners. We are all trapped by our past, our ethics, our morals, our cultural heritage and expectations. We still haven’t broke out into the freedom of a new dawn. We are still “kapos”.
8.In your new album I can feel a certain “return of the tension”. After the two fantastic albums “But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?” and “Rose Clouds Of Holocaust”, with their serene approach to music, in this new masterpiece I can hear a different atmosphere, in some aspects linked to what you have done in the past with albums like “The World That Summer” and “Brown Book”. What do you think about your new direction? And can you spend some words about the abandonment of your usual collaborators for working with Albin Julius?
As most people probably now know both Albin and myself admired each others work for many years before meeting at a Death In June performence in Munich in the winter of ’96. Albin then went onto organising a concert for DIJ, Strength Through Joy and NON in Vienna during the following spring and we became closer and closer friends. When he was holidaying in Australia in 1998 it only seemed natural to book some time in the studio to see what would happen. I had already started recording “Take Care And Control” and all our collaborative writing and recording naturally pointed in this direction, which was both fresh but also, as you say, familiar. It can’t be dictated. It dictates itself. However, I knew it would be different from both “But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?” and “Rose Clouds Of Holocaust” because they, in turn, had declared their end. I really felt that during the remixing sessions for “Leopard Flowers”. The life force wanted to move on. “The Black Whole Of Love” is all the more beautiful for it!
9.How do you judge what is happening in Kosovo? Don’t you think that Europa seems to be unarmed, unable to re-act against the non-culture of USA and the incivility of the former Sovietic Union? From 1945 Europa is dead Can we hope again?
In some ways this refers back to question 7. However I would tread carefully about criticising the U.S.A. As its name suggests there are many different aspects and cultures to the United States and the one we must never forget is the european one. We turn our back to that at our peril. Europe definitely has friends there. We both need each other because of the Anti-Europeans that are working constantly to destroy us. They are as dismayed as us at the decline in the original spirit that built the most powerful New Nation in recent years. As regards the apparent lack of initiative and activity from Europa to the barbarism that as been abroad within Europe again then surely that is a combination of hidden agendas – particularly those of the British and French Governments, and the genuine fear of plunging Europa into yet another 20th century bloodbath – at least the fear eminating from the staid individuals that normally make up most modern european “democratic” governmental institutions. Europa isn’t dead. It’s waiting in the wings. The sets and props are being arranged on the world stage as we speak. One of the last acts is about to begin. Who knows, it may well have already started!
10.What are the future plans for Death In June and for your other projects?
11.The interview ends here. Thanx for your attention and your patience in answering my questions: do you want to add something?
10./11. There is a lot on the horizon for Death In June. The first thing that will see the light of the day will be the new recordings Albin and I have done recently. Once again these have been done in Australia as the recent tour actually ended up here. The working title is “Operation Hummingbird” and I would like to think that it will be out by november, 1999. There are also cd reissues due of “The World That Summer” and “Brown Book” which will include some extra songs from the same period in the late 1980’s. The series of picture discs will also continue with the release of “The Wall Of Sacrifice”. Once again the artwork will be by the italian artist Enrico Chiarparin who now works for Calvin Klein in New York. Many of the designs for women have been by Enrico over the past few years. I’m very lucky to have such talented people willing to work with me. And, help me! Videos and books are also long overdue for release. The next year I hope to rectify that. Then, of course, there is live work. Who knows where that will take Death In June?
interview by Antonio d’I.