What do you mean, symbolically, by The Rule of Thirds, which is first of all a principle of photographic composition ?
It was the rule of photographic composition that I was initially thinking of as, being a photographer myself and designing most of the Death In June CD/LP sleeves and promo photos over the years, I have based many, many of my photos I’ve taken for Death In June and other projects on this but then it soon dawned on me that it had other connotations for me and others. I live in Fort Nada which has the street number of ‘3’ , and this year I have lived there for 14 years and 4 – 1 = 3, I have lived in previous places where the number 3 came into the equation including the house where I was born in 1956 which had the number 14, I am part of a personal triangle of my partner and our mutual lover/best friend, there is the Holy/Satanic Trinity and, of course ” something, suffers, somewhere”. It goes on and on. You search and you find.
Do you relate this title to the artwork of the album ?
No, I’ve perversely chosen photos that do not really use this technique. That really would have been too obvious for Death In June
What are the main themes of this album ? Paranoïa, war & death, decline, love, mourn and above all, religion ?
Yes, all of those old, good friends of mine but perhaps, for the first time, a greater sense of my own mortality. From the Ides of March in 2005 I’ve felt Death very close to me more than I can remember in years – even during the war in Croatia. There I feel He looked at Me and We both laughed and marched on but now, after several near Death experiences in recent times I know He has His eyes on Me with a more serious intent. That colours every step one takes and every breath one makes. And, not in the cliched way of “live Life like every day is your last” which hints at a hedonistic, couldn’t care less, happy go lucky attitude. No! That disappears when Death really has visited you, scrapped his finger nails down your leg and wakes you up to remind you He is waiting for the last embrace. Some days I can hardly put one foot in front of the other because of the inevitablity of Death itself.
What did inspire “Good mourning Sun” ? A free-suicide prevention program in Sun City ? And “Jesus, junk and the jurisdiction” ?
Contrary to most people’s impression’s of Australia, where I live in the S.A. Hills during the Winter it can be one of the bleakest places I’ve ever been. Week in and week out we can be lost in low cloud cover so you can’t even see a few metres from your windows let along the rest of your garden and it rains and rains and rains – in fact 1 metre more each year than in London! Hard to believe, I know. And some years, especially the last, it’s also been hard to take. If it snowed then perhaps it could be more bearable as I think snow has a light and a cleansing effect during Winter. But it rarely does so many weeks are spent around the Zero degree mark being lost in The Fog Of The World! That feeling to me inspired ‘Good Mourning Sun’.
Jesus, Junk and the Jurisdiction’ is a far more complex affair dominated also by the God’s use of The Rule of Thirds. In late 2004 when I was back visiting London during a very stressful time a man came into my Life that was to have a profound effect upon me over the next 13 months and possibly beyond. He had been a court judge and a high ranking member of the General Synod, the law makers of the Church Of England, had become addicted to Crack/heroin, been subsequently put in prison and was now at the age of 57, a high class mature male prostitute, which is how I met him, operating from a Million pound apartment in central London owned by the Anglican church! We very quickly realised there was more than money involved between us and he became a very necessary crutch for whenever I was back in England during that strange period where I felt I flew very close to the Sun and got my wings burnt. He was both friend and lover in England for those days I spent there but everything exploded when , I suppose, it was supposed to. As far as I know he’s now a music critic!
“Takeyya” is a Muslim principle that allows oneself to lie wether it can save one’s life. How does it relate to yourself and why did this inspire you this specific song ?
It doesn’t relate to me at all! I think a religion that has a specific word for an expedient lie condemns itself to justified suspicion and hatred. With 9/11in New York, the Madrid train bombings, 7/7 on the London Underground and much, much more besides I think modern day islam has finally declared its intent in the West and, regardless of the invasion of Afghanistan or the stupidly unjustified invasion of Iraq, this was always going to happen. They were just waiting for the perfect excuse. To those sad political anachronisms that fret and fuss and wring their hands worrying about ‘neo-nasties’ or the Front National being threats to Western democracy and freedom etc and so on they really should get on board the 21st Century and open their eyes to the fact that their local mullahs and mosques will be having all women treated like slaves, gays and lesbians hung from the nearest lamposts by their own entrials and anyone who disagrees with their ‘liberal’ stoneage approach to Life itself beheaded with a rusty knife, live on islamic approved Euro-television. Forget ‘Big Brother’ this will be ‘Big Mullah’ ! Please, let’s be honest about this, islam is a reactionary, retrogressive, bigotted, expansionist religion Hell bent on terrorizing and subjugating anything in its way. Our forefathers from centuries past would be saying “same old, same old,…” and not seeing the funny side of it at all.
Has “The Glass Coffin” anything to do with the Brothers Grimm ?
No! When I was last in San Francisco in 2005 the film ‘Downfall’ (der Untergang) had just opened and the promoter took Death In June to see it the day after our performance. I was quite stunned by the film and the emotions that it evoked in me and how we must all eventually face our own downfall. After we’d seen it I wanted to be alone and asked the promoter if she could drive me over to Twin Peaks, my favourite gay bar in the city. During the drive she told me that it was also known as ‘The Glass Coffin’ due to its more mature clientele and because it has a large glass frontage. I hadn’t drunk alcohol in several months but that evening I needed some and whilst there I had 7 Cosmopolitan cocktails. During this period a Japanese guy came up to me and said; “Ah, you are the man who cannot get drunk” (it’s true, I do have a large capacity for alcohol) and we started talking. The amazing thing was that he turned out to be a friend of Yukio Mishima and he was even more surprised that he’d met someone who had worked in Japan and was very familiar with that novelist’s work. He was in San Francisco promoting a DVD about physical fitness and later left to a function about that. I was then left to my thoughts which pondered how AIDS had decimated the population of this city and one thought led to another so,…..that’s the partial inspiration behind ‘The Glass Coffin’.
Isn’t there less eroticism than before in your last lyrics ?
Well, the last Death In June album I did any lyrics for was ‘All Pigs Must Die’ in 2001 and I don’t think that had any “eroticism” in it so “The Robin’s song in Winter brings Virginity to a close” can only be an improvement on that front!
Is there any hope in your songs ? Can we see any light at the end of the tunnel ? For my part, I think so cause I feel your songs as more melancholic and mournful than really dark and sombre
That presupposes that “hope” is desirable in the first place. I think “hope” smells of desperation and I don’t view it as necessarily a good thing. I choose to rely on trust and Will. I trust that I have done enough to make things happen in the way I want them to. “Hope” leaves far too much room for unpleasant variables. During one of my recent near Death experiences I saw a light green/yellow light shining in the top left hand corner of my bedroom and all I can say about a light at the end of the tunnel is that I don’t want to go into it for as long as possible. It was horrible.
What is the most desperate song in your whole career ?
I haven’t written it yet and am not looking forward to doing so.
What do smell traitors of ?
“A nosegay for a Saturn Day”, naturally! You know it when you smell it and I wash it off as quickly as possible.
A few words about Forever Loves decay chosen for our sampler (anecdotes, themes, inspiration )?
Like most Death In June songs it’s about many things at the same time. Yearning for the impossible and getting what you want knowing that one day it will all disappear – like Honey in the Sun.
Why is this album so raw with so few arrangements ? Did you feel that your last songs are just better in their rawest expression ? Or you just didn’t want to work with anyone else on this album ?
Not having anyone else on the album didn’t effect my approach to ‘TROT’ at all. After all, I’ve played most of the other instruments such as keyboards, bass and percussion on previous DIJ albums since 1986 anyway. No, for me the overridding cause for concern was not to end up sounding like a pastiche of myself! So many groups now sound like Death In June, and even those who don’t, utilise what used to be the unusual in their instrumentation that I decided it was more important to engender and encourage the classic atmosphere of DIJ whilst keeping the songs as pure and as good, on all levels, as possible. I think most others will find that a hard act to copy. For a moment I had my doubts about this approach but when the morning came to take the other equipment to the studio to do overdubs I looked at it and thought “No!” and left it all behind. Whether I’ll ever return to it, I don’t know.
These extremely purified songs may remind of the folk songs on The Walls of Sacrifice album. Do you agree ?
Most people have the need to compare and those who have so far heard ‘TROT’ keep saying that it feels like a hybrid between ‘But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?’ and the acoustic parts of ‘The Wall Of Sacrifice’ . That’s an interesting outcome. But, I feel it sounds unique.It’s ‘The Rule Of Thirds’.
Looking back on your different collaborations in the past with Tony Wakeford, Patrick Leagas, David Tibet, Albin Julius etc., which one has been the most satisfactory according to you ?
I think the most satisfactory has been the one collaboration you’ve forgotten to mention – Boyd Rice. I love everything we’ve ever done together especially the recently re-issued ‘Scorpion Wind’ album. Lyrically, atmospherically, magickally and inspirationally Boyd never failed to deliver the goods.
Do you have any regrets in your career ? Do you care about the fact that you’ve been so often misunderstood ? Don’t you think that a title like “My Rhine atrocity” could again supply diverse hazy explanations ? What do you refer to in this song ?
There are no regrets as my career/Life has worked out exactly as planned. When I was 18 I had my horoscope read in detail and basically all that was predicted has come true. I remember well how I was told that I “would be very successful on the periphery”. And, “the periphery” has been my domain for a long time! Any artist of worth is bound to be as much misunderstood as he is possibly understood so I see misunderstanding as a back-handed compliment. One of the most poignant things I heard the late George Harrison say in an interview shortly before his death was that amongst all the millions of people who had bought The Beatles’ recordings and all the thousands and thousands they had played to he felt there were fewer than 100 in the World who really understood what they were about as individuals and as a group entity. With such a huge group as The Beatles with all their backing and exposure being misunderstood what chance does the King of The Periphery, Death In June, stand? My Rhine Atrocity’ was inspired, at least in part, by all the ugly things from Germany I have become surrounded by in recent years. But probably not the ones most people would immediately think of.
During the Live in New York in 2002 witnessed by a DVD, You said that “Omen-filled Season” and “Golden Wedding of Sorrow” were written in Paris. At the same period of time ? You’ve said that it was the most miserable time of your life when you wrote “Omen-filled Season”. Could you explain ? Isn’t Paris the city of lights and love ? 🙂
It’s true the ‘Golden Wedding Of Sorrow’ was written in a hotel in La Defense whilst waiting for my then lover to return from work and thinking about the novels of Jean Genet. ‘Omen-Filled Season’ was partially inspired by my experiences as a 17 year old hitch hiking through Northern France trying to get to Paris in 1973. I never did get to Paris on that trip as it was very difficult to get rides and became dangerous as I realised the local population didn’t like young hippies – especially English ones! A lot of tourists disappeared in that part of the World during that time and I didn’t want to become one of them. My first memory of Paris was as a 15 year old school boy having to eat meat for the first time in 7 years at this huge school hostel in the city and with a party of others from my school in England getting drunk on very cheap French wine and throwing the empty bottles into the courtyard of a mental hospital that our rooms in the hostel overlooked at the patients exercising there. Another memory is being 18 and sleeping in the blood drainage ditches of a massive abattoir in the North of the city where I was part of a British representation of Troskyists attending the ‘Fete Rouge’, a big political/musical event. I could recount quite a few more memories but very few have anything to do with Paris being “a city of light and love.”
Don’t you feel too isolated in Australia ? Or maybe this is what you’re looking for ?
Perhaps I’d feel isolated if I had been born here but I’m from the huge suburban sprawl of London, I’ve seen much of the World and what it has to offer and feel this is where I should be.
Will you change your mind and play again on stage ?
Since my retirement from live work in 2005 I’ve managed to catch up on a lot of my Life besides other Death In June related issues, not least of all writing and recording a new album. Performing live all around the World for so many years deprived me of a lot of Time and as I’m 52 this April I think I should use what grains of sand are left remaining in this hourglass wisely.
What are the last re-releases of your work ?
The 20th Anniversary Edition of ‘Brown Book’ was released Yuletide 2007/2008 in a stunning stone circlular case with a CD of extra recordings from the period plus 4 exclusive patches. It’s the best presentation I have ever done and when I saw the finished product on Christmas Eve I was more than pleased with the outcome. I thought the 20th Anniversary Edition of ‘The World That Summer’ which came out in 2006 would have been hard to beat but I know I did with this release. Also, the Death In June & Boyd Rice project ‘Scorpion Wind’ has just been re-issued for the first time in nearly 10 years.
What do you plan for 2008 ?
Besides the imminent release of ‘The Rule Of Thirds’ I’ve been asked to record some vocals in a few days for the new Alkaline Trio album they’re presently recording and I’ll be producing an album by a Swedish group called Down In June who do really strange and beautiful cover versions of Death In June songs. Besides that, 2008 should also see the publication of another book about Death In June and the production of several DVDs plus a stone box edition called ‘Symbols & Clouds’ which will feature the best of ‘Rose Clouds Of Holocaust’ and ‘But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?’ plus rare DVD footage. A busy year and, I trust, a great 2008 awaits! Heilige,…. Douglas P.