INTERVIEW WITH DOUGLAS P./DEATH IN JUNE
(Aldo Chimenti for Rockerilla)
1. The new album The Rule Of Thirds comes after 3 years from Alarm Agents and it marks a change in your songwriting, most acoustic psych-folk orientated between Velvet Underground and Syd Barrett. Is it a new beginning, a new feeling?
In truth, I feel its the first really brand new Death In June album since All Pigs Must Die in 2001. I didnt write any of the lyrics to Alarm Agents as I left that hard task up to Boyd Rice and concentrated on writing the music. I dont think a Death In June album is a Death In June album proper unless Ive written at least some of the lyrics. But,Alarm Agents was an excellent and necessary collaboration.
With that 7 year gap therefore in mind I was very aware that in the meantime a lot of groups now sound like classic Death In June and I didnt want to end up sounding like a cliché, or pastiche of myself. Stripping everything back and resisting adding my distinctive keyboards or percussion was my way of determining my inner, purer Self again with only my acoustic guitars.
There was one moment of doubt when I prepared to take all that other equipment for one of the last recording days in the studio but I left it behind as I remembered the drive in the Australian desert when I was listening to 9 rough mixes of The Rule Of Thirds in June of 2007. There was nothing for kilometres around us. It was completely flat and stark with the exception of a double rainbow and lightening flashes on the far off horizon. With TROT as the soundtrack the emptiness was quite beautiful and I thought I could simply get my guitar out of the back of the car right there and then and perform the tracks accompanied only by the thunder of the far off storm.
This was perfect Kampf Fire Music! You could perform it in the desert, the forest, on the beach. Maybe even with a few Kamaraden singing backing vocals and doing handclap percussion?
Syd Barrett and The Velvet Underground were great personal inspirations in the years past but I feel Ive found something unique and pertinent to our Zeitgeist.
All I needed was to keep and engender the atmosphere of Death In June. And, I dont think anyone else can mimic that.
2.Without asking to self analysing your own work, what does this particular title refers to?
As a very keen photographer for over 20 years Im always referring to the The Rule Of Thirds as a technical expression of composition during photo shoots. But, then I started thinking about other connotations to that expression. For a start theres the Holy/Satanic Trinity, theres the Earth, Air and Sea in which we materially exist, the Birth, Life and Death of all of us. Every abode in which Ive lived has had a 3 in the number including the actual street number of Fort Nada, my home in South Australia. I am part of a 3-way relationship; I have lived with my partner for 10 years but for the past 8 years we also share a lover who often comes on holiday with us and shares many other aspects of our Lives together etc. The list can go on and on so for me. The Rule Of Thirds Dictates My Life.
3.How did these 13 songs born? Are they dream experiences or tales of life?
Both! In the past few years Ive had some very near Death experiences and in the Dreams that have followed Ive been told the new name of the ferryman that takes the Dead over the River of Death and the name of the wand that God/Death uses to smite people down with one touch.
Like perhaps many people, from an early age Ive felt Death ever present in my Life but I also felt He was only merely curious about Me. Even in the war in Croatia when there were moments or days when things could have gone terribly wrong I always felt like I was invisible and invincible as though I was experiencing a horror film where everyone else died or suffered terribly. Death was more interested in others. I remembered when we entered a Croatian village where wed heard 200 people had recently been killed and when we asked an old lady what the situation was presently like all she said was;
Maybe the chetniks kill you today? Maybe not!
Death seemed that blasé and indifferent.
But, that changed for me during the Ides Of March, 2005. I now know He is very interested in Me. Many of the songs reflect that in one way or another.
4.NERUS is your new American label succeeding the Australian NEROZ. Why this move? Did you find interesting people there in America?
NERUS (New European Recordings United States) was the logical step to take after Id met Charles of Soleilmoon in Portland, Oregon during the last tour of 2005 and seen how enthusiastic that company was to work with me. In fact, hed been wanting to work with me for about 20 years!
In a way, NEROZ was a victim of its own success and managed to sell tens of thousands of CDs and LPs worldwide despite being based in Australia. This sadly led to some unpleasant rivalries with some other company that I have dealings with and Chris McCarter who ran NEROZ (New European Recordings Australia) decided he could no longer work under those conditions and wanted a rest from the whole thing. We had discussed this at length and how it should be restructured some years ago but it finally had to close in early 2007. Chris was undergoing a lot of stress in his life and I wanted to make a clean break of things. However, that situation is just about to change with the birth of NEROZ II which will release more select Death In June and Crisis recordings in the future. The first release which is issued at the same time as TROT will be a recently discovered live recording of Death In June in Melbourne, Australia in May 2000 called Black Angel Live! and the next one will be a live recording of the very last Crisis show in 1980 supporting Bauhaus and Magazine. There are also plans for many other rare or hard to find releases being reissued via NEROZ II.
5.Alarm Agents was your final work of collaboration (with Boyd Rice). Is it in the destiny of DIJ/Douglas P. to be alone?
I never feel like Im alone as I have far too many voices going on in my head for that kind of blissful silence to descend! As Ive said in other interviews during the recordings for Alarm Agents which took place in America, Australia , and New Zealand whilst we were on tour in those countries Boyd and I had a wonderful moment where we were looking out of the windows of New Centurian Studios, which are located at the top of a big valley near the New Zealand capital, Wellington. Light aircraft and helicopters were flying beneath us and we seemed like Gods looking down through the Winter clouds on humanity. The recordings had been going very well and we agreed there and then to make Alarm Agents; our final collaboration and maintain the quality of our canon of work. It was a very Magickal moment. Were both proud of the recordings we have done together. It was one of the reasons why finally, after nearly 10 years, the Scorpion Wind project has just been re-released with extra tracks and new artwork etc. Of the 4 projects Boyd and I have collaborated on; Music, Martinis & Misanthropy, Wolf Pact Alarm Agents Scorpion Wind seemed to be the most hidden and the one that most people hadnt heard of. Truly I think it is the lost classic of our work together since 1989. It amazes me every time I listen to it.
But, outside of that I have no further plans to work with anyone else musically again in such a collaborative fashion. Those days are over. I have few enough of them remaining for myself. Im 52 soon and I know I wont be seeing those years again. Its wise for me to concentrate on Death In June and myself. However, that wont stop me from occasionally helping out on other peoples projects. For instance, Ive recently done some vocals on the forthcoming Alkaline Trio album and Im also planning to release an album of Death In June cover versions by a brilliant Swedish group called Down In June. Ill be designing the cover for that and, in fact, I hope to call the album Covers! It should also be out soon. The sound is very cold and Lounge-like.
6.You spent your last 3 years doing many things, not only in the musical field, but also in some film and video projects. Can you talk about your interest for the movie?
James Dean or Fellini or Fassbinder or Leone or Dirk Bogarde have all been as important inspirationally as The Velvet Underground , Charles Manson, Love and The Beatles have been. Cinema has always played a large part in my Life, although new creations that move me are as few and far between as their musical counterparts these days. But, thats only to be expected in this Zeitgeist. The best 2 films Ive seen in the past 3 years have been the German Downfall and the Dutch film Black Book! So, we find what we can and if I can become part of some of it then I will. Doing the voice over to the American film The Doctor was great and maybe more roles like the one I played in Pearls Before Swine beckon? Its a natural extension of what I do and I trust Ill expand upon it. Death In June itself has years and kilometres of video footage that I must one day collate and put together. Most of its fantastic in one way or another and it would be good to make it available. But its a big job, the prospect of which, I find daunting as well as exciting.
7. The XX anniversary reissues of The World That Summer and Brown Book came in very limited luxurious stone box-set editions. Why this special issues? Will you keep the same treatment for any other albums?
Well, I think the importance of these land mark albums for Death In June really needed to be celebrated and commemorated in a special way. When I finally met Charles from Soleilmoon in 2005 he said he had links to manufacturers of different types of sleeve and the medium of stone was mentioned. I could hardly resist such an invitation, could I? I must admit I thought The World That Summer stone box looked amazing but the 20th Anniversary Edition of Brown Book astounded me. The stone circle came out better looking than I thought it would so that has set another precedent that I must better. And, I will! At present Im already working on the special combination of 2 albums called Symbols & Clouds that I trust will see the light of night by the end of 2008.
8. We know that you decide to leave the live-concert arena, but there is any chance for a change of mind?
At present it is doubtful. Regardless of the amount of time that I now have free to do other things associated with Death In June there were other reasons to stop touring.
For a start I couldnt wish for better performances or experiences during the last tours we did. Symbolically it was also the best time to stop in 2005. Death In June performed hundreds of concerts in 25 different countries over 25years and 25 + 25 = 50 the age I would be after the final tour. In all 4 points of the compass with Europa being the Central Axis Death In June performed. From as far North as Iceland, to as far South as New Zealand., to as far West as America and as far East as Russia and Japan. Death In June even performed in potentially dangerous places like Croatia during the war when chetnik Serb rockets could have hit the National Radio station or venue we performed in and in Israel when an Islamic bomb could detonate at any time. No one else has that track record of commitment. Besides, the last 2 shows were in the Finisterre part of France which translates into the End Of The World. What better place for Death In June to perform its live finale? .
9. Forever Loves Decay, Good Mourning Sun, The Perfume Of Traitors, Last Europa Kiss, My Rhine Atrocity Why all this sadness and disenchantment? There is no more hope in these days of decay and tears?
We now live in a World completely without security. That is the 21st Century. Our leaders tell us we are safe but it is only lip service to calm us before the storm. The enemy is well and truly within and only biding its time before it tries to slit our throats whilst we sleep. I cant remember the last time I slept peacefully. These songs come from that general sense of unease – and the refuge I seek in Love.
10.What do the Runes say about your future?
I did a Rune reading only recently and it said I was surrounded by risks and danger but Joy was on its way!