ARE THERE ANY DEATH IN JUNE RELEASES YOU THINK HAVE BEEN OVERLOOKED?
I feel all the releases by Death In June got appropriate exposure for their days. The one album that puzzles me though is ‘Burial’ and the amount of exposure and sales it achieved and still does. For me it’s the sound of the group falling to pieces, being pulled in several directions and sounding rough and confused. The runt of the litter. It was touch and go that Death In June would survive that release and the subsequent sacking of tony wakeford from the group but it obviously did and went onto much sunnier pastures. But, perhaps people like the sound of a possible disaster in the making? Maybe that needs to be looked at more attentively?
DO YOU HAVE THE SAME APPROACH TO ART AS LAIBACH?
The only thing I’ve ever really taken note about Laibach was when they were asked about their politics many years ago and they wisely said “You need 2 wings to fly” which I thought was quite clever. Other than that they’ve never really appealed to me. In fact I was doing A&R at Rough Trade where I used to work the day they came in sometime in 1982/83 with a cassette of demos and a press kit and I turned them down and told them I didn’t like their sub-industrial material or their promo photos which were basically of war atrocities in Slovenia/Jugoslavia in WWII. They were a bit ‘tasteless’!
CAN TRAUMA LEAD TO LIBERATION?
Liberation from trauma, regardless of its source, starts with oneself. And how you go about that is obviously down to the individual. It can be a Lifetime’s journey. I’m still on it. My walk along Liberation Avenue has been a long trek.
SOME OF YOUR WORK IS BANNED IN GERMANY?
The 1987 album ‘Brown Book’ got banned in Germany a few years ago because of its use of the Horst Wessel Lied and the track ‘Rose Clouds Of Holocaust’ received a ban forbidding its advertising as the lyrics were seen as too ambiguous by the censorship board which is basically made up of priests, nuns, social workers, politicians and police who couldn’t fully understand/appreciate the text. They obviously didn’t understand the ironic way the Horst Wessel Lied had been used as well so,…what can you do? When ‘Brown Book’ was first reviewed by the authorities in West Germany in 1987 it was deemed “art” and no censorship was considered but 20 years later, after reunification of Germany and with the influence in political circles of the old ‘reds’ from East Germany, opinions had changed. They’ll probably change again one day!
WHAT KIND OF BRITISH BAGGAGE DO YOU HAVE RELATING TO WORLD WAR II?
Hmmm,…In terms of “British Baggage” my Father’s first wife was killed by a V2 rocket during the blitz on London towards the end of the War and that’s how I’ve got a 74 year old half-sister, who survived the bombing as a baby and was found alive amongst the house rubble under the kitchen table. My Father was in the RAF but survived 2 aircrashes, my Uncle Ted was in the British Royal Artillery and was one of the first into Belsen KZ and his job was to mainly bulldoze the bodies of the dead there into large pits/grave sites. I remember him talking about it once or twice and he said the camp was infested with typhus, there was no food and most inmates were dead or dying of disease and starvation and that the SS guards had stayed behind to make sure the prisoners didn’t escape into the general populace and start spreading disease. The prisoners might have been liberated but they still had to be controlled by the SS and then the British Army. War was often spoken of in my family household, especially when something was on TV or there was a family gathering. My Mum as a teenager worked in a munitions factory from about 1943/44. WWII was their early Life experience, as it was for many, so it was our family experience. Is that what you mean by “British Baggage”?
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF RAMMSTEIN?
I’m only familiar with the name ( Rammstein )of the group and the US Airbase in Germany. I’m not familiar with that type of music or attracted to it. I’ve heard snippets but,….who cares. Odd question, nothing to do with me or Death In June.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH PUNK, HOW DID IT AFFECT YOU AND WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CRISIS UNION?
Punk has to be seen as part of the social context of what was happening in the UK at the time in the mid-late ’70s. You could literally ‘feel’ something was going to happen but didn’t know quite what. When it declared itself I was ready to commit to it as my own personal saviour. This is what I’d been waiting for. But, it could have just as well been a political revolution. British society was completely unstable at the time. For me ‘Punk’ began in a series of small steps: I was bored with long hair so I cut my really long hair off in about late 1975/early 1976 and went from being shouted at as “Oi, hippie” to “Oi, skinhead” overnight! I started wearing mainly black, like I was out of a French film like Truffaut’s ‘400 Blows’, straight trousers and army boots. In fact, film was holding my interest more then than most modern music. I then started seeing people who looked a bit ‘different’ from the usual long hair, platform boots and flaired trousers around London and on the Tube and there were small strange posters appearing for a group with the weird name of ‘Sex Pistols’. Eventually they actually appeared on TV on the ‘So It Goes’ programme hosted by Tony Wilson (later of Factory Records) in August ’76 and they were much better visually and audibly than I possibly ever hoped for. They were a revelation, an epiphany. They were what I’d been waiting and looking for. Shortly after that I was in a London pub with maybe 15-20 people in it and started talking to a guy dressed really differently and brilliantly and looked simply great and he turned out to be Joe Strummer. Later a group came on stage that were called The Stranglers so,…one thing led to another! This was what I’d been wishing for. Preparation met opportunity so, I took hold of it with both hands and was determined not to let go. Wherever it took me I knew that was where I was meant to be going and that eventually led to Death In June. DIJ wouldn’t exist without Punk and Crisis, that’s for sure. 2 sides of the same coin. perhaps? And Crisis ended in May, 1980 amongst the fading embers of Punk itself. Anyone who thinks they can reform that type of group and re-live those times are fooling themselves and everyone else. ‘Crisis-lite’ is just glorified karaoke and not much else. False advertising of the worst kind. Creepy and sad and reeking of failure of the present and the future. Besides, nostalgia is counter-revolutionary. All concerned should remember that! And no, I wasn’t approached about any faux reunion. Chance would be a fine thing – LOL!
WHAT OF THE LATE JOHN MURPHY – ANY THOUGHTS?
John Murphy was my ‘Chaos’ drummer of choice from 1996 – 2014. I still have imaginary conversations with him in my head as we had a lot of knowledge and interest about a lot of similar things, despite him being quite an odd and sometimes frustrating character. The last time he hit his drums in Turin, Italy at the end of 2014 for the final performance of that Winter tour it was the loudest I’d ever heard him hit a drum kit. It was phenomenally loud and we both looked at each other. We were both sure that would be his final blow for Death In June and that’s how it turned out and ended for us as a group. When I knew he was ill I told him I wouldn’t get another drummer and that’s the way it’s stayed. The last time I saw him was for dinner in Berlin in May, 2015 and he was actually looking the best I’d seen him in years but he still had a lot of treatment to undergo. Sadly that didn’t save him from the cancer that was devouring him. A few days before he died he’d written me an email about dreams he’d had of me, my partner and him in a previous Life and it all seemed to correlate to what we’d already found out and felt etc. He also told me that he’d probably also already died a couple of times but the doctors in Berlin were keeping him alive with some experimental drugs. The day he did die he actually came to me in a dream and basically said he was now dead. When I awoke in Australia I emailed a mutual friend in Berlin to find out what had happened and sure enough John had died a few hours before. So,…
I UNDERSTAND THIS COULD BE THE FINAL DEATH IN JUNE SHOW?
By default Tel Aviv has become what will almost certainly be Death In June’s ‘Last (Un)Holyland Kiss Show’. I’d been looking for a place to put an end to live work, somewhere special, somewhere different, somewhere with an edge and this seems to be the perfect moment and place! It’s been 40 years since I first got on stage with Crisis at the age of 21 and this seems a good a time as any at the age of 61 to permanently retire from the live arena. It’ll be only me on guitar performing ‘Kampfire Musik’/’Totenpop’ versions of a wide selection of Death In June songs. It should be intense for all concerned, as it should be! Shalom in all senses of the word, indeed!
Douglas P. – S.A. – 7.XI.17.