From Death In June
1) For DIJ the masks, or better "The Mask" (you encountered in Italy), have always represented an icon, like uniforms. Can you explain us the symbolism of these masks?
There is no “symbolism”. There just ‘IS’. It ‘is’ good looking. It ‘is’ different. It ‘is’ now an icon. It ‘is’ instantly recognizable as Death In June. It ‘is’ established and sort after - even to the point of it once being stolen after the Death In June performance in Israel (and since in Italy)! It ‘is’ Magickal and it ‘is’ transforming. It ‘is’ all giving in so many ways and it ‘is’ necessary. What more can one ask of a mask? Best just to wear it!
2) The World That Summer, inspired by the works of Mishima and Genet, maybe represents the album that is most related to homosexuality. Can you suggest to us some other lyrics you wrote, particularly related to this theme?
I dispute your view that ‘The World That Summer’ is my most homosexual album. It’s a strange, and extremely subjective, claim to make in the first place based simply because it was the first Death In June album I wrote in 1985-86 after reading some works by the 2 Gay authors you mention. It doesn’t necessarily lead to that assumption at all. Between 1985-1990 I continued to read and hunt down out of print copies of books by both Mishima and Genet who at that time I found completely all consuming and inspirational so, you could also assume that the following albums ‘Brown Book’ (1987) and ‘The Wall Of Sacrifice’ (1989) were also “related with homosexuality”. The fact that I am an openly Gay man and have been since 1977 is the most important influence on any or, all of my work. But, it doesn’t mean I write specifically homosexual albums. I don’t have such a ghetto mentality. Being Gay isn’t the be all and end all of my Life and I certainly have many other interests outside of sucking cock and fucking arse! Everything influences my writing. But, certainly it’s true my heart strings are pulled by men and perhaps you hear them playing on Death In June recordings? There are more than a few heart strings being played with on ‘The Rule Of Thirds’ (2008) album.
3) I recently saw the Danish movie "Brotherhood". The Plot is that Lars has to leave the army after accusations of having made a pass at some of his men. Disillusioned he joins a Neo-Nazi movement, even though they practice gay-bashing. He and his peer Jimmy become embroiled in a secret love affair. Moving from hostility through grudging admiration to friendship and finally passion. Events take a darker turn when their relationship is uncovered. What's your opinion about Brotherhood/Homosexuality in the SA and how can be (if can be) mixed Nazism and Homosexuality?
I’ve heard about the ‘Brotherhood’ film you mention but haven’t seen it. I do intend to get a copy of it on DVD soon. I’d be better placed to answer that question regarding that film after that. However, regarding being Gay in the S.A. the early Nazi movement and brotherhood etc. then at this late stage of the game with few, if any, surviving members that were involved in any of that at the time we can only surmise or read books and wonder. And, it is a big wonder! A truly fascinating question as to what was, and what might have been. However, it’s an impossible question to answer with any accuracy. The only thing I can say is that nearly 20 years ago I did have a conversation with a then member of the SS who later became in the war a very high ranking member of the Waffen SS and was around in those early days in 1930s Germany and he said that during the Night Of The Long Knives the question of homosexuality was never brought up. They weren’t sure exactly what was happening when they were told to be on alert at the end of June, 1934 and that they expected an attempt on Hitler’s life from elements in the Storm Troops (S.A.) The Gay angle appeared only after the purge of Ernst Roehm and his comrades as some sort of extra excuse made up by Goering and Goebbels as to why such a purge was necessary. About a year later homosexuality then also became officially illegal in Germany which up until then had no specific laws against being Gay. That was unlike Britain or the USA which had outlawed homosexuality for decades and where it was still punishable by imprisonment and sometimes death. Hitler doesn’t have seemed to have made any direct comments, or even be concerned, about any of his close comrades being Gay and, in fact, there are strong rumours that when he was a struggling artist in Vienna he did spend time being a male prostitute to help pay his bills etc. Being Gay and being aligned to the Nazi Party certainly didn’t become apparently mutually exclusive until the change of laws in 1935.
4) More in general, what's the message DIJ want to transmit through their music and lyrics?
Messages are what leave you on machines. I don’t believe any real fan of Death In June is a machine. If they are they’re a very finely tuned and well running one.
5) I think that DIJ have been pioneers both for a post-industrial sound and for new acoustic folk. Moreover in these years they produced a lot of experimental sounds. Do you think there is still space to discover new borders in music or everything has just been written, so now is just a matter of mixing/contaminations /sounds already produced in the past?
I think if you don’t know or care where the musical borders are you could end up crossing them by accident and, it’s only with the benefit of hindsight that you look back and see where you’ve travelled and which path you’ve taken. And once you’ve forged those new paths you find other people willing to follow as well. But, I think few pioneers ever have a clear view of what they’re doing and where they’re going until they’ve done it and others notice the tracks in the snow or, the safe path through the minefield. Hopefully there will always be pioneers and I’m pleased I was one of them. I’m proud of that.
6) What do you think about "Little Black Angel" (one of the "must" haves of "But What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?", recently covered by LADYTRON in an electroclash version?
I’d think a lot more of it if they had actually bothered giving Death In June a credit on the release that it’s featured on which it obviously deserved. It’s unfortunate there have been some rather lame excuses as to why Death In June shouldn’t have been mentioned. Ladytron not mentioning that they do a cover version of a well known Death In June song that is 20 years old really puts them in the same camp as all the usual blind snipers, detractors and whiners and makes them look rather weak and scared, regardless of whatever their original intentions might have been. I don’t own one single track by Ladytron and I don’t think that position will alter. I find nothing attractive about being weak and scared. It’s rather repulsive, in fact.
7) The last Peaceful Snow album represents an unusual episode in your artistic career, steeped with 'melodies almost dashed' only by the piano, an instrument so rarely used in the past DIJ works. Is this a new course of DIJ or, as called for many fans, there will be a return to that apocalyptic folk (with the guitars noise to predominate) that characterized the episodes more 'acclaimed' as Brown Book, Rose Clouds of Holocaust and already mentioned But What Ends ...?
This course is where Death In June found itself during the recording of the ‘Peaceful Snow’ album in 2009-2010. It certainly wasn’t planned. It was more of a fortuitous accident courtesy of the internet where I first heard the work of the Slovakian pianist Miro Snejdr. Piano has featured in many Death In June songs in the past 30 years but really only as an instrument I played expressing catchy motifs. This was the first, and probably only time, the piano has been featured as the only musical instrument of a DIJ album. I recorded the original songs on the guitar and then sent these versions over to Europa for Miro to transcribe on his piano. I then re-recorded my vocals to these new backing tracks. It was an oddly appealing and cold experience which I think only added to the atmosphere of ‘Peaceful Snow’. It’s a unique atmosphere. Whether or not Death In June will ever return with another new album, let alone the sound of the guitar, is a very big question to ask. ‘Peaceful Snow’ is too new for me to have any real thoughts about writing a new album. At this moment any new album such as ‘Peaceful Snow’ could be the last album from Death In June. It’s been 30 years after all.