It’s not easy being a fan of Death In June; they have no videos out, they rarely if ever tour, their records are extremey difficult to find, and the band rarely appears on the covers of them. Death In June is more a state of mind than a band. It is as much a cultural experience as it is a muslcal one. Death In June is a world view conceived by one man – Douglas Pearce. And because this view and the music it’s set to is so hard to track down, much less interpret, any fan of Death In June must, by necessity, be a fanatic. It’s not by accident, but by design.
PROPAGANDA: What do you consider the Mission/Message of Death In June?
DOUGLAS PEARCE: Maybe to wipe the slate clean? It is mine to exercise and to exorcise in how I see fit. It is an instinctive act. I do not analyze the reasons behind why. I do not think I really understand the meaning of “message” or “mission.” It just is! Nature does not need justification. Has this view changed at all with time? Yes and no. Certainly, some of the earlier material veered towards falling into the trap of being easily bracketed. But I still think it avoided that. I despise groups who preach. They are normally the ones who should be preached to. They have nothing to say!
Is there a particular story behind the name Death In June?
During the recording of our first Ep HEAVEN STREET, we still had not yet settled upon a name. I misheard something Patrick Leagas said and my version was Death In June. We all immedjately knew that was the name. It was as though it had been thrown at us. It had a variety of connotations all of which were pertinent to us at the time. It was perfect and still is.
What is the significance of the number six with Death In June? Does it have to do with “The Prisoner”?
Quite simply, the “6” refers to the 6th month of the year, June. It has nothing to do with “The Prisoner,’’ even though I was a great fan of that series and used some speech from it during live performances and on the remixes featured on 93 DEAD SUNWHEELS. The symbolism is purely coincidental.
Why did the group split up? What ideological influences dld each member have?
“Split up” really isn’t the right phrase. By that I assume you mean why have a series of departures over the years rather than the group being no longer? Since 1985, I have been the only official member of the group, and the bulk of the material has come out since then. Tony Wakeford was the first to leave after Patrick and myself had decided that he was no longer keeping up with where we wanted to take Death In June. He was not very open to new musical ideas and generally his interest had waned. Even though he was still with us, he was no longer “with us.” That was at the very beginning of ‘84. That was a very important turning point for D.l.J. Even though we had restructured the group musically, Tony’s departure acted as a catalyst to the both of us. This happened at about the same time as me meeting David Tibet at one of D.l.J.’s concerts in London and was a fantastically creative and interesting period for all of us. It was probably because it was such a good period that Patrick and I did part company. The recordings culminated with the release of NADA! in March ‘85 and a variety of really good concerts both here and in Europe. After performing six dates in Italy, which probably showed Patrick and myself performing together better than ever before, we returned to England and he just disappeared. At a time when we were selling more records than ever before, getting more offers of performances than ever before, getting more critical acclaim than ever before, writing better than ever before, he just ran out of steam. Basically, for the few weeks that Patrick disappeared, everything was put on hold. Whilst I was filled with loads of energy and, rarely for me, optimism, Patrick had suddenly burned out. He seemed exhausted with the situation, and when we eventually had a meeting, it was agreed that he should leave the group. We had both come to that decision even before the meeting. That was in May of ‘85. Because by then, we were beginning to make a living out of the group. There were serious decisions to make. The position of D.l.J. had to be consolidated. Whilst I do not doubt that it was destiny that Patrick should leave D.l.J., I still wonder what could have been done had he stayed. We have similar “visions”. But, perhaps I needed that extra responsibility of my “SELF.” Death In June has always been of an ideological “oneness.”
Why does Death In June appear so often faceless, masked or backturned on the albums?
The work itself was always deemed more important than the cultivation of individual egos or personalities. Symbols are more suggestive of D.l.J.’s work than bland mug-shots.
Could you tell us about the other people and projects you work with and how you started working with them? [Davld Tibet & Rose McDowall of Current 93, John Balance of Coil, Boyd Rice, Nikolas Schreck, etc.]
David Tibet and other PTV illuminati began to come along to some of our concerts in London. Eventually, we talked at a D.l.J. concert that had been organized by Alan McGee, later of Creation Record, [who] was then working for British Rail. We seemed to get on very well and the suggestion was made that we should start writing together. That would have been in the Autumn of 1983. In 1986, I moved in with Tibet, who lived in the cellar of this large, old Victorian house in North London. From there I began to get to know these other people such up as Rose and John, although I had already met them in the studio or at photo sessions. During this period, SWASTIKAS FOR NODDY was being written and recorded, so there was postal contact with Boyd for that project. He was already aware of D.l.J. so when I suggested he should make some contribution to THE WALL OF SACRIFICE, he jumped at the chance. That came about a couple of years later, however. Some of BROWN BOOK was also beginning to be recorded during this period, so it was only natural to use some of the same people. Not only did I admire them musically before I had even met them, but I was also fortunate enough to like them as people. I was introduced to Nikolas at the book launch of his “Manson File” at Compendium Books in London. We got on fine so I invited him down to the recordings of THE WALL OF SACRIFICE which had just started. David Tiffen and Andrea James of SIE were introduced to us via an early follower of the group who had written a review of our first peformances for their fanzine “Certain Gesture.” They wanted to do a feature so they came along to take some photos, and things grew from there. We get along very well together.
What did you do before D.I.J?
Music-wise I was in a group called Crisis, along with Tony Wakeford. That lasted for about three years, and then after releasing a number of records and probably on the verge of being quite successful, we split up in May ‘80. Some of the other members went on to form Theater Of Hate. I went to work for Rough Trade for about four years.
What records and musicians do you listen to or have inspired you?
I listen to loads of different things, but certainly some of the most influencial things I’ve ever listened to are “Forever Changes” by Love, Scott Walker’s “Scott IV,” Ennio Morricone’s soundtracks to the “Dollar” movies by Sergio Leone, “Closer” by Joy Division, the Charles Manson Lp, Wagner’s “The Ring,” a lot of Beatles, the Velvet Underground…
What books and movies have influenced you?
Definately all the work of Jean Genet, especially “Funeral Rites,” and some of the work of Yukio Mishima, in particular “The Decay Of The Angel.” These authors really encouraged me in my style of writing/living. Films that have really made an impression on me include Taxi Driver, The Night Porter, Apocalypse Now, The Night Of The Hunter, Blue Velvet, The Tenant, Chants D’amour, Possession The Haunting, The Misfits, The World That Summer, Come And See, etc.
What do you think of Nietzche?
Last year I spent three months in Australia and towards the end of that period I became very depressed. I remember reading Nietzche’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” in Hyde Park in Sydney and somehow it consoled me to my despair. I have just looked at soe notes I made in the book; I wrote, “I want to become destruction.” Those were my thoughts on him.
How do you feel about the idea of a united Europe?
I think it’s the most brilliant and natural thing to happen, but unfortunately I think Britain will be left out in the cold. But like anywhere. it’s individuals that count and make the difference. If the soul has departed there is not much of interest within a united economic community itself. That’s just a businessman’s paradise. However, the idea itself may well help trigger bigger and more interesting ideals.
How do you feel about the reunification of Germany?
The same really applies to this question as well. The division of a country like Germany was always an unnatural state of affairs and the fantastically sudden course of events in Europe may well inspire all sorts of things. Perhaps the unconscious European soul is beginning to assert itself again. The change has been so sudden, surely there was something more than conventional politics involved. Something more esoteric, something more powerful.
You seem very interested in Germany and German symbols – what is your ethnic background?
Typically British, of Anglo-Celt descent.
What is your interest in Runes and Northern European Magic, and what do you think of Aleister Crowley and the OTO?
I’d always been interested in magic, but had done nothing serious about it until I met David Tibet. He then introduced me to the works of Crowley, and I used that as a springboard. The Runes had a much more natural attraction for me, so I became more involved with them. They are now an everyday part of my life. I’ve been through a very intense period with them, but they are much more part of the furniture now. However, things like that always remain in flux and 1 always retain my respect for them. They are never
Your recent works seem to be about the cycle of destruction in nature and how it pertains to the individual and western culture. Do you think you’ll ever do anything about the creation cycle? Also, you use a lot of Nordic pagan symbolism, yet it never seems to enter into your music.
I’ve never thought of my work like that, and I’d like to know how you came to that conclusion, because I think it’s fascinating and interesting as an opinion unto itself. My work has always been instinctive, and when it happens, I’m literally intoxicated with it. It’s like a dream and much of the most important parts of it have almost been literally dictated from dreams. A surreal reality. An exercise and a exorcise No gain without pain. There’s nothing ugly or hateful – there just is!
What countries seem to have the blggest interest In D.l.J.
Probably the most important countries for sales at the moment are France, Italy and Germany. Almost everything sells on export because of the lack of live performances in this country. The British are used to seeing their groups, especially those who don’t get radio play, like ourselves. If you don’t constantly perform, you become one of the forgotten. Only the really fanatical keep in touch. Which is not a bad thing. The reason why Japan was chosen to break cover was because of my interest in Yukio Mishima. Someone offered some performances over there, and what better way of getting to the place where Mishima came from. Despite being very ill with the Russian flu, I dragged myself out of bed bed to spend Xmas Day 1988 besides Mishima’s grave. That was a good experience. There’s a lot of interest in groups like Death In June and Current 93 all over the world, and Japan just happened to be the place where we went.
Why don’t you do more live shows?
Because I’m the only true member of D.l.J., the logistical problems of performing live are obvious. The “group” does not have regular rehearsals, and despite there being an obvious choice for live membership, people like Rose and Tibet have their own lives and careers, and it’s difficult to get everything and everybody in the right place at the right time. On top of that, the NER “empire” has to be maintained and new records have to be written. Where is the time for live concerts? Considering the amount of problems they involve, they have never been that i mportant to me. Death In June
was never going to be a touring group, although I must admit that the gaps of time between performances have even astounded me. However, time just speeds by. In fact, I am sure that over the past decade, there has been some time distortio occuring of some sort. Time itself is now shorter, I’m sure of it.
Do you think there will ever be a Death In June video?
I did do a video specifically for a B.B.C. TV program, but they decided not to show it. One day, I do intend to put a D.l.J. video together which will become commercially available. It’s just a matter of finding the time and the inspiration, that’s all.
Wast do you consider the biggest problems in this age?
“Souless today, and soulless tomorrow. We struggle for the joy that life is haunted by.”