HOMO CONTRA VULGUM
An interview with Douglas P. of Death in June.
Easter 1994. Somewhere in London.
by Per Norstrom and Johan Birgander
When this interview was taped, the latest release from Death In June was the double CD “Something Is Coming” where the group had, as the first British act, played live in Croatia after the war had begun. Douglas tells us of his experiences from living nearby a hospital where patients were desperately trying to survive in conditions where over-crowding and lack of supplies was the order of the day. Despite this situation, the patients whom he met showed an admirable dignity and kindness.
Moved by this, he decided to use the proceeds from his recordings to donate money to be used to buy equipment for the Bolnicki Clinic in Zagreb for the rehabilitation of those who have lost limbs in the war and to date he has managed to raise 20,000 pounds for this benefit. This money will be much needed since, at the time of writing, Croatia has once again gone to war against the Chetnik Serbs after the occupations of Srebrenica and Zepa and the atrocities which followed.
Douglas also told us of his plans to expand the cultural exchange by founding a Croatian division of NER, something which has now been realised in the form of Twilight Command. This label will release a number of new recordings over the next few months including the debut album from TEHOM, a Croatian ex-soldier.
Other releases include albums by the Australian group Strength Through Joy and Scorpion Wind, a collaboration between Douglas P., John Murphy and Boyd Rice. This is just the latest project from a man who for fourteen years has relentlessly pursued his own path and exorcised his obsessions through his music. The work of Death In June is in a high degree linked to the individual Douglas P. Though attracted to his words and music we feel that we do not fully comprehend the material, that there are hidden layers of meaning which, if unveiled, will further enhance our appreciation.
So we approach the source of all this, the artist, to have everything explained. The problem with this is that when we have reached the goal, have identified all the references, we are left with_ what? Still our own highly subjective perception of the music. And so it should be. Death In June, in our humble opinion, is first and foremost about the Individual. Individuals making their own interpretations, using the recordings “as and how they want to”. This is encouraged by Douglas P. himself in a number of ways.
An early statement from Death In June read: “The music is the statement, there is no other statement, for only in their music will you find Death In June”. Since the mid-Eighties, we find Douglas P. more and more often wearing a mask, thereby refusing to play the part of “star”, a clown pandering to the whims of the masses. Everything points in the same direction; Make your own interpretations.
Meanwhile, hypocrite lecteur, mon semblable, mon fraire, there are still some people who insist on asking questions like:
Q: WHAT IS THE FILM “THE WORLD THAT SUMMER” ABOUT?
It was a film I came across by chance when it was shown on TV one afternoon in the early Eighties. It is 1936 in Nazi Germany, I think it is based in Hamburg. It concerns a young boy growing up in those years. He is initially fascinated by the Olympics which are taking place at the time and then has to go to serve in the Hitler Youth. However, he is torn between his Jewish grandmother and his Aryan family and feels that he doesn’t belong anywhere. In the end the conflict becomes too much for him and he almost negates himself to everybody and everything and becomes totally callous. He has this recurring image of himself being a crocodile devouring those around him. It’s a fascinating story, fantastically acted.
The film had a lot of ambiguities which attracted me and also because of my fascination with that period in history. There were some conflicts that were pertinent to some of the conflicts which were going on within me at the time.
Q: SO DID THE FILM DIRECTLY INSPIRE THE ALBUM?
D: No, not really. It was just that the album was written in the summer of 1985 and the work continued in the winter and came out in the summer of 1986. The summers of those two years were particularly strange.
Q: WHY HAVE YOU TAKEN SUCH AN INTEREST IN NATIONAL SOCIALIST GERMANY? DO YOU, FOR INSTANCE, QUESTION YOURSELF WHETHER YOU WOULD HAVE JOINED THE RANKS OR NOT?
D: Yes, naturally. It’s been an overriding interest since I was very, very young. My parents used to be quite angry about the morbid fascination I had as a child for this part of history. In the end, though, they actually gave up on it because I was so sincere in my interest. It wasn’t just a passing dalliance but an actual obsession and I seem to be quite knowledgeable in that area.
Outside of that, what are the reasons for my interest? I think, overridingly, that one of the main reasons is that you can still communicate with people who have taken part in these events. You just don’t have to read books or see films about them, these people are very much alive today.
Q: WAS THERE A PARTICULAR SOURCE OF INSPIRATION FOR THE ALBUM “BROWN BOOK”? WAS IT THE BOOK OF THE SAME NAME?
D: The idea of “Brown Book” really came near the completion of the album. I wanted an ambiguous title and this was one suitably so. Not very far from here, I and David Tibet were sitting outside a cafe, when Steve Stapleton came along.
He took out of his bag a copy of a book to show us, and it turned out to be a copy of the “Brown Book” which he had just found in a dustbin! He sometimes goes to the backs of book shops or studios to see if there is anything of interest that they have thrown away and he found this. The strange thing was that he didn’t know that I was writing an album that was called “Brown Book”! A meaningful co-incidence! To this day that copy of the book is on my bookshelf at home. So he gave me an affirmation that this was the right path, a magical affirmative to what I was doing.
Almost every Death In June recording has had magical connotations. If you want to call things “magical”, then that was probably my most magical album. I was in a stage of extreme initiation into a variety of things. I was practising to an indulgent level and was making considerable progress.
[Note: The Brown Book is a book printed in the former East Germany and lists Nazi war criminals working in West Germany in various sectors of society, from business and state administration to medicine. The Dachau camp doctor of yore could well be your friendly-old-dentist-with-the-peculiar-accent today!]
Q: WHEN YOU SPEAK OF MAGIC, DOES THIS INCLUDE YOUR INTEREST IN THE RUNES?
D: Yes, I’m totally attracted to the Runes. They have an inherent power that you can draw on. And it works, of that there is absolutely no doubt in my mind. This course of action is one way of living one’s life or attaining or achieving things, but there are prices to be paid with that as well.
I have reached a stage now where I’m not praying to an altar or invoking things. My life is totally magical anyway. I had a conversation with Boyd Rice about this in December when we were doing a German tour together and he had come to the same conclusion. You reach a stage where you never go back, a stage where everything you do, everything you think, everything you are is already part of that. You have stepped outside of that ordinary sense of being and it’s now a part of everyday life.
Q: WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS, ORIGINALLY?
D: Just my nature. It has always been that way for me. I have always, for instance, seen it as a blessing that I was never baptised. My parents had moved down from London to a new area in the 50’s and because the priest hadn’t seen them in church before, he refused. My parents therefore decided that I could make up my own mind, so I remain untainted.
Q: WHAT IS THE POSITION OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND TODAY? DOES IT STILL HAVE ANY POWER?
D: Unfortunately, it still does. The higher powers have meetings with the church where the government do take notice. It is still a very reactionary force in this country, opposed to women priests and homosexuals, that will give affirmation to the reactionary forces in politics. These forces are inherent in British conservative politics, and by conservative I don’t just mean the Conservative Party, but most British political parties.
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON OTHER FORMS OF ORGANISED RELIGIONS?
D: Most of them are just despicable, reactionary and designed to suppress human beings. There is always this guilt that comes with everything. Guilt is meaningless to me. Life should exercised and exorcised for one’s own pleasures. The nearest that I’ve come to anything that does make sense, although I’m not a Crowleyite acolyte, is “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will”. Organised religions are just controlling and suppressing humanity and I think they are despicable. I hate them all, no matter how much people try to apologise with “Jesus really meant this, Buddha really meant that” I don’t give a fuck what they really meant, you have to look at the reality of it!
Q: BUT WHAT IS THEN YOUR OPINION OF, SAY, LAVEY’S CHURCH OF SATAN?
D: I have read that stuff and I can’t disagree with anything, though I wouldn’t necessarily want to join the church. I think I’m already there , I don’t need to join an organisation to be supported by other people, like Boyd Rice who is probably supported by the Church of Satan and is definitely one of the people that may take over the leadership when LaVey steps down.
Q: WHEN DID YOU MEET BOYD RICE FOR THE FIRST TIME?
D: Boyd and I had been in contact with each other via the post around ’85, ’86 for the making of Current 93’s “Swastikas for Noddy”. However, our paths had tried to cross several years before because we were due to play together in London but the customs officials wouldn’t let him into this country. So he had to go on to Germany.
Q: WHAT WAS THE REASON FOR THAT?
D: I just think he opened his mouth when he should just have kept quiet! (laughs)
. He didn’t understand British customs officials. I have to lie just to get into my own country. They’re very strict and being American he was being somewhat naive about what you say and what you don’t say. I think you should just smile and act stupid and they will let you in!
So we failed to perform then, but he had already been aware of me and I of him and his work in Non and eventually we started writing and finally met for the first time in 1989 in Tokyo when Current 93 wanted me to play with them and so did Non. So that’s the first time I met Boyd and Michael Moynihan as well. We got on very, very well instantaneously.
Q: SO WHEN DID YOU START WORKING ON “MUSIC, MARTINIS AND MISANTHROPY”?
D: We started in Japan. Half of it was recorded in Tokyo in July 1989, and the rest of it was finished in February 1990 in Denver.
Q: WILL THERE EVER BE ANOTHER “BOYD RICE AND FRIENDS” ALBUM?
D: It is a possibility. There is talk of Boyd coming to live in England for a while. If he does, that would be more convenient. America has declined and this is affecting him more and more. Michael Moynihan has already come over and is living in Germany. They both found an escape in Denver for a few years but Denver has now inherited the problems that the East and West Coast have got. Already when I was there in 1990, it was beginning to change. There were gun battles in the street and it was beginning to get dangerous just to walk outside your door.
Unfortunately, I think the places for an OK life in America are running out. Boyd has been in Europe quite a lot in the last twelve months, working with Rose McDowall and myself. He seems to be convinced that there is a soul or a spirit in Europe that just doesn’t exist in America and was totally entranced driving around the German countryside!
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE ALBUM NOW?
D: I love it. It’s one of the best things I have ever done and whenever I listen to it always sounds fresh and vital. If I hear the first opening chords of “People”, for instance, it changes my mood completely and I’m back in that period. I think it was a very special album.
That was what I was doing when I wasn’t doing Death In June, because there was a gap of three years between “The Wall of Sacrifice” and “But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?”. I needed to put Death In June on hold for a while because I was getting smothered by the group’s life force, aura and everything that comes with that.
Q: FROM WHERE IS THE NAME “THE WALL OF SACRIFICE” DERIVED?
D: It was derived from a dream I had, where I was taken into a burning building. I was taken upstairs to this wall and on the wall, the brickwork had been chipped away by the intrusion of ice coming through the bricks. In the ice there was blood, and the flames of the fire were gradually melting the ice. How the blood and water melted and flowed dictated where one’s life would go. This was known as the Wall of Sacrifice and you are presented this before you take up your position on Earth.
Q: WHY DID YOU RELEASE IT AS A LIMITED EDITION?
D: I thought that there was a need for it. At that period of time, I actually wanted to end Death In June, so I wasn’t sure if there was to be anything after that anyway. So I wanted to make a very select statement at the end, a statement that only very few could buy and use as and how they wanted. If I wanted to make money, I should have just released it as a normal album, and it would have sold thousands. Then I went to Australia for three months to try to sort out my life. I was totally lost.
Q: DID THAT MAKE YOUR MOTIVATION RETURN?
D:No, I was dead, spiritually desperate when I came back. In October 1989, I had almost achieved perfect nothingness. I think this is where David Tibet got his “Song For Douglas After He’s Dead” from, because it was a very bad period for me, I was probably lucky to survive it.
Q: HOW DID THE COLLABORATION WITH DAVID TIBET START?
D: That started in September 1983. I knew David Tibet from his work in 23 Skidoo and then Psychic TV. Death In June were playing some concerts in London. At two or three concerts I noticed that he had come along together with some other members of Psychic TV to see what we were about because they thought we were on the same level. So we knew that we were being watched by these people. At the time, PTV was the most important group in England. Eventually, at one concert I met Tibet. Towards the end of 1983, Patrick and I had already thought that Tony’s days in Death In June were limited. There had been a number of upsets, so even if we were quite nervous about doing it, we thought the best way for Death In June to progress was to ask Tony to leave. This we eventually did in January 1984.
So in the back of my mind was the possibility of working with new people and going in different directions. David Tibet said that he had been writing some words but didn’t know what the music would be like, and I replied that I had been considering expanding my horizons, so to speak! So I asked him to keep in contact and he did. On Christmas Day 1983 I wrote “She Said Destroy” with his lyrics and my music. So it started like that.
Q: DO YOU SEE YOURSELVES WORKING IN THE FUTURE?
D: Yes, provided I am here. Because I spend more than half my time in Australia, it’s difficult to come together to work.
Q: WHY DID YOU MOVE TO AUSTRALIA?
D: Instinct. Nature drew me there.
Q: SO WHAT DO YOU PREFER COMPARING WITH ENGLAND?
D: I live in Australia, I work in England![laughs] I find my time running out in England. I feel more and more claustrophobic and suffocate from the soullessness of the place. Because of the extensive travel I do, I am able to draw comparisons. England is dying on its feet. It has very bad psychic problems as a nation.
Q: WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE SIGNS OF THIS? A CULTURAL DECLINE?
D: Yes. I think we have been on the decline for some time. We occasionally have bursts of life, but on the whole it’s very dead. England is not a good place to be for one’s spiritual well-being. We are on a slide, and I admit to being a rat that wants to leave the sinking ship. I am not the only one moving out by the way. Tony Wakeford has a house in France, Tibet is now living in Ireland. The culling is coming.
Q: IN 1992 YOU RELEASED “BUT, WHAT ENDS WHEN THE SYMBOLS SHATTER?”. ONE OF THE FEATURES OF THAT ALBUM WERE A COUPLE OF SONGS WHICH WERE RE-WORKED VERSIONS OF SONGS OF THE JIM JONES TEMPLE CHOIR. COULD YOU TELL US HOW THAT CAME ABOUT?
D: The initial idea for that came about because a record company I knew was going to re-issue “He’s Able (Songs Of The Temple Choir)” and they asked me to do some different versions of the songs of the album and they would sell the album with a 7-inch by Death In June. That got me thinking, and I started writing the more obvious things, such as “He’s Disabled” and “Little Black Angel”. The latter is really more inspired by a book about the SS I read in Iceland and then I realised that there was a song on the album called “Black Baby” so I thought that the two went well together.
Furthermore, Rev. Jones’s lyrics can be interpreted in so many different fashions, that I thought that this was a natural progression. So this started me, and then I started working on other things, and it all finally became a wholeness. The re-issue of the Jim Jones album was never realised because the record company went bankrupt.
[Note: The Jim Jones album is today available through Grey Matter] [Trainspotter’s note: The book about the (Waffen) SS is “The Black Angels” by Rupert Butler, St. Martin’s Press, New York.]
Q: WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO INCLUDE TRANSLATIONS OF THE LYRICS INTO FRENCH, GERMAN AND ITALIAN?
D: I thought it was a European gesture, a cultural exchange, especially because of the coming-together within the EU. It was also a way of offering interpretations because lyrics or poetry are very difficult to interpret into other languages.
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE EU?
D: I think the idea behind it is a natural and brilliant thing, but so far I have seen very little outside of bureaucratic rubbish to get excited about. As bloody a battlefield as Europe has been over the centuries and particularly this century, there has to be a sort of cultural coming together and this seems to be the right moment. It is very important because there are outside forces working against us at present. So it is unfortunate that most of the people who are involved in these kinds of things are dim-witted, political bureaucrats who are only concerned with petty squabbling among themselves.
Q: DO YOU THINK THAT THERE IS A RISK THAT THE AMERICAN CULTURE WILL BECOME THE PREVALENT ONE IN EUROPE?
D: No, I don’t think so because our culture is far too established. We would never give in like that. I don’t think that is our main problem. We do have problems, but they are internal. So I don’t feel threatened by American culture at all since European culture is far stronger. Do Americans have culture?
Q: YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON YOUR NEW ALBUM “ROSE CLOUDS OF HOLOCAUST”. WHAT WILL BE THE LINE-UP FOR THIS?
D: Until we start recording, I don’t know who is in the line-up. At the end of the day, I record practically everything myself and when it’s nearly finished, I call other people, like David Tibet or John Balance, in to do little fills. So when they come along, it’s basically finished, because in the studio I can do everything myself. So who am working with depends on how I feel at the time.
Q: WILL THE MUSIC BE SIMILAR TO OTHER RELEASES?
D: I don’t know. It changes as soon as you start. You have an idea in your head, maybe half or three quarters of it is written, but when you actually start recording the thing it may go in a completely different direction. If you are dealing with anything of value it will take its own life force and dictate where it wants to go. You have to choose to go with it or try to manoeuvre it. Normally I just follow its path.
Everything will hopefully fall into place if you are doing something right. It will provide things for itself anyway. For example “But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?” was loaded with strange things happening at the time. Whenever I wanted something, it would be there. I could for instance use all the keyboards of Diana Ross’s backing group and the bass guitars of the Stranglers! I went into the studio with nothing and all this equipment was provided from nowhere. And that’s just on a very low level. On a higher level you are dealing with more esoteric things. Like for instance, The Wild Hunt. Are you familiar with what the Wild Hunt is? [Note: In the title song of the album, there is a line that goes “The One Wild Hunt/For Loneliness”]
D: It’s a specifically Anglo-Saxon myth. The Wild Hunt is the sun going through the sky which is Odin with his favourite warriors and the way the sun can devour crops in the summer is known as the sacrifice to the Wild Hunt. There is an old East Anglian folk story of a farmer who failed to leave a part of his field for the sun and when he got home one night he found his son missing. First thing in the morning, as dawn rose, he heard the noise of horses.
This was the Wild Hunt racing by and they threw him the body of his son. So they had taken his son instead of the crop. Later that evening, while driving home from the studio after having explained this to Ken Thomas, the Wild Hunt presented me with a gift in the form of a badger, lying in the road. This was only the second time I had seen one in my life since they are very secretive, so I stopped and got out. The badger proved to be still warm and wasn’t bloody, so I thought it might just be dazed by a car. I picked it up and put it in my car.
After coming home, I left it in the car overnight with the windows open so it could breathe. In the morning it had become very stiff but it was still warm. I thought that, as I was singing about the Wild Hunt before I left the studio, this must be a gift from them. This was a sacrifice to be used. So I took it into the studio that day and made its jaws and claws scratch the microphone to create the noise of horses’ hooves for that song. We found out later that the reason for it being warm was that it was a pregnant mother and the warmth came from the waters of the baby. Afterwards I buried it in a very beautiful spot on a hill.
Q: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE YOUR MAJOR INSPIRATIONAL SOURCES?
D: As I have stated in other interviews my favourite authors are Jean Genet and Yukio Mishima. Apart from that, I draw from a variety of things but very little actually excites me too much these days. In the art world I have always liked the work of Gilbert and George and Andy Warhol. Musically, there’s not too much of interest these days that is contemporary, apart from the people I am working with. I listen to the same things as I was listening to as a kid. I still go out and buy new records though, but nine times out of ten it’s a complete waste of money. I will go out and buy something like the Aphex Twin [techno artist lauded in the British music press], which I thought was going to be something radically different and brilliant judging by all the reviews I had read, but it’s like the crap I was listening to in the early 70’s by Faust or something! It’s because there is such a void of anything of real value or interest that these things are pushed in the press to be of some kind of value, but they’re not!
The only people of value I think are myself, Boyd Rice, John Balance, David Tibet, Steve Stapleton and Tony Wakeford. It sounds egotistical, but I think it’s true. Outside of the Pet Shop Boys, of course, who I think are total genius. Really, I’m not joking. My ambition is to work with them, and I will one day. It will be a killer of an album!
Q: YES, IT CERTAINLY WILL!
D: There’s a devil in the disco…
Q: HE’S GOT ALL THE BEST TUNES.
D: That’s right!
Q: YOU JUST RE-RELEASED THE “93 DEAD SUNWHEELS”. ARE YOU PLANNING ON RELEASING THE ENTIRE BACK-CATALOGUE?
D: Yes, it’s been a long process to get around to releasing the back-catalogue on CD, partly due to the fact that two of the most important albums, “Brown Book” and “The World That Summer”, were actually released on “The Corn Years” and “Cathedral of Tears”. However, the original versions of some of the songs on those albums aren’t available in that format. They will be released, later this year in their original form.
There is a whole series of re-issues being planned at present. This will include the six singles done by Death In June, on CD, sold together in a box. It will be a limited edition with the original sleeves done in a somewhat different way, and it will be the first time that some of the versions will be available for years. There is also a series of picture-disc versions of albums from the past, such as “Nada” and “The Guilty Have No Past”.
Interestingly enough not “The World That Summer” or “But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?”. The designs will be done by Enrico Chiarparin, an artist residing in Milan. He did the “Cathedral of Tears” picture disc and the inner sleeve for “But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?”. This will form a collection and is being done purely as a contribution to the world of art or culture. I see that groups like myself and Current 93 do have a place within European art or culture, which I actually think are important, no matter how sarcastic one can get about such things.
The CD re-issues, by the way, will be sold at a cheaper price. Whether or not the shops will sell them at these cheaper prices is another question though. I’m disgusted by some of the prices I see.
Q: AND THE RECORDS THAT ARE THE MOST EXPENSIVE ARE VERY OFTEN BOOTLEGS. WAS THAT THE REASON FOR RELEASING THE “DAY OF THE DAWN” BOOTLEG THROUGH WORLD SERPENT?
D: Last summer or the summer before, there was a German going around with a CD bootleg to some record shops in London. Rough Trade phoned up World Serpent and asked whether they knew about this. They said no and went down to have a listen to it. There has been a surfeit of bootlegs recently, all claiming to be official, so we had to put an end to this because it’s just a money making venture. So a new CD was cut from the old one and put on the market very quickly for four pounds. I don’t particularly like it, but it is an interesting historical document. I was away at the time and was informed later and I thought that how they had acted was correct.
Q: WILL YOU RE-RELEASE ANY MATERIAL BY CRISIS?
D: It could well be happening. There is a writer called Stewart Home, who has always loved the group and I said that if he would write a foreword to the CD, we would see what I thought of it. So he has written a very good foreword and it’s now up to Tony to decide whether it will be put out or not. Personally, I don’t have any particular feelings about the group. I have been saying no for years because I think that Crisis had quite a malevolent atmosphere about it.
There were a lot of problems involved with the group and it certainly freed us immensely when the group split up and Death In June formed. I think Death In June is a far better group and what has come out of it has also been far better. Fourteen years after the group split up and seventeen years after some of the things were recorded I think it’s now or never, otherwise it will just be too old and an embarrassment.
Listening to it now I think it can be interpreted in far different ways to what it was originally meant to be, something I find quite interesting. Musically it was intriguing. We were as interesting as any group at the time, people were comparing us to Wire and Magazine. Vocally it was always a bit of a let-down, though.
[Note: Tony Wakeford decided the next day not to re-release the material in question]
Q: YOU HAVE ALWAYS RECORDED FOR YOUR OWN LABEL. WHY IS THAT?
D: I just don’t think I’m the type who would try to sell myself. This is my way of articulating something that is true to myself, and to actually try and take something around and say “Please, like this!” would be totally against my character. It would be like having a baby and asking other people “Do you like my child?”. It doesn’t come into my frame of reference. I think that one of the things that came out of the punk rock scene that I was involved with, was that to be independent or true to yourself was really the way. It’s a myth that getting records out is something difficult, it’s actually a fairly easy business.
Q: WILL THERE BE A DEATH IN JUNE LYRIC BOOK?
D: The thing that is happening fairly shortly is a book that is being printed in Belgium in Anglo-French. It comes with an exclusive interview and about 80 lyrics translated into French as well as the original English ones. There will also be an exclusive set of photographs taken over the last three years.
As regards to the book on Death In June that was planned some years ago, it has been put on indefinite hold. There’s just too many other things to do.
[Note: The book “C’est un R?ve” will be available soon]
Q: YOU WERE ALSO PLANNING TO RELEASE A CD BY ANTON LAVEY.
D: Yes, that is now cancelled because I spend so much time abroad and also because he has taken so long in providing the necessary artwork to fulfil it, or even a title. I have the recordings, but I have had those for nearly three years. World Serpent will now take care of it. I spend so much time in Australia and am trying to establish my life there. Once things have got some sort of order, maybe that type of activity will return, but now all the releases on NER outside of Death In June have been cancelled. The most important thing for me at the moment is to establish my new life and see where this new phase is going.
Q: YOU PLAY LIVE VERY SELDOM. IS THAT BECAUSE YOU REGARD THIS AS A CONSTRICTED MEDIUM?
D: Death In June was never meant to be a gigging group and I feel that our best arena is the studio. However, it’s not necessarily true to say that we haven’t been playing live such a lot since recently, over the past two years, Death In June have been playing more than for five, six years. There has been three tours of Germany, one of Italy and a variety of dates in France and London. So that side has been more catered for.
I think it’s a different experience completely and I think it’s still a valid one. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Hopefully most of the time it does work. I don’t think people come along and expect what we sound like on record, because live we sound much stranger. It lacks the sophistication of the recording technique, but adds something in terms of its aura or the attempt at articulating something in a live arena. Sometimes that can be very successful, I have been physically and mentally moved by it as well as the audience has.
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE REACTION TO THE WORK OF DEATH IN JUNE?
D: I don’t know what the reaction is.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR REACTION THEN TO PEOPLE WHO JUST LOOK AT YOUR RECORD COVERS AND SAY “AHA! AN SS TOTENKOPF” AND DRAW ALL THE WRONG CONCLUSIONS FROM THAT?
D: I don’t know. It just doesn’t mean a thing to me. It’s irrelevant to my life. I do exactly what I want to do and how I want to do it. The opinions of other people just don’t enter into my universe.
Q: HAVE YOU EVER HAD ANY PLANS TO WORK IN ANOTHER MEDIUM THAN MUSIC?
D: Yes, photography. I already design every sleeve of Death In June and the photographs are mainly taken by myself.
Q: HAVE YOU CONSIDERED WORKING WITH SOUNDTRACKS?
D: Yes, I did some work on soundtracks years ago, but the films are not in my hands and to get them back would probably cost me a fortune. This is because at the time we were doing the soundtracks, we were nothing. So the people thought they got a good deal. But now they know that I exist, I am sure that they would ask for a lot of money, which I am not prepared to pay.
Q: BUT IT’S STILL AN ATTRACTIVE IDEA?
D:Yes. It’s something I might explore more in Australia, to do new things. It could well be where I might go, down the moneyed path of Graeme Revell! You will be interviewing me in Hollywood next! [laughs].
Easter 1994. Somewhere in London.
Thanks to Douglas P., il miglior fabbro.
Copyright (c) 1995 by Per Norstrom and Johan Birgander
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