Interview by Simone
This is a question I’ve been asking to quite a few bands in the last times: 20 years are passed! If you look back to the very beginning of Death In June, what are your feelings, do you have any regrets, is there something you’d like to change?
In the 20 years of Death In June’s existence the only true and deep regret I have is that I didn’t get Death In June, and of course the entire NER/Twilight Command catalogue, away from World Serpent Distribution sooner than I did in 1999. I was years too late and now I’m, and others with connections to NER/Twilight Command, paying a very high price. I failed to listen to my heart, which is rare for me. Nothing else I’d change.
Flowers are featured in many of your songs, especially roses. In almost every DIJ album we can find a song with roses in its title. What attracts you in flowers? Do you grow flowers in your Australian home?
I tend to agree with Jean Genet when he was asked a similar question. He said something along the lines that flowers were purely an artistic prop against which he could counter point his other more masculine concerns. Regardless, the main path in my Australian garden to my house is lined by roses – mainly white ones! The rest of the garden is mainly planted with Australian native plants which helps attract indiginous wildlife to my home like parrots and koalas etc. I’m very keen to maintain the purity of the area I moved into.
I think that until now no clear explanation about your artistic divorce with David Tibet has been given. What actually happened? Has it anything to do with the WSD matter?
In reality, the fact that both Tibet and I used to travel a lot and therefore were hardly ever in the same place at the same time drove a bit of a wedge between us. Of course, in my absence I’m sure the 3 piggies began to divide and rule and use the gaps to cement their control over some people as they realized they were losing it over others! I still think that Current 93 created some of the best music I’ve ever heard. “Imperium” and “Swastiks for Noddy” stand alongside works like The Velvet Underground’s first album, Scott Walker’s “Scott IV” and Love’s “Forever Changes”. Hopefully, nothing will ever happen that will make me change my opinions over that. Current 93 and Death In June existed before WSD came into being and will continue to exist after WSD cease to be. That should be certain.
How is it like to live in Australia? Do you feel better far from the madding crow, among a wilder environment? But don’t you miss our beloved Europe?
Yes, all those things you say about Australia are amongst the reasons why I find myself here but I never really feel far from Europe. Europa is a state of mind. A state of mind that maybe much Europe itself is losing?
What is your opinion about the speculation which affects Death In June’s works? Even “Operation Hummingbird” is now being sold for higher prices!
I have always tried to maintain reasonable prices for my work. Even when I was still on WSD and without informing me they put the price of all the NER catalogue up – I had a lot of arguments with them. Eventually, after some months they agreed to put mine down in price. However, I obviously can’t do that with every other unscrupulous and exploitative music dealer in the world. If people use the NER mail order service they would realize we’ve maintained low prices for years and years and what is avaible my label will sell. There is no logical reason for “Operation Hummingbrid” to be fetching high prices. Both the CD and LP are freely avaible. With vinyl delection from the ’80s and, who knows what else from the more recently “deleted” WSD material, I have no control over that collectors market, I’m not involved in it and I don’t get any money from it.
In the last times, it looks like that Death In June has become the favorite victim of a “politically correct” censorship campaign: concerts banned, accusatory articles….don’t you think that maybe it would be better for you to publish some kind of a public statement, explaining your reasons and aims, like for example Ostara did, in order to clarify this matter once and for all?
What Ostara do is their business, but I don’t think making that statement has helped them in any way: it appeases those who cannot be appeased. I have no intention of pondering to such people/organisations. Once they think they’ve got you down they will never, ever let you get up. If anyone should be making apologetic statements about their actions it should be those who demand them. They are liars and hypocrits.
During the years, you’ve constantly been looking for some partners to play with in DIJ. You also said that “Operation Hummingbird” was recorded very quickly, and you wrote the lyrics while Albin was mixing. Don’t you think that maybe you lacked a bit of preparation and reflection, compared, for example, with a work like “Rose Clouds of Holocaust”, which took several years to be ultimated?
I don’t believe I have been “constantly looking for some partners” to play with in Death In June. My coupling with Albin Julius took place after some years of knowing about him and even after some time after meeting him in München, Yule 1996. It was more of an organic relationship that naturally grew and not something I, nor Albin, were desperately carving to find. Fortunately, it worked out well and I think half of the reason why it did was because the partnership was decided upon by destiny or good fortune. Preparation met opportunity and perhaps that is the reason why we managed to do much in such a little time. We had to seize those moments before they disappeared. Both of us have had a huge amount of unused “material” in its many forms from which to drawn upon. Linking up together was the necessary spark to ignite it. I had bags of words I’ve never used but, which had obviously been waiting for the night catalyst to declare themselves ready for use. I write bits and pieces all the time and not all of it made sense at that moment of writing so, they become “filded”. It was those files, that have been filled for years, that I drew upon. The “preparation and reflection” had already been done. The words I worte for “Take Care and Control” and “Operation Hummingbird” I’m very proud of.
What do you think of the homosexual community? And particularly in Australia?
That question is sort of like asking someone about the heterosexual community in the world. How can something so varied and diverse betalked about outside the confines of a book or a thesis on the matter? There are so many aspects to “the scene” that is of no relevance to me and that disinterests me or bores me that I have no real affiliation to what “most people” might stereotipically imagine that “community” to be. However, I find my level and/or my level finds me.
Do you think that people listening to your music really understand its real meaning, do you care if they try to go deep into the lyrics, and, moreover, do you just write songs for yourself or for your audience?
I don’t feel any one person, and that includes myself, has the right to assume they understand my work better than others. That verges on pseudo-elitism that can be burst like a bubble. Whilst I know what initially makes me write something, and I have always composed for myself, I have often been illuminated by others interpretations of my work which have been made me wonder whether or not that was, in fact, what I was uncounsciously trying to say. I have also been extremely disappointed, however!
I’ve always been fascinated with the use of camouflage uniforms and masks DIJ uses, you’ve created an unique image, perhaps the band’s strongest trademark. Where did the idea originally come?
From the beginning DIJ always despised the usual “rock” photography so much so, in fact, that Patrick Leagals refused to be in the first photos of the original line-up. We didn’t feel DIJ were part of that and our early performances were either in total darkness with strobe lights facing into the audience or with our backs turned towards them as featured in the “Nada!” cover. We then started to experiment with masks of different sorts but it wasn’t until I was in Venice in November, 1991, that I found this particular one which seemed to declare itself fit for duty. So,…..the rest is history.
Lately, DIJ’s audience has considerably increased in number, I’ve met quite a lot of youngsters listening to your music, dressed with German military uniforms, carrying runes and it seems that they appreciate you as some kind of an “alternative rockstar”. Do you have particular feelings towards this?
Yes, all of those things and more. I respect the various life forces.
Connected to the previous question, it looks like that the use of Runes some bands like DIJ introduced in the last decades spawnes a curious fashion, in which those ancient and magic symbols are used as any other logo or the like may be. Don’t you think this has deprived them of their real meaning?
I think that you have to be very careful what you say about such things as the Runes because the best kept secret have the best kept magick. I am in the service of their resurrection.
Could you briefly introduce me to your latest work, “All Pigs Must Die”? I’m particulary curious about the collaboration with Forseti. Where did it all begin?
“All Pigs Must Die” is a cleaning, an act of revenge and contempt. It has a specific goal and that goal must be achieved. Death In June cannot proceed any further without that. The wonderful collaboration with Andreas Ritter from Forseti came about after the group had supported DIJ several times and my ever-increasing love of their work. Whilst backstage at the ill-fated Kassel concert I asked Andreas to play along to a new song I’d written (“The Enemy Within”) and the rapport seemed to be so instantantious that my mind started working overtime. Andreas was perfect for the “schlager folk” song of the album I was going to write.
Which are your favourite food and drink?
I’m a vegetarian but will eat seafood and my favorite drinks are sparkling mineral, dry white wine and Jim Beam Black Boarloom.
Last good movie you saw?
It’s been so long I can’t remember. Maybe “Dead Man” with Johnny Depp?
Last good book you read?
Peter Brown’s “The Love You Make” which is an insiders view of what it was like to work for and with The Beatles. It’s officially deleted but a friend recently lent me a copy and then I was given one for my last birthday. I’d been searching for nearly 20 years for it and then it suddendly appeared. It shows what a nightmare that existence so often was and how odd they truly were. Great!
Did you have any nickname at school?
No, those kind of things didn’t really exist at the kind of school I went to. The teachers found it hard enough to remember my real name. At senior school (High School . U.S.A.) I was the athletic champion for the first 3 years, later head of my house, always represented my school at both athletics and football and even went on to trials for my country, England. Yet whenever I was presented with awards the headmaster always announced “David Pearce”, not Douglas! I used to cringe with embarrassment when that happened and it would confuse my father no end!!
Do you have a favourite band?
No, not really.
What happened to Joy of Life? Will their works be ever reissued?
In the early 1990’s their 2 albums were reissued on CD by a German company (ndlr Hyperium). Unfortunately, I lost contact with them but, to the best of my knowledge, they disbanned a long time ago.
Here is a personal question my dear friend Ann wanted absolutely to ask you : she works for animals’ rights and was a little bit disappointed with the pictures of the dead horses’ heads inside the “discRIMINATE” booklet. She wanted to know what is the meaning behing the picture.
First of all, I’m totally against cruelty to animals. Some years agoI even got into a very serious fight with a man who was shooting birds on the roof of my house in England. As I nearly killed him the police were called and the situation became very difficult. Fortunately, the police were very sympathetic towards me so the matter was dropped. The horses heads were bought from a horse butcher in Brussels, Belgium, and had already met their fate. My purpose with them in the photo shoot, which took place in a wood just outside of Brussels, was to turn them into the most powerful of wands – the Nyding stick. In ancient times a village, a community, a warrior would slaughter a horse and create this magick weapon when they really “needed” something to happen. Horses were worshipped and a sign of wealth and luck so this was undertaken only with the greatest reluctance and respect. I, too, was in a position where I really “needed” something to happen so this ritual comnenced. I feel that during this ritual the horses regained their dignity and power. They almost came alive again and no longer were they just dead meat. Even the photographer and his assistant acknowledged this and they had initially been so disturbed by the scenario that they had refused to help me set up the shots! Eventually, they even had their photos taken with them. That Nyding stick is also where the children’s toy “hobby horse” comes from. Time distorted the most powerful magick weapon into the most banal of children’s play things! History seems to forever reinvent itself.
© Death In June & Heimdallr webzine , July 2001