in all these years since you began with DIJ, the years of provocating, the playing with the fire which has been the hardest experiences and which the finest?
Without doubt the hardest time was when Patrick Leagas decided to leave the group in April,1985 after the release of “NADA!” and after many successful shows throughout Europe and with more lined up. I had to think very quickly on my feet as to where Death In June would go from there – if anywhere!
And, equally without doubt, despite some tough struggles, the finest time for Death In June has been all of the time since April, 1985. My path has been forever lined by drummers and the scent of Leopard Flowers and long may that continue.
have you ever got it straight that especially in germany it would be very difficult to get a “clear” name? and have you exactly for this reason sometimes intentionally used WW2 symbols ore words
The only time I have deliberately set a trap for the conceited and self-righteous was with the release of the “Brown Book” album in 1987. I knew there would be a knee jerk reaction to that album title and the way I presented the song. And, of course they charged at it like blind bulls to a red rag – on the other side of the arena!
As I don’t believe I have anything to “clear” from my name I don’t think that in realistic terms I have anything to “clear” from my name. I think the finger should be firmly pointed back at the accusers that have recently pulled the wool over the German government’s eye during a very dangerous period in World history regarding Governmental censorship etc..
the consequences of this reputation are hard and the problem is, that especially in germany there are many people who don’t WANT to believe you when you said that you’re not a fascistic thinking person. how do you deal with that now?
The same way as I’ve always dealt with people like that – ignore them. If I stopped at every gate where a dog barked at me I would never get to where I’m going. What people want to believe is their choice. I know what I believe in. And, that is all that counts.
All that counts, of course, until some German, somewhere, no doubt masturbating whilst reading this article at the thrill having caused such a big splash in such a small pond, has had the luck to have had some sort of influence over a government body that has chosen to take note of their particular fantasy.
how did you get on with DIJ fans
This is like asking how long is a piece of string!
Death In June in its 25 year history has sold about 500,000 records/CDs/DVDs etc which is a extraordinary amount for an independent group that rarely advertises or uses the other traditional hypes in the media that are associated with the music business. Out of that pontential amount of “fans” I probably know fewer than 20 of them in the World that I would regard as close or actual friends. None of those, as far as I know, have any respect for the more traditional forms of politics although I must say that we don’t have an over-riding preoccupation with discussing any formal political topics. They, like me, no doubt find that boring and not relevant to the real World and it’s present troubles.
I don’t know anyone that would describe themselves as a “Nazi” or “left-winger” and if I am hated by both the extremes of the so-called “left” and “right” then I’m amongst good company such as other artists like Rainer Fassbinder and Pier Paolo Pasolini.
If my “fans” don’t understand me then why should they be considered “fans” that I should have an opinion about?
And, how would I know about any one particular person’s misconceptions? Most of the “fans” I’ve met casually around the World at performances or via other forms of communication seem very informed, sensitive, reasonable, intelligent individuals and I use that word “individual” advisedly.
have you ever had an idea you didn’t realise because you thought that this would be too hard even if it is art?
When I was in Croatia during the war in 1992 I had photos of Serbian war atrocities committed not far from the Croat capital Zagreb and I once thought of the idea of publishing as an LP/CD sleeve photos of these bodies of Croats that Chetnick Serbs had committed barbaric acts of savagery to before murdering them. But, I decided against that and instead used photos of wounded inside a hospital on the cover of the “Something Is Coming” album.
This was really out of respect and honour to those who had died and any surviving family and friends. Those photos were too disgusting, too degrading, too everything bad and subhuman! Instead I sent them to the then British Foreign Minister Sir Douglas Hurd to show him what really was going on in that part of modern Europe. He wrote a letter back to me basically saying that it was none of Britain’s business to get involved in this bloodbath and that I should keep my nose out of these affairs.That was a bit unsettling but it couldn’t stop me from donating medical aid worth over 20,000 GBPs of my own money to the Bolnicki Klinicki hospital in Croatia which helped soldiers and civilians, Croat and Serb alike. I went there many times during the conflict to make sure the medical equipment was safely getting through to the hospital and checked that everyone was being treated fairly there. Although the Serb patients were kept understandably in another area of the hospital, their families were allowed to be with them and they were looked after well.
However, even that act has been distorted by the same kind of people who are attempting to ban the works of DIJ by saying that the money went to a hospital run by a Croatian organisation that committed war crimes! That truly is a very sad and despicable lie and makes their ’cause’ appear a truly evil and hollow one.
are there anything news regarding the censorship of the “rose clouds” album?
The only thing I’m aware of is that it has been recently withdrawn from catagory ‘B’ and is now in catagory ‘A’ which evidently is a better form of censorship although I’m not sure why. Perhaps this is because the appeal decision for “Rose Clouds Of Holocaust” to be taken off the index is still ongoing?
what in your opinion/words is Neo Folk music? what’s behind that, what’s the definition of it?
I don’t know – I didn’t think of the term but I evidently was largely responsible for it!
The journalists or record shop owners that thought of the genre so it would help better explain what they were trying to review or sell are the best people to ask about that. I’m sure I first saw it used in the WOM record store in Hamburg in December, 1992 when I was shopping there. I also started seeing the terms ‘Apocalyptic Folk’/’Industrial Folk’ at about the same time in magazines and other shops. It certainly came after the release of DIJ’S “But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?” earlier that year.
how did you come to Neo Folk? Why do you sometimes prefer this kind of music and produce it?
The journey of how I came to what you describe as “Neo Folk” is full of little events and coincidences but started with the recording of the first Death In June album “The Guilty Have No Pride” in 1983 which has recently been reissued.
To take the group away from the more standard post-punk sound that we might have been caught up in I insisted that Tony Wakeford and I use acoustic bass and guitars for some songs so we hired those for the recording sessions. Shortly after that my Framus Nashville electric guitar, which I Loved, was stolen from the studios and due to touring and more recording committments I had to buy a replacement guitar quickly. This was a semi acoustic electric guitar and was featured on the “Burial” album, the follow up to “The Guilty..” which should also soon be reissued.
However, I really disliked playing that particular guitar and was now frustrated with the sound of electric guitars anyway. At about that time I was also listening a lot to the Charles Manson’s Family album that somehow came into my possession and a tape of Love’s “Forever Changes”. I was really impressed at the way both Charles Manson and Arthur Lee juxtaposed beautiful and simple melodies using an acoustic guitar with, on the surface, very ugly and hard hitting lyrics. Given that I had also been long obsessed with the Spaghetti Western soundtracks that Ennio Morriconne had recorded I decided that my next guitar would be an acoustic one so I traded in my hated electric semi acoustic and bought my first Washburn 6 string acoustic. And, I’ve been in love with those guitars and that kind of approach and sound ever since!
why do you use topics like mythology, Europe, traditions, pagan etc. in your music? Why do these topics attract you?
From a very early age I’ve always been attracted to such topics but I think it really became fine tuned when I stayed with Current 93’s David Tibet from July – September 1986 in a large old Victorian house in London called ‘Enclave X’ which was shared with about 8 other people all of whom were involved in the occult in one way or another. It was a very real period of very real Magickal initiation and at one point I seriously considered I was going insane. But, I survived those strange days but the impression they made on me will never leave me.
what do you think are the reasons for wearing uniforms a lot or even the military style in Neofolk?
For me it’s a recognition of Tristesse, Tragedy, Spiritualty, Sacrifice, Love, History and Honour all wrapped up into one and trying to make sense of that within the context of a modern day existence.
do you think, you’re an idol towards the people, who listen to your music?
I don’t think about notions like that.
in your opinion, should provocative music or topics be explained or justified?
Whenever I read or hear any artist who over explains or justifies any work I immediately lose interest. It becomes earthbound; a monkey dragging its knuckles along the ground. I head in the opposite direction!
should musicians take responsibility for the contents in their music?
Who else would take responsibility for its contents?
do you see yourself as a root of present Neo Folk music? What do you think about the development in the whole scene since you started?
I know some people claim that the first real “Neo Folk” album was Death In June’s “But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?” recording in 1992. However, for me I think what you call “Neo Folk” was started by David Tibet of Current 93 and myself when we lived together in the basement of ‘Enclave X’ in the Summer of 1986 and I was writing the Death In June “Brown Book” album and Tibet and I were co-writing Current 93’s “Swastikas For Noddy” album which was going to be a huge musical change for his group.
Regardless of when exactly this musical genre was born most of the roots seem to perpetually point back to me so I have to accept responsibilty. I am the guilty party!
I’m pleased to say, however, that I like a lot of what I’ve heard over the years from other groups associated with this genre. Groups such as Strength Through Joy and Beastianity from Australia, Blood Axis and Luftwaffe from America, :Of The Wand And The Moon: from Denmark and Forseti, Dies Natalis, In My Rosary, Darkwood, Werkraum and more have had as much effect on me as when I first heard or saw The Beatles, The Velvet Underground, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Joy Division and A Certain Ratio.
These have all had important musical. artistic and cultural moments for me and when I read somewhere some years ago a logo that claimed “Neo Folk Will Save The World” I knew exactly what that meant. It has certainly enriched my Life.
will there be another new DIJ album? have you planned anything, are songs composed?
There are indeed a handful of new songs being worked on at this moment in time. As always I have a lot of lyrics but no fixed place for them in any particular song. But, gradually some shapes are beginning to form.
will you continue your musical way or will there be some kind of cut and your next album is completely honest?
How any one particular album ever eventually sounds is dictated by how the recordings decide to dictate themselves. I’ve never really known what the outcome would be until the process begins in the studio. And, all of my albums are Honest. Always!
But, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson I say to some people reading this article;
“The Truth? You can’t handle the Truth!”
what are the backgrounds to the rarities collection and the re-release of the “guilty…” album?
For some time I had been approached by fans wanting to get hold of this, that or the other different track that had been featured over the years on a long deleted compilation album, or a tour single, or a promotional release etc so the basic idea of compiling those particular songs for the “Abandon Tracks” album came from that. However, I also thought it was an appropriate time to clean up history so I decided to add some unreleased material that had been hanging around for a while with no place to go and remixed/recorded material that more accurately expressed particular songs that I had written and where I stood with them now.
“The Guilty Have No Pride” CD/DVD is one more part of my overall resurrection of the main titles of the Death In June catalogue since my well publicised split with the now defunct world serpent distribution in December 1999. It was DIJ’s first album and has been long deleted and its reissue presented me with the opportunity to also combine it with the first ever video recording done of the group. This particular show was, I think, only our 3rd ever so does represent, as it turned out, a very important moment in musical history. My main memory of that show was that most of the people there, and there were no more than 40-50 stood around the bar area not sure of what to make of Death In June and the camera man who worked for Rough Trade at the time but later went onto work for the BBC was using a very early video camera which meant he had a massive battery to power it the size of a rucksack on his back. He looked like one of the spacemen on the moon has he walked up and down the front of the stage getting shots: “One small step for man, One huge step for Death In June!”
the vinyl editions of your releases have very nice special editions with varicoloured LPs and are partly very extensive real treasures for collectors. why you take care for that, why you think this is important?
From the very first release of “Heaven Street” 12″ in 1981 where the sleeve was so expensive we knew we would never make any money from it the presentation of all of Death In June’s work has been a very important part of the approach and overall statement. This is music and art of a very high calibre that other’s can only try to mimic.
you dont’t wanna go on tour anymore… why exactly you decided that?
Over 25 years Death In June has performed in over 25 countries as far North as Iceland, as far South as Australia and New Zealand, as far East as Japan and Russia and as far West as America. Central to it all has been Europa. For many years I’ve spent an average of 3-4 months each year devoting time to this activity which has resulted in other aspects of Death In June such as video production, internet activities, various book publications, film work as regards both acting in and contributing to film soundtracks, and, of course, writing a brand Death In June new album in taking a back seat. As I get older that can no longer be the case. I will be 50 at the end of April,2006 and I’ve had a brilliant and interesting Life and Career but overall time is running out.
As we embarked on the last tour in March/April/May 2005 I knew that it would be the final one. Thankfully all the shows were great in one way or another and kept the feeling that this was as good a time as any to say “Goodbye!”
I’ll miss seeing some of my friends around the World as often as I used to and will certainly miss travel and hotel accomodation being paid for by promoters but realistically nothing else.
how you for yourself define your own musical development in/with DIJ?
how far you see TODAY DIJ in a row with C93 and Sol Invictus?
There is no row between me and Sol Invictus.
David Tibet of Current 93 betrayed me during the litigation with world serpent distribution which had a successful outcome for me in late 2002. I will never forgive him for such disgusting and uncalled for treachery and so current 93 and my association with him is now in the dustbin of history where it belongs.
The past has been tidied and will continue to be kept as clean as possible.
Heilige! Douglas P. 24.IV.06.