Interview with Death In June / Douglas P. (Aldo Chimenti for Herz Und Geist)
1.The Rule Of Thirds came out after about 7 years from All Pigs Must Die and 3 years from Alarm Agents. When did you know that it was the right time for a new Death In June album?
Words and music kept going through my mind and declaring themselves so I had to take notice. I knew the Muse was gradually stirring after the last World tour in 2005 and it was only a question of time before it descended and became hard to control and it starts to devour you from within unless you set it free. Every album is born like that. It becomes too nauseating to ignore and that sickness continues until its finally released.
2.The title refers to some ties you have with the number 3. Which kind of symbolic meanings does it represent to you?
For a start, its a photographic term that has been very useful to me throughout all the years Ive been involved with photography and, more especially, the organising of Death In June photo shoots. However, it was a term that began to haunt me and I started to examine why. It soon dawned on me that it had many permutations; Ive always lived in a household with a 3 somehow involved in it. Im involved in a 3 way partnership between myself, my partner and our lover/best friend. We live on the 3rd planet from the Sun. The Holy/Satanic Trinity. We have heard the opening shots of the 3rd World War even though it hasnt been officially declared yet. However, I think that 9/11, the invasions of Afghanistan & Iraq, one justified, one not, and the Madrid train bombings and 7/7 bombings in London in 2005 are about as good a declaration as any. The list of 3rds could go on and on and Im sure many people will have their own interpretations upon the title.
3.The new songs reveal a different spleen, something like minimal dances on a desert of fulfilling loneliness. Which kind of emotional dimensions did you intend to reach with this work of pure acoustic essence?
I dont ever intend to reach anything definite when I start writing and recording. That which is indefinable cannot be so defined with any sense of purpose it just has to be and declare itself. In many ways Im a tool in that process an aerial which starts receiving. But, the overriding thoughts during this period were that I did not want to repeat myself as so many other groups now sound like classic Death In June I didnt want to become my own cliché. And, thoughts of my own mortality! For the past 3 years Ive been very aware that Death itself is very interested in me. I know its had its fun with me in the past and has been in my Life from a very early age but now I realise that He is more than eager to meet me in person. Its a horrible feeling and ultimate illumination that, where once I felt invisible and invincible, I know that those days are coming to an end.
4.The spoken words samples added to the songs are maybe taken from movies or documentary?
Theyre taken from a collection of videos of films and documentaries that I hadnt watched in about 9 years which Id recorded between my flat in London and my house in the Adelaide Hills. Ive been so busy in the past decade that there hadnt been much time to watch videos that Id record overnight etc. I simply forgot about them but continued to keep recording more things of possible interest which are normally shown when Im asleep. Finally, when it came to the time where I felt I should add a little something to the very naked nature of The Rule Of Thirds I took a week off from everything else and waded through this pile of videos and DVDs that surround my TV set in Australia. It became a sort of form of cut-upas I stopped and started them in different places to see what was on the tapes as I hadnt even marked most of them. Besides featuring samples in Italian, French, German and English they also feature the voices of very close friends of mine that were coincidentally featured on TV documentaries.
5. Many tracks, with regard to songs like Truly Be, My Rhine Atrocity and Takeyya, reflect a new form of psych gospel-blues. Did you find inspiration from any favourite songwriter from the past?
No, not at all. And, I hate most gospel and blues! YUK!! This album really was me listening very closely to myself and consciously fine tuning my strengths such as my lyrics and trying hard not to sound like me being imitated by someone else trying to sound like me! It was a peculiar situation to find myself in after over 20 years. It was a challenge. An interesting one. And, a necessary one.
6.About the lyrics you said that they are dreams and/or true stories connected to Death. Which is your sentiment for this aspect of Life?
I have nothing smug or comforting to say about this inevitable outcome to Life. There are days I find very difficult to handle regarding my own personal finality which will be sooner rather than later. Its an unpleasantness for my beloved ones and a definite uncertainty for Myself that awaits. The males in the Pearce family normally die in their 50s. Im now 52. Genetically speaking Im living on borrowed time.
I think Death came to visit me on several times in day to day Life in which Ive been in several bad car crashes during the past few years the last only a few weeks ago, when I was lucky to walk away unscathed as it completely wrecked my old trusty VW Beetle. All I got was a bruised foot!. Ive driven for years all over the World but have never had a crash until recently and so far Ive been very lucky and remained uninjured. In Dreams but, also in the twilight of Life that exists between being awake and being asleep Death also visits. And, He doesnt come alone. He comes with others that lurk in the shadows and they seem to be in judgement of you. It isnt good and I think I was very lucky on one occasion that an Angel came and woke me with his claws before it was too late. It was odd to see the scratch marks down my right thigh when I finally became fully conscious and, of course it was probably my own hand that had scratched me whilst asleep but, in the twilight of that event it was an Angel and I can still see his face. He was beautifully in fear for me. Wyrd!
7.The photographic session for TROT is very curious with this odd skeletal man on the cover .
Yes, my partner Morris, who has taken the majority of Death In June promotional photos for the past decade, and I decided to drive South of Fort Nada where we live in South Australia as we had heard of an interesting art installation consisting of wood-like men that had been placed in the vineyards down there. After driving 4 hours we suddenly passed some of them on the side of the road. It was getting towards dusk in the middle of last Winter and in that fading light these almost 3 metre high figures there were 6 different ones in total – made for a really imposing sight and a perfect photographic opportunity. Their appeal was immediately European. Immediately Pagan. They called to me instinctively and the emptiness and sparseness of these Vinemen fitted the imagery of The Rule Of Thirds perfectly. Symbolically they were correct! Even the logo of the Winery whose vineyard they were in was a large Wolfshook like Z!! We were meant to be there. We took more photos the following day at dawn to capture the bleak golden light of Winter and talked to the Winery about buying 2 of the Vinemen. Some weeks later the Norwegian/Australian artist who made them purely from the vines of the vineyard sold 2 to us and they are now in the garden of Fort Nada. Everything worked out really well for that photo shoot. It was a perfect coming together of ideas about The Rule Of Thirds. It was the completion of the album.
8.In the past years you have been involved in several projects; among them the DVDs Live In New York and Behind The Mask and your collaborations with Thomas Nöla for his movie The Doctor. What do these experiences mean to you?
The opportunity to do those videos arose because I was spending so much time in America but whilst Im happy with the outcome of those 2 in some way I regret doing those videos because they were not completely under my control. There is something unfulfilling about that even though I like both of them and both fulfil a different aspect of Death In June. That was a different feeling for me and Death In June. Doing the soundtrack and some stills photos to The Doctor film was really enjoyable and I think that Thomas Nola is a real talent and I really love his recording and film work. Overall, there will be more forays into the video World as there is a large archive of Death In June material that should see the light of day but it is a very big job that will take me a lot of time to do.
9.Alarm Agents, Abandon Tracks and Free Tibet: Can you talk about these 3 very different works you did in the last 3 / 4 years?
Alarm Agents was Boyd and I saying Goodbye to the World in the best way we could, Abandon Tracks was me tidying up my Past and Free Tibet was me symbolically and Magickally lifting a curse and exorcising an element of my Past.
10.The Phoenix Has Risen features rehearsal studio recordings of early DIJ period. When and where did you discover the existence of this old material?
The person who ran NEROZ, the Australian New European Recordings label/distributor had found this original bootleg recording on the internet in 2004. Most of the pressing was bought up by him and Death In June managed to get a good % of the sales that followed. I certainly had never heard this recording before and I can only guess where it originally came from but it was a surprise discovery. Strangely, it seemed a discovery that annoyed a few business people as well which always bemused me. When NERUS formed in America early 2006 it became an official release and all the former members of Death In June now receive regular royalties from it as we should. .
11.The new American label Nerus took over from Neroz because of some problems with the man who ran the Australian branch. What did happen?
Basically the man behind the day to day running of NEROZ ran out of energy and was exhausted by a number of personal problems in his life and dealing with difficult distributors such as my former one tesco. I was bored by the endless complaining from tesco to me about him and I was bored by the endless complaining by NEROZ about tesco. They did not work well together! So, in late 2005, after 7 successful years, it was decided to close the operation entirely and I shifted every title over to America where NERUS was born. However, this year NEROZ II was launched.
12.How do you remember your final concert in Brest?
With great affection! We performed 2 shows which now blur into one. The first was in an old Napoleonic Fort overlooking the Atlantic and which had been used as a German bunker in WWII. It was difficult to reach as you had to walk through fields and overgrowth but there was a BBQ and food at the entrance with incense sticks and flaming torches to welcome people and illuminating the bunker itself. I climbed up over the walls of the Bunker and through the 60 years of undergrowth that in turn covered them and had fantastically beautiful views out over the English Channel but, you could also easily imagine the U-boats leaving their pens in Brest to cause havoc and death in the Atlantic. There were massive U-boat pens in Brest that were never destroyed despite heavy bombing by the RAF and USAF. The second performance was the next day in a very nice large community centre that for some reason was condemned to be demolished soon after our show there. There was again local Brittainy cuisine provided to the audience, which I thought was a nice touch and the support groups were the great Ominicore and the excellent Derniere Volunte. Overall it was a very good, exciting night and going by the video footage Ive seen, Death In June performed a great farewell . Perhaps one of these days that will be released on DVD?
13.After the amazing XX anniversary stone-boxes of The World That Summer and Brown Book will you do any other similar issues? Why did you reserve such special editions to these records?
Simply because they occupy such an important place in the history of Death In June and fully deserve such splendid commemorative editions after 20 years of existence. There are plans to issue a special edition of the best of But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter? and Rose Clouds Of Holocaust appropriately named Symbols & Clouds and I am presently working on the artwork and ideas for that. Due to the legal problems associated with being formally distributed by a German company these 2 major titles have been deleted for over 3 years after only be back in circulation again for about 2 years since the end of litigation with world serpent which is a ridiculous situation to be in! However, that situation will, I trust, be rectified by Yule 2008. It wont commemorate any particular anniversary but it will celebrate these 2 classic albums being released again.
14.Can you please inform us about your recent collaboration with the bands Alkaline Trio and Down In June?
I first came into contact with Alkaline Trio a couple of years ago when they played in Australia. I had heard from Boyd Rice that Matt Skiba the lead singer was a great fan of Death In June and wanted to meet me so I attended one of their shows. We got on very well and I liked what they do. Anyway, some months ago Matt asked if Id do some spoken vocals to a song they were recording for their new album which I did and it should be on the album released in July. The songs called I Found Away and I trust its really successful for them. Its very catchy.
In 2007 I heard rumours about a Swedish group that did really good versions of Death In June songs and put them out on the internet. I didnt really think too much about that as Ive heard so many bad versions of DIJ songs that I could hardly find any more enthusiasm about cover versions. However, this group calling themselves Down In June got directly in contact with me soon after the internet rumours and sent me a CDr of some versions of Death In June songs. Much to my surprise they were amazing!! It was soon agreed that if they could do a full length albums worth of material as good as this then I would be interested in releasing it via NERUS in America. This is happening and I trust will be out this June. Ive designed the cover and its called Down In June Covers Death In June. I think it should confuse and please a lot of people.
15.The live album Black Angel Live! has been released on Neroz II at the same time of TROT. Why this issue?
I was sent the tape of the show recorded in 2000 whilst I was waiting for the release of TROT earlier this year, 2008. I was surprised at the quality and power of the performance which was one of the very first stripped back acoustic shows that I decided to do at the turn of this Century. In fact, I think it was the 2nd, the first being in Athens, Greece in 1999. A quick decision was made and it was decided to release it via a revitalised / resurrected NEROZ II. Everything happened very quickly and I soon found myself flying down to Melbourne to sign the first pressing of 2,000 copies which all sold out within a few days of actual release. There are now plans to release it as a Picture Disc LP with perhaps some other material of another live performance in Melbourne in 2001 of the All Pigs Must Die album. However, Im still waiting to hear what that material sounds like.
16.Talking about TROT again, may I ask in which mood did you embark on this solo experience and which are your expectations?
My mood was one of Must, Can and Will with no conscious thought to expectations.