Questions for Douglas Pearce from OpenSpace.ru:
1. What was the thought process behind your decision: to start DIJ’s jubilee tour here, in Russia, after six years of silence? What are your feelings about our country?
Offers to tour the World have constantly come in since my retirement from live performances in 2005 but 2011 marks the 30th Anniversary of the foundation of Death In June and it’s first release ‘Heaven Street’ and it’s first live performance.
‘6’ being the number of the month of June I thought these signs were good enough but when I received, almost at the same time, the offers to perform in Germany and Russia again I couldn’t resist the appropriate symbolism. ‘We Drive East’!
It had to be. My feelings about your country from my last visit in 2002 are Cold, Bleak and Beautiful.
2. In eighties DIJ was on the top of the wave: there was a kind of European cultural revival and there was a “British esoteric underground” movement. But it’s 2011 now, Coil are dead and other old heroes too (in some sense). You’re still on the road, out of time & out of context. Why?
I would never have thought Death In June, or any of the other associated groups thought of themselves as being on top of a wave during the 1980s. It was certainly the time when we formed but those days were days of struggle to establish ourselves. However, we did know we were separate from most other musical forms. We knew we were all outsiders. Dead, or otherwise, that’s still the case. Death In June revels in being “out of time & out of context” – “Life Under Siege – Is Life Out Of Tune…” As regards being “still on the road”? You make me sound like Willy Nelson or Bob Dylan. I’m neither and I’m not.
3. What do you think about the international popularity of «Fields of Rape». There are hundreds of cover versions, I suppose – and some of them were recorded recently, in 2000-s. Isn’t that weird?
I’m totally unaware of the popularity of ‘Fields Of Rape’ As far as I’m aware the most popular Death In June songs for cover versions are ‘Runes And Men’, ‘Fall Apart’ and ‘Little Black Angel’. In fact, ‘Little Black Angel’ was recently even covered by Ladytron. I don’t think it got the reaction they wanted.
4. Sorry for that question, but what exactly happened between you and David Tibet? He was your friend and long-time collaborator (who wrote in 1992 a very beautiful «Song for Douglas After He’s Dead»). I remember that you were objected with Tiny Tim’s views on homosexuality and broke off all ties with Tibet around this point. Later you released «Free Tibet» with his vocals. And then you said in some recent interview that Tibet “cursed himself with his own words and actions” and “there’s no desire for your paths to ever cross again”.
It’s a very old question that is well past its used by date but as you seem so intrigued and slightly confused about the facts I’ll reiterate a few of them from my perspective.
I didn’t initiate the breaking of any ties with Tibet. When he put out some album by tiny tim he sent me a copy and I noticed my name was mentioned on it in a sort of “thanks to Douglas P. for this release….” type of way. This confused me as I had had nothing to do with its release in any way whatsoever. However, tibet was then in the habit of thanking any Tom, Dick or Harry he’d just met, plus the tea lady on any of his releases and it seemed rather unnecessary, if not a little insecure and creepy. It further angered me as when I either listened to it or read a recent interview with tiny tim there is a song or a verbal rant or something about AIDS being God’s punishment to Homosexuals as he considered being Gay a so-called sin. Considering so many of tibet’s friends and colleagues at the time like Geff and Sleazy of Coil and myself were gay I found this truly insulting, offensive and insensitive, not to say stupid for tibet to have anything to do with releasing anything by the reactionary nutcase tiny tim. I then asked tibet to take my name off of any further print runs of the album and expressed my displeasure at him associating me with this rubbish. And that was the end of matters as far as I was concerned. But, contradicting tibet at that time was never an easy thing. His ego had grown and grown and his own feeling of self importance actually took priority over any of his friends feelings. Or, at least, those who ‘dared’ stand up to the mighty tibet! Geff Rushton and I would sometimes speak late at night on the telephone as he would sometimes telephone me to say how upset he was with tibet for one reason or another. But, neither Geff or Sleazy would ever stand up to tibet in any real way probably because of their huge use of drugs and alcohol. They simply acquiesced. It was easier. However, that’s not my way. So, from about 1997 things were cool between us but totally soured in 2002 when I found out in legal documents that tibet had conspired against me with the directors of world serpent distribution who I was then in a big 2 year legal struggle with. Despite him telling me that he would keep out of this legal situation between my old distribution company which I had named and help form in 1991 he was lying and, in fact, actively working against me and trying to get others, such as Geff Rushton to also do so. I was totally shocked that someone who claims to be so spiritual should be so scheming and materialistic. To cut too a long story short I decided to exorcise some of his words on ‘Free Tibet’ and to attempt to free myself from his 2 – facedness, and his negativity, not to mention treachery. His words and deeds broke any ties we had.
5. Have you read Keenan’s “England’s Hidden Reverse”? It includes a little chapter about DIJ, some stories told by Tibet. What do you think about this chapter?
I’ve never seen it, let alone read it. It appeared from the very beginning a conceit exercise in narcissism by the groups involved and an attempt to write me/Death In June out of history. The small mention Death In June gets is probably a last minute little feeling of guilt on their behalf. The last I heard was that the groups were all ripped off by the author and never received a cent in publishing royalties. Just desserts, perhaps?
6. There are at least three books about Death In June (in French, English & Italian). You’re famous man in the underground world, you’re the “father of neofolk” (at this moment this movement looks very surreal). What do you feel about all that stuff?
The only thing I truly “feel” is that there will soon be German and French translations of the recent Italian book ‘Nascosto Tra Le Rune’ published and that Death In June is getting the recognition it deserves. The 30 years of existence is being rewarded.
7. «Peaceful Snow» is really powerful album. What does the title mean, is it “symbolical”?
They were words that came into my mind when I was sitting in a semi-reverie state of mind looking out of the office window at Fort Nada my property in Australia thinking about the consequences and destruction of late Winter 2009 and the possibilities of a new album. ‘Peaceful Snow’ simply descended.
8. A lot of people, including me, thought that “Death In June” originally was a reference to the “Night of the Long Knives” (and there was a DIJ album about that event, “Operation Hummingbird”). But in recent interviews you claimed that was you “mishearing something said in the Alaska recording studios in London in 1981”. What is true?
The truth is what I’ve been saying for the past 30 years not only in interviews you’ve recently read. I misheard something the drummer said during the recording of our first release the ‘Heaven Street’ 12” e.p. when we still didn’t have a group name. I said “Death In June – uh?” and as soon as I said that in the studio we all knew that would be the name of the group. You can post-rationalize all you want, as even we have, about the actual meaning of the group but it really came about due to an accident of hearing. Another very popular thought is that it refers to the assassination of the Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand in Sarejevo in June, 1914 that led to the First World War and inevitably the Russian Revolution in October, 1917 and so much more beyond that date. That murder was the true beginning of the 20th Century like the murders of 9/11 were the true beginning to the 21st Century. ‘Murder Made History’!
9. “Peaceful Snow”, in your own words, was a continuation of deconstruction of Death In June: there is nothing but voice & piano. It’s nothing to strip away now: so, is it a final record?
Who knows? ‘Peaceful Snow’ came as a total surprise to me so,…?
10. You are 55 now and “males in the Pearce family tend to die in their 50s”. What do you think about death now? Are you…prepared?
Unless you’re an Islamic suicide bomber is anyone ever prepared for such finality?
There is still much to be done. Whether or not I have the time to do all that I want remains to be seen.