DOUGLAS P. INTERVIEW Written with Jacopo Pagin, special thanks to Silvia Viola Pergameno.
DOUGLAS PIERCE HAS CARRIED ON HIS SHOULDERS THE BURDEN OF BEING DEATH IN JUNE. HE IS THE ONLY PERSONIFICATION OF THE BAND THAT CAN BE CONSIDERED ONE OF THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL AND MYTHICAL OF THE ENTIRE UNDERGROUND UNIVERSE.
HERE WE PUBLISH THE INTERVIEW THAT DOUGLAS P. GAVE US AT THE END OF THE LONG TOUR THAT HAD CELEBRATED THREE DECADES OF ACTIVITY ON THE PROJECT. THE COMPLEX SYMBOLIC REFERENCES ON WHICH THE MUSIC IS BUILT, THE IMAGES AND THE HISTORY OF DEATH IN JUNE DO NOT ALLOW US TO OUTLINE A SUITABLE AND EXHAUSTIVE PROFILE OF THIS LEGENDARY BAND, THEREFORE WE ABANDON THIS INTENT FROM THE START. THE WORDS OF DOUGLAS P. WILL SOLVE JUST PART OF YOUR PERPLEXITIES; BECAUSE ONLY THE TIME SPENT LISTENING CAN ALLOW ACCESS TO ANY MUSIC.
BUT WE WARN YOU: DEATH IN JUNE MUSIC IS FOR ALL AND NONE.
Photo courtesy of Douglas P.
WHAT DOES “SACRIFICE” MEAN FOR DEATH IN JUNE?
Everything! Death In June has always come first in my life and has demanded my utmost attention, love and care over the 32 years it has existed. That’s a major factor as to why Death In June has been successful and has had so much influence musically, culturally, tsartorially worldwide. And continues to! If people don’t have absolute faith in what they’re doing and aren’t willing to sacrifice everything in the name of that cause, they shouldn’t be doing it.
YOU’VE BEEN LIVING IN AUSTRALIA FOR A LONG TIME, BUT IN THE LAST YEAR AND A HALF YOU’VE BEEN TOURING THROUGHOUT EUROPE. HOW DID YOU FIND THE OLD CONTINENT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CRISIS? DO YOU STILL THINK THAT “SOMETHING IS COMING” OR THE DECAY OF CAPITALISM MAY HAVE STOLEN THE FUTURE OF YOUNGER GENERATIONS?
The decay of any monetary system cannot take away anything but money. For a culture to be worth anything unto itself and to be timeless, it has to exist within a realm of its own creation. Younger generations will only have stolen from them what they allow to be stolen from them, whether it be their ‘future’, their money, or their jobs. As far as I could see Europe is very much alive and kicking – in more ways than one.
Europe exists within the heart and soul of any native European as an individual and not in the treacherous and vampiric governments and banking systems of the continent.
“Something Is Coming” was a direct reference to the financial aid that that particular Death In June album gave to getting medical equipment to Croatia during the war there 20 years ago. I didn’t need any help or permission from national governments or banking institutions of any sort. Quite the contrary in fact, especially with regards to the British government! As a result of my own endeavours, the help of comrades and my belief in European solidarity in the face of barbarity, tens of thousands of $s were given at my own expense to buying medical equipment to help the severely wounded in Croatia.
That really was a crisis. And, if you stand your ground and have a clear vision, you overcome it. No matter what the odds against it are. That’s how I would feel now if I were a young European.
FOR YEARS YOU’VE BEEN SAYING THAT THERE WERE NOT GOING TO BE NEW DIJ SHOWS, BUT THEN YOU DECIDED TO GO ON THE ROAD AGAIN… DID YOU SOMEHOW FEEL THE NEED TO PLAY IN PUBLIC AGAIN, TO PERSONALLY BRING YOUR MESSAGE TO EUROPE OR WAS THERE SOMETHING ELSE THAT PROMPTED YOU TO DO SO? WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING TO DO AFTER THESE NEW SHOWS?
For a variety of reasons I decided to retire from the live arena in 2005 and had no thoughts about changing that decision until 2011. That year not only marked the 30th Anniversary of Death In June but had also provided me with a few other influential experiences. One of those was seeing Wire, one of my favourite groups from the Punk time, perform in Tasmania at an arts festival there, showcasing their then recently released album “Red Barked Tree”. Another was reading a book of interviews, compiled by Francois Jonquet, of the artists Gilbert & George, who I have long admired. I had bought this at the old III Reich Kunsthalle in Munich whilst I was holidaying in that city for my 55th birthday in April, 2011. On different levels, I found Wire and the book both inspirational and motivational. When offers started to come through for Death In June to perform live again, after 6 years of retirement, I decided to break the black ice on 29th September, 2011 and step back into the live arena and restart “spreading the word” so to speak.
It seemed the most natural thing to do and I’m pleased that I did, since I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at the results. The audiences have been incredible.
There are many plans for the future. Who knows what 2013 will bring? Maybe there will be visits to the Americas, Australasia and other places in Europa that have been neglected? The possibilities are endless.
Certainly the DVD/Double LP “Lives At The Edge Of The World” that has just come out via Steelworks in France, presents Death In June live in the most extensive way possible on one release. If Death In June never tours extensively in Europe again, that will provide a good document of how things were during the 21st Century.
HOW DID THE DIJ APPROACH TO MUSIC CHANGE, OR EVOLVE, IN THESE 32 YEARS, FROM “HEAVEN STREET” TO “PEACEFUL SNOW”? DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW RECORD YOU’RE WORKING ON?
DO YOU THINK THERE IS STILL A FERTILE TERRAIN FOR UNDERGROUND MUSIC? OR IS EVERYTHING NOW POTENTIALLY MAIN-STREAM IN THE AGE OF THE INTERNET?
Death In June’s musical progress and development has always been naturally occurring, evolving and de-evolving. It’s never really been pre-planned and has often surprised me as well as other people, at how the final outcome of any particular recording sounds.
I think that aspect has also helped keep DIJ interesting for all involved, from the band members to the audience to the record companies etc. Nothing is certain.
At present, I’m not consciously working on any new songs. However, an album of what the original demo recordings of the “Peaceful Snow” album started life as, should be released later in 2013. It’s called “The Snow Bunker Tapes” and I think it will surprise a few people. I’ve only ever deliberately ‘demoed’ songs for one album before and that was “The World That Summer” in 1985/86.
There’s never much time for feeling disillusioned about music, whether it be ‘underground’ or otherwise. I’m still very surprised by any new material I hear that captivates me.
New groups that I’ve come across since DIJ started performing live again are Spiritual Front from Italy, Vurgart from Germany and Arnica from Catalonia. Their songs and presentation are excellent and have moved me very much. Whilst I’m sure many of you are aware of Spiritual Front, I can assure you that the album ‘Numancia’ from Arnica, and the yet to be released recordings from Vurgart, are also totally and absolutely brilliant and should really impress any listetner.
I don’t think the age of the Internet has any say on music that is usually deemed ‘underground’, becoming potentially mainstream. The two don’t necessarily correlate.
DO YOU THINK THAT NOWADAYS THE SYMBOLS ARE SHATTERED OR ARE THERE STILL SOME ALIVE
IS THERE THE POSSIBILITY FOR US EUROPEANS TO RE-DISCOVER THE COMMON ROOTS OF OUR PEOPLE INSIDE HISTORY?
The symbols are still very much there for those who seek and are capable of seeing. It’s all there ready and waiting.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WISH FOR THE FUTURE (BOTH PERSONALLY AND COLLECTIVELY SPEAKING)?
The Gods have big ears and eyes and not only love to shatter symbols, so I’m keeping those plans to myself for the moment for fear of tempting providence.
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