Jan 29, 2011

Death in June: Behind the Mask

I can say with the utmost sincerity that my favorite musical outfit that is still in existence is the English neofolk group Death in June. I like different musical groups for a variety of reasons ranging from novelty to a deep emotional connection but Death in June is one of few groups whose entire aesthetic package I am completely enamored with. Although the Di6 has been around for over 30 years, the only remaining member of the group from their early days as a post-punk project is the charismatic and undeniably charming front man Douglas Pearce. In the 2006 documentary Behind the Mask Douglas P. gives his most revealing interview in regards to his personal life as well as the equally personal artistic influences behind Death in June. Due to Death in June's use of imagery associated with the Third Reich (on top of being of a shamelessly occidental cultural nature in general), the group has always been attacked (having shows picketed and canceled) by the kind of bourgeois white liberal types that read Mao Tse-tung whilst drinking decaffeinated pisswater at Starbucks which is hilariously ironic when you consider the early political backgrounds of the men behind Di6. Founding Death in June members Tony Wakeford and Douglas Pearce were originally in a punk group CRISIS which Pearce describes in Behind The Mask as a leftist Agit-prop project which had the conscious goal of being more extreme than the so called "New Left," a perverted political persuasion they felt was already too old and far from extreme. 

During the beginning of Behind the Mask Douglas P. cleverly bastardizes one of Friedrich Nietzsche's most famous quote to fit his own experiences with the witty remark, "Once you truly look into the abyss you get a bit of the giggles." Pearce then goes on to discuss how he grew up in a dysfunctional post-World War II working-class English family where both of his parents hated each other, no doubt a critical influence on his fairly introverted personality and staunch individualism. Despite his Father being an English World War II veteran, Douglas P. developed an early fetishistic obsession with the bold aesthetics of Nazi Germany. When Pearce's Father found out about his son's romantic longing for figuratively bedding the enemy he was unsurprisingly enraged.  Pearce even jokes in the documentary that he was a demon seed son sent to haunt his war torn Father. Douglas P. is not joking when he states during Behind the Mask in a matter of fact manner, "Every war has it's artistic consequences." Pearce's Father finally allowed his son to prove that he was being genuine in regards to his affection for Teutonic trinkets by allowing him to buy an unearthed German helmet, so long as little Doug promised to refurbish it to a like-new condition. After telling this anecdote in Behind the Mask, Douglas P. concludes the story with a "bit of the giggles" by mentioning that although he made his Father proud by fixing up his German helmet, he died soon thereafter. It is obvious in Behind the Mask that out of all his family, Pearce only had strong feelings for his Father whose death left an emotional void that even seems to be apparent in the sorrowful 2010 Death in June single Peaceful Snow as expressed in the following lyrics:
In the Pearceful snow
As my father knows,
I will go into the, into the snow

Original Di6 lineup Douglas Pearce, Tony Wakeford, and Patrick Leagas

During Behind the Mask Douglas P. reveals the obvious (at least to Death in June fans) when he mentions that the founding members of Di6 (Douglas P., Tony Wakeford, and Patrick Leagas) all carried a strong misanthropy, especially for the leftists punk rockers who they used to be in camaraderie with. All three original Death in June members had the goal of producing the musical mirror image of most people's ugliness. Douglas P. goes on to explain in Behind the Mask that he and is musical comrades realized how all the self-righteous leftists they knew treated people worse than any other group. The Death in June song C'est Un Reve, which is one of the most "controversial" musical pieces ever written by the group due to the song being about Gestapo "Butcher of Lyon" Klaus Barbie, was written as a bold political statement that there were worse "Barbies" in the French resistance. Douglas Pearce would also go on to say that despite being recognized as heroic freedom fighters nowadays, members of the French resistance killed around 250,000 of their own people after World War II. These kind of politically ambiguous statements by Pearce, along with Di6's use of Nazi Germany imagery, have given enough evidence for leftist types to pathetically attempt to censor the beautiful music of the group as being of a fascist nature which in their true believer eyes makes it non-art that must be destroyed. Nazi imagery or not, the typical cultural Marxist turd would consider Death in June fascist for the mere fact that their music is pro-occidental and a true expression of the European soul and not deracinated noise (the true soundtrack to culture-less multi-"culturalism"). Another aspect of Death in June that infuriates the band's detractors is that the group produces truly revolutionary and inspirational musical which gives artistic credence to "fascists."

Another thing that causes discommode in the enemy combatants of Death in June is the fact Douglas Pearce in an open homosexual. Flaunting his racial chauvinism and gayness, Douglas P. once stated, "I prefer to suck white uncircumcised cocks of a certain age so I suppose that rules out quite a few races and religions in one huge act of sexual discrimination. However that's natural selection for you. It follows on that, of course race is important to me." No doubt, Pearce's statement would cause a public outcry of race hate and confusion had he stated that for the mainstream media in the United States. I cannot imagine some repulsive homo singer like Michael Stipe ever actively displaying the personal integrity that Douglas P has always diffused. Death in June is also often labeled fascist because of the groups use of a grinning SS totenkopf skull. To show his proud commitment to Euro-libertinism, Douglas P. recently altered the Di6 totenkopf to include a gay rainbow flag in the background. During Behind the Mask, Pearce admits that he is fond of men that are old enough to be his Father. At age 20 Douglas P. was with a man that 58 years old who tagged along with him at punk shows and chatted with Captain Sensible of the legendary punk group The Damned. I cannot help but think that Pearce's odd fetish for buggering old men is the dejected result of longing for the Father he lost at a very tender age. I make music videos for a certain American neofolk project that will go unnamed. The singer of this group told me that when he saw a clip of Douglas Pearce piercing an elderly man's anal staircase in a gay porno movie, he was left in a state of distressed melancholy for months to cum. Despite being repelled by circumcised kosher sausages, Douglas P. played a Death in June show in Israel where he notoriously stormed the stage waving an Israeli star of David flag with a Di6 flag totenkopf appearing in the background. Only a man of refined charm could get away with flaunting a totenkopf (the SS symbol probably most associated with death in concentration camps) in front of the most fanatical of Jewish nationalists in their own holy land. 

Despite being worth more than it's weight in gold to Death in June fans, the Behind the Mask documentary dvd has fairly barebones production values but I say this without complaint. The documentary is almost entirely made up of Douglas P. elegantly lurking around in macabre poses, resembling a phantom German soldier in his iconic mask and military fatigues. Behind the Mask also features snippets of Pearce in typically somber and snowy settings bringing visions in my mind of a ghost from the battle of Stalingrad, often making the documentary feel like a collage of Di6 album covers. By the end of Behind the Mask, I was astonished to realize that Di6 probably would have never existed had Douglas P. not engaged in acid trips as the saintly sinner singer credits his drug experimentation as opening his mind's eye to realizing that creating art would be appropriate path to take in his life. During Behind the Mask Douglas P. also mentions how ex-Death in June member David Tibet told him he would probably have severe mental problems had he not found his fate in music. After 30 years of playing live, Pearce has also pretty much confirmed that he will no longer be doing live shows which is certainly a heartbreaking and unimaginable realization for Di6 fans. During Behind the Mask, Pearce makes it very clear that he's sees anonymity as one of the greatest virtues stating, "you can do a lot behind the scenes." In the documentary Douglas P. also mentions how the Japanese Samurai (Japanese nationalist Yukio Mishima being one of his favorite writers and a huge influence on Di6 Lyricism) virtue of secrecy also provided him with a critical influence in reinforcing his ability to find a warm well being during cold seclusion whilst sticking to the rule "many enemies bring much honor." As the great German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once stated, "A man can be himself only so long as he is alone." 

Despite the fact that Death in June is the musical group that essentially prompted the neofolk movement (with their revolutionary album Brown Book) in Europa, Pearce states in Behind the Mask regarding his albums that he does not "put them in those ghettos (of generic genre labels)." Douglas P. clearly articulates in his typically eloquent manner that upon finishing every Death in June album  in the studio, his majestic musical creations end up being a magical surprise as he allows his organic occidental nature to unconsciously conjure up something that is truly "neofolk" instead of attempting to assemble the same generic formula like a lot of musicians do. Even after over 30 years of Di6 albums, Pearce is still able to reinvent his völkisch music with each subsequent album as he once again proved with his newest effort Peaceful Snow, a completely deconstructed masterpiece of love and murder featuring only his haunting voice and a piano. Douglas P. has hinted that Peaceful Snow is probably the final chapter in the marvelous Di6 song saga. At the end of Behind the Mask, Pearce states that he hopes to produce two new Death in June books in the near future: An autobiography (a Di6 biography was recently released but it is only available in the Italian language) and a scrapbook which I anticipate almost more than a new Di6 album. Despite being literally behind the mask most of the documentary, Behind the Mask is truly the most revealing (aside from his music) priceless package of Pearce anecdotes. In media interviews, he often seems slightly agitated by the ignorant nature of many interviewers who lack the artistic sensitivity that a songwriting genius of Pearce's caliber deserves. Behind the Mask was shot in the most appropriate place for a Douglas Interview session at 40 feet below the surface of a New York City skyscraper, giving the Di6 poet the perfect atmosphere to express himself in the solace of secrecy that he has always found comfort in. If there is ever another revolutionary renaissance in Europe, the leadership will no doubt take metapolitical influence from Death in June just as Adolf Hitler and Zionist founder Theodor Herzl were influenced by the operas of Richard Wagner. Like all great art, Death in June purifies the soul and inspires in a way that no Hollywood film or modern major record album ever could. 

-Ty E





JESCIE said...

"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." - Oscar Wilde

Demoncy said...

Fascinating! I look forward to this movie and checking this band out.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on the admiration of Douglas's work. I'm a huge fan.

I have a question for you: do you know where the title "But, What happens when the symbols shatter" comes from? I'm guessing it is from a WWII (subject) film but am unawares.

Soiled Sinema said...

Anon: Unfortunately, I could not find any information on the background of "But, What Happens When The Symbols Shatter" and I have essentially read everything ever written about Death In June. The title may be in reference to Jim Jones:

"But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter? is an album by Death in June, released in 1992. "He's Disabled", "The Mourner's Bench", "Because of Him", and "Little Black Angel" are covers/re-interpretations of songs from Jim Jones' People's Temple Choir 1973 gospel album He's Able. The original songs were "He's Able", "Something's Got a Hold of Me", "Because of Him", and "Black Baby", respectively."

-Ty E