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 Carmen Juarez

the interview | Iceage want you to know that they’re not fascists

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Iceage - interview

By Carmen Juarez

If you’ve been following the debate (They’re racist! … They might just not be aware of what they’re doing … They’re not racist or stupid! … They’re totally stupid… and racist) you’ve probably already made your mind up about whether these four young Danish punks are neo-Nazi fascists or just a bunch of irresponsible, naïve kids.

Iceage - van

The reality is that contemporary Europe is becoming ever-increasingly xenophobic – see the Lega Nord Alliance (Northern League) in Italy, Golden Dawn in Greece and the Sweden Democrats, for example. Maybe this explains why this young band from Denmark – a country that is becoming more and more accepting of the far-right – have largely gotten away with using fascistic, violent imagery. Or has everyone read far too deeply into this?

About time we asked the band to explain themselves, right?

I spoke to Iceage bassist Jakob Tvilling Pless, and he wants you to know that Iceage aren’t fascists.

A debate that seems to have started almost two years ago has been re-ignited – people are up in arms about Iceage’s potential links to racism, fascism and white nationalism. I’d like to hear from you what you think about this, and what the band’s stance is?

About the political stuff, I mean, first of all I can say none of us are fascists or nazis or anything. Iceage is not political in any way, it’s only about music and, you know, feelings.

That’s just about it.

You’re a bunch of punk kids.

Yeah.

Does that mean you would describe the imagery the band associates themselves with as more of an aesthetic thing than a political thing?

It’s more like an aesthetic thing yes, for sure.

When your fans are looking at that sort of imagery [inferentially anarchist/white power(?) band logo, Klansmen hoods in music videos (see below), sieg-heiling fans, Death in June tattoos… ], what do you want them to identify it with? What are you trying to get across to your fans with that imagery?

I don’t know… I’ve been asked this question a lot of times. It’s not political in any way. Of course we have our political standpoints, but it has nothing to do with the nazis at all. We just do what we feel like, and it’s not like we’re trying to be part of a scene. We’re just doing what we want to do and it wasn’t the intention to have any, any you know offensive [effect]. We didn’t try to be offensive in any way. I don’t really see why people got offended by what we’ve done. We just, I mean, if you think about [it]… Elias [Rønnenfelt, singer] [doing] the Dogmeat magazine had nothing to do with Iceage. I’m sure Elias didn’t mean to, you know, he didn’t try to show any fascist side of himself in any way, because he is not a fascist. And the hoods and stuff was just like, a good friend of ours… we just used them for fun. Didn’t have anything to do with fascism.

iceagedrawings

I’ve heard the Copenhagen punk scene described as “left-wing”, would you agree with that?

I can only speak for myself and I consider myself a left-wing person. I don’t support any you know ideology or anything, but I would say my point of view is left-wing, yes.

Would you say that your views conflict with the social and political situation in Denmark now? Conflict with mainstream views?

I mean, umm, I don’t think it’s the opposite. To be honest, I don’t really follow politics that close because I think most of the politicians are just puppets. Actually do you mind if we don’t talk about politics because I don’t think it’s relevant at all.

The songs on the new album, You’re Nothing, are they about anything in particular?

About a lot of things. As I just said before, none of it is about politics. For the most part the lyrics are about personal experiences and feelings and everyday life I guess.

Everyday life in Denmark?

I don’t know, it’s not that much about Denmark. I mean at the moment we don’t really spend that much time in Denmark because we’re pretty much touring all the time. It’s not about life in Denmark in general, it’s about being a person and having, getting, yeah… I don’t really know how to explain it. It’s just about being a person, starting to express your feelings and how you feel about being a person I guess.

There has been criticism of the band’s decision to sell official Iceage knives at your shows. Where did the idea to include knives as merch come from?

That was a friend of ours [who] was just like, “Hey, I’ve got this idea, do you want me to make some knives for you to sell?”. There was really not anything to it. It was just like, we just thought it was a fun idea. It wasn’t trying to, the idea was to not to try to, you know, glorify violence or anything, we just thought it was a fun idea. And that was all.

Because they’re being sold at shows, there is the potential for people to get hurt. How would the band react to somebody getting hurt if people used your merch against each other?

Well, I mean, when we sold the knives they had like a sign saying “no stabbing”. But I mean of course it would be very unfortunate if somebody got stabbed by an Iceage knife. But if somebody’s gonna stab somebody, they could have stabbed the person with any, any knife. It’s not very hard to get a knife. So I wouldn’t blame myself if it happened, but of course I would think it was very unfortunate. But I would think it was a shame and a waste of life if anybody got stabbed with any kind of knife.

iceage - knives sign

You guys have got a Jewish drummer – Dan’s [Nielsen] a Jewish drummer – people are saying you guys are racist, you guys are fascist, whatever. From what I’m hearing you’re not. You’ve got a Jewish drummer – do you think that proves anything?

Umm, it would be kind of weird if we were nazi’s and one of our best friends… I mean, all of us, I think we consider each other brothers and it would be kind of weird if we had you know a [nazi] person consider a Jew a brother.

I grew up… most of my childhood friends are either black or arabs or, I mean… I think it’s kind of a joke when people try to, you know, try to make it look like, try to make me look like a fascist. I mean, I don’t even really care if people think that we’re nazis. The only thing I think is a shame is… if black people or if Jewish people, you know, got offended by stupid people calling us fascists, and if any of our black fans or anything, you know, got upset at anything, if they were upset by that, that would be a shame. But I mean, I think most of those people who try to make us look like fascists… they are like, they are the judging ones. It’s not us. We’re just doing… we’re just making music. They’re the ones judging us even though they don’t know us.

Hopefully those people read this.

Hopefully, yes.

Related posts:
This blog kills fascists.
THE ALTERNATIVE REVIEW | Iceage – You’re Nothing (Matador)
Iceage | smart and naive can be a dangerous combination too – Louis Pattison answers Iceage’s critics
Iceage | Who makes the Nazis?
Iceage | an open letter to Louis Pattison

20 Responses to the interview | Iceage want you to know that they’re not fascists

  1. DC February 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Whatever way you look at that, that is a dreadful interview from either side’s perspective.

  2. Chris February 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Just my opinion but I’d think that the fact that he claims to be clueless about politics somewhat reduces his right to use that imagery. It does pander to the bullies and the scumbag far right which as we all know in this big bad world is tantamount to an endorsement. The hood pic is not a cool look – a really poor effort of a teenage doodle displaying misplaced hatred. As for the knives, well… words escape me here. Nobody interviewed the me in the bands I only played bass in. Tended to go for the singer in my day.

  3. Everett True February 22, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Nobody interviewed the me in the bands I only played bass in. Tended to go for the singer in my day.

    Ah but maybe the bands you were in never did non-US and UK press. Non-UK and US press hardly ever get the singer.

  4. Everett True February 22, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Also, in brief.

    James Brown – you like his music DESPITE the fact he was a wife-beater
    Iceage – you like their music at least partly BECAUSE of their aesthetic

  5. Tim Clarke February 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Iceages knives are “a fun idea”? How are knives “fun”? Silly boy.

  6. Derek Robertson February 22, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Good Lord, talk about digging a hole for yourself. When you hit rock, surely it’s a good idea to put the shovel down and back slowly away.

    “I’m sure Elias didn’t mean to…show any fascist side of himself” – so it was accidental then? WTF?

    “it would be very unfortunate if somebody got stabbed by an Iceage knife” – no shit it would be unfortunate. How compassionate.

    “And the hoods and stuff…we just used them for fun” – Yup, all the parties i go to where people wear KKK hoods and pretend to act like White Supremacists are an absolute HOOT.

    FWIW, I don’t think they are actually racist/facist/xenophobic, but it would be hard to top the moronic nature of some of the answers Jakob gives. For all their fans on the other blogs claiming “They deny it!” “They make it clear!”, well, the answers above are clear as mud, and if that’s the best they can do, it’s surely no surprise that they continue to be called out on this topic.

  7. CBP February 22, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    “we’re just making music” and everybody lived happily ever after. Goodnight.

  8. Job February 22, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    No mention of the fact that this band’s native language isn’t English.

  9. Everett True February 22, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    No mention of the fact that this band’s native language isn’t English.

    Editor’s note: By this stage of the proceedings, I figured most everyone knew that Iceage are from Denmark and hence that their native language isn’t English. I apologise to Job if s/he feels that it’s not been made clear that Iceage are from Denmark and hence their native language isn’t English.

  10. Jevron February 23, 2013 at 9:30 am

    The notion that its a ‘language barrier’ preventing him from articulating any remotely reasonable defence of knives as official merchandise is almost as pathetic an argument as his ‘just a fun idea’ cop-out response.

    What is a band that is so keen for us to understand they are ‘only about music’ doing selling any tacky merch at all, let alone branded weapons?

    Two years of the same questions and accusations is a long time to come up with a half decent response in any language. This is all just dodging, ducking and playing dumb.

  11. cassandra February 25, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    You people should be put down. Do you even know anything about this band or do you just like giving your half assed opinions about anything and everything?

  12. cassandra February 25, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    It is actually really serious to say that people are fascists, or to dissect it, theyre a punk band, none of you even seriously think that theyre doing anything wrong your just doing it to entertain yourselves. all your doing is trivialising racism and taking things out of context. they should sue you for defamation.

  13. hey Joe February 25, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Looking forward to the interviews with Nick Cave, Siouxsie Sioux, the Stooges, David Bowie, Lemmy….

  14. Jevron February 25, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Thanks for that Cassandra – we should all be exterminated for expressing an opinion you don’t agree with / exploring a subject you’re not comfortable with.

    You’re DEFINITELY a reliable arbiter of what is or isn’t facsist….

  15. Everett True February 25, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Looking forward to the interviews with Nick Cave, Siouxsie Sioux, the Stooges, David Bowie, Lemmy….

    Man, me too. Carmen, have you been holding back on us or something?

  16. chris February 25, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    I just came back to comment on the irony of “Cassandra’s” opening remark condoning human extermination but Jevron beat me to it.

  17. Carmen February 28, 2013 at 12:51 am

    Yeah, I’ve been saving my intimate discussion with Iggy until there’s more demand from readers like Joe.

  18. Air July 28, 2014 at 2:16 am

    I want to say “FUCK YOU RACISTS” just for fun. No political.

  19. Pingback: » Iceage, evidencia de una banda en plena evolución Sopitas.com

  20. Bluto October 14, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    The knives are fine by me. I like it, actually, and wish I had one. It’s not irresponsible. It’s fun and silly. And it’s a cheap fucking pocket knife. No thug that said “I’m pissed at that guy, so I’m gonna buy a $6 knife for $20 and cut him …”

    I just wish those Danes would loosen up and have several drinks and drugs. Respect their choice to not indulge, but I’ve never understood the anti-buzz thing. I’ll take Peter Hook over Ian Mackaye every time.

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