> LUFTWAFFE INTERVIEW; The Scent of the Vanquished By Malahki Thorn (Heathen Harvest)
Heathen Harvest (HH): Please begin by explaining how Luftwaffe began as a band and who were the founding members?
B9 InVID: We began in 1997 as a one time musical venture for an art show called “Disassembly 1.” I had met J1 earlier in the year and as we both had an affinity for similar music we decided to do a very root-industrial performance with me utilizing found-percussion and my Moog Liberation and J1 reading from Crowley. It was so well received that we resolved to write some structured songs and become a formal music group.
HH: The band is stationed in Chicago. Are the members American?
B9: Yes, we are Americans and although we collaborate with some international artists, our core is fully yank.
HH: Do the members of Luftwaffe have previous musical experience or formal musical training?
B9: I had been raised in a musical household, as my father plays guitar/dulcimer and is a luthier specializing in crafting American folk instruments. I’d also played 1st trumpet in my High School’s marching/concert band (although I wanted to play bassoon!) I believe it would be hard to march with a bassoon, however.
HH: What other musical activities are Luftwaffe’s members involved in?
B9: I have done some music for film and also have done some guest instrumentation on some Panicsville releases, mostly playing drums and trumpet. I supplied some samples for the latest Ostara release as well.
HH: Has the band stayed true to the vision of its inception? And if not what has changed and what has motivated this change?
N2: There are key OSS documents to which Luftwaffe has deferred during the continuance of its manifestation. The vision, which is unique to Luftwaffe, and is not owing to the OSS doctrine, has continued to evolve, but not in such a manner as to betray either its original form nor compromise its service to the OSS.
HH: Luftwaffe is a duo. Do you intentionally keep the bands core membership static?
B9: We are very fond of collaborative efforts and in live performance we employ the aid of N2 Itiniti (who is aiding us in this interview and is the author of the majority of our philosophical works) and Sasha Feline of Valence (our sister band). For a while we had a very skilled live percussionist who, very sadly, has since moved away from Chicago. Fortunately he does appear on the CD in full form!
HH: What role does each core member play in research, song writing, playing / singing, recording, and production?
B9: The lion’s share of our lyrical content is taken from our philosophical writings pertaining to Solipsism and time as a sentient manifestation. Many songs also expound on John Constance works (and his trepanation) as well as the Event Nihility. I personally maintain our studio and do most of the physical engineering on my PC. Inspiration comes on at odd times and I am all too often far from my instruments. Often inebriating substances are involved and although I would never maintain that intoxication is a good crutch for art, it is very often. I am certain that sobriety has its place, but with a near 75% success rate I cannot help but endorse the latter! Don’t do drugs. Stay in school.
HH: How do you go about composing and creating the songs for Luftwaffe? Do they begin with a solid idea that you want to communicate or do they come into being through improvised playing?
N2: Extemporizing from my experience of listening to Luftwaffe Recordings which I have had little and more often no direct involvement with, I Would parallel the impact of a typical Luftwaffe song to that of a missile. Allegorizing thus, the music is the casing, and the lyrics the warhead. Both components serve the primacy of their utility.
B9: Many of my drum and guitar parts come, in part, from dreams. However, simply in applied composition, I always devise guitar parts of which I am almost unable to play repeatedly due to their difficulty. But I force my hands to play them until they become second nature. This pushes me to be a better technical musician. I find playing instruments to be a near-sexual experience and almost a purely psycho-automatic medium for ones most base energies. Performing our music fulfills, for me, a primal desire that nothing else can fill. The music is literally the sky, armed.
HH: Can you discuss the philosophical doctrine of Solipsism and how this philosophy inspires or influences Luftwaffe?
N2: Solipsism can be succinctly characterized as a belief in the primacy of an idiocentric universum. Luftwaffe, however, belongs to an artistic polity, and so the basic precepts of solipsism have been modified so as to accommodate such diversity as exists in our community. For this reason we subscribe to a form of oligarchical solipsism which grants us a unique respite from the Plurarch. Vide: “The Proclamation of a Solitary Order,” “The Political Ideoscape in Pluroform,” as well as the essay entitled “Solipsistica Nihilisti.”
HH: Luftwaffe published a book titled Et Nihil 1 along with a past release. Et Nihil 1 contained writings by Luftwaffe and Douglas P. amongst other musicians. Can you discuss the theme of the book and some of the contributors and articles?
B9: Et Nihil 1 was a tome for which we asked several artists, of whom we are fond, to contribute essays on the themes of Solipsism, Nihilism, Sentience of Time or Trepanation. It was released with the CD The Trepan of the Clock, and although limited to 100 copies only about 50 made it out (as I made them all by hand and botched a great deal of the cutting and folding of the CD jackets.) The writings that we submitted defined not only, in part, the need for nihilistic parlance in our art. We also laid the foundation for Solipsist thought as well as tactics of subversion. We were delighted to have Douglas P. as well as State Research Bureau, Panicsville and Nookleptia contribute. I hope to do an Et Nihil 2.
HH: Are there other specific philosophies, political or spiritual influences that inspire Luftwaffe?
N2: The philosophical writings of N1 Xian have been very influential to us. He endeavored to demonstrate the existence of two worlds, one that is losing, and one that is lost. He also prophesied the end of history, which, according to the tradition he founded, occurred on February 2nd, 1966. Also indispensable to our formulation of oligarchical solipsism has been the discovery of an obscure Midrashim generically named the Lamed Vav. A later revision of this document was circulated amongst the Ebionites which was entitled, The 36 Faces of Adam Qadmon. This document proposes that there exist, and always have, 36 persons who are the invisible pillars of the Universe. They do not, however, know the nature of their commission, and self-discovery results in the person¹s death. It is believed that a day will come when the 36 awaken, and through them God will pass judgment against humanity. But just as the merit of any story cannot be judged before the last page is read, so also must history end before God’s judgment is known. We have imagined 39 years of spurious history since 1966–it is now time for us to open our eyes.
B9: Suffering sans gain. Art as the plague, as characterized by Artaud.
HH: Apart from writing and music what other arts are you involved in?
B9: I am involved in Theatre.
HH: Are you agnostic, Gnostic, atheist, heathen or all of the above or none?
N2: We engage in ceremony and communion that is not without a spiritual component; however, its formulation is self derived, and therefore cannot be easily classified.
B9: I personally view death as the end and attempt to live accordingly.
HH: Through out the lyrics of Luftwaffe a message is reiterated that man, his spirit, and culture are in decline. How do you see the current state of events in our world and how does this influence your writing and music?
J1: The spirit of man is in swift decline. Human culture begins its decline at the moment of that culture’s advent. That we are witnessing the terminal stages of a culture’s decline merely serves to delineate the Xstorical terrain we traverse. Through our art, Luftwaffe endeavors to open a window, that people might be aware of this decline and of our own spiritual and cultural bankruptcy. At this stage, things happen swiftly. What you read today in the newspapers, you may see outside your home tomorrow.
HH: The lyrics also reflect a very distinct spiritual self-awareness that vaguely describes the struggle towards personal spiritual evolution. Can you discuss these spiritual themes of spiritual self-evolution?
J1: The first stage in spiritual evolution is awareness. Without awareness there is no spirit. Awareness entails seeing one’s environment for what it is and seeing one’s own place within that environment. It is this awareness we endeavor to impart. “The Proclamation of a Solitary Order” is the first manifestation of such awareness.
HH: Do your beliefs and message entail redemption through cultural and societal destruction or do you see this as the inevitable direction of man?
J1: Rather we foresee redemption through the ultimate dissolution of the human species. The light will not be released until the occlusive veil of flesh is torn asunder and exorcised from the Earth. What will remain is our divinity — Our redemption.
HH: The music of Luftwaffe is very heavily steeped in references to revolt, revolution, and political and spiritual revolution. Can you discuss your feelings towards revolutions? Do you see revolution and uprising as a cleansing force?
N2: In every generation a person or marginal polity has come forward and declared that the condition of man is fallen and that the present generation must be the last; that history must be censured for a new enterprise to commence. Our proclamation is that this has already happened and that this dream of the shadow of man must also be annulled so that we may commence the enterprise of a new heaven and earth.
HH: Some of Luftwaffe’s songs speak of a “new dawn” or “new frontiers” that are yet to be discovered. Are these ideas inspired by spiritual or physical conquest or imperialism?
N2: Violence of a genocidal nature can be conveyed by any polity against any other polity. This truth offers testament to the sameness and separation endemic to the Plurarch. The identity of the oppressed, revolutionary, or otherwise, continuously changes such that even the roles of oppressed and oppressor often alternate–sometimes within the same generation. This is the natural outcome of Plurarchial dominion, and it is repulsive. We do not, as some may assume, positively identify with the multitudinous and often changing faces of tyranny and oppression. Our enterprise is the establishment of truth, and the obliteration of lies.
HH: You also discuss the consequences of political revolution and political oppression in such songs as “The Dead Do Not Revolt” which speaks of corruption, murder, burning corpses and firing lines. Are these feelings and reflections inspired by relating to the politically and military oppressed and fellow revolutionaries?
B9: “The Dead Do Not Revolt” is a song specifically about artistic censorship. It was written the day following one of our performances which was threatened with violence by a local group (via facsimile), who is ill informed about the meanings our music (they don’t care.) They showed up, but did not attack us as their fax to the club had promised. “The Dead Do Not Revolt” was written the next day as a result of my disgust over the incident, censorship based on ignorance and juvenile testosterone unregulated by any semblance of intelligence. Free speech and free assembly should certainly be upheld–otherwise art ends. Art and politics are oil and water. These people are not artists, they’re animals… We’re using Musik as Magick!
J1: “The Dead Do Not Revolt” was written by B9 as a polemic against censorship. It continues to strike me as a vivid and graphic description of what censorship, essentially, is. The methodology for silencing an individual or group of individuals has remained the same throughout history and it is the same today. The modern day censor typically likes to begin a sentence with denial, “Well, it’s not censorship when….” Know such persons for what they are. Censorship often begins with shutting down venues. It frequently proceeds to bricks being thrown through windows. It always ends in tongues being cut out and mass graves being dug. Consider the Spanish Inquisition, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Empire behind us. Consider the Patriot Act, the Christian Coalition, the ADL, and the ARA before us. If we let them, they’ll gladly do it again.
HH: How do you feel about the American occupation of Iraq and will you have a creative response to these current events?
N2: The US occupation of Iraq resulted from an illegal invasion. This is not my opinion; it is a statement of fact. The reasons for conquest and Invasion have forever remained the same. What makes this invasion distinctive is that no convincing attempt was ever made to disguise the true reason for its occurrence. We live in such a place and time that no justification is required of atrocity. It is not merely the regrettable case that such atrocity is tolerated; it is actually celebrated by the majority of US citizens.
B9: The war in Iraq simply proves that money is more important than culture and human life. Ours has become non-culture based on a mediocrity that will not stop until the entire world is McBled McWhite. Musically, “Nebuchadnezzar Division,” “A Terror Campaign Without Higher Authority” as well as “Correcting The Human Model” addresses this.
J1: We do address these issues both as Luftwaffe and through our individual endeavors. I wrote “Ascension of Indignation” (from “Trephanus Uhr”) with this in mind.
HH: Can you discuss the martial tone of such songs as “Kronostory” that describe intolerance for the “slathering animals to be put down”?
N2: Such is the cost of willful ignorance. Except in the case of a man, when an animal dies it does not ask why. The price of life is its own vindication, and how we accomplish this will determine our fate. Life will not allow its innate value to be eternally mocked. We do not glorify suffering or murder, despite our comportment. Our voices are raised in condemnation, and the martial tone is that of indignation.
HH: There is strong sense of antiauthoritarianism and anti-state sentiment that comes through the music of Luftwaffe. Does the band see itself as being in active opposition to authoritarian and political forces?
N2: Sometimes I wonder if this recurrent and lucidly conveyed sentiment Is purposefully overlooked by our detractors who continuously cast us as proponents of that which we most vehemently condemn. And although the Ideoscape in Pluroform has been convincingly interpreted as opposing communism, it should not be assumed that our condemnation extends no further than the oppressive paradigms endemic to the left.
HH: The music of Luftwaffe is an original and unique blend of manipulated electronics and acoustic instruments. Can you discuss some of the instruments you have used during recording? Can you discuss how you produce the electronic elements of Luftwaffe? Do you have preferred methods of processing and creating sounds, samples, voice etc.?
B9: I record to Cubase SX on my PC in the studio and we use a variety of electronic instruments: Roland Juno-106, Moog Liberation, Yamaha SY-77, Cibes CPB-2 Bass Pedals. The majority is pre-amped and processed initially through a Boss-BR8 and I have an enormous library of effect plug-ins in Cubase and Wavelab, which we use for mastering. The majority of our newest recordings use organic instrumentation, especially on the percussion, which is usually from some marching basses (24/28”) and a couple of floor toms. I play a 1975 Alvarez 5054 12 String Dreadnought primarily and an Ibanez 6 String Dreadnought and J1 plays a Washburn bass. We have tried to master (or at least plod through) on a variety of instruments: Melodica, bugle, dulcimer, recorder, 6 string bass, Psaltery and I even play my high school trumpet on some tracks on the most recent recordings (Some day I’ll have a hurdy gurdy.) J1 and N2: have discovered a delightful (and very simple) stringed instrument called a strum stick, which is essentially a mountain dulcimer in guitar-type form. Sasha Feline also does some groovy guest flute for us live on Kronostory and we hope to add flute some of our newest songs in live performances.
HH: The music of Luftwaffe feels to me to be a new hybrid of ritual / tribal and martial-industrial music. Was it ever your intention to bring a militant philosophical / spiritual influence to industrial music?
J1: Most definitely. When you attain the means and ability to make music and find yourself amidst like-minded colleagues, you can say whatever you want. We feel no compunction to abide by any genre-based etiquette! Luftwaffe’s music has a strong element reminiscent of the power electronics / noise music genre. You have also collaborated with noise artists in the past. What kinds of music do your interest and inspiration encompass?
B9: I have had two profound experiences at noise shows that have made me consider my own music in a new light. The first was in 1997 when I first saw NON. I was the only one who was at the stage, as the wall of force that Boyd Rice’s noise was generating had physically driven everyone back. It was as if great-electrified hooks had been affixed beneath my ribs, which were lifting me off the ground. A full body electric orgasm produced from a larger than life spectacle-one I had always dreamed of seeing. That evening really changed my life. The second instance actually drove me from the venue. It was at the Extreme Women in Music show and William Bennett of Whitehouse was DJ-in noise. After a couple of mostly-alcohol screwdrivers and some grass I tried to continue to watch the show. The sound waves that he was generating not only made me feel violently ill but actually made me feel extremely angry. Certainly the drugs augmented my feelings, but it was a profoundly cruel experience (in the Artaudian sense) and forced me to leave. Although I felt a misery, it was a great experience, which taught me much about punishing the audience.
HH: Do you find you find that you have an audience in the American noise scene?
B9: Absolutely. In fact, they are becoming our largest.
HH: The music of Luftwaffe is also quite original and has few comparisons in the current post-industrial music scene. How is the music of Luftwaffe being received in the US and abroad? Where are you receiving the most interest?
B9: The majority of interest has been in Europe and I have received many very thoughtful email praises of our art. We do have a fairly extensive American following as well as some fans in Japan and Greece.
HH: I have read descriptions of your music by other reviewers online that label the music of Luftwaffe as “Right Wing” which implies a conservative or fascist rightist political affiliation. Is the band comfortable with these labels? Do you welcome such labels on your music and ideology or reject such labels?
N2: Because we oppose oppression in the forms of imperialism, militarism, and exploitative capitalism, we have marked the vanguards of the new right as the adversary. Because our moral fulcrum is Sovran, we can neither ally ourselves with the left, though certain of its struggles we deem worthwhile.
B9: Often those who review our album simply do not understand what they are listening to and in their seeming confused embarrassment, they label it as something grossly inaccurate—without ever even giving a hint of a description of the actual philosophical content. They claim to disagree with the content, albeit they are not sure what it is. The term “wing” is not applicable to our music. We don’t support any form of politics and we circumvent that plane entirely. As N2 said earlier, all of the cosmology is there in the music and writings. We encourage questions.
J1: When we record a song and play it for friends who know us and are able to intelligently discuss our ideas, we are able to enjoy the illusion of being “understood.” When we release a CD and it is distributed internationally; it must, necessarily, take on a life and meaning outside ourselves. Jorge Luis Borges wrote, “I sometimes think good readers are poets as singular, and as awesome, as great authors themselves.” Borges’s optimism aside, I fear for better or for worse, within the vagaries of art, people tend to find what they wish to find.
HH: Has the band come up against any attempts by radical “leftist” political groups to censor your music or stop you from playing live as often happen to artists across Europe?
B9: We have on more than one occasion. I could go on to laundry list for an hour about all of the inconsistent and violent, heinous actions of these uneducated fools, but I won’t. I will say that it really all stems from the spite of one single person and has ultimately no greater extent than that. It does not aid matters that he and I both dated the same girl. Testosterone fueled jealousy issues create harebrained volatility. He has refused to listen to our music and also to speak with us in a neutral, chaperoned environment, to which opportunity we wholeheartedly agreed. Without their cowardly masked-faces and weapons they cannot hold their own in an intellectual discussion. I best describe them as children who want really to eat at the grown-up’s table for Christmas. They truly rape the name of Pierre Proudhon. I wish he were alive to see what they’re doing!
J1: We have on a local level. Evidence seems to indicate that this is a result of one individual’s personal grudge being brought to bear on the local “activist” community. I don’t believe this is indicative of any larger political indignation. Nevertheless we are not immune to that which we are invoking — no one is.
HH: Can you name some musicians or artists that have been influential for Luftwaffe?
B9: Other than the apparent I have recently been influenced by the guitar technique of John Renbourn of Pentangle. He does an excellent solo album called The Lady and the Unicorn, which has some fantastic guitar work. I am also a fan of E. Power Biggs, the legendary pipe organist and I collect his vinyl. Skinny Puppy, NON and Throbbing Gristle were my biggest influences early on.
HH: You recently worked with Richard Leviathan of Ostara as a guest musician. How was it working with Richard and how did your musical partnership come about?
B9: I heard Strength Through Joy for the first time in 1997 when I saw them live with NON and Death in June in Chicago. It was my first exposure to Apocalyptic Folk music and it was a magickal experience. I realized that the same feelings that Skinny Puppy had instilled in me over the past 10 years could be duplicated merely with an acoustic guitar. I wore Salute to Light out on my CD player and I eventually contacted Richard suggesting that they play with us here in the USA. I sent him some of our music and some naughty goodies in the post and after much correspondence we finally met in London in 2002 for a show. He and his wife were extremely gracious and had us all over after the show for dinner and fellowship. Richard has become a good friend and I am currently writing some music for his vox, which we plan to put on our next CD, now in the works. Our Fields cover and The 10th Avatar have yielded us some high praises! I’m sad he does not live closer-quite a swim across the pond!
HH: Can you discuss the forthcoming Ostara/Luftwaffe split picture disc from Were Di?
B9: Well, unfortunately it seems Were Di is no longer in business. We learned about this second hand from another group who was to also be released on that now defunct label. We will be working toward a DVD release in the coming year and perhaps a picture disc on another label.
HH: Are there other artists in the post-industrial music scene that you would also like to work with in the future?
B9: As our latest CD features some excellent collaboration, I would like to be able to perform them in a live performance. A Death in June/Luftwaffe/Ostara show would allow for that. We will however get to do some of our Valence and Gnomonclast collaborations from the CD and LP in our upcoming April show. Its locale is under wrap for now, but will be on our website as soon as we can announce it.
HH: Luftwaffe has played live in the United States in Chicago. How is playing live? Who turns out for shows? Do you have a solid local fan base?
B9: We have a very diverse fan base, which is not entirely made up of gothic and industrial fans. Although we have not played in a long while, our last headlining show at The Empty Bottle drew about 80 people. I really enjoy playing live; it can be a brilliant experience—or a disaster! Especially when the PA is shorting out and there ain’t nothin’ you can do to stop it.
HH: You played live with NON and Death in June in Chicago. Are NON and Death In June bands that Luftwaffe feel connected to and if so what is the connection?
B9: I have loved their music for many years and they have become good friends. They are absolutely brilliant people.
HH: How was it to play with musicians that are so highly regarded in the post-industrial music scene? I read that you felt indebted to NON and Aleister Crowley?
B9: The world is indebted to them!
HH: Does Luftwaffe have any plans for an extensive American or European tour?
B9: We do have a confirmed international date for this spring, but the promoter has asked us to wait on announcing it; but, the information will be up on our website soon. We hope to play at least one domestic show beforehand, which is looking to be sometime in March. There has been discussion of a show in Europe in 2005, but that is tentative. I personally would like to play in Denver and maybe on the west coast sometime soon as well. Boyd Rice is from Denver and he’s promised to take us to a groovy and very theatrical Mexican restaurant located there some time. Maybe we could persuade him to do a live cameo as well.
HH: Luftwaffe is located in Chicago. Have you found support and an audience for your music in America? How has the European audience embraced Luftwaffe as opposed to America?
B9: Our shows have been well attended in the past domestically and we hope to play more internationally in the near future. Our albums have been extremely well received in Europe and I have had some of the most pleasant and flattering emails come from new fans all over the continent, most inquiring if we would be playing there at any point. I’d be very interested in playing some of the European festivals, as I would love to meet some of the other artists. They always seem to be held in a castle or some ancient ruinous building or theatre in the countryside. We have little of that in the USA!
HH: You have a history of releasing albums on Lupine Arts label. Who are Lupine Arts and how did you come about working with them?
B9: Lupine Arts was a label I devised at 16 for my very first industrial musical endeavor. It has been a moniker I have used for several artistic projects since 1991, yet it has now evolved into Kalki’s Army, which is more specific and appropriate. I think Kalki’s Army will probably replace Lupine on future albums and releases.
HH: Punch Records of Italy issued your most recent vinyl release. What was involved in deciding to issue a release through Punch Records in Europe?
B9: Yes, my hat is off to Punch for producing such a beautiful album, which is receiving high acclaim! I think it is our finest release to date. Punch contacted us about the possibility of a release, which was initially to be a picture disk, but as maximal sound quality is paramount we decided on heavy blue vinyl (we also had the now defunct Were Di picture disc on the way—we thought.) The LP also comes with a color poster of N2 Itiniti’s linoleum cut artwork, which is absolutely breathtaking.
HH: I would like to thank you on behalf of all the readers that visit Heathen Harvest. We wish you as much success as you welcome! Lastly, do you have any last words?
B9: Kalki Avahana! Kalki Avatara!