> MILITIA: Interview 2002 (Spectrum/Degenerate Magazine)
Originally intended to be published Spectrum Magazine Issue 6# which was cancelled before publication. Eventually published in Degenerate Magazine (Finland) Issue 3# 2003.
NAME(s)/ AGE(s): Kirsten Veestraete, Dirk Valkenborg, Geert Vandeweert, Frank Vanhoof, Jan Roggen, Luc Tureluren, Frank Gorissen, and sound engineer – Jan Valkenborg
LOCATION: Hoeselt – Belgium
YEAR PROJECT WAS FORMED: 1990 it became a percussion band, before that (starting from 1986) it was an electronic two members formation.
LIST OF RELEASES:
- New European Order 3 LP set
- Kingdom of Our Lord/Maschinenzimmer mCD
- Pain/Familiedrama 7inch with Laura Maes and Mike Dando (aka Con-Dom)
- Nature Revealed 2CD in wooden box
- Black Flag Hoisted 2CD in fold out cover
- The Eco-Anarchic Manifesto book + live CD
- Everything is One CD
Collaboration and compilation works:
- Scorched Earth Policy (originally a split tape, re-released on Old Europa Café in August, 2002 on CD format, collaboration between Militia and Con-Dom )
- One track on War Against Society, compilation 3 LP project organised by the German “Praxis Dr. Bearmann” label
- One track on Ultrason, compilation LP by the French “Une” label
- A few soundscapes for various Con-Dom works
What were the initial ideas behind the formation of Militia, and how did the members come together to establish the project?
Militia is an instrument for spreading the eco-anarchic ideology and social world view. These ideas are being spread by means of music and statements, films, literature and performances. The method Militia uses while working on their projects is based entirely upon the anarchic way of practicing things – so with constant communication and debate, suggestions and decisions being formed from the basis.
Likewise I believe that there are three main individuals as part of the Militia project, however having seen you perform live there are many more members then this. How does the project operate from the composition and recording stages, through to live executions?
Every individual in the Militia group takes in the same position as all the others, so there are no main individuals as you put it here. Ideas – or better, a “story board” – for a new project always comes from several people in the band. Then I compose the basic music tracks: I write the music notes using a combination of classical music notation and my own symbols. Next step: I play and record this music on synthesizer and sequencer and record the whole on CDR format, this is the so-called basic music tape. With this CDR I go to the other band members and together we compose the additional percussion pieces, the music for the wind instruments and all other instruments involved. Then starts a long period of rehearsing and constant evaluation till the definitive music is finished. At that moment we’ve already contacted our German label Tactical Recordings and they pay and hire the studio, which is a professional music studio called AnnaBee, lead by the sound engineer Willy Pirotte. This means that we start recording the music and finish a new CD.
Given that many of your tracks are heavily percussive based, how do you approach composing a track? Can you list the instrumentation that you use and likewise do any of the members have formal musical training?
All members are well-trained percussionists, a few also play a variety of wind instruments. As said before, I write my music in a self developed symbolic notation which all can read. Starting from my notes and the input of the other members, we always find it quite easy to try out, compose and play the additional percussion layers. But it always takes quite a number of rehearsals to get everything right and to start playing it by heart, obviously. When 6 people play different layers of percussion which all have to form one balanced whole together with the basic music tape, this certainly asks for an intensive organisation and lots of practice. Amongst our instruments we count a concrete mill, a chain saw, three empty gas tubes, several empty oil barrels, a radiator, several metal blades suspended on chains and connected on self made standards, metal tubes and plates, but also a big bass drum ( timpani ), snare drums, djembe, didgeridoo, trumpet and so on…
On a number of releases you have used the tribal instrument called the didgeridoo. Given that this is actually an instrument primarily known to be native to Australian Aboriginals, what drew you to utilise this?
At first I used a long metal tube to generate the same sound – using the same technique – that can be made with a real didgeridoo, just because I liked the sound very much and the thing fitted perfectly into the concept. Now Dirk also plays didgeridoo (and we had other didgeridoo players in the past as well ) and the combination of the real thing and the metal substitute works quite well. It was a main instrument for our Nature Revealed project, also because that work was about primitive human societies and the relation with their natural environment.
With regard to the upcoming album, what details can you provide regarding its sound/ style and concepts?. Which label will be releasing this item and will it form part of a larger concept? (such as your now completed ‘New European Order’ trilogy).
“Everything is One” will be a kind of conclusion of the pamphlet (small and handy book) I’ve written, entitled “The Eco-Anarchic Manifesto”. It is the philosophical and metaphysical survey in the form of sound of the eco-anarchic ideology as it is proposed in the Manifesto. The style differs from neo-classical music to rhythmic percussion pieces. And we also used conventional but “not-so-obvious” instruments this time, mainly played by a number of new guest musicians… but I will tell no more, we’ll keep it a surprise.
I also believe that you are currently involved in the preparation of a book to further expand on the concepts behind Militia. Can you provide some details of this and its planned release? Will it be released under the Militia name and do you hope this book will have a wider appeal then the at best obscure musical genre that Militia inhabits?
The book will be the cover of the live CD we’ve recorded in Lille. So book + Cd will be released in a few months by Tactical Recordings – who organise the releases of all our works for that matter. The book deals with our eco-anarchic principles, social world views, it reveals a possible structure for an eco-anarchic society and it deals with the problems of money, possession, order and solidarity in such a society. We hope that our website will be ready around the same time as the book + cd will be released, because we want to start a discussion forum as well. We’re convinced that there will be a need for discussion and information as soon as people will have read this manifesto. It is a strong opposition against ultra right wing ideology, against a society ruled by any form of government, against the abuse of animals and the endangering of our planet. Instead it offers a global community that is strong in structure, based upon solidarity, equality and autonomy.
Taking a step back and making an overview of the ‘New European Order’ trilogy, when making reference to the first triple LP set of the series (entitled ‘New European Order’), to my interpretation the underlying political stance was not clearly evident. However to qualify this perception, I am referring to the later two releases in the trilogy (‘Nature Revealed’ DCD and ‘The Black Flag Hoisted’ DCD), which clearly and concisely put forward Militia’s stance through use of lyrics, dialogue samples and text excerpts. Accordingly at the original time of release of ‘New European Order’ triple LP set, did you receive much reaction either positive or negative regarding its potential to be perceived as being ambiguous?
The concept of “Statement Trilogy” was already planned and designed early ’90. The basic ideas for the three albums taking part were already written down. At first we wanted to show how our society became what it is now: a sick and corrupt whole of intrigues, a world based upon hatred, greed and lies, a community that masters racism, exploitation, oppression, murder. The first track of the New European Order 3LP set is called Natura Magica, and this was already a link towards the next album, Nature Revealed. N.E.O. is a documentary about our society in decay, but it included also the need for an alternative: a society that is not being ruled by corrupt and egocentric people, but based upon mutual respect and autonomy, free also from religion and possession. If some people found it ambiguous, it may be because they didn’t see the real concept and ideas behind it, whether they didn’t take the time for it, I don’t know. Perhaps we also attracted the attention of right wing adepts, but they should have discovered definitely what the Militia ideology really stands for. I have the feeling also that a lot of people in the so-called industrial scene very much like to be ambiguous themselves, dwelling with right wing ideas, symbols and clothing and so on. I sometimes wonder if they really know what they are doing. Nature Revealed deals with the other aspect of the eco-anarchic society, namely the environmental side of it. In order to create a basic social structure for this new society, we studied some primitive African communities and looked back at the pre-historical societies and their specific social structures. For this, we’ve received the guidance and help of the people of the African Museum in Tervueren and the Gallo-Roman Museum in Tongres. Not only did we use their information, but they showed us how to make primitive music instruments (clay flutes, horns, drums…) and how to play them. They also assisted in creating a primitive pre-historical (not existing) language and so on, all usefull things for the Nature Revealed concept. So Nature Revealed was the second part of the statement trilogy and a very important, dealing with the environmental aspects of such a society. In fact, Nature is an equal partner in this social whole. Unfortunately we had some comments about it saying that “Nature Revealed” wasn’t “industrial” enough and not “hard” enough. I would like to suggest that those people stay with the conventional noise they like to hear and stay away from music with a deeper continence. If they believe that Militia is going to repeat itself style -wise they’re wrong. We’ll always adapt and even alter our style of music and the instruments we chose in relation to the concept and the ideas we want to spread. The ideas are the most important aspects, the music plays a supporting role. Music is not art, it is a form of communication. If you’re the owner of all three statements, you’ll see the whole picture. For those who see, feel or even support our ideas now, the forthcoming book will just be the ultimate confirmation of it all.
Who would be writers, artists, philosophers, musicians, politicians etc that have inspired or otherwise have common ideals with the concepts behind Militia?
Oh, there are lots of them, and their number is growing. Therefore I would like to suggest only a few of them, as kind of a basic start from which people who are interested automatically can discover and follow connecting and even different streams of information. To start with, please read the books of Proudhon, Bakunin and Kropotkin, or try to find out about the lives and actions of Durutti and Malatesta or the FAI movement. Interesting also are the environmental action groups like GAIA from Belgium and the Animal Liberation Front or the anarchic movement in Amsterdam and Rotterdam ( Holland ).
Referencing the third installment of the trilogy, on one particular track on ‘The Black Flag Hoisted’ you give clear credence to the militant actions of the animal liberation front. Do you therefore expose a personal view in support of a vegetarian/ vegan lifestyle?
Yes, we definitely do so. Fact is that we believe that it is impossible to use such a great number of animals for food on such a huge industrial scale as it is been practised now without abusing, hurting and torturing the animals involved. Different ideas about this topic exist within the Militia group, but all are convinced that, given the current situation, all animals involved suffer. We suggest that at least the number of animals used in the food processing industry should be diminished to a basic limit so that a more gently form of meat processing eco-industry – on a biological basis – should be installed. But we also support the intentions of so many people to stop eating meat completely and turn to a vegetarian / vegan lifestyle. We strongly oppose against the use of animals in laboratories and vivisection, using them for fur or for the manufacturing of other luxurious goods.
Talking on the matter further, what are you opinion between farming of animal products on a mass scale, verses subsistence farming of use of animal products at a collective/ community based level?
What is your opinion of the views held by some eco environmentalist/ eco terrorist groups that fundamentally the globes human population has/ is approaching critical mass and cannot sustain continued population growth?
They’re right. Several reports from international health organisations, global economic/social institutions, Unesco and so on… also point out that the problem of the increasing human population has to be dealt with urgently. It is the basic cause of the major problems we know today: hunger, diseases, starvation, unemployment, over-exploitation of natural resources, drought, corrosion, the extinction of animal species,… and even war… It is quite unbelievable that the Catholic Church still condemns the use of condoms or even sterilisation. We must stop this enormous growth or we will deal with even greater problems in the near future.
Being a Belgium based project what is your view of your country being a member of European Union?
Well, for a start it is a purely economic union, founded just to preserve power and wealth and to increase it. Whether the common people profit from it, I doubt it. Unemployment hasn’t been stopped, that’s for sure. Secondly they haven’t done anything to stop the pollution of our environment, although there is a board installed to deal with these problems. I wonder what the members of the environmental board are doing there, not much, that’s for sure. And next, the people in charge’s main objective seems to be the formation of a European Fortress, to keep political and economical fugitives from poor countries or countries at war ( or dealing with other major problems ) and all people in need out. Militia proposes an open society where everyone can just live where they want to. We stand for the abolition of geographical and institutional borders and the destruction of all forms of governments and leaderships.
Do you view the events of September 11, 2001 as being an extreme manifestation of a growing level of unrest in relation to mass western capitalism?
Religion, economic, financial and military power are the main causes of all problems. Most leaders of the Islam communities deny basic human rights, especially the rights of women and children. America believes it has to rule over the entire world and oblige to everyone their standards of living and handling. There is an ever growing gap between the West and the East, economically and otherwise. Sooner or later this had to happen, triggered as it was by the devastating situation of the Palestinian people. In their utopic world view, Militia propose an atheistic society, not ruled by any government but by the people themselves. Such a society leaves no space for greed, hate or oppression. We need a total re‑construction of the present social structures or we’ll never find a solution for all world problems. At the contrary, they will increase, they will be worse, actions will be more violent, more deeds will fall.
What is your opinion of the current anti-globalisation movement, both in what it represents and the overall actions that range from peaceful to violent? (and of the later, particularly the violence that is provoked by authoritative intervention).
We support the anti‑globalisation movement and propose an alternative solution: the eco‑anarchic global solidarity forms a basis for mutual respect and respect for our environment. Starting from the social structure Militia are proposing, we are convinced that we can take on any major problem in the world. To our opinion, the leading governments are well aware of the potentials of the anti‑globalisation movement and all other environmental action groups. The only thing they can do to try to stop the increasing power of these movements is to put them in bad daylight towards the public opinion. I wonder if those people who started acting violently during the peacefully organised demonstrations could have been people put deliberately in the “inside” , just to start trouble and hand out to the political leaders a reason to condemn all of these action groups.
Making reference again to your live performances, during your live show a variety of footage is projected as a backdrop, but most particularly archival war footage. What attracts you to use this as a visual counterpart to the live rendition of tracks?
The film you refer to shows at first the battle of the communist and anarchist militia against the Russian tsar Peter the Great. Then come pictures of the pope (symbol of spiritual power, supporting the upper classes and the leading governments against the common people), then followed by pictures of the great American crisis (as a symbol for the fragile financial power, shows what can happen if an entire society is based upon wealth and property), then followed by pictures of the Animal Liberation Front in action and at the end you see the battle of the FAI (Italian anarchic movement) against the troops of the fascist leader Mussolini, mixed with images of the first active anarchic communes in Italy and Spain. So the film and the music we play (The Black Flag Hoisted) form one whole.
In-between the release of parts 2 and 3 of the ‘N.E.O’ trilogy, a two track ep was released. Given that the majority of your releases provide commentary on political, social and environmental issues, this ep included a track entitled ‘Kingdom of our Lord’ and appears obviously to be leveled at religion and more specifically the church. With limited reference points within this track (text, lyrics, samples etc), what is your opinion of the church as long established religion and/ or social controlling mechanism?
The churches ( and we mean all religions here ) have lifted the power of the leading class up to a spiritual level. We see this in most early societies, where even in some cases the absolute leader claimed to be a god himself. The position of the Japanese emperor Hirohito for instance shows the same thing, a profound mixture of spiritual laws and civilian laws can be found in most Islam states. Militia also like to point to the fact that the churches have been (and still are for that matter) the organising party of a lot of so‑called “holy” wars, starting from early in history to even now. We see armed conflicts and (civilian) wars between Muslims and Zionists, between Protestants and Catholics, Hindus and Muslims and so on…The main role of the churches still is dividing the people and handing out more power to the leading classes. Only in a “free of gods” society men can feel free. As an alternative we propose an atheistic spirituality, in which the beauty of nature and the positive actions of men can be admired and celebrated. The eco‑anarchist does not waste his precious time on worshipping gods and kneeling down for the so‑called supernatural beings, no, he tries to understand the world and find a scientific and logic explanation for the natural events, trusting only his own eyes and insight and discussing his opinions with others. In fact you can call us materialists, because we only believe in what we see and hear and feel and not in the invisible, in matter and not in spirits. The churches and all inherent symbols and rituals have to be crushed under boot and replaced by a new form of education based upon autonomy and a scientific approach of things!
Moving towards concluding the interview, what are your views of the political context that many bands within the underground scene inhabit or ambiguously flirt with?
You mean the ultra right wing ideas that are being introduced in the industrial scene and the uniformed swastika brigade? Well, we don’t know whether to have a good laugh at this or worry instead, but honestly, don’t you think it’s very silly watching these people dressed up like a combination of Herr Flick from “Allo‑Allo” ( you know, the English comedy series about a small French village being occupied by the Germans ) and members of a Tiroler castrated boys choir, their hair cut like Rudolf Hess had it, with their mad looking faces like frozen meat? Militia deeply dislike their stupid outfit and ( that’s if they’ve even got any ) the sick ideas that go along with such stupid behavior. Militia stand for the eco‑anarchic philosophy which incorporates a deep respect for all people, regardless their cultural background or the color of their skin, and for our natural environment and all the living creatures that inhabit it. No, my dear readers, we don’t go searching for camouflage outfit at the nearby American Army Stock, nor do we visit the local hairdresser’s with a silly request and we use “Mein Kampf” only for toilet paper to clean our ass with.
Are there any final points you would like to add?
Yeah, hope to see all good folk on a next occasion. Please don’t hesitate to send reply to our discussion forum as soon as our website will be active. If people still want to get our latest album ( The Black Flag Hoisted ) please contact us on our e‑mail address, which is: email@example.com
“ONLY SHEEP NEED A LEADER” – MILITIA