an interview with Ian "IGOR" Svenonius (Scene Creamers, Weird War, the Make Up, Cupid Car Club, Nation of Ulysses), conducted by Brett Lyman (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) for jigsaw fanzine number eight. jigsaw editor tobi vail suggested a few of the questions in an iChat discussion with brett preceding the interview.
BRETT: Bush vs. Hitler? I know the question sounds ridiculous, but i was wondering about yr take on it; do you think comparisons can be made? I guess that Bush et al are part of some crypto fascist cabal but the whole comparing everyone to Hitler thing is getting tedious. I suppose Hitler is a hieroglyph for ultimate evil but is it a useful comparison?
IGOR: We've already seen Madison avenue packaging so many "new hitlers", i.e. Saddam, Milosevic... Of course, on a personal level, Hitler wrote a book, something that Bush would never be able to do, and he rose from nothing to lead Germany to bloody conquest. Bush is a severely limited man who rolled over in bed to assume his birthright. Hitler also attacked countries which had armies, such as France and Russia, not just defenseless third world nations like Iraq. The USA shares the total collusion of industry/ government and the tech fetishism as well as the class /race arrogance of fascist Germany, but Hitler was fighting for a mythic ideal based on Wagner's operas, military history and race ideology. George Bush fights for a tiny oligarchy; more like a super cynical and exclusive country club. Hitler wanted to turn the world into "Grossdeutschland" with Berlin the capitol, called "Gernmania". Bush wants to turn the world, including the USA, into a giant third world for him and his
friends to rape (as per the British imperialist model). Why is WWll such a crucible in our culture? Because it defined the US' patrician world role and introduced the modern fascist govt/ industry relationship. Hitler's odiousness gave the USA absolute moral authority as liberators although the Soviets really fought the war/ did the work.
BRETT: How do you feel the recent efforts to colonize the Middle East measure up with other waves of U.S. imperialism (Japan, Korea, Latin America, etc)?
IGOR: It's different because the proxy wars during the Soviet period were designed by Kissinger as acts of attrition to destroy the USSR slowly, interminably by driving them into bankruptcy. Thus, the protracted natures of these wars (Vietnam, Salvador, Afghanistan.)were purposeful, so to make them cost as much as possible. With the Soviets gone, the effort is to rule by intimidation, fight perpetual "actions"everywhere(for the arms and tech sectors) and destroy social infrastructures (as in Iraq and Yugoslavia) so as to heroically rebuild and restructure economies for Bechtel, Halliburton etc.
This was already done with the Marshall Plan, where European cities were devastated irregardless of their military relevance; after the war the continent was restructured w/ US cash to switch from coal to oil for example, in order to render them eternally fuel dependant. This economic colonialism was echoed in the vigorous proliferation of American art throughout the continent to make US policy seem sympathetic. Therefore we rock n rollers are, in a sense, CIA dupes.
BRETT: You've said recently at shows that "the cultural narratives we produce can alter history". I was wondering if you could expound that statement a bit.
IGOR: It was inspired by Salvador Dali's characterization of Hitler as an opera fan who desired to live out the tragic calamity of Wagner. We see this in all of our lives; the fans of Tupac, Johnny Thunders and Morrisey, all living out the myth. The narrative of your life is of course based on the art which you love. And so it goes for the culture as a whole. It makes you realize why the State shows such overweening interest in ensuring the "hollywood ending" for all the war flicks. It shows why Britain and the USA have an institutionalized disregard for tragic forms and high art in general. The reasoning goes, that if the culture identifies with tragedy, the narrative of the culture will be one of doom and identifying with defeat ala Adolph. This gives us hope in our desire to poise an invisible hand in determining the collective destiny. Wagner, a national hero, did it unconsciously in a manner which he would perhaps regret had he seen it. He murdered his biggest fan. But magick is unpredictable that way.
BRETT: I also wanted t' ask you about something else you took to the stage; the idea of fascist ideologue equalling ersatz performance artist.
I dunno; Hitler , Mussolini and Bush were all coached extensively on public speaking by acting coaches but the tv medium and the corporate american style of government demand dullness and detachment, whereas those older types were fiery orators, like theater actors doing shakespeare. This difference is just due to the historically specific media, which is, of course, a great determiner of who plays in the cheap seats. Who knows? Maybe Henry the V would have been foiled by the TV medium. Or Jesus and Mohammed...
BRETT:A lot of people have been talking about the recent trend towards conservativism in underground musick. How do you think that change relates to the fact that now it is possible for bands to make money via record sales and tours that bring in a profit?
IGOR: I think it might have alot to do with the illusory sense of commercial viability in the music but that it has much more to do with the concern with rock n roll history books which are mythologizing the fuzzily remembered past. This has led to the "artists" attempting to approximate historical "timeless " forms, which breeds a formalistic conservatism. These books feature old people boasting of the sexual exploits in their wild years, hardly an exact or reputable science. Also, the revision of the "punk" form as just "dirty rock n roll" with no socio-political content besides smack and syphilis. Also, sexual anxiety; the fear of not getting laid makes everyone remarkably uptight when it comes to expression and not fitting in. Fascism is conformity based on sexual anxiety borne of molson's beer commercials.
BRETT: Do you think record labels can be progressive institutions?
IGOR: Either they are petit bourgeois home businesses or they are bigger companies. But yes, they can be progressive...I've also gotten into commodity fetishism quite a bit in my time, so I'm on their side. Besides, if Wagner killed Hitler through records, then the dissemination of the next aural-aesthetic assassin must not be impeded!
check out Igor's latest releases by the Scene Creamers and Weird War on Drag City. Measles, Mumps, Rubella have a 7" inch out. you can get all this stuff from www.killrockstars.com