Normally I don’t like to talk about myself in these things, so as not to overshadow anything else in the magazine with grand stories of a life spent being grumpy, but this month I figured I’d give it a shot in the attempt to bring clarity to things you may have heard about me. I occasionally get messages calling me a hypocrite or a fraud for spending so much time trying to enact some kind of positive social change within the metal scene. Why? Because for a while when I was younger, I was a pretty big asshole. I still am, but this was far less nuanced and loveable, which may come as a shock, I understand.
Probably the crown jewel in youthful fucking up was when my band, Krieg, did a split with Satanic Warmaster. This last sentence probably already alerted some of you to where we’re going with this, but it wasn’t the band I did the split with itself that caused the most ire. Rather, I had a message on the packaging that was packed with racist words that have caused me a great deal of embarrassment in the years reflecting on it. It helped cement a reputation that I was a bigot at worst and a fucking idiot at best.
Why did I say these things? Honestly, for a very juvenile reason: because, to me, black metal was an extremely ugly expression of music and message. It still is, but I felt I needed to take this to an extreme in order to somehow set myself apart. A mature person would have used their music to make this happen, but I suppose I somehow lacked confidence for a long time that my music would be enough. American black metal has never honestly been taken very seriously outside of the U.S.; this is still somewhat true today, but that’s more due to scarves and v-neck T-shirts than the reasons of the past. As Americans tend to express themselves in a loud and annoying manner, I was no different. I felt I needed to do this in order to get attention. Real high school shit, and I should’ve known better, but that’s the thing with getting older: You realize your mistakes long after you’ve already shit the bed. Doesn’t matter how quickly you take the sheets off—the mattress still gets stained and you have to sleep on it.
My biggest opposition in those days was both the growing faction in black metal that was focused on the idea of national socialist ideology and the other side of the coin: the collective group of anti-fascists known as Antifa. Those involved in NSBM absolutely hated me because I felt their ideology had nothing to do with black metal, which represented negativity in my mind, and I became a target for their good-time group attacks and death threats. On the other side of things, Antifa felt Krieg were a NSBM band itself because of the German name and the above mentioned use of regrettable vocabulary. I decided to try to irritate both of them by calling them out using that kind of language. At the time I thought I was being clever.
It went about as well as you’d expect.
In the years that have followed I’ve come to realize what a fucking mistake in judgment this was. Krieg has always had members of different backgrounds within the band, but have a smear across the name because I thought I was being cute and didn’t understand the weight of the words I was using. As I’ve grown older and been given some platforms as a soapbox, I wanted to try to atone for a shitty past by trying to encourage better standards and behavior. Unlike some who try to dodge their history, I fully admit I’ve done and said some terrible shit. Is this enough to make up for it? Absolutely not. But I am going to continue to use whatever time I have left being involved in music to work towards something better so that maybe other people see how badly I’ve fucked up and do their best to not do the same.