Ex-Skinhead: “This Was Never Just About Inquisition”

Six months ago, Google mandated that we remove the hate speech contained in comments for interviews that editor-in-chief Albert Mudrian and staffer Justin Norton conducted with (respectively) Inquisition (May 1, 2014) and Daniel Gallant (May 5, 2014). At the time, we were unable to delete those comments, so we simply took the interviews down. Now we’re able to better moderate the Deciblog, so here are the interviews as they were originally printed.

The majority of the story involving accusations of racism against Inquisition has been told on blogs with zero sources. It’s also been discussed non-stop in comment sections and chat boards. A situation involving accusations of racism, however, deserves a much deeper look and chance for all the players to give their side. It’s an ugly accusation and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly or reported like a gossip column. Our editor-in-chief Albert Mudrian spoke to Dagon last week to get the band’s take on what happened. In our second and final piece on the controversy, we spoke with Daniel Gallant, the former Canadian skinhead turned activist who is at the center of the allegations..

Gallant, who renounced the white power movement years ago, gave us an exclusive interview on his time on the bus with Inquisition and his thoughts on a story that has occupied the metal world for the better part of a week. He says Inquisition is just one part of a much larger problem. We’ve now offered both sides of the story — it’s a practice called journalism — and invite you to draw your own conclusions.

Could you tell everyone who has been following this story about yourself?

I left home when I was 12 and I lived on the streets until I was in my early 20s. I’d been involved in different gangs when I was young. I think got hooked up with Nazi skinheads when I was 18 in Vancouver. There were years of hate crimes and extreme violence and all sorts of criminality. I ended up having an internal conflict and ended up distancing myself (from the movement). I was challenged by a counselor to go the core and challenge my belief structure. He recommended I do post-secondary education. I completed a degree and began working in social services as counselor and a group home manager and researcher.

What drew you to white supremacy? Did you feel lost as a kid, or was there a history of racism among family or friends?

The broad appeal was a sense of meaning and purpose in the white power movement. At its core, it was anti-Semitic, and that meant there was identifiable group of people to blame for the state of the world’s problems. That’s what really sold me and gave a direction for the anger and hatred I had in response to the environment I lived in. I had quite an abusive childhood.

When did you sever your ties with movement, and how did you end up driving a bus for a black metal tour?

After I quit drugs and alcohol for about a year and half, I had my last get-together with white supremacist skinhead friends – that was about 11 years ago. As I was in school and going through some self-discovery, I came to a moment of clarity. I knew about a bombing that involved a white supremacist I recruited. I was concerned he could be like a Timothy McVeigh of Canada. I ended up going public and was a witness in a trial. I believe that was in 2004 or 2005. Since then, I’ve done a lot of “counter” work.

I don’t drive tour buses for black metal bands. What happened was I was finishing my bachelor’s degree at the University of Northern British Columbia. One of my classmates who was in a black metal band (Gyibaaw) approached me after he read an article about me doing intervention with local white supremacists. He also read that I was from Edmonton. The article was on black metal and white supremacy. He asked me to come to a concert and determine whether this band was white power. I attended the show and it turns out the singer was a kid I recruited. I got the information and saw that this stuff was still going on. The individual who asked me to do this was in Gyibaaw. They asked me to come on the tour driving the bus so I could tell if there were other white supremacists around because they were conflicted. I did the BC portion of their Canadian tour.

So, you were brought on not just as a tour bus driver, but kind of on a fact-finding mission?

Not for Gyibaaw. The reason they did it was because they were fearful. They are First Nations. In the book I’m writing now, I interview them and other members of the black metal scene. In the interview, Gyibaaw said it was pivotal in their decision to do a national radio interview on why they distanced themselves from the black metal scene. The systemic racism was ongoing, and they found out they were around white supremacists and it scared the shit out of them.

What were your first impressions of Jason (Weirbach/Dagon) and Tom (Stevens/Incubus)?

That they were metalheads. I have been around it (metal) my whole life and I like a lot of metal. As the tour went on, I saw Jason interact with people I knew from the past that I knew had direct connections with the Blood and Honor organization (a white power group). I then became suspect of them. I then saw Jason having a discussion about National Socialism and Odinism with a youth. I stood to the side and listened and was convinced Jason was aligned with right-wing extremist ideology.

On the way back to Prince George, we stopped at a lake. I had the purposeful intent of taking off my shirt and seeing their response to the huge swastika on my stomach, which, I might add, I no longer have. I know Jason said this occurred earlier, but it was in 2010. The response from Jason and Tom was praising.

Do you remember exactly what they said?

In the beginning, either Tom or Jason said, “Right on, awesome!” They were sitting together. As I walked past them, I was filled with rage. Quite frankly, I wanted to beat his face in.

Did you read Jason’s account of this situation? What did you think of his response, which was he isn’t a Nazi and that he simply discussed things that are uncomfortable topics?

Well, after I walked past them and put on my clothes, they got on my bus. Then the guys from Gyibaaw came to talk to me because they wondered what they should do. I informed them very frankly that I would drag these fuckers off the bus and beat them. But I don’t want that for you and what you do. When I got back on the bus, Tom asked a few questions and we started talking about the World Church of the Creator. Tom started to tell me that he had connections in Everett, Washington. I indicated that I knew guys from Everett. That’s when Jason spoke up. He didn’t say much in that conversation except that he watches Nazi propaganda videos and Triumph of the Will and loves that stuff, and has dreams and fantasies that he wishes that would happen. I’m looking in the mirror and watching Gyibaaw’s response, and they are scared.

I got a message yesterday from one of the guys from Gyibaaw — who I don’t even get along with — and he read the article and said, “Jason is lying.” I have all of this documented in e-mails.

I’m glad you gave Jason a place to speak. What I see in the interview is that Jason contradicts himself in several places, and in his explanation of 88mm he sidesteps his lyrics and the split album he did with Deathkey and Antichrist Kramer. On the discography for Deathkey are album names like “Hammer of Aryan Terror” and “Doctrine of Intolerant Hatred.”

So, you came on this tour at Gyibaaw’s request and you start watching these guys and their behavior. This almost seems like entrapment — like you are waiting for them to do or say something bad or something you don’t agree with.

Well, I’m not an authority, so there’s not entrapment. And this is a free country, so I can go where I want. I do this work for several reasons, including research. This was also part of a larger project I’ve been working on.

There were never any ethical questions about driving the bus while waiting for something alarming to happen?

There was no information from the band (Gyibaaw) that Inquisition had any beliefs like this. The reason I was asked was because Gyibaaw was approached by bands and fans they suspected were Nazis. They wanted to know if there were. It was never about Inquisition. Gyibaaw was devastated when they found this out and experienced it.

When did you get off the tour, and how did this end?

We were about to go to Edmonton. If I’m correct, they were going to play a club [name redacted] which was started by Neo-Nazi types and run by white supremacists.

Why did it take this story so long to get this profile? I know many of these things have been out there on blogs and message boards. Why does it only get this attention years later?

A few years ago, I wrote blogs on this. So, for me, this is not a new thing. I’ve been having these conversations in cyberspace for years, and Inquisition was aware of them.

This has been brought up by Inquisition and their defenders: Jason is half-Colombian. When you were in the white power movement, would he have been allowed into the movement because of his ethnicity?

People have a lot of misconceptions about the movement and how it functions, and that’s not how it operates. Hitler had many alliances with non-whites, and he was the largest driving force of the Aryan movement. And he wasn’t of pure blood. Why people don’t understand this confuses me.

There are a lot of black metal artists that have openly racist beliefs like Burzum and Absurd. Why is it important to go after Inquisition for what many would just perceive as a misunderstanding about distasteful conversations or song lyrics?

First, I never went after Inquisition. I pushed on a lot of different bands, the majority in Canada, including black metal bands with non-white guys. The whole purpose isn’t specific to black metal. This isn’t about outing black metal. It’s about a larger problem: complicity is the main perpetrator in extremism. People that maintain and disseminate these ideas allow it to become acceptable. That’s the core issue. This was never just about Inquisition. It’s about a larger problem. Some of the responses to this (online) are ridiculous and lack in critical thinking. That’s a tool of complicity. The most alarming and one of the main responses is that people don’t care what the band believes or what the messages are: they will be fans no matter what. That’s the most overt form of complicity. The triangulation between knowledge, power and language is at the core of the issue.

Slayer wrote “Angel of Death” about Nazi Germany and also received a ton of criticism, and that certainly didn’t speak to their beliefs.

It’s not the same context. The situation with Jason and Tom — it’s their associations and statements and imagery and lyrical content.

When Varg (Vikernes) was released from prison, we had him on the cover. We also inducted one of his albums in the Hall of Fame. Is that complicity?

I don’t want to say yes or no because I haven’t read them and don’t know the context. What I will say is these things need to be discussed in the public sphere. It’s important these things are brought up.

Why is it important for people to care about a conversation that happened years ago? This is only happening after they have achieved a modicum of success.

Well, for me, it’s untrue that it happening because of success. Maybe that is why your magazine cares about it now.

So, where does this whole flare-up lead us? What do you think could be learned from this?

If people are allowed free expression to the point of promoting genocide to identifiable groups of people, then I, too, should have the free speech to talk about these things publicly. That should be allowed on both sides. The other thing is that, in a society that is historically white supremacist, we are often in situations where those ideals carry forward in the social consciousness. We need to have these conversations to evolve. The metal that I used to listen to is about challenging the system and the powers that be — not becoming more like them. We don’t want to become abusers or oppressors. I never thought that was the point of metal.