Inquisition Frontman Dagon: “I’m Not a Nazi”

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.

Earlier this week, an article on a blog called Shamelessnavelgazing was posted claiming that U.S. black metal band Inquisition not only had ties to the white power and neo-Nazi movements, but were, in fact, Nazi sympathizers themselves. The strongest accusations came from Daniel Gallant, a rehabilitated white supremacist who claimed that Inquisition guitarist/vocalist Jason “Dagon” Weirbach and drummer Thomas “Incubus” Stevens, “loved the white power movement” and openly professed “admiration for Hitler” when he drove a tour bus the band traveled on several years ago. After a highly-trafficked metal blog ran excerpts from the story with the accompanying headline “Black Metal Band INQUISITION Are Probably Nazis,” pretty much everyone in the metal community quickly formed a passionate opinion on the matter. Call us old-fashioned, but we thought it might be a good idea to actually ask Inquisition what was up with all of this. Weirbach spoke with Decibel’s Editor in Chief yesterday by phone. Let’s get right to it.

Are you a Nazi, and do you condone the singling out and persecution of non-whites as inferior beings?

Jason “Dagon” Weirbach: Absolutely not. I’m not a Nazi and I’m not out to persecute a particular race—or any race—white or non-white.

Have you ever met Daniel Gallant? If so, what was your relationship with him?

JW: First of all, I don’t know that person. I don’t know who he is. When I hear that name, I don’t know who he is. So, my common sense tells me, are you mentioning the name of the person who is an ex-Nazi that met me on that Canadian tour who made those comments?

Yes. That is the man who is accusing you of Nazi leanings and claiming that that you and your drummer Tom Stevens celebrated his swastika tattoo upon learning of it.

JW: Right. So, I’ll get right through all the b.s. OK, so now I know his name. Yes, I did meet him. Uh, I’m gonna guess somewhere… I think it was about 2008, maybe? Inquisition did a small, very small—we weren’t on the bigger circuit then—underground tour in Canada. Gyibaaw, a band formed of Native Americans from Canada, toured with us, and Gyibaaw supplied the transportation. In fact, it was a small, like, a shuttle bus that they use to take you from hotels to airports, that they got off of their res[ervation], and they provided it for the tour. And they were awesome guys; got along with them very well. And they also brought a driver on the tour. So, Gyibaaw provided the van—or shuttle bus—and the driver.

One day—this is something I have to explain; it’s very important—we were driving halfway through Canada somewhere. It was a hot day. And the driver said, “Whoa, here’s a lake where I used to swim when I was a kid. I’m gonna pull over here and dive in real quick, kinda take a quick bath in there,” you know? So, Tom [Stevens] and I, or Incubus and I, Inquisition, got out of the shuttle, Gyibaaw got out of the shuttle, our road manager… we all got out of the shuttle and walked towards the lake. None of us got into the lake except for that individual, he who wanted to bathe in there. So, he took his shirt off and he was just in shorts. He dove into the lake, and when he was coming out, he was getting close to me, I saw this enormous swastika, I think over his heart, over his left pectoral. And I looked at that and I told Tom, “Holy shit, dude. Is that what I think it is? What the…” you know? He goes… I think Tom’s reaction was, “Whoa.”

So, we left it at that. We left it alone because I was confused. I was thinking, “OK, there’s a band of Native Americans who set up this tour with us and that driver has an enormous freaking swastika over his chest, man.” And never did I ever think, “This is an ex-Nazi.” I’m just thinking, “Joe, it’s walking like a dog, it’s got to be one. It’s right there.” And there’s a lot of technology, man, these days to wipe those things off if you don’t want them anymore on you. So, I mean, you know, there’s even tape, there’s even Band-Aids or something, you name it. You really don’t want it on there, if you’re not that, then you don’t want to be associated 100 percent by having it tattooed on you.

So, anyway, getting to the point—which, all this is the point; you have to read into this and how it developed—so, anyway, you know, I wasn’t ignorant, I wasn’t like, “Oh, man!” I left him alone, he dried up, he put his clothes back on, and we all got back into the van. Um, when we’re in the van, my memory is fuzzy… I can’t remember if I asked him about the tattoo, or how it came up, but the bottom line is either I brought it up or somebody asked me something about his ideology or something. The bottom line is, his tattoos became a topic after he bathed in the lake and we all got back into the van. So, once the tattoo became a topic, I did ask him, I said, “Yeah, so what’s going on with that tattoo?” And he said… I believe he said something like, “I have more.” I’m like, “Really?” He said, “Yeah” and he started showing them. I think they were on his arm or something. And my exact reaction was, “Holy shit, dude. What the fuck?” You know? And then I think I called Tom over and I was like, “Dude, check this out.” And that’s exactly what we did, and Tom’s like, “Whoa.” You know? I mean, we’re not looking at tattoos of Mickey Mouse, right?

And so, when my reaction was, “Whoa,” well, either you’d be pro or con against it. Normally, you’re gonna have a reaction. I mean, there’s a lot behind those symbols, right? A lot of stuff that happened. And I’m not a sociopath, so I do have emotions, and uh, so, you know, it’s not like I was just an ice cube looking at these things. And I was confused, I was a little confused, but because I don’t like people judging me without knowing the facts, I never judged him. And I kind of put one and one together. I thought, “Well, okay, Gyibaaw set this tour up, they hired him, so either all of these guys are Nazis”—and I’ve heard of Native Americans sometimes not having a problem with it, because some Natives have been related to something nationalistic. So, I’m thinking, “Whoa, something obscure’s going on here”—or who knows? This is just a dude who once upon a time… anyway, he brought it up. He said, “I’m an ex-skinhead, and I’ve gotten away from that stuff. And I’ve even had death threats come my way.” And I’m thinking, “Really? No shit? Wow.” And it was a very normal conversation.

I think I was kind of cornered by then with questions like, “What do you think of the whole thing?” I heard this question come out from behind my head and I looked back, and it was one of the members of Gyibaaw: “Dagon…” So, since he saw me talking with the driver about his tattoos, he said, “Dagon, so what are your views on this whole thing about Nazism and national socialism?” And, look, this is… we’re talking 2008. I can’t literally go over every single thing I said. But I can honestly tell you that I never flat-out said I thought it was a horrible thing, or that I was against it, but never did I say I was with it and that I believed in it. What I have always told people is I understand it. I understand that when you look at history and what was happening at the time, whenever you put yourself in everybody else’s shoes—and if you’re smart enough, and you have… maybe common sense is not the word, but you have an understanding of why things happen in history and in humanity the way they do, it doesn’t matter how ugly it is to you or how great. It’s simple physics. It’s nature. Things happen. Earthquakes happen. You know? Bad, good—things happen

So, anyway, my guilt by association, I’m assuming, could be when I told the guy from Gyibaaw, “You know, yeah, I’ve known people in the movement indirectly and directly. I’m not a Nazi, but I’ve never … steered people away from Inquisition if they like Inquisition, if they support Inquisition.” And I’ll say it right here: If somebody is NS, or believes in whatever they want, and they like the music we’re doing, then they like it. And I’m not gonna create a campaign to keep them away from my band. I have a friend who’s a Christian—a good friend—he supports Inquisition. That’s where I’m at. You know? I don’t let these things intimidate me.

So, yeah, it was a loaded question, now I see, but in fact they engaged in the conversation by mentioning to me when I asked them, “What were the views of Native Americans on things that were socialistic or national socialistic or communistic?” And I’ll back it up. I mean, he explained to me vividly how on their tribe they have this… what they call a color wheel. And on this wheel there’s multiple colors. Each color represents a race of man. And how each race contributes to humanity working together. How one represented science, how one represented physical work, how… I asked him, in fact, to back this even more up, I asked him what did the color of the Native Americans represent, and he said, “Medicine. We brought medicine to humanity.” And the reason I go into these details is because it was an interesting conversation. I mean, you could talk political sciences all you want. Does that make you… does that make me Native American or something right away? No. You know, because I was asking them things that I thought was interesting.

So, all this stuff, as controversial as it is, is interesting to me. But it doesn’t mean that I’m out affiliated with a movement that is seeking to physically destroy any type of race, and I’m not out, you know, spreading fliers and propaganda of, you know … “do away with this and do away with that.” If I have done that through Inquisition, it’s a metaphor against religions. Black metal is a symbolic or metaphor of the free will, independent thinking, opening the mind to greater things than just looking straight into the religions of all cultures that men themselves have created. And that’s what it’s about. And national socialism, to a certain degree, is all the opposite of that. All of it. Right? So, I could keep going somewhere down there, but you may have other questions that… could kinda trail onto other things, so I’ll let you do that.

Can you tell me about your relationship with former Inquisition cover artist Antichrist Kramer? Is he, to your knowledge, a white supremacist? And if you knew that he was, would it affect your decision to work with him?

JW: Kramer was a very good friend of mine, uh, when I met him in 2003. The relationship of mine with him was a friendship through fan bases. He was a fan who contacted me with an interview, I believe, or I think, yeah… he sent me a magazine he made in 2002 or 3. And he was really into the South American black metal scene. In fact, I remember through him I learned about Goat Semen. Eventually the friendship grew, and I can’t remember how, but I found out that he drew. He did art. Back then, we did not have a stable artist, “stable” meaning I wanted to have an artist that I could have for a few years in-house that would create multiple album covers and shirt designs, like Slayer/Iron Maiden have done. And so I saw his artwork and I loved it, and I thought, “Wow, here’s a young talent undiscovered. Can we grab him?” And we started working together. Over the years, he started to get into powerelectronics and noise, and I later told him, “I’ve always been into this stuff,” and so our bond got even tighter because now we had even more stuff in common.

He is not a white supremacist. A white supremacist is a person who views their race—white—as supreme, and will not associate, absolutely, with no other race of any kind, other than his own race, which in this case would be white. He is not a white supremacist. Um, so, that covers my relationship to him, how I met him, and he did all our album covers. If I knew he was a white supremacist, truly, would I work with him? Well, there’s a fine line, because even though Inquisition is not a white supremacist band, it gets into the area of, well, here’s a friend who may have evolved into something that is not my business, but now is working for the band. So, for the band, of course, I would not have worked with him. We would not have… it would have been very difficult. It would have affected maybe our friendship or something, because people don’t like being judged, even though ironically we’re talking about everybody judging each other. And I want a career free of this kind of baggage and drama. I would call it drama.

So, it would have affected us, and clearly, to the point, had he been a white supremacist, of course we would not have worked with him. And I’ll repeat it: He is not a white supremacist. He has worked with Nyogthaeblisz, which is a Mexican-American black metal somewhat noise project. They’re not noise, but it’s a very extreme black metal. He works with Black Witchery, where the singer is half-Colombian like myself. He’s great friends with them. Uh, he was friends with Blasphemy. Blasphemy has an African-American, we all know about him, the guitar player, he’s a great guy. And I mean, you know, he’s not a white supremacist. What bothers me is that you can tell people all you want about Kramer not being white supremacist—they don’t want to believe it. Because they think that some white supremacists have the ability to be friends with other racists, but still have their own beliefs. But that’s not truly white supremacy, man. It is not.

The website that published the quotes from Gallant is concerned about the title of a song Inquisition released a decade ago called “Crush the Jewish Prophet.” The fact that it appeared on a record released by the German label No Colours also raised some eyebrows. Nothing about the lyrics to the actual song in question appears anti-Semitic, so can you explain why you choose to insert the word “Jewish” as a qualifier in the song’s title?

JW: The word “Jewish” is very controversial to some people. And black metal has always been about being controversial and being strong and being, for some people, offensive. I mean, you listen to Profanatica and they have some of the most offensive music against Jesus and Christianity in general. Okay? I think it’s all who says the word “Jewish.” I think it’s also who says the word “Jew,” and depending on how you say it, it’s taken right or wrong. Who the police are that regulate that, I don’t know. And all I’ll tell you is it added a very strong effect to the title visually and sonically, and I feel like I was in all the right because based on what history’s told me, Jesus was Jewish. Okay? He wasn’t Arabic, you know? He wasn’t French. He wasn’t Brazilian. He was Jewish. Now, he was a prophet. At that time, he was a prophet; he was a self-proclaimed prophet. That’s why supposedly, you know, he was killed. So, I really don’t know what the problem is. And so, it’s guilt by association. “Whoa, here’s a black metal band that’s on No Colours, singing about ‘Crush the Jewish Prophet.’”

I need to say something about No Colours that nobody in I think 15 or 20 years has told media, and this is what really really bothers me and tells me that people haven’t… a lot of people now that are complaining were not around in the early ’90s, when No Colours was my favorite label. You know, they released some excellent, classic stuff. No Colours was named No Colours because, when it started, CDs were beginning to be a hot thing in the black metal underground. Even though they’re not now, everybody that was printing CDs was printing color. It was kind of a big thing… it wasn’t a big-big thing, but people were starting to print everything in color. Back then, in the early ’90s, you had to pay… I believe you had to pay a little more to have things printed in color. Okay, so, it was kind of—kind of—a bit of a luxury to see things in color. And when bands printed in black and white, not all of them, the bands or labels, were printing in black or white to be cool or raw or kult or underground. They were doing it because they couldn’t afford to print in color. They would do basic runs of maybe 500 copies in black and white, one little square page with their cover, and a thanks list on the back, and that’s it.

The underground black metal scene started to get very big. You know, when bands like Satyricon, all those bands were releasing these great classics, Immortal, were starting to grow and they started coming out, Osmose, if you remember, the first releases of Osmose, most of them were just like kind of black and white, black and silver. Just two colors. So, the scene started to grow. And financially, there was a little micro-economy now going on. You started seeing these really nice releases coming out. But No Colours had this thing where they were gonna keep things black and white. They weren’t gonna print in color. And that’s why most of the early releases from No Colours were only black and white. And I thought, “Man, how’s this guy gonna keep going like this, you know?” I think Malicious Records was kinda like that, too. Just doesn’t exist anymore. And it was a cult factor. Like, we’re gonna keep things underground and raw. It was not about colored people. It was not about “no colors, races of people accepted.” It was not that. And I am totally blown away that nobody has pointed that out. Even back then, in the early days, we all knew this. It was common sense. Because I explained a little history to you of black and white vs. color covers, and his covers were still black and white. But eventually he caved in. A label has to stay afloat. And I’m sure bands started saying, “Hey man, we want… we have this art made, we want it color,” you know?

So, I mean, to prove that, he had black and white covers of bands that were not NS at all. I mean, yes, there’s that association of Graveland and everything, but if you look at all the lyrics of early Graveland, they totally were just Satanic, obscure, people would call them a Norwegian Satanic black metal rip-off. And I love the label. I mean, anybody who thinks the early No Colours releases were bad, I don’t know, something’s going on.

And something I need to add: We were signed to No Colours because No Colours was the only reputable label in the underground willing to sign us. They were the only label, in like 2003, that picked us up. Before that, we were with a little tiny micro-label of a friend in Colombia, and then a little tiny micro-label in the States who were working our record and only released like four releases or something. And then that label caved in. And I remember asking Mike Meacham, “Hey dude, what labels are out there? Who do you think honestly would sign us where our music would fit in, yet they have a good distro and can grow us?” He goes, “Dude, No Colours.” And I said, “You know, I’m thinking the same thing.” And I got a hold of No Colours. And he wrote back saying, “Oh, I always wanted to sign you guys, but I didn’t have your contact.” And so he signed us. And we never thought about, “Man, this is gonna hurt us.” And I wouldn’t have stayed away from it anyway. The label was killer, man. I saw them as another early Osmose Productions label.

Let’s address your 88MM side project. I know the significance of the name in terms of artillery used by the Germans in World War II, and beyond that, the number 88 has gone onto have significance in the neo-Nazi community in terms of a code for a “Heil Hitler” salute. Just explain to me the relevance of the name of that project.

JW: Correct. It’s literally that. It’s the round. It’s the howitzer round. Germans used it. I think, for the type of… I’ve always been into electronic music. And my favorite electronic music was always the ’70s, German, Tangerine Dream, early… you know, you hear this a lot these days. But I’ve been into it forever, since I was a kid: the early Kraftwerk and all the early Tangerine Dream, but I was also into noise. A lot of the, like, Brighter Death Now and Mz.412. And so, I thought, “What if I do, like, this mix of kind of like an electronic, sequenced, German-esque style ’70s electronic music with the current kind of real militant, strong, heavy, noise-industrial music, like mostly Brighter Death Now and Mz.412?” And I thought, “I’ll do that.” And I noticed that they always have numbers involved. Pretty much my favorite of all those bands was always Mz.412. And I noticed a lot of them would involve letters and numbers, and I thought, “Ah, how do I come up with a number?” And I remember thinking, I was like, “Maybe, uh, star names, like kind of what astronomers use, they have star designations,” and I thought, “Ah, that’s kinda cheesy. I don’t want that. I want something more brutal. Something that has strength behind it.”

And yes, it is what people—to a certain degree—think, but it’s not a white power, Nazi… nothing. I thought, “Well, shit.” One day I was watching, I think it was a documentary or I was reading books, you know, on all kinds of old military weaponry, and thought, “Whoa, 88 millimeter. Yeah. That’s, like, perfect. It’s like Mz.412’s kind of style of name.” And it’s a brutal name, you know? That’s exactly what it was. I mean, yes, it did cross my mind. I thought, “Oh shit,” about the 88 thing and what are people gonna think. And I thought, when it comes… I’m a purist in art, man, and I thought, “Well, I’m not gonna just cancel the idea because a few people might think, ‘Oh wait, that might be…’” No. Because it’s 88 millimeter.

And part of the theme… yes, I will say it clearly, part of the theme was using this mix of, like, weird cosmological, cosmic, spacey music with really harsh noise that accompanied themes of a very dark side of humanity. There were themes of the Holocaust. There were themes of Manson. There’s themes about astronomy. It doesn’t really carry one identity. I just wanted to do something that, yes, had some controversy to it, but very dark… I hate using the name “controversy,” because controversy is what people from the other side bring you. Or create. And it’s a psychological thing. But I just wanted something really dark.

And it’s not a very big project. I’ve only done like a couple tiny little releases. So, there’s not a lot of variety in the themes. On the second release, there’s some samples of, in fact, where England mentions, “Hitler is dead, he is now dead,” and the music is kind of celebrative-sounding. But there’s also a song that’s the opposite; it’s almost like, it’s Hitler speaking with the sequenced music going, where it kind of generates the sense of, “Wow, this great power”—and I don’t mean great—“but this massive power, they’re all in the works,” and then you hear the other song, and it’s “Hitler is dead, he is dead, this is London calling, Hitler is dead” with the sample I used. So, it’s very neutral. It’s controversial to those whose feelings are more geared to not liking or having anything to do with this stuff. And no more than, like, Christians viewing an inverted cross or something, you know what I mean? But I never thought it would stir up anything like this, honestly.

But you say yourself that you were aware that it would rub some people the wrong way, but you weren’t going to let that deter you from doing what you wanted to do. Can you safely say that it somehow even pushed you further, made you stronger-willed, like, “If it makes people mad, good”? Was that ever part of the process?

JW: Yes. Yeah. I’ve always had the assumption that, within the extreme music scene, that there were no rules, per se. That, you know, I know within heavy metal or noise or whatever, we have people of different races. We have people… I mean, look: My mother’s Colombian, okay? I have half-Latino blood. I have half-German blood. I mean, if that makes me bad, I don’t know. But I view the world sometimes the way I view myself, and sometimes we make those mistakes. We think, like, you know, “Well, this doesn’t offend me. It has some edge.” Of course, there have been things that have offended me. There’s noise music that talks about things that I won’t even bring up here that can be offensive to me. But I get it. I get it and, within the art itself, I’m not offended. I accept it. And that’s where I stand. And this is what happens, I mean, when you do this stuff.

And you’re right, you know? Bottom line, I’m thinking, “Yeah, I’m gonna spark some feelings here. This stuff has some edge. Some people might get offended, or will get offended.” So, did I expect it? Yes. But not within the scene itself. You know, I forget that. It’s like, within black metal, I always assumed—and, you know, I’m not a stupid guy, but I do forget sometimes that not everybody in black metal has this spirit of “the more extreme, the better,” or “the faster the song, the better.” The more this or the more that, the better. I’m not saying the more Nazi, the better. I’m just saying, when people push the limits, even if they’re getting to a fine line or something, I get it. People feed off of that stuff, regardless of what the scene is. But you’re not really targeting people within your own scene. OK? See, that’s the thing: I mean, like extreme death metal, extreme black metal, extreme noise, it’s extreme because some things are sugar-coated. There’s sugarless, diet, light everything.

But, here’s the thing: I guess on the side, I can say, you know, Inquisition has grown now, and we’re more exposed now to the mainstream, obviously. It’s no secret. And so now you start realizing that not everybody in heavy metal per se is in it for the same reason. Not everybody is an adrenaline junkie.