Finally, a journalist asked young, Danish punks, Iceage some tough questions about their continued use of fascist and racist imagery in their music and marketing. James Ubaghs, you have my respect.
In Ubaghs’ interview for Vice, he hit Iceage hard about the decision to sell Iceage branded knives on tour as well as their “New Brigade” video, where the band have a KKK day at the park, complete with hoods and torches. Those are but two of the questions I hard earlier offered up for free to journalists to replace the standards, “Hey how’s the tour?” and “Hey, how did recording go?”
On the KKK day at the park video the conversation went like this:
In the video for “New Brigade.” you’re wearing pointed hoods and lighting things on fire, which resembles the Ku Klux Klan. I’m not judging, I’m just saying that it could be an aesthetic choice.
Jakob: It wasn’t intended that way.
Johan: It was just for the sake of looking like a cartoon. It wasn’t intended to make people offended or make it seem like KKK or any association with racist organizations.
Jakob: It’s more about being a fuck and going to the park and setting things on fire.
Johan: It doesn’t mean anything, you know? It’s just pictures we put together of stupid things.
But you could argue that all images have some sort of meaning.
Johan: You’d say that?
I’d say that. Not to say that you’re right wing, but a lot of other bands have used the same imagery. I’m just wondering if it was a conscious decision to explore those aesthetics.
Jakob: If people get the impression that we’re right wing, then that’s unfortunate.
Johan: It’s interesting what you say about symbols holding a great meaning, and it’s strange how different people interpret different things. It’s important to take the power away from symbols.
Jakob: Also, I don’t want to explain that I’m not right wing. If people claim that I’m a Nazi, then it’s them who are the judgemental ones, not me.
On the Iceage tour knife:
What is the story behind the Iceage branded knives you were selling?
Johan:[Laughs] It’s amazing what a crazy big thing these knives have become. It was just an idea our friend in the US had that would just be a strange merch thing to do. And we were like, “Yeah, that sounds like fun.”
You weren’t slightly concerned that somebody might get stabbed or an accident might happen?
Johan: Yeah. But if someone stabs someone, I don’t think they’re doing it spontaneously. They’re not just spontaneously going to stab someone with an Iceage knife.
Jakob: Also, those knives are really small. If I wanted to stab somebody, I’d probably use another knife.
Johan: You could still stab a person with it, but it’s not like you can’t get knives anywhere else.
On being provocative:
That’s a good argument. Do you like to provoke people?
Johan: I like getting emotions out of people, but I don’t necessarily need to provoke anyone into feeling offended or sad or angry. I like to make people feel something, but not necessarily bad. Happiness would be nice as well.
On being political:
Are you interested in politics?
Just about every answer the band gave Ubaghs can be described with one of the following adjectives: dicey, cagey, or evasive. The band see no reason to explain anything. They see no reason to apologize for playing Klan.
Basically, Iceage would like you to know, they are not Nazis or right wing, are not political, and are not trying to provoke people. If you happen to watch an Iceage video and think they’re playing Klan, then it’s your fault for adding meaning to images. They’re just images of Iceage being assholes. I added that last part.