BY CLARISSA-JAN LIM | Did fascist punks play a show at a Lower East Side dive bar? One group seems to think so. Fascism Watch NYC recently distributed a letter to businesses and the community around Chrystie St. expressing their opposition to certain bands playing Sun., Nov. 16, at Home Sweet Home.
The group singled out the frontmen of two acts, Death In June and Blood And Sun, and described the bands as “neo-Nazi” because of their alleged ties and sympathies with Nazi groups.
The letter read: “The project of self-proclaimed Nazi musician Douglas Pearce, Death In June is a widely popular band, and his shows sell out worldwide despite protest from anti-fascist groups.”
The letter also charged the band outfits themselves in fascist imagery, such as the SS Totenkopf skull symbol, and that proceeds from Pearce’s albums have benefitted fascists groups.
Death In June has been banned, to varying degrees, in Switzerland and Germany. A Chicago concert was canceled after an anti-racism group, Center for New Community, pressured the venue’s owner.
The letter also calls Pearce an outspoken opponent of multiculturalism.
However, Death In June has performed in Israel and previously worked with Jewish musicians and club promoters. According to the Portland Tribune, Alhambra, a venue that hosted the band there in May, faced similar opposition from local anti-fascism groups.
Alhambra’s manager, Dyami Clement, told the Tribune that after considerable research, “We finally came to the conclusion that the symbolism [Pearce] uses is purely artistic, and that he is not a Nazi.”
Pearce is openly gay and told Occidental Congress, an online zine on the folk music scene, that “being gay is fundamental to Death In June.” The musician also criticized anti-fascists who protest his band and authorities who have canceled Death In June shows as “ill-informed and ignorant.”
Pearce was previously in the far-left punk rock band Crisis, which performed at anti-racism and anti-fascism rallies.
Occidental Congress wrote that Pearce has “never bowed to criticism and rarely explained himself publicly, even when his concerts have been protested and canceled due to pressure from Anti-fascist / Anti-Nazi / Anti-Racist groups. Pearce is one of the very few contemporary artists who’s not only unafraid of being perceived as exactly that which most other artists are petrified of being seen as, but who’s even managed to use such perceptions to his own advantage.”
The Fascism Watch NYC letter also denounced Luke Tromiczak, Blood and Sun’s singer, for dressing like a “member of the Nazi Sturmabteilung,” or SA a.k.a. Brownshirts, and of having neo-Nazi connections in his native Minnesota.
Contacted by The Villager, Tromiczak denied dressing in uniform for performances, but conceded his Carey Grant haircut, boots and jeans could be misconstrued as “fascist chic.”
“However,” he noted, “these are matters of aesthetics not of politics.”
He also said the source of his “Minnesota neo-Nazi connections” that the anti-fascist group accused him of is a stalker there against whom he is seeking a restraining order involving “legal action for defamation of [Tromiczak’s] character.” The frontman declined to say more, citing legal issues.
Tromiczak, who is also currently pursuing an MFA at New York Academy of Art, said some of his paintings were inspired by the work of artist Kathe Kollwitz, who was targeted by the Nazis for supporting the 1932 Dringender Appell, a socialist party’s call to defeat the Nazis.
The singer added Fascism Watch NYC has never contacted him, though he is easily accessible.
“I cannot speak for every one of my many friends’ personal politics and do believe in a truly open discourse between individuals, not soapboxing by dogmatic ideologues and boycotts,” Tromiczak stressed. “Also as an artist I firmly believe freedom of expression is absolutely essential, even if found in bad taste by some.”
Home Sweet Home, at 131 Chrystie St., could not be reached for comment.