An Interview with Thomas Rainer of Nachtmahr

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written by I Die You Die
May 24, 2012 | Category: Interviews

“People can think what they want, but that’s our side of the story, and if you think we’re liars, fuck you.”

Nachtmahr

While talking to Thomas Rainer of Nachtmahr after Ad·ver·sary’s performance at Kinetik last week, Thomas requested an interview with us in order to delve deeper into the issues at stake. Rainer invited us to make the questions as controversial as possible, and upon meeting him suggested that after we’d talked to him we speak with the women who’d been on stage as part of Nachtmahr’s performance in order to obtain a wider range of views. Given that gender issues sat at the heart of this discussion, we were happy have them join us midway through the conversation.

ID:UD: So, you opened the show two nights ago and your last album with the Winston Churchill quote “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” What does Nachtmahr stand for?

Thomas Rainer: It’s like what I already quoted to you after you caught me after the show. I think the industrial scene got too tame. In times like these, we’re trying to stick to formulas that work and not trying to show too many edges because it could be taken in the wrong ways. I’m getting a lot of shit for what I do, but on the other hand I’m also getting a lot of praise for it. It’s a weird metaphor, because that’s how my brain works, but it’s like velcro: if you have edges stuff sticks. If you’re all slick it just slides off. The more flack you get, the more successful you are in a way. There’s people who don’t want you where you are, because you’re not sticking to their rules they made. Industrial being focused on punk is about breaking the rules and widening boundaries.

ID:UD: One of the criticisms that is often leveled at current EBM is that it’s apolitical and contentless. Do you see Nachtmahr as a political band in sense?

TR: Not at all. I’m not a political person as an artist. I think politics [should] have nothing to do with music. Politics are something everyone has to do in private. I vote for a party in a booth, it’s your private thing. Music should not be used as a vehicle for political beliefs, in any way, left, right, or whatever.

“You put on a uniform, you look at yourself in the mirror and you’re feeling empowered.”

ID:UD: As we saw this weekend, a lot of people take exception to a lot of the imagery you use. You aren’t the first band in industrial to use fascist imagery, why do you think people react to Nachtmahr in the way that they do?

TR: First I would like to elaborate on something: it’s not fascist imagery, it’s militaristic. There’s a big difference. I was talking to a guy yesterday who said “I was wearing a Russian uniform in a club and I got in trouble with some guys who said ‘you’re a fucking Nazi’”. That’s the problem. Military fashion, which is very, very acceptable in the fetish subculture, is often put into the same pot into the same pot as right wing. In BDSM it’s all about domination, and about power, and the uniform reflects that kind of power. There is no political statement contained within. It’s the effect you get when wearing it, when people are seeing it, but also for when you’re wearing it yourself. You put on a uniform, you look at yourself in the mirror and you’re feeling empowered. Even people not into that feel it. You put on a uniform, you look at yourself in the mirror and you’re feeling empowered. Even people not into that feel it. We’re brought up with authority all around us, and we associate certain traits with a uniform. When you wear one yourself you feel this power. That’s what the uniform is about. It’s not fascist, it’s militaristic. I’m gonna stick with that.

ID:UD: On the BDSM side you had a tribute to the movie “The Night Porter” in your album artwork, and many of your lyrics are about the things we were just discussing. Is fetish a huge part of what your addressing then, is it about power dynamics?

TR: Yes. I’m as open as I can be now. I’m also fulfilling a sexual fantasy of mine. I just get fucking turned on by hot chicks in uniforms. If I can have that in my band, it really turns me on, and it turns a lot of people out there on. I’m living my own sexual fantasies through the imagery of the band.

“There’s a comradeship amongst musicians like amongst soldiers.”

ID:UD: You’re a controversial figure, a lot of people take exception to what you do. In those discussions “Nachtmahr” and “Thomas Rainer” are used interchangeably. Is there a line dividing the two?

TR: There definitely is. My stage persona is the Supreme Commander. He’s very arrogant and cocky. I’m not like that at all, I’m a fun loving guy, I like to be social. The stage persona is only to underline the imagery of the band. If we can go back to that, I had this concept, I came up with the music for the band and it was pretty faceless. It was founded coincidentally. I wrote some tracks to fit into my DJ sets, to bridge the gap between industrial and techno. A lot of people came up to me to say “You should totally find a way to release it, it’s really good!”, so I was faced with the challenge of finding an image, image is very important to support your music and make it stick with people.

So I was thinking a lot about that, and listening to the music, and I was reminded of my time in the army, I used to be in the Austrian army. I found there is a lot of parallels between life as a musician and the life of a soldier. You train and train and train, and there’s campaigns you’ve got to do. There’s a comradeship amongst musicians like amongst soldiers. You’re away from home, all these things, from my three years in the army and my lifetime as a musician were similar. So I found this idea of portraying Nachtmahr as soldiers of sound, who shoot with bass drums instead of guns.

“I’m an Austrian and a patriot, and I can’t be a Nazi by definition.”

ID:UD: Speaking of finding an image for the band, you also quoted John Doe from Se7en: it’s not enough to whisper in people’s ears, you have to hit them with a sledgehammer. It seems the fascist or military image of Nachtmahr has been ramping up with each release since the project started. Has that been a conscious thing?

TR: No, I think it’s very simply what is doable with a budget. You start with an idea and from record to record you refine the imagery and start to refine the concept. You get a sort of momentum. From one idea the next one grows up, and it goes on.

Again, I really want to exclude the fascist thing, it’s militaristic. There is no kind of uniform we use that would not be used by any other army in the world. As an Austrian, an Austrian patriot…every American is allowed to be a patriot, Germans aren’t allowed to be that. I’m an Austrian and a patriot, and I can’t be a [Nazi] by definition. Fascist Germany, the Third Reich brought a lot of shit on us. If you’re an Austrian patriot you believe in your country, and the roots of our country are in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which is far beyond everything Germany has ever been and ever will be. This heritage has been taken from us by the shadow of the German Third Reich, and therefore every patriotic Austrian cannot be a fascist or a Nazi. [When we contacted Thomas for some clarity on this quote he wished to make it clear that this statement is in reference to National Socialist German belief not accepting Austria as an independent nation, but a part of Germany. - ed]

That’s a very valid point I want to make because it insults me as an Austrian patriot to be called a Nazi.

ID:UD: The word “Nazi” does come up a lot when people are detractors of yours. People either implying you are a Nazi, or saying you have sympathies. Do you feel the need to respond to that?

TR: That’s basically what I just did. I’m a patriot, I’m a uniform fetishist, I like militaria. If people associate that with being a Nazi, that’s their fucking fault, and not mine.

ID:UD: Are you afraid that any part of your image overshadows what you’re doing musically?

TR: I think it goes together. The whole idea about the band was to find something that supports the music. The image is very very important to carry the music across, to be a vehicle for the music. I find a lot of industrial bands are faceless. We look at festival pictures you see like, two guys in combats and black shirts behind a laptop. You need to give your band and your project a face when you see a photo, that’s Nachtmahr. To me it’s equally as important to the music.

“Industrial was always about evolution.”

ID:UD: On stage on Friday when you said industrial was all about the beat. Is that what defines what you do?

TR: I’m in this scene for fifteen years now and I’ve heard this discussion so often.

ID:UD: What is industrial?

TR: What is industrial. Bands that are now considered the definition, back in the day were like the new kids who were considered untrue. It’s a fucking joke for me. This whole “trueness” reminds me of my black metal days, what is true and untrue, let’s burn a church or kill some Christians to be proper black metal. It’s bullshit. Industrial always was about futurism. If you think about back in the days, Cabaret Voltaire, Test Dept, the old guys, they were always on top of things, cutting edge. All of those bands always utilized the newest means of technology, tape manipulation, they were always ahead of what was happening in mainstream music. They always were ahead of the musical vanguard. Industrial was always about evolution. Now there’s people who say this evolution is [wrong]. If Test Dept., Cabaret Voltaire or Clock DVA were founded now, they would do the fucking same thing. They would be using iPads, they would be using current synthesizers, embracing modern technology. That’s what it’s all about, the admiration of machinery, the nearly geeky approach to things. That lies in the roots of industrial. Embrace change, don’t fear change.

“This scene is a sausage fest, it’s all guys.”

Nachtmahr

ID:UD: As a band with it’s fair share of controversy, then, whenever there is controversy in this scene there’s a lot of discussion online, everyone with a keyboard and an opinion gets in on the debate. Do you find that’s helped or hindered what you’re trying to do with Nachtmahr?

TR: I think the Internet is a blessing and a curse at the same time. Everybody just feels the need to have an opinion, even if they don’t have one. The misogyny discussion, it’s like dudes speaking of misogyny and other dudes are commenting on it. That’s not where the discussion should be happening. I was talking to a lesbian friend the other day, and she was really offended by that. She said “It’s like sausages talking about clams.” It’s like, you don’t know how I feel, because you’re a guy and you will never be faced with these problems, so don’t speak for me. I think that’s a very very valid point she made when we were discussing the whole drama.

ID:UD: Is that maybe a problem, then, that there’s a lack of female musicians in the scene?

TR: Definitely! I’m in another band, L’ame Immortelle. I’ve been working with Sonja for a great deal of time, like fourteen years and I always found it highly inspirational to work with her on songs. Her female approach to music is so different from the male approach. I find it refreshing to get her ideas into my songs. This gives us a more holistic experience if you know what I mean. That’s why I’m sad that there aren’t more female musicians because they could contribute so much to this scene. [Rainer points to his shirt which depicts the Last Supper and labels it a "Sausage Fest"] This scene is a sausage fest, it’s all guys. There should be more women in this scene because it would make our music so much better and so much different.

ID:UD: Do you think there’s something that keeps women out in the aesthetics of industrial?

TR: In a lot of jobs you have the same problem. It’s a guy-run business, it’s really hard for women to gain ground and to be accepted as well. Also part of it is the aggression of industrial. Women naturally are not as aggressive as guys are, so maybe they can’t relate as much to the aggressive side of industrial because it’s not in their nature as much. Erica from Unter Null is a good friend of mine, she was sending me support text message yesterday when she heard what happened. She’s a very good example of female musicians who can make some kickass industrial music. So please, more of them!

ID:UD: Do you feel that Nachtmahr is an expression of a more male persona you have creatively and you have a more feminine persona working with L’Ame Imortelle?

TR: Exactly. I’m a very bi-polar person. I have this very introvert side and this very extrovert side. With Nachtmahr I found the perfect balance in my life. With L’ame Imortelle I can express my more introvert, romantic, melancholic feelings which is the female side. With Nachtmahr I can express my more male, aggressive, dominant, extrovert side. To understand me as a person and a human being, you need both sides to be seen and accepted.

“I’m used to getting flack. It’s something I do on purpose to be different, to make my voice heard louder.”

ID:UD: When something like what happened on stage [on Friday] is it something you take personally?

TR: Not at all. My friends and fans were much more pissed off then I am. I’ve been in this business a long time. If you’re taking the risk of having a controversial image and being in a controversial band that’s just what you signed up for. Everyone was like “Oh my god, did you hear what Ad·ver·sary did? Fuck that!” I watched the video the next morning and I was like, it’s a point, I think it’s wrong, but it’s nothing I take as a personal attack. Being a professional musician for more than 12 years, I do it for a living, criticism on any level is something you signed up for, it’s part of your job. You have to stick with it, and find if there’s anything in that criticism that is valid for yourself which can make you improve as a human being or as musician, or not. It’s nothing I took personally, it’s nothing I took great offense to. I’m used to getting flack. It’s something I do on purpose to be different, to make my voice heard louder.

ID:UD: We’re talking a lot about critics, but you are still one of the most popular bands at this festival, there’s lots of people in Nachtmahr shirts, uniforms and so on. Leaving aside your personal reasons for doing what you do, what do you think the appeal is for audiences?

TR: What I try to do with my music, with L’ame Imortelle, and with Nachtmahr as well, I try to create a world. It’s like Mini-Tolkien *laughter*. Create a world with mottoes, symbols, uniforms, language, stuff like that. To get something people can relate to, a lot of people are out there are in a void, and giving them a small home. It’s like, I’m going to a Nachtmahr concert, what am I gonna wear? Oh, I’ve got a white blouse and a tie in my wardrobe, why don’t I dress up as one of the Nachtmahr girls? It’s giving them something to identify with, a projection space.

ID:UD: So is the Nachtmahr army something you set developed along with the concept of the band?

TR: I was thinking about stage clothes and it all gained momentum. I wanted a uniform that could easily be recreated by people with pieces they had in their home wardrobe. It really makes me happy when I’m on stage and I see people wearing the uniform. It’s so much more praise than just the band t-shirt because it’s people making an effort to show their admiration for the band. It makes me really happy.

ID:UD: As we’ve talked about several times you’re not afraid of provoking a reaction, and you’re expecting them. Where are you planning on taking that? Do you see the project going in any new areas which will be similarly or differently controversial?

TR: We will be releasing a new album at the end of the year. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel and make Nachtmahr something different. I just have to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s not something you take in steps, you adjust as you go along to find if it’s more or less what you need.

ID:UD: So there’s no 5 year plan?

TR: No, it’s dynamic.

At the beginning of the interview Thomas suggested that we interview the women he’d had on stage as part of his performance to get their perspective on the events of the weekend as performers. We spoke to Anna Theresa DeMeo of Baltimore and Lianne Chapman from the UK.

Nachtmahr

ID:UD: What do you see your role in Nachtmahr as?

Anna: Honestly, I just came on stage to be one of the other girls, we had just talked about it and it was a really good experience. When we go up on stage, he [Thomas] actually preps us, you know if you feel sick, if you’re getting overheated, this is what to do. He used to be ex-military so like, he tells us to shift our weight and everything like that. Lianne is actually the girl who passed out, there’s a whole thread on the community that’s criticizing that. [referring to online discussion of a show in the UK in 2010] The thing is is that those lights really do get hot, performers get hot. It’s not like we’re up there being told “You have to stand there and do this”. I think people are misconstruing it.

Lianne: That stage was very small, it just got so hot.

ID:UD: There’s a huge amount of controversy surrounding what Ad·ver·sary did on Friday night and there’s been a lot of talk about how Thomas’ artwork, specifically the video for “Can You Feel the Beat”, treats women. As two women who are associated with the band and who have performed the band do you have any comment on that?

Lianne: I think that the video was taken out of context with what they did the other night. If you watch the whole video she’s portrayed as a strong woman because she doesn’t give away information. She’s not a weak woman who’s being picked on, she’s a strong character.

ID:UD: We spoke to Thomas about the power dynamic inherent in military imagery and wearing uniforms. You were up on stage wearing uniforms, do you play into that?

Anna: I think that there is a part of that because you do feel an essence of power when you are wearing a uniform.

Lianne: There’s confidence that comes from it.

“We’re not up there against our will, we want to do it.”

ID:UD: One of the other things we’ve heard as a critique is that women are used [in Nachtmahr's show] as static figures, not playing the music, just being still or inactive. Does that relate to how you experience the show?

Lianne: It’s the most empowering thing to be up there and be able to stare at people.

Thomas: It’s actually much harder to stand there than to dance. That’s what the girls tell me a lot of the time, it’s so hard for me not to be dancing!

Anna: I think it’s more of an image thing than anything else. Let’s take a ska band, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. You’ve got one guy that just runs around on stage and that’s what he does. It’s part of the show. It’s not like we’re being told “You need to do this”, again I’m gonna emphasize that point. There’s no dictatorship here. I think people are completely misconstruing things. We’re not up there against our will, we want to do it. So I don’t understand the misogynistic undertones to any of this.

ID:UD: We haven’t seen the thread relating to the event on the [Kinetik page] yet…

Anna: What happened is [Kinetik promoter] Jean Francois posted his official statement, and basically I started commenting to someone else’s post because they were talking about the swastika and saying really unintelligent things about it. So I started posting the origins of the swastika in Hindu religion, and Buddhist religion and it’s misconstrued. And someone else is like “Don’t you take that out of context, you know the meaning of it our scene” and I’m like you’re really honestly just being an idiot now.

Thomas: In that thread someone tried to make a misogynist action out of the incident at Infest where Lianne fainted on stage and I went on.

Lianne: I was behind you.

Thomas: Yeah, a: I couldn’t see it, and b: I tell everybody the show must go on. I give advice from my army times, how to stand keep your circulation. If you’re gonna faint, someone will take care of you, but don’t mind if I’m not stopping the show, because the show must go on. From that someone was trying to suggest that “Thomas didn’t care that that girl collapsed”. It’s like fucking Where’s Waldo, people are trying to find misogynist content everywhere.

“This isn’t a political festival. Where’s Consolidated when you need them?”

ID:UD: Something we asked Thomas earlier, oftentimes the internet is a wind tunnel…

Anna: It’s a game of telephone.

ID:UD: … and you guys were being discussed without your input. Is there something you want to add to that discussion?

Lianne: I didn’t even know about any of this until today.

Anna: I tend to be guilty of being on Facebook a little too much, especially in this case I will say that I think this has been blown out of proportion so much. Everyone is entitled to their opinion when it comes to certain bands and certain genres of music and you know, Ad·ver·sary had a very blunt political statement about what they thought about [Combichrist and Nachtmahr]. What they don’t understand is that this isn’t a political festival. Like, where’s Consolidated when you need them? *laughter* I can understand where they’re coming from and I’m sure they wanted to get their point across because they wanted to be like Genesis P’Orridge or Jello Biafra, make that punk rock point and out the elephant in the room. You shouldn’t make a point to a general mass of people who are there to hear music and support music. That kind of political statement makes everyone go “What?”

Lianne: It’s the wrong time and place.

Anna: It’s not a political platform. If you want to make a statement like that go to a protest.

Thomas: The other point I wanted to make was that I heard a lot of people say that was a bold move but what a lot of people don’t understand is what could have happened. If Andy and me hadn’t been so relaxed…I’ve seen other bands do that, refuse to go on stage [for little offenses]. This is the point Jairus didn’t get. He didn’t give a toss about Kinetik. For him it was just important to make his point. That is an egomaniacal approach. He didn’t give a flying fuck what would have happened for the people who paid a lot of money to see Nachtmahr and Combichrist. That’s the big, big error in the whole thing. That’s something that was left out of the equation.

It’s important for me to speak on this and I think I could have thrown back most of [Jairus]‘ arguments. It’s why I wanted to set things straight. People can think what they want, but that’s our side of the story, and if you think we’re liars, fuck you. I mean, I just want to say I have less problem being called a Nazi than a misogynist. The Nazi thing is ridiculous anyway, but I was raised in Vienna in a positive, conservative neighborhood. I was raised to be a gentleman. I was raised to help women with their jackets, open the door, take the bill, stuff like that. That’s how I was raised.

Anna: He’s a really nice guy.

Thomas: Calling me a misogynist is really against everything I was ever taught by my parents. I take a lot of offense to it, more than a racist and a Nazi.

68 Responses

  • Outlaw Kit says:

    I can understand and support many points that he made. It’s good that he owns the reason for the militant look and tropes. And that was a smart move having the women be interviewed.
    But some of this is crap.
    The shocking, unruly industrial motif IS formulaic. To push the envelope with racial, sexist, and violent overtones is outdone and overused. How is this revolutionary? How is this breaking from a pattern? It’s the exact same pattern.
    And obviously Thomas hasn’t met some of the really big-hitter women in the industrial genre. Yes, it’s saturated with men, as is pretty much everything ever. But there ARE women in this genre, and they are tremendous and awesome. To call it a sausagefest is to diminish the role that they play.

    • Beatspawn says:

      reply to Outlaw Kit …

      If possess such knowledge of the great women of the genre, then you should take it upon yourself to promote them here and even make a website/blog to spread that knowledge.

      I’m constantly researching the underground for hidden gems and I haven’t come upon that many feamale industrialists that hook me in and those I found were for the most part German.

  • [...] request, we conducted a lengthier interview with him about these issues. That interview can be read here.Tags: Ad·ver·sary, Combichrist, industrial, Kinetik, Nachtmahr RelatedAn Interview with Jairus of [...]

  • steven says:

    Well, he acquitted himself better in the long interview than the short one, I’ll give him that. All the same I laugh when I think about bands like this complaining about the scene being ‘too tame’ when their (militaristic) look is decades old cliche and their sound is so mind numbingly cookie cutter derivative. Maybe I’ve been around too long but stuff like this doesn’t even qualify to be important enough to be offensive; it’s just trite and boring. It is with this want for a better sonic aesthetic in mind that I embrace the ‘We Deserve Better’ motto.

    • Jaaaaaaaaaacek says:

      I think there is a gap in the logic surrounding the double-persona (Thomas vs. the Supreme Commander). If they are not the same, then surely I can accuse one of being racist without implicating the other. Thomas insists that they are separate, but then when the persona is accused of being racist, the defense is about Thomas himself. So suddenly they are not separate.

      Ditto for the N-girls. You may have willingly gotten up on stage and performed, but that is not relevant. What is relevant is the content of your performance.

      • steven says:

        Women can be anti-feminist just as much as the next meathead. Consider Rhianna forgiving Chris Brown for beating the sh*t out of her. The N-Girls aren’t in as extreme a position as that of course but would I definitely say they’re not helping.

    • Beatspawn says:

      You may not like it, but the World of Nachtmahr still catches the imagination of plenty of fans who enjoy it.

      The militaristic look might feel cliché to you, but Thomas spins it to include his soldiers (fans) and make them feel part of something is refreshing to the scene. Without forgetting the exceptional quality of the Nachtmahr material (music, imagery, merchandise, etc.) shows how Thomas bring it to the next level polished. I can see the beauty in the perfection of an art style.

      Other bands just simply steal from the past without imagination, while Thomas takes the very essence of past military ideas and incorporates them into a NEW image.

  • Audra says:

    ‎”This is the point Jairus didn’t get. He didn’t give a toss about Kinetik. For him it was just important to make his point. That is an egomaniacal approach. He didn’t give a flying fuck what would have happened for the people who paid a lot of money to see Nachtmahr and Combichrist. That’s the big, big error in the whole thing. That’s something that was left out of the equation.”

    Is he saying “Jairus is lucky that Andy and I aren’t gigantic crybabies”? That’s how that reads to me.

  • Brad says:

    “If Test Dept., Cabaret Voltaire or Clock DVA were founded now, they would do the fucking same thing. They would be using iPads, they would be using current synthesizers, embracing modern technology. That’s what it’s all about, the admiration of machinery, the nearly geeky approach to things. That lies in the roots of industrial. Embrace change, don’t fear change.”

    I can’t speak for Test Dept. or Cabaret Voltaire or Clock DVA, but I personally find a lot to disagree with in this statement. And at least TD and CV got boring in their techno years anyway. The technological aspect of industrial music was meant to be subversive, in the sense of using the technology of the establishment to lash out against it. But in 2012, what could possibly count as a “subversive” use of an iPad? Why continue to embrace change when that change is clearly non-consensual (how much choice do you REALLY have whether you own a computer?), and only serves to keep people dull and distracted? Why must industrial music be so dependent on the latest mainstream technological opium? I don’t think there is a strong luddite streak in the industrial scene, but surely that would be more countercultural than being another computer-worshipping “geek”! I guess it’s time for me to shut up and start making art…

  • rljd says:

    I think it’s amazing that an artist who trades absolutely in image and concept and literally nothing else is compelled to stake a defense of his character on the argument that those things have no meaning or importance.

    I am similarly amazed that his response to his militaristic imagery being described as “fascist” is to be very, very specific in making the point that he dislikes Nazis. Nazis, per se, full stop. He defends the violent military imagery otherwise – it’s an appeal to brutal, totalitarian, oppressive violence… just not that ONE specific famous group that no-one mentioned before he did in this interview. He wishes to invoke the GOOD kind of state violence. Ah, he is a sweetheart. Phew.

    • Beatspawn says:

      They do have meaning, but NOT the meaning other people try to impose on his imagery by associating it with racism etc. His meaning is the power of music, crowds and movement through heavy beats.

      He mentionned the Nazi simply because in the flak he’s been receiving on other threads was base around Nachtmahr having a “N” pin attached to a collar just like the SS had. He was simply responding to the imbeciles that said that having a a collar pin meant you were a racist Nazi.

      Listen to the music, read and translate the lyrics. There ain’t no racist or degrading to women messages.

    • eilfurz says:

      you’re right. he’s acting and argueing like the text book definition of a fascist, and at the same time is nitpicking on the definition of the term “nazi” – which by the way in austrian colloquial does not mean – “from the german nazi party as of pre 1945″ but is losely used for all sorts of right wing nuts – who seem to be the majority in the professional part of the austrian military as well.

      it’s the same game, the fpö, an austrian right wing party and home to former nazis plays. toying around with nazi-symbols as much as possible and playing innocent when it finally stirs up a controversy. moving the borders between freedom of speech and fascism one step at a time.

  • Joshua W says:

    This is a pretty hilarious interview. I particularly enjoy the classic “IT’S NOT A NAZI SWASTIKA, IT’S A BUDDHIST ONE” and “I CAN’T BE A MISOGYNIST, I OPEN DOORS FOR LADYFOLK.”

    • holly says:

      I couldn’t read the whole interview… it was a lot of “you just don’t understand my deep meaningful arts, I’m an artist like so many great artists before me I am misunderstood. I am a victim… WHINE WHINE WHINE.

      ugh.

      “I just get fucking turned on by hot chicks in uniforms.”

      Deep.

    • Alexey (AMBASSADOR21) says:

      +100 :)

    • Jon says:

      Yea, what a complete tool of a human being. Bruce and Alex, you were way to kind to him

  • Lanah says:

    I’m just gonna say if the girls were uncomfortable with it, they wouldn’t have volunteered. Plus, industrial SHOULD be a controversial genre. That’s the point. Being edgy, whether the attention is good or bad, it is their image and their right to express it as ARTISTS. Nobody is forcing anybody to listen, watch, or talk about it, and if you don’t like it, fuck off! There’s no law in your state/country stating you have to like it —there are so many other genres of music that people listen to, and that, again, is still their choice.

    Damn.

  • Dan says:

    Gentlemen, if you’re not a woman, you can’t get offended for them ’cause you don’t know their experience. Coincidentally, if you’re a white man doing a minstrel show in black face, make sure there are no black people around. That way no one can get offended.

    I hate commenting on the internet. But as someone who used to love the industrial scene, I just wanted to chime in to express that this interview is exactly why the scene has degraded into a boring self parody.

    If you genuinely believe that Nachtmahr’s music is original, that dressing up in military uniforms is pushing the envelope, and that objectification of women is subversive, then you all deserve each other. Enjoy being part of the Nachtmahr army and helping this kid live out his techno sex fantasies.

    I’m also disappointed at I Die You Die. He invited you to ask really tough questions and you didn’t. You dodged all the issues raised in the Adversary video and didn’t have him answer anything meaningful. Maybe you could have him explain the artistic merits of the bloody women on his album cover? Were you guys afraid you wouldn’t get any more free CDs sent to you?

    You know what’s pushing the envelope and subversive? Taking a stance against all this dumb, formulaic music based on banal military fashion tropes. We deserve better.

  • jdp says:

    I wonder why Thomas spends so much time talking specifically about not being a Nazi when the complaint was that his video and cover art was sexist and fascistic. I don’t think Adversary called Nachtmahr a Nazi, and I’m not sure why he brings up that No True Scotsman defense against a question nobody asked.

  • Jesse says:

    It’s like…Faderhead, Combichrist, Nachtmahr, all these newer acts, it’s as if those guys listened to Velvet Acid Christ, found all the aspects of his music that real rivetheads made fun of and thought was stupid, and imitated it not realizing that it was stupid. Plus frat boy fascism.

    • john says:

      I’m just going to point out that you specifically mention 3 acts that all make a ok living off their music careers. something to consider when questioning why they do what they do.

    • disflux says:

      the thing is thoigh, VAC was always the victim of the damaged female. if you actusllysit and listen to pretty toy, progress onto slut and then take the time to put thm in the context of every track in the art of breaking apart, it becomes fairly obvious that VAC often shifted viewpoints but it was always about describing this narrative of being on the receiving side of an abusive relationship.

      nachtmahr and combichrist dont have a surface to scratch at compared to VAC.

  • Ramius says:

    Mach weiter so Thomas.Ich mag deine Beats.Den wir sind Unbeugsam.

    Gruss Ramius

  • Sean says:

    Why does everyone have to pump up their ego these days by trying to tell people who like a certain thing, band, movie, tv show, that there is something wrong with them for liking it. I like Nacthmahr for the music, and the imagery simply goes well with the industrial genre as a whole. If you do not like Nachtmahr or similar bands; guess what, no one is forcing you to like them. Don’t listen and fuck off. As a firm fan of Nachtmahr I have one thing to say – you mad?

    • jontea says:

      “don’t listen and fuck off” is a pretty lazy answer, don’t you think? Especially since the message isn’t “don’t listen”, but “why listen to this?”. At least Rainer had an answer, even if it was just “hot chicks in uniforms give me the boners”.

      If musicians can push themselves to make better and more interesting music because of adversary, I’m excited to hear it.

  • Heather says:

    It was interesting to hear his perspective in greater depth but a LOT of questions were missed.

    I don’t think badly of Rainer but the end part made me cringe. Also, can we agree as a society that helping women with jackets and opening doors for them doesn’t mean that you respect women in any way, shape or form? The very fact that these are the things that come to mind always gets me. Your proof of respecting a male coworker would never be to tell us that you open the door for them.

    • john says:

      one could make a pretty strong case that physical abuse of women was much more prevalent in the days where opening doors and helping with jackets was the norm.

  • darkling says:

    After this interview, I can only assume he sits at his sequencer jerkin’ it while pumping out tracks. So icky.

  • Cybercat says:

    Not enough girls in industrial! dam right. have you seen those Needle Factory chicks? they are mighty fine ;)

  • PlazDiqueHardt says:

    1. Clearly, the “velcro” of industrial is misogyny… What an artistic genius. So, with regard to the Churchill quote, what is it exactly that Rainer believes he stood up for? And with regard to the Se7en quote, how are misogyny and “militaristic uniforms” the sledgehammer with which to deliver that message?

    2. I love that he says that Jairus was not concerned about the Kinetik fans. This is so telling about how he just completely misses the point. This wasn’t about appealing to the masses (which Nachtmahr so masterfully does), it was about raising awareness and consciousness of an issue that someone thought was worth the trouble. Which bring me to this.

    3. Rainer says that “politics [should] have nothing to do with music. Politics are something everyone has to do in private.” Apparently, even Rainer has boundaries, and because Adversary transgressed them, Rainer is “concerned” for the fans. Looks like Adversary found their “velcro” and someone doesn’t like it. (See the Churchill quote that Rainer loves so much.)

    4. Am I to understand that an Austrian patriot cannot be a Nazi because the Nazis would not agree to let Austria be independent? That’s his defense? What about…oh God, I know know…genocide? Fascism? Racism? Homophobia?

    This guy is so out of touch.

    • john says:

      The irony of Thomas invoking Test Dept (who made the most famous and best political industrial record of all time) and then saying politics had no place in music was not lost.

    • Omi-Polari says:

      He’s not a Nazi. He’s just a right-wing Austrian reactionary who likes women in uniform. Nothing dubious about that, no siree! I wonder if he voted Jorg Haider or HC Strache.

  • lucifel says:

    Don’t really like his music, but imagery-wise don’t understand what the fuss is about. Military imagery is not a crime and usually if an Austrian guy writes about an “Empire” you have to be either non-European or bad in history to think it would have anything to do with nazis.

    It was a bit icky though, I’m quite happy not knowing what turns the musicians on… but then, if I’d have a band it would include men standing in Medieval hooded capes so who am I to judge…

    • john says:

      I would argue the Templar had a even more oppressive message than is being discussed here, but I guess it gets a pass because it was thousands of years ago. There is a fine line here that people like to play dangerously close to, and not sure anyone knows where exactly it is.

  • Strigiform says:

    Am I the only one getting sick of dudes in the scene utilizing the “bdsm community” as a reasoning for using fascist imagery and misogyny in videos? Are any of these dudes even part of a (not “the”) bdsm community? There are a lot of different ones. Some shitty, full of douchey patriarchs who think misogyny and goreanism is cool, and others that are consent-loving queer weird as fuck freaks who know how to have fun but also respect the context of their actions, each other’s triggers, etc. If Any of these guys tried to pull this kinda shit in a BDSM scene negotiation with me and my friends they’d be out on their asses pretty fast.

    • Miss Kittensworth says:

      this.

      BDSM is about creating a safe space in which to explore and indulge dangerous emotions, sensations, impulses. No one ought to be judged in that space because it exists in a bubble where people participate by choice. You earn the privilege to indulge violent impulses by strictly respecting the boundaries set by your partner. Rules are carefully laid out.

      When translated into art, the ideas indulged by BDSM are made public and designed to confront people directly. The trade off is that as an artist you will be held accountable for what you produce. This does not mean censure. Rather, as an audience we must react to art by asking why? what does this mean? what do I feel about it? Or at the very least we are expected to have a reaction – and not always a favorable one. An artist has no right to confront the public and then whine that he doesn’t want to be questioned or confronted in return. Art is a two way confrontation between artist and audience. If Thomas wants to express his fetishes without analyses, he should just find erotic partners and do so within the confines of playspace.

      Also…BDSM, specifically military fetish is edgy or confrontational? In the industrial scene….? What an insult to our collective identity. Maybe in the your parent’s generation buddy. Or perhaps to someone’s grandma.

  • DJ Engelsstaub says:

    why do you all care? does this whole turn of events effect your personal life? sometimes when you have your nose in someone else’s book, they will slam it closed on your nose. if all of you can have your own opinions, so can everyone else-including performing artists. i have seen nachtmahr in concert, and with myself being half german, half russian, and a lady…never once have i felt threatened or even offended by anything that they had something to do with. then again, i have yet to be offended/threatened at any concert/venue that i have been to-even ones out of this genre of music. all the high-class people i have seen that pack in for the tiger lillies concerts aren’t bitching like all of you-and they sing songs of whores, pimps, drug pushers, std’s, bestiality, etc.! no one is holding any of you at gunpoint or pulling a clockwork orange scenario against your will. get over it. you may not like tr/nachtmahr, that’s fine. i am sure there are plenty of people that don’t like you too. people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    • Miss Kittensworth says:

      Did you actually watch the video this interview is responding to…? It says “we are not offended, we are contemptuous”. Why do we care…? well to start with, art invites the audience to react by definition. Our reaction is critical. It is a conversation. Otherwise it would be inside his bedroom, not a on stage. No one is trying to censor or stop Nachtmahr. We are continuing the conversation with a criticism and an alternative.

      Also, *affect.

  • Little Red says:

    “I think politics [should] have nothing to do with music. Politics are something everyone has to do in private. I vote for a party in a booth, it’s your private thing. Music should not be used as a vehicle for political beliefs, in any way, left, right, or whatever.”

    I disagree- art is a form of expression of many kinds, and music is a form of art and a powerful tool. [Bob Dylan's "Hurricane" helped free an innocent man!] For some people emotions are very personal, very private; for others it is religion, politics or sexuality. Utilizing the imagery of the BDSM community is a sexual image, a self expression of Mr. Rainer’s personal turn ons- which personally I am not interested in. Yes, we all know uniforms are hot! Why should sexual fantasy be public but politics be private?

    I find this whole debate to be quite fascinating, and I am glad to see that no one is being a “crybaby” about it because it has facilitated a very interesting discussion. Yes, the scene is lacking in music with a message- but isn’t that a sign of the current times and not just of our own scene? I too am disappointed with the appearance that no one ever has anything to say anymore.

    I agree that the scene is lacking in female artists- not that there are NONE, but certainly lacking. And, with the acceptance of such violent imagery- regardless of whether it is a true expression of the artist, whether it is meant as an offense or not, whether the artist hates or fears women or whatever… Who cares if COMBICHRIST is simply a character or not? I think the point is more whether people challenge it or just accept it and go around wearing t-shirts that say “Fuckmachine” on them.

    Kudos to Jairus for saying something and as for Nachtmar & COMBICHRIST- there is a saying “there is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.”

  • Calle says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eg2Mhnjfzjk

    Austria 1938. If anything, at least please buy Yourself a decent history book.

  • Omi-Polari says:

    ID:YD should have been more persistent. Rainer doesn’t want to discuss politics but uses right-wing militarist symbolism and describes himself as an Austrian “patriot.” What does that mean?

    I’d like to know more specifics. What does Rainer think about democracy? What are his views about immigration? Does he support a political party in Austria, and if so, which one? Does he support a militaristic foreign policy? What are his views about race and homosexuality?

    I don’t think he wants to discuss political questions because his answers would expose him as a monster.

    • lucifel says:

      Why are opinions about democracy, political parties etc relevant? As long as an individual doesn’t commit a crime, they should be free to be anything from anarchists to fascists or Royalists.

      Its not like anyone in their right mind is looking up to individual artists for ideological guidance. Artists are often drawn to extreme ideologies. Just think of even mainstream musicians visiting Castro…

      • Al says:

        Think about the fact that in some countries, just aligning yourself to a certain ideology could be a crime; many Muslim states would not allow an apostate to live freely, present-day Germany won’t let you display an affinity for the Nazi Party, etc. So “crimes” simply mean breaking existing laws, which are then made by people who are just as fallible as most of the rest of us hoomans. “Should be” is a comforting thought.

        But that aside, opinions on all those issues can and can’t be relevant, depending on various factors. It REALLY depends on what the musician’s singing about in the first place. If you knew for a fact that a known conservationist was making music about eradicating animals, you could shrug it off as a joke, since you wouldn’t align it readily to the musician. However, if the political/ethical/moral beliefs of that musician were unknown, you would be horrified to hear a song calling for the extinction of lions.

        When you read Rainer’s interviews, and listen to his music, and look at the imagery and philosophy of Nachtmahr, one can’t help but feel that the artist and the music might not be all that separate.

  • Neil says:

    Thomas Rainer is basically playing the same game that his drinking buddy Albin Julius of Der Blutharsch has been playing 10 years ago, including the same weak defense of his “apolitical” politics concerning music and image. If you followed Albin back in the day, you realize it’s pretty much the same old story. I totally agree with Omi-Polari, you have missed a chance to dig a littler deeper and instead ended up pretty much sucking up to him and his completely clueless volunteer non-dancers. Now he can point to your interview and keep spouting what a total feminist apolitical artists he is. Oh so controversial!

    ID:YD we deserve better than the media playing softball with people like that. don’t be a tool!

    • Omi-Polari says:

      Thanks. Another thing: He says, “If you’re an Austrian patriot you believe in your country, and the roots of our country are in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which is far beyond everything Germany has ever been and ever will be.”

      So he wants to bring back the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or something? He says he believes in his country, and the root of that belief is support for a patriarchal system ruled by a hereditary aristocracy? Well, at least he’s not a Nazi, I guess. He just dresses like one.

      • Neil says:

        I guess what he is trying to point out that he can’t be a Nazi by definition, that’s why he points out his heritage. Small wonder he didn’t mention he was born after 1945. Bottom line is, Nazi or not, his “musicians as brother soldiers” is pretty much exactly the Susagefest-attitude he pretends to dismiss shortly after. Which he completely fails to see. Stupid child trying to sell his shit no matter what.

  • Neil says:

    Oh, another fun fact: on the official Nachtmahr Facebook page he refers to himself as “Supreme Commander Thomas Rainer”. So how exactly are they separate entities or different personas? If Thomas Rainer really is what he pretends to be, he should seriously consider opening up to a public dialogue, maybe an open Q&A session, instead of turning to the gatekeepers to justify himself. He’s bullshitting and making fun of free speech. He’s trying to play the media the same clumsy way others did before him, but he seems to forget this is the Internet.

    https://www.facebook.com/nachtmahrprojekt/posts/139620119506256

  • [...] från banden han kritiserat – Combichrist (Andy LaPlagua) och Nachtmahr (Thomas Rainer). En kompletterande intervju med Thomas Rainer i Nachtmahr där han får utveckla sina tankar ytterligare. Share this:TwitterFacebookGillaGillaBli först att [...]

  • Marco says:

    ‘There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.’ — Oscar Wilde

  • Edorf M. says:

    WTF ?? Who gave all of you self-righteous, supposedly-morally-superior, political-correct-obsessed FASCISTS in left-wing clothes the right to raise above all these fun-loving, open-minded, intellectually free, creative and above all FRIENDLY people like Thomas Rainer, Andy LaPlegua, Albin Julius, Douglas Pearce (the list goes on) ???

    Who the fuck are you to judge people you never even met….. ?? Really ? You judge based on ideas inside your heads…. you live inside your heads…..

    You are nothing, so you try to raise above by stepping on others – you make me sick – you really are the real fascists……

    … so what if people are right-wingers ? So what ? I have friends who are nazis who behave better than you !!

    For the record : I´ve always voted for left-wing parties (believe me or not!) …. but still I manage to get along very well with both right-wingers, nazis, communists and left-wingers……

    …. it is not about the clothes you wear or the images you use – IT IS ABOUT HOW YOU TREAT OTHER PEOPLE !!

    … stupidity is apparently ENDLESS. And yeah – I KNOW you will never get it – but still I had to get this out of my system after reading all your stupid answers……. :)

    • Boogel says:

      Seriously, I see so many people in the scene saying “you’re being fascist by criticizing someone for using fascist imagery”. Do you understand how idiotic this is? Really? Do you? It’s like someone wrote a book called “How to sound like an argumentative ten year old” and distributed it to 90% of the people who get online and defend martial/Neo/industrial/whatever artists who masturbate onto to swastikas etc.

      Seriously, no one is oppressing anyone, i’m glad people are finally starting to ask these questions in a scene which has slowly been destroying itself with it’s half-assed, weak attempts at being “subversive”. About fucking time. Interviews were WAY too soft with these weenies though.

    • eilfurz says:

      well, subscribing to (or promoting) an ideology is not just about how you treat people you meet in person. that’s just a pretty narrow and egomaniacal view of things.

      a lot of nazis – like my granddad – were basically really nice people – but they still managed to exterminate a few millions by legitimizing the people who did the killing.

      and, yeah, by using the symbols of an ideology in a positive context, you’re promoting it.

  • [...] 50 cent words, that’s the way of our walk.A couple of recent articles (you know which ones) have brought us a bunch of new readers (hi!), so if you want to get a better, hands-on sense [...]

  • neo says:

    Lucky we are talking about trance music if it was industrial music we would get a bad name.

  • Amanda says:

    I absolutely love his music, so I made a tribute fan page to Nachtmahr and Thomas Rainer as a school project. Go check it out! Nachtmahr fans unite!

    http://www.idieyoudie.com/2012/05/an-interview-with-thomas-rainer-of-nachtmahr/

  • ronnierocket says:

    Before reading this interview, I thought Nachtmahr’s image was a failed and childish attempt to play with some kind of Laibachesque irony. Now I think this band is something even dumber.

    “Industrial being focused on punk…”
    cf.
    “I think politics [should] have nothing to do with music.”

    *facepalm*

  • eisenpeter says:

    Thanks to all participants for this enlightening discussion.
    I found a very interesting text passage in an article about industrial that seems to fit here :
    The representation of violence often degenerating to an end in itself to become the extreme expression of a society of competition without questioning it. Last but not least, the ocular dominance of men in the projects as well as in the scene in this context results from the different relationship to violence in the socialization of women and men.

    I translated this from german, for anyone interested and capable of speaking german here’s the link : http://www.sterneck.net/musik/industrial-culture/

    Tschüss

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