Laibach: Our sympathies were always on the side of communism with a human face
photo: Ciril Jazbec
LAIBACH TALKS ABOUT THEIR PLANS FOR NEW PROJECTS, IMPRESSIONS FROM THE TOUR TO NORTH KOREA, PHILOSOPHY OF FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, SYMPATHY FOR COMMUNISM WITH A HUMAN FACE, AS WELL AS MUCH MORE
Laibach is not just an ordinary band in its traditional meaning. A more correct categorization of them would be as an art-group that uses music as one of the main tools for promoting their visions and ideas. During their almost 40 year existence, Laibach was involved in many other projects besides recording and performing music — like visual art, creating a virtual state and political party, making soundtracks for theatre projects and other memorable affairs.
Right from the first days, Laibach invented their own original concept that was mainly based on references to totalitarian aesthetics with the provocative use of images from Italian futurism, socialist realism and allusions to Nazi Germany symbols. These methods were completed by Laibach’s stage image, as all group members wear military-style uniforms during the shows.
As well, even the group’s name has a controversial meaning for many people, Laibach was the German name of Ljubljana (the capital of the band’s motherland, Slovenia) in the Middle Ages. The way Laibach communicates with the rest of the world also stays within the strict line of their concept, the group sees themselves as one organism and stands for a de- individualization method — none of Laibach’s members ever give personal interviews and all public statements are made on the collective behalf.
Due to this shocking for average philistines approaches, Laibach was banned in their home country Yugoslavia at the beginning of the ’80s and was given the status of dissidents. Like real resisters, they looked for alternative, contraband ways of presenting their art to people and founded NSK (NeueSlowenischeKunst/ New Slovenian Culture) collective, which worked in the fields of visual art, graphic, video, theatre, philosophy and gave the band the possibility to hide and to perform in a partisan kind of way under the mark of NSK. At the end of the decade when Laibach achieved international success, they sorted their fragile relationship with the authorities and started to perform legally in Yugoslavia again under their original name. At the beginning of the 90s (when Slovenia became an independent country), Laibach finally received full well-earned respect and the country’s pride for them as the main Slovenian music export.
During their career, Laibach experimented with different musical genres, starting from industrial in their early days to neo-classic, gothic and techno-pop. They are known for specific covers of other people’s music. Laibach has put its touch on recognizable heritage like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Jesus Christ Superstar”, 80’s pop-rock tunes by Europe and Opus, as well as much more. With the help of Laibach’s touch, this cheerful music began to sound like blood-chilling, infernal marches. This trick shows the essence of the bands art-method, which can be described as deconstructing and bringing to the spotlight the demons of a repressive and totalitarian ideology that lives in mass-cultural clichés. However, besides puzzling people with these strange and dark covers, Laibach has made a bunch of conceptual albums that are based on their own music and lyrics with serious messages and statements in which they shared their views on modern reality and showed themselves as anti-globalists, supporters of social justice and opponents of capital power.
Having a passion for experiments and exploring new territories led Laibach to exciting projects such as concerts with symphonic orchestras, covering some of Bach and Wagner’s classical music, and taking part in one of the most surreal music affairs of our time — Laibach’s show in North Korea.
Laibach is still full of energy, working at the same time on a few new projects, shooting remarkable videos and touring around the world. We had a chance to talk with them about their recent plans, latest tours, impressions from their North Korea tour, Nietzsche’s philosophy, as well as many more interesting things.
Interview: Dmitry Tolkunov
Hello! As I understand Laibach finished a big European tour with the new album “The Sound of Music”? How was it generally? Do you have some memorable moments of the tour to share?
The gigs are all listed on our web pages. The tour in general was good but touring itself is very difficult, extremely demanding logistically as well as socially and it is killing many bands and relations, so only the strong survive. On the other hand, tours and live concerts are probably the last remaining mechanism of the traditional, romantic distribution of music and ideas, based on physical exchange and collaboration, and we are always relieved when we do a good show and a good tour — and stay alive.