What inspires satanist Lemouchi
„I am a regular at the slaughterhouse. The other day I bought fourty liters, two freezer boxes full. I’ve never felt like telling butchers why I needed the blood. They’ve come to recognize me by now. To them it’s just one of the many products they’re selling. What it’s used for doesn’t matter to them. For all they care you put in your hair.”
At that moment Selim Lemouchi (31) starts grinning: „Well, that’s what we do.”
In 2007 he started The Devil’s Blood. He wrote and played all music and let his sister sing his diabolical prophecies of doom. Their two albums were received with praise by all of Europe, where The Devil’s Blood, now as a band, play sold-out shows. Usually this is bad news for the cleaning crew. Because prior to entering the stage (which is full of candles, incense and altars), they smear themselves with blood.
Because Lemouchi is a satanist through and through. That is why there’s ‘Hail Satan’ written on his front door and inside there are bones, skulls and inverted crosses. There’s an altar, the walls are smeared with -partially his own- blood. But alas. He doesn’t want to meet at his home, not even after the interview for a picture.
So Lemouchi sits at the station restaurant in Eindhoven, the city he lives in. He looks like a hardrocker: long hair and beard, leather trousers and jacket, arms tattooed as far as his fingers with occult symbols. But for a devil worshiper he is apart from smiley also eloquent. The interview lasts for an hour and a half and sometimes resembles a monologue. Therein Lemouchi casually drops terms such as ‘souvereign entity’ and ‘antropomorphication’.
„Delicious”, he says with his first bite of apple pie. And then, dead serious: „I curse the flesh, but it is a temple from where I will have to enter the world. And since I’ve decided not to leave this world for the time being, I have to make sure that I -on my own conditions- will endure.”
Did you want to commit suicide?
„After our first album, The Time of No Time Evermore, I was convinced that I had said all that I had to say. I couldn’t see the merit of anything. Not in a depressed way, but more like: the painting is finished.”
Did your mother agree?
„Of course it isn’t acceptable for any parent to bury a child. But that is none of my concern.”
Those are some tough words.
„…for a son from a warm nest. But it is true. I’m not saying it to hurt her, because I love my mother. But I know she would be at peace with it. I konw her well enough to know that she would be at peace with it. She doesn’t agree with my -what she calls- chimeras, but she respects them. She came to a few shows and she’s very proud of my sisters and me.”
And yet you’re still alive.
„That was decided for me. I realised that I wasn’t done by far and that I wanted to play the songs live as well. That inspiration arose. I don’t think that next year I’ll decide it’s enough anyway, but I can’t imagine that I’ll stay here for 30 more years either.”
What does Satan mean to you?
„In the universe there are two powers: that of order and that of chaos. In that battle I try to place myself in the face of darkness as much as possible. Creating confusion, uncertainty and unbalance -in myself the most-, that is what I stand for. Not choosing to flee, but to fight.”
„I take the devil very seriously. But whether he’s a red guy with horns, a huge cloud of antimatter or a merely a philosophical principle, I don’t have a clear answer to that. It’s about the question: are you going to pathetically sit in a corner and expose yourself as little as possible or will you dare to step into the fire en pursue complete freedom?”
There was a time when you did sit pathetically in a corner.
„When I was 22, I became increasingly unhappy with everything I was taught to pursue: work, hobbies, relationships. I couldn’t cope with society and the idea of job, home, family. You’re pushing yourself into a role that wasn’t meant for you. It’s like a homosexual who for years keeps denying his nature. At some point, it will go wrong.
„Unconsciously I numbed myself with alcohol, speed and cocaine daily. For nearly four years I was continuously under treatment of psychiatrists and psychologists. Don’t quit the drugs, they said, because it’s your life jacket. As if there was no reason to panic and I just had to cover myself under that blanket.
„Music, at the time in the hardrockband Powervice, kept me going. It provided rhythm, despite all the medication and chemicals. But when that band quit, everything really exploded.”
„I went back to zero. At a psychiatric department of a hospital I let them reset me, as it were. Out of that emptiness I started anew. One of the things that pulled m out of that was my interest in the occult and -there he is again- the devil.
„I decided not worry anymore about certainties, ambitions and career. I have to be a scavenger. To choose on each individual moment that which is best. Like a predator, to take what I need unscrupulously. Moral implications are not for me. And to hell with anyone that sees it differently.”
Does that also apply on stage? You call your performances ‘rituals’.
„Playing on stage takes complete concentration. In order to be in that state, you have turn off all piddling thoughts, but also feelings of nostalgia and love. Partially this happens beforehand, backstage. How exactly, that should remain hidden. Otherwise those rituals will lose their meaning.
„By applying the blood you’re being baptised in death. From that moment on my personality is turned off and I’m not communicative anymore. You’re driven by pure discipline.
„Sometimes nothing happens, occasionally the crowd gives you back what you put in them. Then, for instance, you can see the front six rows standing with closed eyes. I can feel how the gates within myself are opening and the spirits fly out. At that moment truth surfaces.”
Is it not a gimmick?
„Our generation has seen everything already, how can you shock them? I don’t see the advantage either. Indeed: there are only disadvantages. Many venues and booking agencies don’t want us. But this is just the way we need to do this, our expression.
„It deviates from the norm, but crazier things have been done. Compared to an artist such as Hermann Nitsch we are quite normal. With him you have to disinfect the whole building. With us you only need a floorcloth.”
Let’s get practical: how do you get the blood when you’re abroad?
„It’s in our rider. But if the venue doesn’t get it, the fans will. That’s beautiful about it: all over the world there’s a network of likeminded people. In Norway a guy had drained himself of 0.75 liters of blood. It had made him feel bad for a few days. When you apply that, it adds something mentally.”
A regular week:
Thursday: rehearse, make a setlist. Ordered t-shirts, two new designs for on tour and in the webshop.
Friday: going to Finland tomorrow. Headlined a festival last year, which is why they wanted us to return.
Saturday: show in Helsinki was okay. Probably gets us a few nice offers.
Sunday: going home instantly. All in all not even a day in Finland.
Monday: been waiting in the living room all day for construction workers who didn’t come. There are mundane things that you can’t avoid, like doing groceries or forcing an ejaculation. I understand the utility of it, but I don’t think it’s getting me any further.
This is a translation of an interview published on 11-23-2011 by Dutch newspaper NRC-Next.
Interview by Frank Provoost.
Picture by Bob van der Vlist.
Guy Maddin, My Winnipeg (film still)
"During 1926 cold winter, all the horses from the hippodrome fled away after the stables went on fire. Their only scape-way was the river. But they all froze before managing to reach the opposite side. Their sculptural heads with terror still in their eyes served as a leisure park that season. I wonder in which moment the following spring carried them out into the sea, without anyone noticing."
My daughter and I in the summer of 2011