Archive for April, 2015

Ron Asheton on New Order and Rock’n’Roll Nazi Chic

RON ASHETON [ex-Stooges guitarist, 1975]: I’d made contact in L.A. with Dennis Thompson of the MC5 and we put New Order together. I found a backer and guys started filtering in and we found a place to practice. The downside was the trend of music was changing so dramatically that we got caught in the middle of a shit storm. It was disco time, and people weren’t going for the hard-rock shit anymore, so it was like, “Uh-oh, screwed again.” Plus, we’d play gigs in front of my big swastika flag. I wasn’t a Nazi, the flag was just part of my collection . . . I had Jewish girlfriends and black buddies. It had nothing to do with promoting Nazism or condoning it. I just enjoyed flash uniforms. But other people freaked–they were like, “It’s fascist.” New Order didn’t mean to put out a Nazi vibe at all. I knew it was probably a bad idea … how not to get a record deal in an industry run by Jewish people. “New Order? Let’s sign ’em up right now.”

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from Marc Spitz & Brendan Mullen, We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001), pp. 30-31.

RADICAL ARCHIVES NOTE: Nazi chic probably has a long history in rock’n’roll, especially via biker culture, but this is the first description of band I’ve run across that seemed to have intentionally presented themselves as a Nazi rock group, even if it was cartoonish play. [later RA note: I have since found at least one earlier band.] There is no reason to think that New Order was meant in an ideological way; Asheton’s Nazi fetish is well-known. But the circulation of Nazi imagery and themes in rock’n’roll had gone on at least for a good chunk of the 1970s — so when actual, ideologically neo-Nazi punk bands emerged at the end of the decade, was it really a surprise?

Not one to let sleeping dogs lie, after New Order, Asheton played in a band called New Race.