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Loits was fighting the „monument wars” before Lihula

Loits was fighting the „monument wars” before Lihula

Siim Nestor asks about the ideas behind the new sensational album by Loits - the underground metal band dressed in German army uniforms.

A bomb exploded in the underground metal scene in the beginning of October. It was prepared by the band Loits and it’s called „Vere Kutse Kohustab”. It’s a metal album full of sudden, blasting drums, foundation-shaking riffs and rattling vocals, of which first issue was sold out at the presentation party in just two hours. Just like that.
But what flavours this, already declared “the album of the year”, CD is its appearance and ideology. The band members who beat their chests, declaring they’re Estonian patriots, pose on the photo pages of the luxurious digibook casing in trenches, wearing the Estonian Legion uniforms, holding machine guns and grenades. Their lyrics (some are the creation of veterans), also tell about those battlefields, the defending of Estonia, cherishing the blue-black-white banner, wishing death upon the intruder.
And just like the events in Lihula, Loits’ album raises a lot of controversial talk. Who nods as sign of agreement, who gets upset, who laughs. The band’s singer, guitarist and frontman Lembetu gives explanations of the group’s motives to Areen.

1. As I understand, you thought about the whole image concept of this album before Lihula?

Yes. Our first 7-inch EP issued by our Lithuanian record company was titled „Legion Estland” (2003) and was dedicated to Estonian legionaries. We’ve been at this subject long before the Lihula monument wars.
Lihula was good for us, because it brought the topic up. When we started with it, it was difficult to talk about it, even in Estonia. Before the monument wars it was just a blank page for the people.
And the photo session took place this spring. That was long before Lihula.

2. Could the minister of population Paul-Erik Rummo pass this album out to important foreigners as something that would help the world understand the tragic history of Estonia?

That has never been our goal, to explain something to a wider audience. Our style sets us certain boundaries. I don’t think it would be the best method of explaining the situation. The easiest way would be to go in there and sort things out, on a governmental level.
It’s also very easy to misunderstand it, for example when you give this album to an ordinary citizen and say „here, this explains everything”. Although we have in the booklet a very short and easily understandable text by Hendrik Arro, one of the veterans, that explains what really happened back then.
To the people who enjoy our music the message should be clear. We left no loose ends.

3. So what is the main goal of Loits?

The goal of Loits is to create music that is in balance with its message. We don’t aim at making national or political propaganda. The goal is great and unique music, to which we can add our ideas and beliefs.

4. Did the band members’ fathers or grandfathers participate in the Second World War?

Yes they did. One thing is to read books and watch the events from aside; the other is to search for your roots by yourself. It would be good if Loits would inspire younger people to look back into that era and find out how their forefathers were involved in that war. You can find a lot of surprises. Almost in every band member’s family, there is someone who played a part in these events. Actually the entire Estonian nation is involved.

5. Did any of your forefathers fight on the Soviet side?

I believe that every family had men from both sides

6. Are the ones who fought on the Russian side more worthless?

I wouldn’t judge them. The situation was like that. They were also forced to join the Russian forces. Of course there were many who deserted to the German side.
A while ago there was a show on Estonian national TV station about skull soldiers. In the show, a veteran who fought on the Russian side told that they also hoped for the independence of Estonia. That when the western countries saw the Estonians fighting against the fascist Germany, they would present Estonia with freedom. Those men had their hopes as well.
We speak of the legionaries because throughout the Soviet era they were trampled on and now, in the independent Estonia it would be the right time to honour our heroes, but the trampling continues.

7. Why don’t you pose on the mighty photos on your album’s booklet in clothes worn by Estonians battling the crusaders in the 13th century?

Our first album was about mythology and more distant history of Estonia. For example the Kaali meteorite crash and the mythological stories associated with that. Gradually the themes of Loits have moved to our closer history and that’s why Loits is trying to remember the men and the history that are closer to us. Of which we can derive information undisturbed by those who write history. We can talk to people face to face, hear their opinions. When you’re talking about distant history, you don’t know what really happened. It’s often fiction of the historians.

8. So that’s why you’re not dressed as soldiers in the Independence war?

That time may yet lie ahead. It’s not impossible that one subject becomes exhausted and we’ll move on to the next one.

9. Is there anything in Loits’ music, image or these photos that has something to do with humour?

We’re not actually a humour-band. We talk about serious topics in a serious manner. But a little bit of dark sarcasm or irony gives spice and adds something to the entity. A bit of tension and irony has always been important to Loits.

10. You’ve explained repeatedly that you’re not Nazis, fascists...

Yes. It’s very difficult for people who have been brainwashed for 60 years, to distinguish a nationalist from a nazi. For 60 years they enforced upon people black and white history and when you speak of things that contradict that history then you will be labelled, whether you like it or not.

11. ...but patriots. Although this album leaves an impression of you being relatively xenophobic patriots?

There are different sides to it, at what point does xenophobia get unhealthy. Moderate xenophobia is in my opinion refreshing. The easiest way to put this is as follows: the Estonian nation is so small that if Estonians didn’t have a drop of nationalism in their blood, they’d have vanished. There should be at least a drop of nationalism in the veins of every Estonian.

12. That’s the healthy xenophobia?

It’s hard to express by words. The word ‚xenophobia’ has gained such a bad reputation that I wouldn’t even like to use it.

13. Where do you draw the line between moderate and unhealthy xenophobia?

As anywhere, it’s hard to draw a line. Everybody understands it his or her own way.

14. Would Loits call upon sending home over 100 000 non-citizens that were left behind here after the Soviet occupation?

No. It’s up to every person to decide. If he wants to live in this country, respects our customs and ways, then he is welcome.
By the way, Radio 4 is playing Loits, it’s a Russian radio station. And I have nothing against that. We have Russian fans as well.

15. But upon whom wishes the song „Furor Aesticus” the ‚dying of heartbeats’?

This song should be viewed as bitterness of a soldier firing from a trench. Here no one is concretely being aimed at. The enemy is abstract. It’s pointed at the person who steps on our soil with a black conscience. He doesn’t necessarily come from the west or east, he could come from anywhere.

16. Is a white man better than a man of a different colour?

I will say ‚no’ and ‚yes’. The coin has two sides. When we sing of Estonians we picture an Estonian as a white person. I can’t imagine an Estonian being black or any other colour. But the other side of the coin is that the greatest evil in this world has been done by a white man. In that respect you can’t globally consider the white man better than the rest.
That’s actually not at all the subject of Loits. We only speak of the events in the tiny Estonia and the problems we have here. When I say I’m an Estonian, I have nothing to be ashamed of. Estonians have not mistreated other nations or races. It’s good to be an Estonian patriot – your conscience is clean.

17. Is the Defence Police actively interested in you or do they come to your concerts just to enjoy themselves?

If I knew what they looked like, I could tell you whether they go to our concerts. I know that on our presentation party a legal act was drawn up for one of the authors of our songs – I guess he’s had something to do with the Defence Police earlier as well – but that thing subsided fast. I believe there’s no problem, there’s no reason for it. We don’t speak of anything that’s offensive towards anybody.

Author: Siim Nestor
Zine: Eesti Ekspress

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