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Under the Radar: The Neo-Folk Band “Changes” And Their Open Fascism

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The anti-fascist tradition, starting in the interwar period in Europe and Japan, and moving through the nationalist insurrections in the decades that followed, have always created a difficulty of adaptation.  American fascist organizations have often been built on deeply American traditions like Christianity, U.S. patriotism, and the legacy of the Confederate south.  This has created a uniquely American form of far-right organizing, that still had cultural connections to the mainstream GOP and socially conservative culture.  It is the shift away from this in the contemporary fascist incarnations that has confused many people on the anti-fascist left, especially as the syncretic nature of adaptive contemporary fascism comes forward.  Involving itself in deep green movements, animal rights, anti-capitalism, and other social movements usually associated with the left, this fascist kernel takes on these social issues, yet for many different reasons that those on the radical left.

Where this breaks even further is the growing far-right cultural sphere that looks more like the rainbow gathering than a Klan rally.  The shift towards Euro-paganism because of its assumed “European ethnic” core, as well as much of the music and art that is associated with this revival.  It is through this that the musical current of Neo-Folk and related genres have become a difficult place for those in the music underground as far-right elements have become the most vocal members of the scene, using the music as a way of focusing on a romantic and mystical reading of European history.  There have been obvious controversies as anti-fascists shut down appearances of Neo-Folk bands like Death in June and Sol Invictus, who draw so clearly on the traditionalist fascist right that is hard to argue with, but many others go under the radar.  One of these is the band Changes, who has ridden the fence enough to be accepted in both political camps.  At least until recently.

The question of Neo-Folk and the fascist right is a more complicated one, but the ability to identify the bands in question are not.  Changes has a much longer history than most of these bands, all the way back to the American flower child year of 1969.  Made up of Nicholas Tesluk and the better known Robert Taylor, the music has been so closely aligned with the resurrection of Germanic Heathenry that they helped to set the template to the cultural influence on the musical movement.

When looking at their history it looks like most narratives of middling bands with moderate followings, until you are able to see enough spots that drive out questions.  Their recent history outlines a more explicit connection to the traditionalist far-right, as well as folksih Heathenry.  In 2013 the Asatru Folk Assembly and their most vocal member, Stephen McNallen, hosted a music festival called Stella Natura.  This was essentially to be a music festival to reflect the cultural influence and ideas at play in the AFA, which are racial and ethnic identity tied to European history and aesthetics.  There were a couple of dozen bands, mainly made up of musical backgrounds that have some problematic associations like Viking Metal and Neo-Folk, including people like Hell, Cauldron Black Ram, and Hail.  Changes was also in the line-up there, with Stephen McNallen elevating them from the rest of the list by performing a Heathen blot as an announcement for their taking of the stage.

Out of the two members, Robert N. Taylor has been the most vocally problematic as he has continued to associate himself with racially defined movements.  In 2006 he was quoted in Chronicles of Chaos as saying “None of this had any real connection to integration or peace between races.  Integration did not occur – flight of the whites occurred.  It has no secret that once blacks predominated in an area, the crime rate would soar and the streets would become dangerous to walk.”  Taylor has made a name for himself in the right-wing music press for inflammatory comments that certainly cannot be misread.  In Stigmata, which is a well known racial Neo-Folk publication, he discussed his involvement with the neo-fascist “Minuteman” organization in the early 1960s.

Minutemen drew from the full scope of those on the right. From “Barry Goldwater” type conservatives, Objectivists and libertarians, anti-communists, constitutionalists, Christian Identity, neo-Fascists, Nazis, gun-owner advocates, etc..”

“My involvement in the Minutemen was considerable. I became a member of the newly formed organization at about 14 years old. I first was a member, then became the principle organizer and leader in the Chicago area. Then I became a member of the Executive council of ten as the director of intelligence. By the time I was 24 years old I was the editor of the organization’s publication, On Target as well as the national spokesman for the group. My involvement lasted through most of the years of the organization’s existence.”

What made On Target uniquely different from other anti-communist or right-wing publications was that in addition to articles and commentary on various current issues, it also contained names, addresses and phone numbers of its assumed communist and liberal enemies. Often literal dossiers on such people were featured. Combine the slogan, cross-hair masthead, and such detailed information on perceived enemies, and the potential threat was implied, without ever being actually stated.”

“We have studied your Communist smirch, Mao, Che, Bhukarin. We have learned our lessons well and have added a few homegrown Yankee tricks of our own. Before you start your next smear campaign, before you murder again, before you railroad another patriot into a mental institution…better think it over. See the old man at the corner where you buy your paper? He may have a silencer equipped pistol under his coat. That extra fountain pen in the pocket of your insurance salesman that calls on you might be a cyanide-gas gun. What about your milkman? Arsenic works slow but sure. Your auto mechanic may stay up nights studying booby-traps. These patriots are not going to let you take their freedom away from them. They have learned the silent knife, the strangler’s chord, the target rifle that hits sparrows at 200 yards. Only their leaders restrain them. Traitors beware! Even now the cross-hairs are on the back of your necks…”

In the early 1960s, both of the members joined the Chicago Minutemen, which was a far-right militia dedicated to combating the “communist threat.”  This meant that at the same time that the hippie “back to the land” movement helped to birth much of their fan base, they were taking on a popularization of post-WWII racialism.

Like many in this community, Julius Evola’s poetically racist spirituality is both a philosophical and artistic inspiration.  In their 2013 tour they referenced Evola’s ideas and rhetoric in subtle ways, going as far as to take the title of Evola’s book Ride the Tiger as the name for their tour.    They went on to reference the Kali Yuga at the bottom of tour posters, a reference to what Evola listed as a degenerate “fourth age” where by the proper roles and social hierarchies are no longer in effect and the world needs to be destroyed.  This is the defining idea for their “anti-modernism,” a term and idea that flows through their work and the rest of the Neo-Folk fringe.

They have had a community of support that strays far from conventional music connections to those that alternate between organizing, writing, and using music as a venue for ideas of Social Darwinism and Blood and Soil nationalism.  Blood Axis’ Michael Moynihan, who has his hands every fascist esoteric tradition from militaristic Odinism to Satanic Fascism associated with Charles Manson veneration, produced one of their albums.  They continued relationships with the far-right Neo-Folk edge musicians like Andrew King from Sol Invictus, Allerseen, and David E. Williams.

With all of these associations, why is it that Changes continues to appear in folk music circles where left-wing politics tend to dominate?  Well this has happened by general intent in Changes where they intend to play on the obscurity of many references and outright lying about associations.  They often do not refer to Michael Moynihan by name on their promotional material, and they do not usually have the cultural and social following of the more radical edge of the music scene like people like Death in June do.  That being said, the politics are up front if you are looking for them.  Again, in Chronicles of Chaos, they listed that there was confusion about their positions in the past, but today the audience is more in line:

“In the early to mid ’70s the audiences were alright, but I doubt that most of them knew what our music was all about. The folk music scene was pervaded with leftists at that time, both as performers and as audiences. That has radically changed. It was as if Changes had to wait over thirty years to find the real audience it had been seeking all those years.” 

This does not mean that they have gone entirely unnoticed as anti-fascists have repeatedly had them removed from their platform.  In Chicago, Changes had their concert with Death in June canceled after their positions were discovered.  The venue The Green Note canceled their show, noting “if there is any truth to the extreme political views held by the members of Changes, these run in contrast to our beliefs and we felt unable to go ahead with the show.”

Robert Taylor in Front of a Germanic Rune
Robert Taylor in Front of a Germanic Rune

We come back to the band Changes here because of one of their most recent show announcements.  Robert Taylor, on his own, will be performing in the evening portion of the white nationalist National Policy Institute.  This is an appropriate setting as NPI often makes up the more “alternative” cultural side of white nationalism, that often meets up with the European New Right and is attended by friends of theirs like Stephen McNallen.  At this conference there will be speeches by the “who’s who” of movements like Men’s Rights, white nationalism, pan-Europeanism, National Anarchism, and folksih spirituality.  In this new world of bizarre ideas trying to act as religious and intellectual justifications for racial hatred and separatism, Taylor’s obscure references and dark musical edge create an aesthetic fence that allows them to further obscure their own image.  This allows them to just seem like “controversial” or “alternative” ideas rather than what they are: the same racists and fascists that we have had to deal with since WWII.  While Taylor may couch these ideas in talk of nature and ancestors, the key issues are the same as those who have been burning crosses and attacking minorities.  We cannot let their style and cultural status obscure the issue, and their appearance at NPI should be the last straw for anti-fascists.

With that we should return to the Anti-Fascist Action principle: No Platform.  They will not be allowed in our venues, their music and voices not allowed in our spaces.

Special thanks to Who Makes the Nazis for so much of their research on Changes, which we used as part of this report.

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