Watain Singapore concert ban: Our fans can decide for themselves about our music, says band vocalist

Swedish black metal band Watain. (Getty Images file photo)
Swedish black metal band Watain. (Getty Images file photo)

Over nearly 20 years of touring the world, Swedish black metal band Watain said they have never encountered such an “old-fashioned” move like the Singapore government’s last-minute decision to cancel their concert here.

Responding via e-mail to questions from Yahoo News Singapore, Watain vocalist Erik Danielsson said that while the band understand that people are “afraid” of their Satanic brand of music, they view “attempts to govern other peoples (sic) lives and decisions” with scorn.

“(As) if our supporters in Singapore were incapable of deciding for themselves what makes them strong or gives them encouragement to go on living their lives in freedom,” he said.

The band had been scheduled to perform at the Ebenex Live Space on Thursday (7 March) night but the show was cancelled due to “security concerns” raised by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

A day earlier, a petition raised on the Change.org website called for Watain and Swedish death metal band Soilwork to be banned from performing in Singapore. As of Thursday night, the petition had gathered nearly 17,000 signatures. Soilwork are scheduled to perform in Singapore on 29 October.

Asked about the petition, Danielsson said the band were aware of it since entering Singapore. “(We) treated it the same way we usually treat opposition…with scorn and humiliation,” he said.

Some commenters on the petition site had decried the band’s “Satanic and suicide themes” and expressed concern that a concert here would “corrupt” young minds.

In response, Danielsson said, “(Do) we feel that they are accurate in their accusations? Yes, some of them are. But how to approach such things, we believe, is for each and every grown man and woman to decide for themselves.”

The comments were “horribly wrong” in many ways, according to Danielsson.

“To say that we advocate self-destruction and suicide is like saying that the gospel of Jesus encourages people to crucify themselves,” he added.

Having met many of their local fans face-to-face after the concert’s cancellation, Danielsson said those they spoke with “know exactly how we feel” about the sudden turn of events.

Describing these fans as being “clever and cunning and proud” and who are not “sheep”, he noted the irony of the anti-authority sentiments that have been provoked by the concert’s cancellation.

“Such is the seemingly obvious consequence of this unfortunate turn of events,” said Danielsson.

Earlier Thursday at a doorstop interview at the Ministry of Law, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said allowing Watain’s concert to be held will be “against public order interest” and “affect our religious and social harmony”.

Shanmugam noted that the band’s music is “very offensive towards Christians, Jews, supportive of violence, including encouraging the burning of churches.”

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