Brendan Perry: Earth can handle it without man

We must learn to use nature again and to stop seeing giant supermarkets in it, built to make life easier

Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard

The masses react in crisis situations. This happens when the majority of humanity realises that it is the end of the journey. There is still no reaction, nothing, and we have to change something, musician Brendan Perry says in an interview to Polish journalist Jarek Szubrycht.

 

 

The idea that Dead Can Dance will come to a musical reinterpretation of the Dionysian myth, I think it's so good that I'm surprised that you did it only now.

Everything has its time. I have always been fascinated by the civilisation of ancient Greece. It is a thread permanently woven into the fabric of Western civilisation and takes various forms. Not just history or religious beliefs. In my opinion, the most interesting aspect of the Greek ancient culture is that individual gods or heroes represented specific features of the human psyche. The Greeks in their stories showed a wonderful, deep understanding of human nature, the psychological aspect of myths is as valid today as thousands of years ago.

Your “Dionysus” apparently came from your fascination with the European harvest festivals and their pagan character. In Poland, we call them harvest festivals and they are closely related to church rituals.

Of course, how else. Christianity overlapped with ancient, pagan beliefs. But before Christ appeared, Dionysus was probably the most important deity in the Mediterranean region not only for Greeks and Romans.

You see in Dionysus the praise of humanity, which “works hand-in-hand with nature, referring to it with respect and understanding”. It sounds beautiful - like every utopia.

You can also read the warning here. In pre-Christian Europe, every home had its favourite gods. It was a time of polytheism, religious pluralism, and everyone could believe in such a god as he liked. If you were a blacksmith, you had a small chapel of Hephaestus, also known as Volcano. You sacrificed to him because you wanted his patronage. Your superstitious view of the world required that the elements be satisfied.

Dionysus represented the forces of nature, which it is better not to mess with. If you exploit them, with no respect, they will come back with such energy and in such a form that there will be nothing to harvest. This myth is all about balance. In the agrarian society, everything was organised around the growing cycle, so religion has become an elaborate way of understanding the four seasons as the forces that govern the world. Dionysus could have been a generous god, bringing with him the energy of spring, rebirth, growth, rich harvests, but he also had a dark side - if you misuse an element of nature, you can shake the natural balance and let chaos into the world.

With Dead Can Dance, this is not the first time you are expressing a vision of a world which delights with diversity, but has either passed away already or disappears before our eyes.

In our music there is indeed a note of sadness, inseparable from the traditions to which we refer, but which have already passed. It is associated with dynamic urbanisation. Cities' dwellers do not feel connected with the world in which they live. The most striking example is the enormity of rubbish and pollution produced by urbanised society, these islands of plastic drifting across the oceans.

I believe that urbanisation should slow down. We must learn again how to use the earth and oceans, stop seeing in them gigantic supermarkets that were made to make us more comfortable. Otherwise, we will bring a real disaster to ourselves. It can already be seen on the horizon.

Do you believe that the processes you are talking about can still be stopped? Is it not too late?

When the human species runs its course, nature will finally regain its balance. Earth without man will probably look different, but she will manage. In a sense, I am an optimist.

For that, it would be difficult to call you a humanist.

The masses react in crisis situations. This happens when the majority of humanity realises that it is the end of the journey. There is still no reaction, nothing, and we have to change something. Our brains are equipped with a survival mechanism which is constructed that way, and I believe that we will use it. This is already evident in some parts of the world. The level of the oceans is constantly rising and progressive pro-ecological thinking is visible in the cities that may suffer the most from this.

Of course, this is typical of homo sapiens - we react only when something directly threatens us. We have a very interesting process of combining these local initiatives into a global movement, which can result in permanent change. I believe that we are capable of it. (abridged)

The interview was originally published by wyborcza.pl

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Brendan Perry was born in 1959 in London, UK. In 1973 his family moved to Auckland, New Zealand. Having received no formal musical education, Perry began to play the guitar at St Paul's College, the Catholic school he attended. After failing to become a primary school teacher and to join the civil service, he worked at a series of jobs until joining The Scavengers in 1977. At first he played bass guitar, later taking on the duties of lead vocalist when the original singer left the band. In 1981, Perry formed Dead Can Dance with Simon Monroe and Paul Erikson (both of whom were to leave soon after the band had relocated to London), and Lisa Gerrard. They both conquered the world in 1993 with their 6th album, Into the Labyrinth, which was followed by two breaks through which Lisa and Brendan developed their independent careers.

Now the legendary duo returns. Their new album Dionysus will be released on 2 November. An European tour is due in 2019.

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