I used to be a music writer of some note. My concert reviews and rock criticism were syndicated in over six student papers as well as innumerable zines and collages. But after the recession hit, the market dried up for gritty screeds about music and politics, and I was suddenly struggling to make a living.
Desperate, I begged my connections at Pitchfork for any assignment. In summer 2010, they came through and PayPalled me a $10 per diem and bus fare to the Upper Middle Midwest, where I was to spend two weeks on the road boozing around with an up-and-coming hardcore punk band.
It was only later that I realized this was a cruel joke at my expense.
What follows are the unpublished and unadulterated notes from my time with End Apathy, the white nationalist band of future Sikh temple shooter Wade Michael Page.
JULY 24 - THE LAKE N’ TREE - WAUKEEGAN, WI
The band’s playing on a bill featuring local notables Total Hatred, Absolute Murder, and We Unequivocally Advocate Violence Against Minorities. I rush from the bus depot to catch the tail end of End Apathy’s set. The stench of stale beer and parasite-infested kegs that haven’t been changed since the Reagan administration overpowers my senses. I find myself disoriented in a sea of Nazi salutes, as Wade, the frontman, shrieks “Heil Hitler!” over and over with such vocal celerity it would put the fast-talking FedEx guy to shame. I hastily retreat outside to vomit under a streetlight and look at fast-talking FedEx guy YouTubes on my phone.
Later, it’s my first night on the bus, and the band is pulling out all the stops to impress a prominent music journalist. Madame Fury, the bassist and only female member of the band, futilely tries to ply me with sexual favors. In red stilettos, she’s about 5’4” with jet black hair and knuckle tats that spell “RaHoWa,” an abbreviation for “Racial Holy War,” the prophecy that the Aryan race will one day pitch a battle against all other races, sparking a cataclysm of global chaos the Norse call Ragnarök.I am repulsed by her lack of self-esteem and by her smell.
Meanwhile, Wade rubs baby oil into his “JEW SCUM” chest tat to really make the hatred gleam. He wants to look good for his photo spread. I tell him I don’t have a camera. He looks disappointed. He suggests we stop at a 24-hour pharmacy and pick up a disposable camera. I pretend to be asleep.
JULY 28 - UNNAMED BARN - SOMEWHERE OUTSIDE LANSING, MI
We’re drinking forties in a lea. Guitarist Dave Reichstag points to the words “OLDE ENGLISH” on his bottle and exclaims, “This is how My People spell!” then smashes the bottle against a pig. Dave is tall and lean and frequently wears black t-shirts with the sleeves ripped off, exposing the intricate Celtic crosses on his biceps which he seems to believe are a Nazi thing. Of the four, Dave is the most vocal about his hatred, and from underneath his tangled and filthy beard come frequent tirades against “those wealthy and successful Jews always lording their buff bods over the rest of us.”
I ask them why they believe in the supremacy of the white race. Wade asks me if I’ve ever read Mein Kampf. I say no. He says I should check it out, it’s really good and well worth the read. I pretend like I will do this. Then he asks me if I’ve heard of Ayn Rand.
Quickly trying to change the subject, I ask about which races they dislike, which they like, maybe give me a numerical ranking so I can make an infographic or listicle. Drummer Steve Jihad giggles and says he “really hates those awful blacks,” but says it in a tittery playful way. Steve, with his pudgy babyface and jovial mien, seems like a cretin. I hold my tongue; these four seem violently unstable. On the road to Michigan, I witnessed them deliberately slow down the bus and yell to a black man walking along the shoulder, “Hey nigger!” As the man turned and looked, Wade yelled “Go! Go!” at Steve in the driver’s seat. The bus sped off, and the band had the giggles for a solid three hours after that.
The show that night is canceled because the barn doesn’t have electricity. About two dozen crestfallen skinheads just get drunk instead. Later, I will drunkenly step on a pig.
JULY 31 - O’MELVENY’S BAR & GRILL - AMES, NE
The band is mad at Steve, who accidentally booked them to play a non-segregated bar. There are about thirty people here, a good mix of whites, blacks, and Latinos having after-work drinks, none of them apparently here for a crustpunk Reichsparteitag. The band takes a vote and decides to play anyway. They need the money.
As they set up their equipment, I scope out the exits. I fear a riot. Fortunately, the sound is turned way down, and their lyrics are totally incomprehensible. The crowd largely ignores them as they blaze through a short set, at an even faster tempo than usual.
After the show, we kick back some Evan Williams at the bar. The band is leery of all the non-white patrons, but we’re in a dry county, and they’ve got to have their liquor, inferior races be damned.
I break the uncomfortable silence by asking each band member what their major musical influences are. They all say Dave Mustaine. Later I will flip through my notebook and realize I had already guessed this.
I ask why they chose the name “End Apathy.” Wade explains that their mission is to rouse the white race out of complacency. Steve laughs and says “yup, raising white consciousness, that’s what we’re doing all right,” and elbows the others playfully. I ask what will happen once the white race is no longer apathetic. Wade makes gun motions with his fingers. He aims them at various non-white patrons at the bar and makes gun sounds. But he’s drunk, so he accidentally aims a few at white patrons. The rest of the band struggles to restrain him from fake-shooting white people. I am told this behavior is not new.
Someone puts Sammy Davis, Jr.’s “Candy Man” on the jukebox. Dave nods his head to it slightly. This will earn him a beating later tonight.
AUGUST 2 - THE CORN PALACE - MITCHELL, SD
Nerves are high. Tonight is hands-down the biggest show of the tour, and rumor has it a rep from 14/88 Records will be in attendance. If they nail it, they’ll have a shot with the biggest white power label this side of Belsen-Bergen, home to such big names as Panzerfaust, Luftpanzer, LuftwaffeubermenschpanzerSS, and, of course, Faustpanzer.
End Apathy is the first opener for Prussian Blue, a massively popular white power pop duo of teenaged blonde-haired blue-eyed twin sisters who sing bubblegum songs about Aryan supremacy and how the Holocaust is a lie. The Corn Palace is packed with screaming tween girls and the aging pedophiles who make up much of the skinhead scene.
Not fitting easily into either camp, I feel free enough to survey the crowd. One group of tweens eagerly tells me about their crushes on high-ranking Nazis.
"I love Goering, he’s the dreamiest! I want to marry him and have lots and lots of white babies."
"I wish Goebbels was my boyfriend, I have his poster in my room and I kiss him good night every day!"
A heavyset girl with a husky low voice chimes in, “I like Speer.”
End Apathy’s set seems to go well enough, despite their jitters. There were a few out-of-sync Nazi salutes, and their 10-minute-long ode to the Turner Diaries likely went over the young crowd’s heads, but they are nevertheless met with rousing cheers and applause. Invigorated, they strut backstage to the green room, where they will continue drinking and schmoozing with industry types and the other bands.
Between sets, I meet a tween at the merch table with “14/88” written in glitter paint on her cheeks. I ask what attracted her to the white power pop scene.
"All the girls at my school are into boring music like Miley or Justin or One Direction," explains Jessica, 12. "But Prussian Blue is my band. I’m special because I have all their songs and because I know that a cabal of ten Jewish families control the Federal Reserve and international finance."
At last, Prussian Blue takes the stage, and the crowd’s high-pitched squealing is unbearable. “Scream if you are a pure blood Aryan!” I step outside to smoke a clove and ponder what was wrong with the youth of today. Could all those wingnut family values conservatives have been right? Were liberal public schools and overly-permissive Boomer parents responsible for the pervasive breakdown of moral values among an entire generation of tweens?
One of the skinhead pedophiles stops to tell me that yes, this is correct.
AUGUST 4 - NRA CONVENTION - RUBY RIDGE, ID
The band is playing a fundraiser for the NRA’s Homes for Arms charity, which helps match unowned guns and stray bullets with loving families. It’s a very good cause, and the NRA is a benevolent and peaceful organization, I’m told a billion fucking times by these psychotics.
The place is crawling with militia types, each one proselytizing for a different cell. You go into a big convention hall with long rows of booths, and it’s like picking a phys-ed class. There’s militias for anything you can think of. Neo-Nazis, Proto-Nazis, New Wave Nazis, KKK, K4: The Expanded Klan, Jews For Jesus For Killing Jews, Protestant Defenders Of The Articles Of Confederation, Liberal Pro-Choice Catholics For Hatred, Assyrian Orthodox Patriots Of West Ohio, Dog Lovers For RaHoWa, Clown Militia, Santa Militia, and the ruthless Desilu Brigade. There is even a Jaded Hipster Militia. The hipsters have big unkempt beards and flannel shirts and hideous tattoos they’re all stupidly proud to show off. Which is to say they fit in perfectly with the rest of the militia types.
Ward comes up to me with an armful of pamphlets and religious tracts. He was waitlisted for Sons And Daughters Of The Coming Race War, but he’s planning to rush Omega Squad in the fall.
I wonder what malignant force was pushing these people towards factionalism, paranoia, and violence. Beside me a older man’s face turns red as he watches Glenn Beck discuss how Obama caused the recession on a portable television. That’s when it hits me: these people are all disappointed by the state of postmodern literature.
AUGUST 7 - CLUB MANIFESTO - SOUTH MILWAUKEE
It’s the end of the line, both for the tour and for the band. The 300-mile trek back home to the band’s triumphant final show has been littered with accusations and recriminations. First, Dave’s JDate account was discovered. He spent the stretch from Minneapolis to Eau Claire explaining it was all a scheme to lure gay Hebes into savage beatings. When he failed to substantiate that he had ever actually gone through with this, Dave instead claimed he was cyberbullying closeted men, and that his steamy private messages were all part of an elaborate cat-and-mouse game. Ward had to be held back from smashing Dave’s face with a hammer. Failing this, Ward smashed Dave’s face with a screwdriver, which we all agreed was a fair compromise.
Later, Madame pitched a fight over the set list Ward had chosen for the night’s show. It was too heavy on blacks and Jews, she felt. What about those lazy wetbacks and orientals? Besides, she was getting tired of Ward’s full-throated white boy machismo and cock rock Caucasian pride anthems. Madame wanted to perform an acoustic hate song. Ward was apoplectic. He vetoed this. Madame then suggested she perform a love song dedicated to me. I vetoed this.
Four sore drunks take the stage in front of their skinhead brothers and sisters. These are the people you leave behind when you move away from home. They are the meth-mouthed AutoZone workers and the tattooed freaks who open beers with their teeth. It seems correct, even for the most tolerant liberal, to denigrate them for their poverty and lack of education. They are thoroughly hateful, violent malcontents, and here they are in their element, slamdancing invincibly and reveling in the conviviality of the white power scene. I wonder if it is this closeness, this sense of community, that is not the perpetuating force of their hatred, but rather, the sole pacifying influence that prevents them from leaving this world in a blaze of senseless violence.
End Apathy plays their first song. It is a thrashcore encomium to white culture. The audience laps it up, heiling and trashing and chanting “White Power” at all the right moments as I take this as my cue to leave.
I checked in with the surviving members of End Apathy this week. Here’s where they are now:
Bassist Madame Fury moved to Olympia, WA, where she founded Barefoot & Pregnant, an anti-feminist reverse-riot grrrl band. They enjoyed minor success on Kill Rock Stars with their singles “It’s My Job To Please Ya” and “False Rape Accusation (I’ll Make One).” Their debut LP I’m Sorry I’m Fat And Worthless will be released this fall.
Drummer Steve Jihad quit the band after learning that they were supposed to be racist. In an email to me, he explained, “I thought it was ironic, all that stuff about killing Jews and making the world safe for the white race. I mean, Jesus Christ, all this time they were actually serious? Even with those fucking tattoos with the made-up Celtic shit and Norse triangles and ‘1488’ in that stupid New York Times font? How? Just, how?” Steve now lives a quiet life in Madison, WI, where he ekes out a modest living as a Twitter comedian of some note.
Frontman Wade Michael Page murdered six worshipers at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. He wounded at least three others before being gunned down by police.
Guitarist Dave Reichstag moved to Iowa, where he married his longtime lover Alan, a business accountant. Now going by the name Dave Reichstag-Rosenstein, he is a successful nerdcore rapper. Out of the three surviving members of End Apathy, he alone has remained true to the band’s lofty ideals. “When I started rapping, I wanted to introduce white power into geek culture,” opens the liner notes on Reichstag-Rosenstein’s gold-selling debut Final Solution Fantasy. “What I found was that it’s already there.” According to his lengthy Wikipedia page, Reichstag-Rosenstein regularly plays to sold-out crowds of Redditors and men’s rights enthusiasts.
All three emphatically ruled out a reunion.
Much love to my Aryan brother Jay Friedman for his help with this piece.