In this modern age,
we see transformation on a daily basis. The way we interact with technology,
and each other, has been to a large degree forever altered by the conglomeration
of an unprecedented advance in communication and innovation in the means
of providing it.
Of course, the Internet
is at the heart of this transformation. Yet, while millions use this wonderful
tool as a means to keep in touch with family and friends, conduct business,
and learn new things, many others have taken advantage of the obvious
distribution channels online to spread and disseminate ideas popular and
hated, profane and delightful, negative and positive alike, channels which
have traditionally been either closed or cost prohibitive.
If one were to make
a case study in this modern phenomenon, you would need to look no further
than the White Nationalist movement, and, in particular, a fellow by the
name of George Burdi.
Born in a Toronto
suburb in 1971, George had what some would call an almost idyllic upbringing.
The son of an insurance salesman, he excelled in sport and civic endeavors
at school, where he became Vice President of his student council. At age
18, he became interested in the White Power movement through contact with
his girlfriend's father.
By age 23, he was
to start a revolution in the White Power scene with the founding of Resistance
Records, in Detroit, Michigan, at one time the most talked about record
label in America. With a catalog including bands with such names as Aggravated
Assault, Aryan, and Berserkr, you would be hard pressed to find many sympathetic
ears in the industry, and, outside of a few thousand, diehard skinheads,
they didn't gain much mainstream acceptance.
One band in particular,
Rahowa, which is an acronym for "Racial Holy War," sought to
change the game. Rahowa were fronted by George Burdi, an intelligent,
charismatic person, the kind of person one could imagine being the leader
of something big.
Rahowa's music at
first was just as silly and bombastic as the rest of the bands on the
label, until they released "Cult of the Holy War", which, upon first listen,
bears no resemblance to anything before it either in the white power scene,
or even mainstream music as a whole. The album, which sold, at last count,
40,000 copies world wide, is a stunning mix of hard rock, the heaviest
of metal, and goth, with strains of neo classicism throughout.
The centerpiece, however,
is the voice of George Burdi. With a rich baritone, he would deliver his
lyrics with the heartfelt enthusiasm of a man with a passion, a cause
he believed to be noble and worthwhile, nothing less than the resurrection
of a lost and dying culture.
George Burdi and B. Valentine
The George Burdi of
the 21st century still sings like no one else in the industry, but with
a radically altered perspective. Gone are the calls to arms, the Roman
Salutes, and the aesthetic trappings of a cultural revolutionary. Once
known as George Eric Hawthorne, in an homage to author Nathaniel Hawthorne,
he has since reverted to using his given name.
His new band, Novacosm,
is a definite study in contrast to the stark idealism and overbearing
ideology of his former band.
The lineup itself
is testament to the true power of music, featuring multi talented Producer/Instrumentalist
B. Valentine (who just happens to be a black fellow from England) and
Guitarist Sy Sylver, who is Jewish.
The message is loud
and clear to those who would listen. Instead of battle cries like "White
Power!!" "Sieg Heil" and "Rahowa!!", a simple, yet eloquent statement
from George says all that need be said; "I am not my DNA!"
I spoke with George
at length recently from the comfy confines of Acid Logic HQ, nestled in
the subterranean fortress of FORBISBERG in the North Pole.*
* Editor's Note
- I'm really not sure what Anthony is referring to here. Everyone knows
that the Acid Logic HQ is located inside a volcano in the Bahamas.
First off, I would like to commend you on your new project, Novacosm.
How did this come about?
The process has been ongoing since I got involved in the white power movement
12 years ago.
Were you writing some of these songs during the days of Rahowa?
Not in that sense, but in the sense that Novacosm represents an aspect
of my individuality that was trying to emerge throughout my entire life.
It's a duality.
I have to tell you, I have owned both Rahowa albums in the past, and I
must admit a certain fondness for "Cult of The Holy War". And
I, like many others, was simply astounded by the leap in musical ability
and production from the first to the second, and last, Rahowa album.
Also, lyrically, the second Rahowa record is much more mature.
Even in the midst of what some may consider an entirely unproductive,
some would say, destructive, lifestyle and philosophy.
We really do create our own reality. Deep inside the movement, sequestered
from the world, I saw a vision of what racialism could do for the world.
Like many radical ideologies, there is a tremendous gap between the theory
Yes, lyrically, I found Cult of the Holy War to be quite brilliant, as
if you really did believe in your heart and soul, that what you were trying
to achieve was nothing short of cultural revolution, the idea that there
was and still is something beautiful and noble in the ideas of Europe,
and that to forget these ideas, would be nothing short of cultural suicide.
Yes. Ironically, the people who profess to be fighting for European culture
are actually the most ignorant as to what that culture is.
The movement seeks to identify being "white" with being a barbarian.
Which, of course, is a convenient excuse of boorish and loutish behavior.
And the argument of white supremacy actually fits quite well. If you are
busy drinking and fighting all the time, you accomplish nothing, so then
need to attach yourself vicariously to the success of other white people
as a source of your "pride". But it is utter hypocrisy.
And the same argument regarding black people. Some wish to only acknowledge
the fact that since black folk tend to be able to dance and play sports
really well, that there is their identity, which totally ignores the fact
that black folk have composed beautiful operas, ballet, and stunning works
Yes, indeed. And nowhere is the black so victimized this way as he is
in America ... he is reduced to a minstrel instead of a prince.
Too true. Even much of black America seems to accept this fact, rather
than actually study his history, he is content to accept the commercialization
of his soul. Or, just as the White Power movement, reduce history to a
series of conveniently worded historical half truths and revisions, such
as the whole controversy surrounding the Mozart and Brahms were black
All of it is part of a gross identification with the material/biological
self, rather than with a deeper self-realization. I AM NOT MY DNA!
Yes. Very well put. There seems to be a large proliferation of this thinking,
from the historically oppressed peoples, to the lost and confused young
white person. I think that commercialization can be partly blamed for
this, but not entirely. Whatever happened to introspection, and the thirst
The corporate machine is so interested in making children into consumers
as quick as possible, that the traditional process of becoming an adult
has been abandoned.
As a result, we have
a society of overgrown children, halfway between child and adult, but
already busy raising children themselves, which makes it self-perpetuating.
To loosely quote Frank Zappa, it seems as if the Media conglomerates want
to freeze you at High School mentality, so as to have a society full of
non questioning consumers.
Yes, exactly. Except it was not a conscious effort, in my opinion. There
is no Dr. Evil hiding behind levers of control. Instead, corporations
are the collective will of the people, and the masses want to be amused.
What we see happening
socially are just the ramifications of a society with no goal higher than
the worship of man.
Now, to get back to Novacosm, how did you meet the members of the band,
and did you find any skepticism from them regarding your notoriety in
the White Power scene?
I met B. Valentine, who is a UK expatriate living in Toronto, through
an ad in a local entertainment zine. I talked to him on the phone about
producing my record, and he didn't "sound" black. So I went
down to see him, and was just going to leave, assuming he wouldn't want
to work with me. But over our conversation, I realized that I really liked
him, so I told him my story.
His was filled with mixed emotions, but he felt that working with me was
an important thing to do for a lot of reasons.
In our 20 minute documentary, entitled "NOVACOSM: The Power of Music",
he talks about this first meeting.
And is the local music scene receiving you well?
We have played only twice so far, so we are yet to find out.
We videotaped both shows, and are going to be making footage available
on our web site soon.
I could see you guys becoming quite popular. "Blood like Wine",
in particular, is a nice piece of work. I can't see why any radio station
would pass up your music, at least the ones that tend to play music in
the Alternative, Gothic, and electronic vein.
It will take some time for people to warm up to us. Many think that I
view my past as something that will help attract attention to the band's
music, but in reality, it is more of a hindrance. Really good music always
gets heard. One A&R guy from a major was jazzed about the music until
he heard the story. Then he just said "see ya". My past needs
to be overcome.
This lineup is so
deep with talent, we could record ten albums together and still be bursting.
Are you planning on releasing your music yourself, or through a small
Our attitude is that no one in the world will help us but ourselves. No
one is going to ride in on a white horse and take all the struggle away.
Indeed. This is why, in some form or another, the Punk Rock scene has
always thrived, even the White Power music scene takes this approach.
Now you have artists around the world relying on themselves to get their
music out there to the masses.
I remember an interview you did with Michael Moynihan, of Blood Axis,
which appeared in an issue of The Church of Satan's magazine, The Black
Flame. How did that come about, and have you kept in touch with him?
Michael and I have had many conversations over the years, and occasionally
touch base. We met while he was freelancing for (now defunct New York
magazine) Seconds, amongst other publications. We developed a friendship.
He is one of the most remarkable people I have ever had the pleasure of
"knowing", if I can say I truly know him.
I agree. I think you and he should collaborate on music sometime. It could
be quite stunning. On the other hand, though, he is still branded as a
"Nazi", even though without consulting him on the matter. I
had to miss a Blood Axis show in Seattle because of this spoon fed morality.
Moynihan is definitely not a Nazi. But he is quite Faustian in his approach
to ideas, and like a modern Dadaist, sparks a polemic that embraces heresy
as a means to an end.
Yes. Sometimes, you must simply ignore the dominant culture, or in this
case "anti culture", and do what comes naturally.
People need to partake in a dialectic to arrive at truth.
It is not enough for
me that someone says "this idea is forbidden and unpopular, that
is why you must not espouse it."
What has been the reaction of your evolution in character by the other
members in the White Power scene?
Understandably, they are angry and disappointed. But over time, those
with open minds will see that I am being honest, not trying to get attention
or cash in on the drama of my story.
I imagine the taunts of "Race Traitor" and "sell out"
are common. But, as the old saying goes "A man's gotta do what a
man's gotta do."
It would have been far easier for me to just make more RAHOWA records,
play gigs around the world, and maintain my position as one of the kings
of the hill of beans. But instead, I feel compelled to share my story
for my own needs, and to serve those who may be led out of their ignorance
by having the courage to say "I was wrong".
Yes, sometimes humility is the hallmark of an intelligent mind.
Alright, since we are already on the subject of music, can you name me
some of your influences?
I grew up on Zeppelin and Pink Floyd's The Wall.
I had Meat Loaf's Bat out of Hell at the age of seven, and listened to
- get this - a lot of Motown as a kid.
Then, in the 80s I
was into New Wave music, some metal, and loved U2. I had a Beatles anthology
that I played to death.
You know, it's funny, I remember reading Tom Metzger's bio on his site,
and he says that he loves the Blues. Is this a common thing? I have even
run into WP Skins who just can't get enough of Ska and, I have even heard
some White Power Hip Hop. Talk about contradictions!!
The whole thing is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Basically, different
types of music reflect a different aspect of the personality
To quote Homer Simpson : "Ummmmm, Eniigma wrapped Mystery!! (slobberrrrrr)
Is there a defining moment in your life, school, home life, etc, which
was the catalyst for where you have arrived today?
My defining moment came while in jail. I was surrounded by white trash,
who were griping and moaning about the system, trying to appropriate blame
on anyone but themselves for the state of their sorry lives. Listening
to them talk, I could see myself in them.
It dawned on me that they were just skinheads without the thin veneer
The great mirror of self-revelation was thrust in front of you, with no
means to turn away?
Yes .... and I only wish it stopped there. Suddenly, everywhere I looked,
I began to see reflections of myself, in different moods, at different
points in my life.
The whole mass of
humanity began to appear as one gross machine, enslaving the higher self.
Does it really matter
which delusion I fell for?
That's why I have never cared for the standard religious idea that when
you die, some bearded fellow on a cloud sits and judges you. It's far
too easy that way,
I think. It's far better, though at times more painful, to judge yourself.
You actually get to learn from it.
The Hindu teaches that you will be judged, but that you must make progress
on the earthly plane.
Most human misery
is conceived and perpetuated by the mind.
Suffering is the human experience.
The higher man seeks to alleviate this suffering.
Interesting. That's something that I have always believed, that we ourselves
have the means to stop misery, and to end pain and suffering.
I need to stress that I have not just traded dogmas. But I have, through
researching and carefully considering alternative perspectives, arrived
at a perspective that works better for me personally.
But wisdom is experiential,
not theoretical. You cannot learn about life by intellectualizing it.
I totally understand. We find that philosophy which works best for us,
then discard the old dogmas.
Exactly. And beware that "ideologies" are prisons for the mind.
Ideology. Is it any wonder that "idiot" could be drawn from
the first part of the word?
I have heard that you have a fiancee'. You lucky duck!! How did you two
We were at a night club, dancing.
Shock!! A white guy dancing!!! (You heard it here first!!!)
When I left the movement, I learned that I loved dancing. It is an incredible
means of self-expression ... to dance like no one is watching.
Yes. Very liberating. Did she know your reputation?
She knew nothing about my past, at first. A couple of weeks later, I had
"the talk" with her.
And did she take it well?
She was actually a bit relieved. When I started out by saying, "I
have something to tell you, and it's going to be a pretty big shock,"
she thought I was going to tell her something worse.
She had worked for anti-racist groups before, and is very well educated,
so we had quite a long chat after that.
Wow!! I don't recall them being too active here, but I know that Toronto
has a thriving Anti Racist Action group.
She had nothing to do with the radical anarchist-type ARA people, though.
She was a member of the police services board on racism.
We don't have anything nearly that comprehensive here in the US. Is it
an effective group?
The ARA were quite effective in demonstrating outside Rahowa concerts
... sometimes 600 strong.
Damn. That's a lot of people. How many people did Rahowa concerts draw?
The largest show we played was to 500 people in Montreal.
I guess that's pretty big for a White Power show, then?
The police sequestered the whole neighborhood and turned away another
in Europe, the concerts reach 2,500 at times.
2500? I don't even think Skrewdriver drew that many people, did they?
i don't think so. But the first racist EP by Skrewdriver, White Power,
sold over 300,000 copies worldwide since it's release in approx. 1979.
Rahowa's Cult of the Holy War has sold an estimated 40,000 copies, which
is the best selling Resistance title so far.
Sort of a bittersweet victory, then?
It is a testimony to the music, not the political content, as there have
been many more controversial albums in the Resistance catalog that didn't
sell as many.
But now I am going to find out if my music can stand independently of
"In the fires of 1945" stands out to me. It is by all accounts
a beautifully stunning song. What was the reaction from the scene when
this album was released?
People didn't know how to take it, at first. It took a while to digest
the album, because it is so complex. A lot of people wanted us to just
release a follow-up to Declaration of War, our first album, staying safely
in the skinhead rock genre. But we explore other directions.
As an artist, you can ultimately only listen to your muse.
Yes, and that is what Novacosm is about, primarily, always finding my
own voice, just like I tried to do with Rahowa at one time.
I just could no longer lie to myself that anything worthwhile was going
to come from the movement. It is really just another scene in a great
big human tragedy.
A friend of mine, contacted me the other day, intrigued by this interview,
and had a question. He related the story of Greg Withrow, former White
Power Skinhead, who was famous for leaving the movement, and then being
crucified by other WP Skins. Except, it is starting to come out that he
possibly faked the incident, and is supposedly now admitting to his conversion
being nothing more than an attempt to infiltrate the left wing.
I know that you don't
owe anyone anything other than your word, and actions, but, for the skeptic,
what would you say to those who would claim, "Aww, this Burdi fellow
is just full of it, he went to jail and got scared"?
That sounds like a reasonable scenario, except for one glaring seam in
the argument: jail wasn't scary. It was vacation. I was in an Ottawa jail,
and for those who have never been there, they are filled with the sons
and daughters of clerical staff for the federal government.
But I had four months to think about my life, and that is what made me
decide to leave the cause.
In the beginning,
I left out of defeat, not because I disagreed with the ideas. But the
longer I was away from the groupthink of the movement, the more I came
to look at things differently.
Lots of time to think, I did the same thing in the early 90's, after a
fairly big Anarchist action that I participated in, I could have been
killed, should have done a year or more in prison, but I was lucky that
I had people who gave a damn enough to testify on my behalf.
Perspective is always a good thing.
Everything is everything. We are all a reflection of each other.
As Seattle's namesake, Chief Sealth once said, and I paraphrase here ;
"We are all part of a giant web of life. Each action has an effect
on all of us, whether or not it is readily apparent."
That's Buddhist/Hindu metaphysics.
It really is a small world after all!
I heard that a fellow by the name of Bernie Farber has in some degree
supported you. Would you care to elaborate?
He has not supported me, just met with me and talked on three seperate
occasions, all about ten months apart. I initiated it, and he was very
generous with his time and treated me warm-heartedly.
I was going through
a bit of a dialectical process, and wanted to see what I could learn about
myself from getting to know him more. Walking into his big, fortified
office was intimidating. I went where I feared to go the most at the time.
Do you have any parting
words for the people out there in InternetLand?
I AM NOT MY D.N.A.
It has been an immense pleasure, George, I look forward to hearing from
you in a big way!
Thanks for the opportunity to speak about my strange life.
LOL, No prob.
further info, check out www.novacosm.com