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Former ANTHRAX bassist Dan Lilker, who was also one-quarter of the mid-’80s side project STORMTROOPERS OF DEATH, spoke to Pierre Gutiérrez of Rock Talks about the rise of political correctness in the social media era. Asked for his opinion of the current state of “censorship,” including the cancel culture, which is the idea that someone, usually a celebrity or a public figure, whose ideas or comments are considered offensive should be boycotted, Danny said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “Something like the [debut] S.O.D. record [‘Speak English Or Die’], yeah, I mean, sure, you could never do that now. Just trying to be obnoxious and just be a bit of an asshole and be provocative, you can’t do that anymore because everyone thinks that you’re completely serious and full of hatred.
“When NUCLEAR ASSAULT did a festival in Recife, Brazil, I was talking to a couple of young metalheads in the lobby of the hotel, and they said, ‘On your first album [1986’s ‘Game Over’], you had an extra song on the cassette, and it was called ‘Lesbians’. Why? Did you have a problem with lesbians?’ And I’m, like, ‘We wrote that song in 1985 before you were even fucking born.’ The point being that no, of course, we don’t [have a problem with lesbians]. But that’s when it was okay… It was never okay, but it was a stupid song. And, of course, we didn’t mean it. It was just being obnoxious and provocative. And you can’t do that [anymore].”
He continued: “I would hope that people understand that just because you have a position in a song that’s obviously funny or outlandish that you’re not really like that every day.
“I don’t care. I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve done. It’s all been in fun when it was obnoxious, and I wouldn’t take any of it back. I mean, ‘Fuck The Middle East’,” he said, referencing a song on the first S.O.D. album, “but it’s still true.
“I think some people have made a whole industry out of being offended,” Lilker added. “I think a lot of people try to impress their older friends: ‘Oh, did you see what they said? Oh, that’s horrible.’ I think some people are using this stuff. MARDUK and INCANTATION [were] shut down from a show in Oakland because 25 years ago INCANTATION had a guy in the band who later — much, much later — got into some crappy ‘white power’ shit that all the other guys were, like, ‘What the fuck happened to this guy?’ But because of this ancient association, now they’re on some list, and that, to me, is ridiculous.”
In a 2018 interview with the “Let There Be Talk” podcast, ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian, who was also a member of STORMTROOPERS OF DEATH, defended the lyrics on “Speak English Or Die”, saying: “You’ve gotta understand, this was a character — I was writing for a character. This isn’t how I feel, as Scott Ian. I created a guy named Sargent D, who I was writing a comic book about and I wrote songs based on it. And if you don’t get it, go fuck yourself. I will never apologize, because that’s where it comes from.”
STORMTROOPERS OF DEATH (a.k.a. S.O.D.) was a satirical 1980s metal band which consisted of Ian (guitar), Lilker (bass), ANTHRAX‘s Charlie Benante (drums), and M.O.D.‘s Billy Milano (vocals).
STORMTROOPERS OF DEATH are commonly credited as being among the first bands to fuse hardcore punk with thrash metal into a style sometimes called “crossover thrash.” The track “March Of The S.O.D.” from the group’s debut LP, “Speak English Or Die”, was the “Headbangers Ball” intro song for many years.
STORMTROOPERS OF DEATH was formed shortly after Ian finished his guitar tracks on the ANTHRAX album “Spreading The Disease”. He would draw pictures of the face of a character known as “Sargent D,” and the pictures would be accompanied by slogans such as “I’m not racist; I hate everyone” and “Speak English Or Die.” Ian would then wrote lyrics about this character. He decided to form a hardcore band based on Sargent D, so he recruited Benante, Lilker and Milano.
The 30th-anniversary edition of “Speak English Or Die” was made available in November 2015 via Megaforce. The set included the original album as well as the demo recordings from the pre-STROMTROOPERS OF DEATH project CRAB SOCIETY NORTH.