Norwegian black-metal band Taake have canceled their remaining North American dates. The decision comes in response to mounting protests over the group's alleged ties to white nationalism — spurred by a 2007 photo of frontman Hoest performing with a swastika painted on his chest — that compelled venues in New York City, Portland and elsewhere to call off Taake's previously scheduled shows. In an extensive statement posted to Facebook, the band cite the "illegal activities of Antifa and its supporters," including alleged death threats levied against promoters and fans, as reasons for nixing the tour dates; they also addressed rapper Talib Kweli, who cancelled his own show at a Kansas City venue upon learning Taake had been booked there.
Hoest has continuously denied accusations of ties to white supremacy groups, framing the swastika incident as a provocative gesture rather than a show of Nazi solidarity. "I have clearly explained many times throughout the years that me wearing a swastika once at a German concert was not at all meant to show support for the Nazi ideology," he said. "It was all about doing something extreme for the sake of it, which certainly backfired." Read the entire statement below:
"It is with great regret that we have to inform you that Taake's US Tour has been canceled. Despite all those incredible people who stepped up and tried to help us save the tour, and to whom we are more grateful than we can express, time and logistics are just not on our side. It was not our wish to cancel, but the decision was forced on us by the illegal activities of Antifa and its supporters who applied pressure on venues and promoters to cancel shows. Pressure, it has to be said, that has frequently been accompanied with threats of violence both towards those involved in the organization and towards any fans attending (not to mention the bands who would be playing). Why these threats are not reported to the police, we don't know.
"We have explained on many, many occasions, the history behind what caused the problems, and there are plenty of articles in the unbiased press and on social media where you can read the truth of it, but just for the sake of clarity — Taake is not now, has never been, and never will be a Nazi band. What we want to address here is the cancellation of the tour itself.
"This cancellation is unfortunate in many ways, not just for the bands who were going to take part. Not just for the ordinary working Americans with families to support and bills to pay who have lost much needed income because of it. Not just for the fans who wanted to see the bands. Not just for music fans in general. But, also, and more importantly, for America as a whole.
"Why? Because it is the ultimate demonstration of how, through the dissemination of lies, misinformation and unfounded accusations, along with credible threats of violence, a small minority of left wing agitators are able to force their agenda on the majority, and deprive music fans of their freedom to attend concerts and go about their day to day activities without the fear of reprisals and retaliation.
"And these agitators won't stop once they have destroyed the soft targets from Europe and other parts of the world. Their next targets will be American music, American art, American literature, American theatre, American cinema. Anything, in fact, that does not adhere strictly to their views. And if this reminds you of the McCarthy witch hunts, it is because that is EXACTLY what it is like, by, who are doing all the threatening. And maybe we should also remind these venues that so many of the musical genres today exist due to those other small venues back in the day who dared stand up to threats and gave a voice to those musicians who brought us Blues and Jazz – the basis of so much of today's music.
"We would also like to speak out about celebrities like Talib Kweli, who was unfortunate enough to have allowed himself to be played by the lies spread by Antifa and who, as a result, issued statements that are libellous and slanderous. His heart may have misguidedly been in the right place, but his brain, and his legal advisors, were not. Had he bothered to check the facts he would have realized that he had put himself in a position of looking like someone who doesn't know, or understand, or even care about, all the facts, and who is easily manipulated by others to dance to their tune.
"We should also mention those members of the press who failed to fact check and did not bother to contact us, or anyone else for that matter, for our side of the story. They simply went right ahead and printed libellous statements. This is irresponsible journalism at its worst, and we can't just single out inexperienced editors of webzines. Complicit in this are long-established and (once) respected publications. Their actions show the utter contempt they have for facts and the disrespect they have for their readers.
"Ending on a positive note, we really do need thank those who stood by us, and especially the venues who refused to be cowed, and those that stepped in offering us alternatives for canceled shows. We have had messages from all over the world, and from people of all political and religious persuasions, offering not just their support, but also offering their help. And these are not just our fans. We have been contacted by people who admit that they had never heard of us, or that they hate black metal, or that they hate Taake, but have nevertheless felt compelled to let us know of the disgust they feel at the way Antifa, and their like, demand slavish adherence to their agenda, and punish anyone who defies them, riding roughshod over the freedoms of the American people to decide for themselves.
"You, my friends, do not need to apologize for the lies and actions of a fringe group. You are the majority, you are the ones who refuse to bow your heads to those who would dictate how you live your lives, and who attempt to restrict your freedoms – you are the ones who can do something about it."