When you go to meet with musicians, particularly metal bands, you have to be prepared for the unexpected and, quite often, the bizarre.  In one of our most unusual interviews, Figment News journeyed to a barn on the edge of Amish country – Lancaster County, PA – to meet with the members of doom metal sensation Amish Militia.

Four unassuming young men, clean cut, in denim coveralls make up the Militia: Jan Lapp on vocals and guitar, David Fisher on guitar, John Fisher on bass, and Gustav Koch on drums.  As they say though, still waters run deep.  Despite their calm outward demeanor, these Amish lads unleashed a torrent of metal riffs and powerful imagery on their debut disc: Barn Raising From Hell and the recent “Beezelbub’s Buggy” EP.  As they relaxed and our interview went on, we found out the band not only has metal chops to spare but also a wicked sense of humor.

Figment News:  How does a band form in the Pennsylvania Dutch…oops excuse me Deutsch community?  Do you have a band raising?

[chuckles all around]

Jan: Thanks for pointing that out.  It does drive everyone crazy that no one gets it right; we are of GERMAN descent, not Dutch.

David:  Of course, no one will ever complain about it.  Pacifism, you know….

Jan:  But, no, there is no band raising.  We’re not even supposed to play instruments at all.  Having a band would surely be grounds for shunning.

John:  We are probably the first band of any kind to come out of Amish country.  When you consider we all have to be up at dawn to start our farm chores, maybe that’s not a surprise.

Figment News:  Where you originally in a band called the Mennonite Militia?

Jan:  Uh, no, come on….

David:  I think that was a chamber orchestra back in the 1700s.

Jan:  Those guys had no sense of humor at all.  Not like we do these days. [rolls eyes]

John:  Yes, growing up Amish is a laugh-a-minute.

Figment News:  Is it hard being in a metal band when your religion rejects electricity?

Gustav: It hasn’t bothered me much at all.

Jan:  For the rest of us though….

John:  We started out imagining gain and feedback.  Our first couple “rehearsals” were pretty silly.  We’ve made a lot of progress since then.

David: We’ve rigged up our amps to run on propane.  Gas is allowed.  This does cause some fire concerns though. Remember when Jan took that lead during “Wool” and we almost burned down the barn? [laughs]

Jan:  [laughing] That was almost the end of the Militia right there.

David:  Might have made a great cover photo though, if we were actually allowed to have a camera.

Figment News:  Why doom metal?  Was black metal too evil or just too monochromatic given your choice in clothing?

David:  It was the color thing.  We were afraid someone might confuse it with a buggy.  You know; ‘Live tonight: Amish black metal’, “What, like a blacksmith demonstration?”

Jan:  And, as you can see, most of what we are wearing is navy anyway.  We could have done “navy metal”, but that doesn’t sound so great.

John:  Again, would probably send the wrong message – like it was a Navy recruiting drive or something.  Which, of course, we obviously could not be associated with – pacifism and all.

Jan:  Doom metal is fine, the Navy is not.  [laughs]


Figment News:  Is it hard touring when you have to go everywhere in a buggy?

Jan:  We came up with a solution.

Gustav:  We painted a buggy on the side of our van.  So, we are still inside a buggy.

David:  The horses do get tired pulling the van though.

Figment News:  Have you ever shunned any members of the band?

Jan:  Not so far, but if Gustav doesn’t stop giving Dutch ovens in the back of the van after gigs, we may….

Figment News:  Don’t you mean ‘Deutsch ovens’?

Gustav:  The Dutch deserve all the credit for that one….

Jan:  So do you, Gustav, so do you.

Figment News:  Your debut album “Barn Raising From Hell” is, pardon the pun, one hell of a debut record.  Any pushback from Amish elders on the “hell” connotations?

Jan:  Um, the elders don’t know anything about our record….

David:  And we need to keep it that way.

Jan:  So, don’t say anything about this, or we’ll have to shun you viciously from this point forward.
8.  Do you think “Barn Raising from Hell” will rival “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC in the hell oeuvre?

[confused looks]

Jan:  Who?

Figment News:  You do know of AC/DC, don’t you?  Australian hard rock band?  Angus and Malcom Young….?

David:  Not ringing any bells….


John:  Ok, we’re kidding.  Sure, we know AC/DC.  Even being mentioned in the same sentence with them is something we never could have expected.

David:  We think it’s amazing how people have responded to our album.  If were allowed to be estatic, we’d be that.

Figment News:  Any truth to the rumor that you’ll be composing the soundtrack to the movie “Witness 2:  The Shunning”?

David:  We haven’t been asked, but we’d be interested.

Jan:  As long as we could record it within buggy-van range.

Figment News:  Is it true Lukas Haas is your biggest fan?

[Nods and disbelieving looks all around]

Gustav:  Everywhere we play, there he is.  It’s a bit creepy.

Jan:  [directed at Lukas] Move on, man.  That movie was almost 25 years ago!

Gustav:  Seriously, get a life….

David:  Yeah, coming from us, that’s saying something.

Figment News:  What are Amish groupies like?

David:  Freeeeeeaks!

Jan:  You’d be surprised what happens in Lancaster County when the sun goes down.  That’s all I will say….

[knowing looks all around]

Figment News:  I know “plainness” is the common theme in Amish clothing, but any chance we’ll see you in assless leather chaps with flames down the side?

John:  Good thing we don’t have a camera, or you might have already seen that…. [looks at Gustav]

Gustav: [fidgeting nervously] Next question, please!

Figment News:  What’s next for Amish Militia?

Jan:  Today, Lancaster County.  Tomorrow, Eastern Pennsylvania….

David:  Total world domination.  But, in a non-violent and pacifistic manner.

Jan:  With buggies.

Gustav:  And electricity, for the other guys.

One Response to “Barnstorming: An Interview with the Amish Militia”

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