Watain guitarist Pelle Forsberg has been barred from entering the US for five years.
Forsberg flew in from Mexico to Atlanta for Watain’s US tour, but on arrival, he was taken aside by a border and customs officer, with the band saying he was then locked in a cell and interrogated.
Authorities searched for information about Watain online and sifted through the guitarist’s phone and didn’t approve of his pictures of “motorbikes, hunting and various things related to Satanism, black metal and counter culture in general.”
After he was held overnight, Forsberg’s visa – which had been granted five times previously – was revoked and the guitarist was deported back to Mexico.
US border authorities then decided to “direct their suspicion towards the rest of the band” the day before they were due to fly to the US, resulting in vocalist Erik Danielsson, bassist Alvaro Lillo, guitarist Hampus Eriksson and drummer Emil Svensson unable to make the trip.
Watain report that after several days and nights of discussions between lawyers and management, the four were allowed to enter the US – although their show in Houston had to be scrapped, and they’ve lost a significant chunk of cash as a result of the situation. The tour will go on without Forsberg.
Watain say in a statement: “We do not ask for your pity here. Everyone who chooses to do what we do has to be prepared to meet opposition in all its shit-stained, imbecile shapes every now and then. But we do ask for your understanding.
“If you want to truly support Watain at this critical time, coming out to the shows and buying tour merch will be more appreciated than ever, since the economical damage is quite severe already. Other than that, this entire debacle has only filled us with more anger and force, now ready to be unleashed on the 26 shows ahead.”
They add: “Pelle had nothing illegal on his phone. He did not behave suspiciously or provokingly. All this comes down to one grumpy officer doing the last hours of his shift, disapproving of Pelle's appearance, private life or ways of expression.
“We would like to remind you that this is not a cautionary tale from 1980’s Soviet Union – this is Trump-administered border policy in today's United States.
“This is what you get with an imbecile, Christian, racist ape ruling the nation and ‘defending it at all cost’ from anything that can be considered alien and therefore unacceptable and potentially dangerous.”
Forsberg says: “I don’t have any illegal stuff on my phone nor a criminal record. For sure, some pictures can be disturbing for ‘normal people.’ I don’t live a normal life.
"It's pictures of me riding bikes with friends, me chopping heads off road kill, welding weird things that look ‘frightening’, pictures from tours where obviously weird shit happens all the time. Nothing illegal, no bullshit!
“Of course they also started to google Watain and of course they stumble upon these lowlife fuck-faces that accuse Watain of being a right-wing band. This tiresome lie that has been going on for a while now, didn’t really help me in this situation.”
He adds: “In the end, this is just about a little border officer that didn’t like what he saw and read on the internet, who in turn decides that I, one of the founding members of Watain, can’t join this tour.
“Be sure that I will fight this because this five-year ban from the States has absolutely no grounds at all. But to all of you crazy fuckers out there, Watain never surrenders. Alvaro takes my guitar and Erik takes the bass once again – join them. Fuck the world, I’ll be back.”
Back in March, Watain slammed Singapore’s “tragic excuse for a government” after their show was pulled at the last minute following an online petition calling for them to be banned.