Watain Guitarist Pelle Forsberg Denied U.S. Entry After Customs Interrogation
U.S. Customs and Border Protection denied Watain guitarist Pelle Forsberg's entry into the United States last week, the Swedish black metal band has explained. That means the musician won't take part in the group's current stateside tour with Florida-based death metal act Morbid Angel.
Due to the incident that saw Forsberg temporarily detained and interrogated, Watain missed Thursday's (Nov. 21) concert in Houston, which was the opening night of the tour that features additional support from Incantation. Initially following the detainment, the remaining members of Watain had the suspicion turned on them. However, after intervention from the group's legal team, the other four musicians were allowed to proceed. As a result, Watain will hastily perform as a quartet for the duration of the tour, with live bassist Alvaro Lillo moving to guitar and vocalist Erik Danielsson handling bass duties. See statements from the band and Forsberg toward the bottom of this post.
"Upon his entry to the States last week, Pelle was … taken into custody, locked up in a cell and interrogated during an entire night, only to finally have his newly approved US Working Visa — which he has been granted five times prior to this one — revoked and made void," the group reveals in Thursday's message. "He was thereafter deported back to Mexico where he had been prior to the tour. This radical … decision, made by a random custom officer … was based on google searches on Watain made during … Pelle's incarceration, as well as private pictures found on his phone."
In an accompanying statement from Forsberg himself, the guitarist contends he doesn't "have any illegal stuff on my phone nor a criminal record." Nevertheless, he explains he was "stopped at the border control in Atlanta, apparently I was red flagged because I already had a return ticket to Mexico the day after (cheaper to get the ticket like that). … But then they proceeded with checking my phone to see 'who I was' basically. After that, they had me interrogated by four different officers for seven hours. Then they asked me [to] fill out a form where I responded 'yes' to 'have you been treated bad by any officer,' and then all hell broke loose."
The band's joint message adds, "We would like to remind you that this is not a cautionary tale from 1980s Soviet, 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."
While Forsberg admits his phone contained photos of him "chopping heads off road kills, welding weird things that look 'frightening' [and] pics from tours where obviously weird shit happens all the time," he holds that it doesn't warrant him being "thrown into a cell with just a bean bag as a bed next to a toilet" for seven hours.
It's not the first time Watain have run into trouble regarding their live show abroad. Earlier this year, a petition to band metal bands in Singapore caused the group to scrap a concert there. Following that fiasco, Danielsson called it an "attempt to govern other people's lives and decision[s]."
A year before that, a former live member of Watain, guitarist Set Teitan, stepped away from the band after photos emerged of the musician giving a Nazi salute. Danielsson said the gesture was only in jest.
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