It’s safe to say that Crispian Mills, the 24-year-old frontman of the English rock group Kula Shaker and the son of actress Hayley Mills, is no Pollyanna. The singer for the mystic-pop band recently came down with a case of jackboot-in-mouth disease while discussing Adolf Hitler’s interest in spiritualism. And the fallout could endanger Kula Shaker’s position as one of Britain’s three most popular groups (along with Oasis and Blur). ”I love the swastika,” said Mills in New Musical Express‘ March 3 edition. ”It’s a brilliant image, it symbolizes peace and the sun and illumination. I’d love to have great big flaming swastikas on stage just for the f— of it.” Adding fuel to the fire, journalists turned up that Mills’ previous group, the Objects of Desire, played at a conspiracy theorists’ conference with right-wing and anti-Semitic speakers in 1993.
Because of the comments, Israel briefly banned Kula Shaker’s music in March before Mills sent letters of apology to the British and Israeli press. He cited his ”long interest in Indian culture,” where the swastika ”in its original form is the antithesis of the demonic and monstrous Nazi atrocities.”
Organizers of this summer’s H.O.R.D.E. tour, who booked the band for six Stateside dates, were surprised to hear of the controversy. And the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper is grateful for Mills’ apology, though he notes with concern that ”he’s had relationships with people who are lifelong racists.” For the band’s part, manager Kevin Nixon blames the ”absurd” furor on a sensationalist British press, noting that ”before this, if anything,” Mills — a Buddhist — ”had been criticized for being too much of a hippie.”