Whoa, things got pretty crazy last week, huh? If you don't recall, in my last column, I implied that Donald Trump is modeling his entire presidential campaign and policy on how the Nazis took power in Germany. Sorry if that seemed like conspiracy theory nonsense and caught some of you off-guard. Also, here's more of it. In fact, maybe buckle up for the next couple weeks or so.
Anyway, I really can't blame anyone for landing on the side of the argument that Trump's crazy immigration plan, or anything similarly Nazi-like, could never happen here. It really is inconceivable, even moreso than the fact that it ever happened at all. But what if I told you we already kind of bought into it once? Not at all in the "extermination of an entire race" kind of way, thankfully. But a case study of sorts does exist which shows that, under the right circumstances, the American public is capable of completely ignoring or missing obviously hateful messages, provided they're being delivered by someone who gives us something we want desperately enough. We talk about it on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by comic Lahna Turner, Cracked video superstar Katy Stoll, and musician Danger Van Gorder of the band Countless Thousands. Conveniently enough, I'll explain it right here right now as well. OK, here goes nothing.
Do you remember Ace of Base? They were the '90s band from Sweden who cranked out chart-topping hits like "The Sign" ...
... "Don't Turn Around" ...
... and "All That She Wants."
You remember them now, right? Maybe you were a fan. I wasn't, personally, but I do get how hearing those songs again might evoke memories of a simpler time. A time when every food product was EXTREME! and winning a war in the Middle East was a thing we were still capable of as a country. So before you get too ensconced in your nostalgia, I feel like I should tell you something: Ace of Base was probably a bunch of Nazis.
Actually, that they have ties to the neo-Nazi movement isn't in dispute, or at all a secret. A few years ago, Vice music editor Ben Shapiro wrote an article that revealed that Ace of Base founder Ulf Ekberg was once in a Nazi punk band called Commit Suiside. Here's a sample of the band's lyrics, as shared in his article:
Vice covers way more ground in their write-up about Ekberg's past, and I definitely encourage you to give it a read at some point. However, the piece ends with an interesting question: "Did Ekberg use Ace of Base's success as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and erase his neo-Nazi past?"
I think I can answer that. Ekberg did not use Ace of Base to hide his Nazi past. Quite the contrary. Ace of Base was a Nazi band, too.
For starters, let's talk about that name. It's weird, right? Vaguely militaristic. "Bass" is the word you'd expect to be there, seeing as how it's music-related and all. I think I can explain not only why they went with "base," but also why it sounds so warlike. The name is most likely a reference to the Keroman Submarine Base, a massive U-boat launching and docking facility constructed by the Nazis in the French town of Loriant. It's considered one of the most important and ambitious projects of the entire war for their side. In 1941, the missions that embarked from this facility alone were responsible for taking out more than 500 Allied ships. It was so well-constructed that the Allies built a new bomb specifically to take out this one facility. The bomb was called the "Tall Boy," and it failed miserably. The Allies finally crippled the base, but only by literally flattening the entire city around it and blocking U-boats from accessing the station. We never took it, though. The Germans, despite eventually being completely surrounded by Allied forces, managed to hold onto the bunker through the end of the war.
If it reads like I was glowing with pride while writing all that, it's because I want you to understand that this is exactly the kind of thing a closet Nazi would name his band after if he was trying to be clever. Now guess what they sometimes called Keroman Submarine Base? Because it was the place where Germany's top U-boat captains carried out all of their missions, it was often called the "base of aces."
Amy Sussman/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
You sneaky bastard!
Whoa! OK. Surely the band has a reasonable origin story for the name? When asked, the band's answer is usually something about how the studio is a "base" and an ace is "like a master," so the name implies that they are masters of the studio. In other words, they can't even lie about it without using phrasing that brings Nazi ideals to mind. Why not "Base Masters" if that's what you were trying to imply? It doesn't sound any more or less stupid than "Ace of Base."
Now, be completely honest with yourself while answering this question. What is more likely: That a confirmed former(?) Nazi just randomly threw two words together when coming up with a band name and landed on the perfect inverse of the nickname of one of the most impressive structures ever produced by the Nazi war machine by coincidence? Or that he knew exactly what his band name implied the entire time?
Why would someone use such an obvious Nazi reference as a band name if they were trying to put distance between themselves and their Nazi past, though? Because it's not an obvious reference, that's why. Like I said earlier, if you're trying to fly under the radar while also paying homage to your Nazi leanings, "Ace of Base," or anything based on the "base of aces" nickname, is a great way to be sneaky about it. See, it's not a common nickname. I only know about it because there's a series on Netflix right now called Nazi Mega Weapons. The second episode of the first season is about the Keroman facility.
That's where I first heard it referred to as the "base of aces" and thought, "Ha, what if the name of that '90s band is actually a Nazi reference?" From there, I found plenty of sources that suggested Ace of Base might have Nazi ties, but very few that referred to Keroman as the "base of aces," although I did eventually see it in this passage from the 2003 book Hitler's U-boat Fortresses. My point is, as far as Nazi references go, it's kind of obscure. If some piece of shit Nazi started a pop band with the intent of spreading Nazi propaganda subliminally to the masses and thought he was so much smarter than everyone else that he could slip a Nazi reference right into his band's name without anyone noticing, "Ace of Base" is close to an ideal choice. After all, it's worked this long, right?
But wait, there's more!