Marching Church is the side project of Iceage frontman Elias Bender Ronnenfelt. (Courtesy Elizabeth Peyton)

Marching Church is the side project of Iceage frontman Elias Bender Ronnenfelt. (Courtesy Elizabeth Peyton)

Iceage lead takes on politics in Marching Church

Over three albums with Danish post-punk quartet Iceage, singer-lyricist Elias Bender Ronnenfelt was uncomfortable taking a political stand.

“All of my work has usually been focused on the more internal things,” he says. “But with the nature of the world situation these days, it’s just become not only important, but urgent, that I address these topical things.”

He has a separate, more melodic vehicle to do it: his side project Marching Church, which hits The City this week.

The spinoff began in 2010 as a home-demo solo experiment for the then-teenaged Ronnenfelt. But it simmered on the back burner when Iceage’s jackhammering 2011 debut “New Brigade” took off. (The band got a contract with chic Matador Records.)

But with its latest sophomore album, “Telling It Like It Is,” Marching Church (with the addition of musician chums in Copenhagen) has become an ensemble in its own right, allowing Ronnenfelt to express himself more freely, in dirges such as “Information” “Lion’s Den,” and “Inner City Pigeon.”

In “2016,” a bass-heavy, buzzsaw-chorded track, he prophesies an “eruption…like a veil over the Earth of stone and ashes.” The song was inspired by last year’s far-right movement sweeping an increasingly xenophobic Europe, and the barbed-wire Syrian refugee camps he witnessed on overseas Iceage tours.

“Where I stand politically almost has nothing to do with it. I can see something is wrong when it’s wrong,” the 24-year-old says. “Everything is getting radicalized these days, and it’s going in both directions. And I can only speak for myself, but what can I say? The world is a mess.”

The vocalist works hard to stay informed, but because he doesn’t trust corporate media sources, he says, “I try an get my information from as many sources as possible, and compile them into something that seems to be as close to the truth as I can get.”

He also follows several pundits who don’t share his opinions. He says, “You can’t argue in favor of anything if you don’t know the counter-argument. So I get my news from a pretty broad range of places.”

One conversely apolitical “Telling” cut, “Florida Breeze,” concerns a weeklong trip Ronnenfelt took to Miami a year ago: “It was a really surreal, dreamlike place, with this combination of sin, lawlessnes and humidity. I liked it a lot there,” he says.

The rest of the record he won’t explain. “I don’t want to divulge everything I’m writing about,” adds Ronnenfelt, who is finishing a fourth Iceage installment. “Because I don’t want to ruin it for anybody who’s listening to the song.”

IF YOU GO
Marching Church
Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 17
Tickets: $12 to $14
Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.ticketfly.comDanishElias Bender RonnenfeltIceageMarching ChurchPop MusicRickshaw StopTelling It Like It Is

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