Graham Cushway, who is the bassist in Stuka Squadron, is standing for the anti-EU party in Brighton Kemptown at next month’s general election, a seat which currently has a Labour MP.
Dr Cushway has been photographed wearing a tie featuring the SS Totenkopf symbol (a skull and crossbones), which during the Nazi era, was used by Hitler’s SS.
The band, named after Second World War German dive-bombing planes, say they dress as “vampire Luftwaffe pilots”, in leather trenchcoats and caps like those of the German regime’s airforce.
But members vehemently deny any of them has ever been “affiliated to any extreme right or left wing movement, has or had any interest in or sympathy for extreme politics”, insisting the band’s image is entirely an act.
Stuka Squadron style themselves as a band of “vampire warriors who have fought through the ages on innumerable battlefields”.
“The name celebrates our most recent wartime incarnation, but our bloody bootprints echo through the pages of history,” the band’s website says.
Dr Cushway, who has also stood for Ukip in the past, attended an election launch event with party leader Nigel Farage but did not respond to requests from The Independent to comment.
The title track of the album Tales of the Ost, named in apparent reference to the eastern front, contains the lyrics “Flying high above them all, the saviours of the Reich, the Stuka Squadron vampires head into the fight […] An Iron Cross on every chest, the Squadron dwindled fast”, according to the Hope not Hate anti-fascist campaign.
The drummer’s fictional character’s past is described as: “Following the great unpleasantness (1939-45), in which he took great pleasure in flying the Ju87-d Stuka, Evil Ernst the stormtrooper of death accompanied various VIPs and members of the armed forces on their voluntary relocation to New Germany.”
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Dr Cushway’s Labour rival in Brighton Kemptown, called for him to be dropped as a candidate.
“It is pretty abhorrent to appear in a Luftwaffe heavy metal tribute band and to dress up as a Nazi,” he told Politics Home.
“Graham says to me that it was a parody but I don’t find it funny and I don’t think voters will either.
“Yet again the Brexit party selects someone with a dodgy past and he now should be considering his position.”
But the band accused critics of trying to exploit Stuka Squadron for “political advantage or personal profit”.
Last week the group posted a Facebook message saying: “Stuka Squadron is – and always was – solely AN ACT. It is an art-house Heavy Metal band intended from the start to blend elements of musical theatre with traditional heavy metal performance. No more, no less.
“It was intended to be shocking and un-PC at the outset, although this desire waned as it increased in popularity.
“The band is not intended to convey any political message. There is no political agenda and the band members have always represented a cross-section of political opinion.”
The lyrics are stories about vampires and are mostly based on in-jokes incomprehensible to outsiders, it said.
“All items of costume are entirely bogus. The intention was to portray Luftwaffe pilots. However, the band’s own style is intended only to vaguely evoke the subject.”
The iron cross is commonly worn by heavy-metal bands and is a reference to the band Motorhead, the statement went on.
“Any appearance of genuine world war II-era symbols on accessories – hats, ties, straps etc - is purely accidental.”
“The band’s look is NOT intended to portray the SS or any other specific military unit from any era. It is the uniform of a fantasy unit existing in an imaginary universe in which vampires played a significant role in World War II.”
The Brexit party did not respond to requests byThe Independent to comment.
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