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JG Thirlwell: Hide and Seek - Page 3

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JG developed friendships with other influential bands such as Einstürzende Neubauten. At once such gig, FM Einheit injured himself during the set and was immediately hauled off to the hospital by the tour manager. Thirlwell had leapt onto the stage and filled in Einheit’s part before the rest of the band even noticed their drummer was missing. This from someone who claims his only real instrument is the studio.

Foetus 1985 by John Hubbard













Foetus didn’t play any instruments live: the early shows were just Clint Ruin prowling an empty stage wielding a baseball bat, surrounded by pig heads on spikes, while a reel-to-reel tape provided the music.

Descent Into The Inferno, The Tube, 1985: originally called “Descent Into LA”

JGT: No-one was doing it at the time and I actually got very strong reaction. People seemed to really like it. The trick was to “inhabit” the stage with blinding white light, smoke and pig heads.

Clint Ruin also branched out into another area: acting in Richard Kern’s arthouse horror-porn films alongside actor-screenwriter Lydia Lunch, as well as creating the soundtracks. When Clint and Lydia released the Stinkfist EP, both appeared near-naked, entwined and covered in mud on the cover.

The Clint Ruin persona became increasingly eroticized, especially with his hip-thrusting live shows for Wiseblood – his side-project with Roli from Swans. (“Wise Blood” was Lydia’s nickname for JG, from the Flannery O’Connor novel.)

AS: How did that sort of exhibitionism make you, as someone apparently rather introverted, feel?

JGT: Performing as a singer could be a shell to project my visions, pathologies or innermost thoughts or artistic intentions. It can imbue me with a sort of fearlessness. I don't necessarily have that fearlessness offstage, and where I can be candid in my work, I may not be as candid when talking personally to someone. I can articulate through my work in ways that I don't in normal personal interactions.

JGT: But I don't perform live in that context any more – what I do with Manorexia and Steroid Maximus is very different to when I sang in live band versions of Foetus. My intention with those ensembles is to rearrange and sometimes reimagine my music for live ensembles. With Manorexia, the compositions are revoiced for the chosen instrumentation, which is string quartet, piano, percussion and laptop. With Steroid Maximus the music is more dense and elaborate, and the bigger the band the better. Steroid live is very elaborate, and not cheap, so I haven’t had an opportunity to do it as much as I would like to. I just did the first ever Steroid Maximus NYC show in Prospect Park in June as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn festival. It was magical to finally do it in my hometown, and home borough.

AS: Roli Mosimann was the first person you approached for your idea of a band with four drummers, and it ended up with just you and him doing Wiseblood. Do think you'll ever revisit the four-drummer idea?

JGT: I don't know. I had four drummers playing when I recorded Stinkfist. I'd like to write a symphonic piece, and that would probably have five percussionists in the orchestra.

Wiseblood – Stumbo, 1989: sexy

As well as the more straightforward sexuality, Clint Ruin was morphing into something – someone – else. By the time the Butterfly Potion EP was released in 1990, the makeover was complete: the fragile, coltish youngster replaced by the gravel-voiced rock god I met in 1996. A different kind of energy and a different kind of performance.


Last Updated on Sunday, 18 July 2010 21:34  


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