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Industrial Revolution - Jackhammer of the Gods

The following is an excerpt from an article written by Alan Di Perna that was originally published in the June 1995 edition of Guitar World.


In popular music, it often pays to be a little behind the curve, which is what happened in this case. Nitzer Ebb and Skinny Puppy became two of the first industrial acts to sign with major labels (Geffen and Capitol, respectively). Together, they presented a more "palatable," marketable brand of industrial music in the mid-Eighties - which is not to detract from them. Their music is generally competent and their talent is quite sincere.

Like Nitzer Ebb, Skinny Puppy formed in 1983, influenced by earlier industrial sounds that made their way to the band's native Canada via an underground tape exchange network. "There was a lot of tape exchanging going on in Canada" says Skinny Puppy's Nivek Ogre. "For us, it was a reaction against where music was going at the time - what would eventually would become bands like Motley Crue and things like that. Through a bunch of people, we got into noise - using noise as a rhythmic fashion. It became such an experience for us that it was hard to listen to other music without laughing. The whole thing was begun by people like Genesis P-Orridge and his label, which included a lot of things like Thomas Leer and Robert Rental, who were very influential on us. Then I worked with a woman who was an art historian, and we were able to bring both Neubauten and Test Department to Vancouver for a big expo called Transportation Mutations. So I got to hang around with those groups and see where they were coming from."

Skinny Puppy's early recordings are heavily indebted to the "drone and moan" style that sprang up in the wake of Genesis P-Orridge and TG. But they brought a distinctly North American adolescent male perspective to the industrial genre. Earlier industrial groups wouldn't have thought of Motley Crue as something to react against; that sort of thing wasn't part of their universe. Skinny Puppy's samples were drawn heavily from Nightmare On Elm Street-era suburban horror movies. Their lyrics - and even their name - had a sophomoric quality that seemed calculated to give the willies to pubescent boys from Des Moines. All this proved to be just what the doctor ordered. Skinny Puppy's recordings for the Canadian indie Nettwerk were picked up by Capitol in the mid-Eighties.