This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
“Electronic music is dead. I don’t care what Käpt’n K says.” – Little Jimmy Urine, Mindless Self Indulgence “Your parents will hate it, your neighbors will hate you for playing it and you’ll really make lots of bizarre friends.” – Zoog, Angelspit "The original idea of Industrial Records was to reject what the growing industry was telling you at the time music was supposed to be." – Peter Christopherson aka Sleazy, Throbbing Gristle
Jennifer Onativia Tuesday, June 2nd, 2008
The origins of industrial music are, like many other things in life, obscure. Online on forums, at concerts and on the streets the debate rages on. Some would insist it started with KMFDM in 1984. Others say it was Nine Inch Nails in 1988. More people claim it was Throbbing Gristle (Fig. 2 below left) in 1975. I tend to stick with the assumption that it was Luigi Russolo’s 1915 work “The Art of Noise.” The most popular assumption is that it was Kraftwerk (Fig. 1 below right) in 1970. Kraftwerk had futurism, strangeness, and transgression which industrial was and still is all about. Throughout the years, industrial has always been this sort of risqué dance with your Moog synthesizer and imagination. That seems to be the only way to describe it: Wrong, shocking, beautiful, creative, artistic, ominous and grotesque. On the other hand, it failed to have an official name for itself until Throbbing Gristle’s Industrial Records in 1975. Industrial started out minimalistic and synonymous with avant-garde and even punk rock. In the ‘70s, industrial tiptoed around Europe’s underground, just a baby in diapers, in Germany, England and France. It finally crossed the Atlantic in 1981 with Chicago’s Ministry and was also taken on in 1982 by Canada’s cEvin Key, Nivek Ogre and Mark Walk of Skinny Puppy. By the late ‘80s, bands were popping up everywhere: 1984 – KMFDM (Germany and France) 1985 – Stabbing Westward (Chicago, Il., United States) 1986 – Front Line Assembly (Canada) 1987 – Neuromance (Germany) 1988 – Leather Strip (Denmark) 1989 – Chemlab (Washington, D.C., United States) After the migration west, industrial would never be the same. Separate subgenres formed including Aggrotech, Cyberpunk, Industrial Rock, Fig. 1 Kraftwerk EBM, Industrial Metal, Synthpop, Darkwave and many, many, MANY more. Darkwave has been kept alive by bands like The Crüxshadows and Die Form. Industrial Metal was originated by Ministry in the United States. Cyberpunk music started with music inspired by films and novels like William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and the 1982 film Blade Runner. EBM was the original electronic music started by Kraftwerk and perfected by Nitzer Ebb in 1982. Neue Deutsch Harte (New German Hardness) is an Industrial Rock “sub-subgenre” started in 1977 by German actor Joachim Witt and popularized by Rammstein in 1994. Rammstein is the biggest industrial metal group in the world having released seven albums, over ten music videos and sold hundreds of thousands of records despite that fact that nearly all of their songs are in German. Oomph! is also a very big Neue Deutsch Harte band especially after their hit song “Augen Auf!” sent them skyrocketing to success in 2004. As far as Industrial Rock goes, Mindless Self Indulgence (left) is probably the most popular band, having been on tour with My Chemical Romance, Combichrist, Saosin, The Birthday Massacre, Linkin Park, Julien-K and many others. Mindless Self Indulgence uses a unique blend of punk, hip-hop, Fig. 2 Throbbing Gristle’s debut industrial and metal to attract fans of all ages. It’s safe to album, 20 Greatest Jazz Funk say MSI is the industrial band with the youngest fan base ever; Most of their fans are under 18. 2
Cyberpunk’s most famous band is Dope Star Inc. They formed in Rome, Italy in 2003. They released 10,000 Watts of Artificial Pleasures and formed an instant fan base with songs like “Vyperpunk” and lyrics like “Sleep all day / party all night / never go home and never die.” Their newest single entitled “Fast and Beautiful” defines the Cyberpunk genre. Despite the fact that Dope Stars maybe one of the more popular Cyberpunk bands, it doesn’t change the fact that Australia’s Angelspit has one of the most dedicated cult followings. Angelspit formed in 2004 with their first EP, Nurse Grenade, free on their website. Due to a strong fan following, the duo was able to get signed to independent electronic music label Dancing Ferret Discs. They released their first full-length album, Krankhaus in 2007. Their newest CD, Blood Death Ivory, will be released in June 2008. I pre-ordered it in April . Synthpop was VERY popular in the ‘80s with bands like Depeche Mode and Soft Cell. However, Synthpop at the time was synonymous with rock. Synthpop remains alive in Industrial. Bands like Apoptygma Berzerk, Beborn Beton, And One and Assemblage 23 all brought a lighter and slightly more commercial point of view to electronic music. Love songs are very popular in the Synthpop subgenre. These include “Unicorn” by Apoptygma Berzerk, “Peach” by Beborn Beton, “Blue Dress” by Depeche Mode, “In this Together” by Apoptygma Berzerk, and “So Klingt Liebe” by And One (which became a major club hit).
Fig. 3 Destroyx of Angelspit wearing
Fig. 4 Horror Hawks sold by Surgeon-X.com
Those are the pink hair falls made of various materials. different genres but The goggles help hide the area where the falls are attached style and look play a big part in industrial to her real hair. music. Female Cyberpunk fans and musicians typically wear hair falls which are like ponytails that attach to your real hair to fall over it (Fig. 3 above right). Hair falls can be made of various materials including synthetic hair, nylon strips, wire and other items. Another hair item is horror hawks. Horror hawks are similar to hair falls in that they are synthetic hair that attaches to your own, however, they attach to a Mohawk (Fig. 4 left). The band Das Ich has a very unique look. Band member Stefan Ackermann wears full body paint while band mate Bruno Kramm wears his hair in the shape of goat-like horns.
Some individuals of Industrial Music have become more popular than bands. For example, anything Sascha Konietzko (Fig. 5 top of next page) does is perfectly godlike. He has had a laundry list of side projects including MDFMK (during the period when KMFDM broke up after the Columbine Massacre), Excessive Force, Drill, Schwein (a Japanese language band from a German-born artist. Yeah, that’s what I said) and PIG. Little Jimmy Urine of MSI has a cult following. The 30-something year old singer gets screamed at in affection by youngsters like a teenage pop star. Andy LaPlegua also has a number of projects including Combichrist, Panzer Ag and Icon of Coil. To be completely honest, when first getting into the genre, I didn’t know what Combichrist was; I only knew Andy LaPlegua.
Industrial music has faced tons of opposition from parents and legislators. The band Rammstein has been banned from so many states for “obscene performances”, they can never play in the United States again. The period after the Columbine Massacre placed so much pressure on KMFDM the band disbanded for some time. They released their last album, Adios, in 1999 (they would reunite in 2003 with their album WWIII). From 1988 to 1992 industrial music had boomed. Over 18 bands that still continue today formed during that period. This was most likely contributed to the fact that Nine Inch Nails had formed and released their classic album Pretty Hate Machine. Following the Columbine tragedy, not only did KMFDM disband and Rammstein was under tremendous strain, but other bands were attacked. A rift in the scene caused sounds to change. Bands like Fig. 5 Sascha Konietzko (aka Lords of Acid changed their happy-goKäpt'n K) of KMFDM, MDFMK, lucky rave sound to a more serious Schwein, Excessive Force rock-based sound. Hanzel und Gretyl and Drill. (Fig. 6 right) was under fire in Germany for their controversial album Über Alles which features the American-born musicians mocking Nazis. The German government insisted they weren’t mocking. With songs like “Third Reich from the Sun” and “SS Deathstar Supergalaktik” band members Kaiser von Loopy and Vas Kallas had trouble defending themselves. Indeed Industrial music has been misunderstood over the years. The visuals provided by the bands have been controversial, including music videos. The list of the greatest industrial and gothic music videos of all time compiled by ReGen Magazine includes Android Lust’s Fig. 6 Hanzel und Gretyl “Stained,” KMFDM’s “A Drug Against War,” Rammstein’s “Sonne,” and Mindless Self Indulgence’s “Shut Me Up.” All these videos include depictions of violence. Also included was Einstürzende Neubauten’s “Sabrina” which features a grotesque monster applying lipstick to her lips over and over throughout the video until she breaks down crying. Angelspit’s “Vena Cava” video features gambling for body parts. Atari Teenage Riot’s (below, right) video for “Revolution Action” was banned because of depictions of men and women with TVs for faces. Women in industrial music are not rarities. As early as 1975 Throbbing Gristle had two female members. Electrocute, Lords of Acid, Ayria (right, next page) and Ego Likeness are all female fronted bands. It took rock music in general a very long time to accept female artists but industrial is fairly accepting. Industrial rock and metal seem to be male-dominant but Cyberpunk and general industrial attract a greater female populous. Minorities are also accepted in industrial music despite the fact that few of them may actually be involved. The Razorblade Twins have a black, female member. The Prodigy also has a black member. Asians are widely accepted. Angelspit, Aural Vampire, BAAL, 7 Atari Teenage Riot and Atari Teenage Riot all have Asian members. Nic Endo of Atari Teenage Riot has made a name 4
for herself as one of the few mixed race (half Japanese, half German, born in Texas), women in Noise and Experimental music. With the exception of Punto Omega from Spain, BioZero from Columbia and Little Jimmy Urine (half Hispanic, half German, born in New York City), Hispanics in industrial are rare. Industrial music festivals take place almost every year. The Wave-Gothik-Treffen festival in Leipzig, Germany is the most popular industrial fan gathering. At these gatherings industrial music artists will play and fans will mingle. There are similar festivals in Connecticut, Wisconsin and in areas of Canada but none are as popular. Apoptygma Berzerk, Beborn Beton, Imperative Reaction, In Strict Confidence and Grendel are regulars at these festivals and celebrations. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania there’s a club for all ages called Dracula’s Ball. Ego Likeness, And One, Clan of Xymox and many others have performed there. The final and most important thing about industrial music and culture is community. If anyone has been keeping tabs on the Fig. 8 Jennifer Perkin of HILARIOUS hatred and conflict in the “Gothic” community over Ayria “posers,” people who pretend to be “Goths,” you’ll see it’s become a witch hunt. It’s hard to prove you’re “Goth” and even HARDER to prove you’re not (Trust me. Proving I’m not “Goth” is something I’ve had experience with). However, “Goth,” to me, is music, art and mood, not a type of person. I don’t understand the utter joy of being a stereotype. I guess I could never wrap my mind around it. I digress. In Industrial music (unless you stumble upon the ever annoying “Industrial Goths”), there is hardly any fan turmoil. I remember being in a Chinese restaurant when a man with a shirt and tie on came up to me and began talking to me about KMFDM. Though industrial bands are easy to spot with the style and visuals, a lot fans are incognito. The most amazing part of it is that fans would never get on other fans for not dressing “industrial” or whatever kind of fixings they have in mind. That separates the Industrial community from the Gothic, Punk and even Hip-Hop communities. I happen to have a very good relationship with Zoog from Angelspit (we write to each other online every so often) even though we look very different and his style is a lot more extreme. It’s different from “Goth.” It’s more than style. It’s more than music. It’s more than art. It’s a lifestyle, community, it’s a dream. The Future’s going to catch up to you some day and it’s got an ultra-heavy beat.
Fig. 9 Einstürzende Neubauten fans turned musicians: EBM/Industrial Metal band Oomph! proves the cycle is continuous.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.