Doing Drugs With the Devil

In 1987, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult invaded a fledgling American industrial scene with a dark beat and a sample-heavy melange of sex, Satan and pop culture. Originally conceived to write the soundtrack for an underground film (titled guess what . . . ), core musicians Buzz McCoy and Groovie Mann started calling themselves a band and released I See Good Spirits & I See Bad Spirits on the Chicago-based industrial label Wax Trax! Records.

Subsequent late '80s releases, including the compilation EP Kooler Than Jesus and the full-length masterpiece Confessions of a Knife, furthered Thrill Kill Kult's (TKK) menacing style with songs such as "Tonight We Murder," "Do You Fear for Your Child?" and "The Devil Does Drugs." The band even scored a moderate "alternative radio" hit with "Days of Swine and Roses" (with its famous refrain, "Christian zombie vampires . . .").

At their best, early TKK albums sounded like a multigender, drug-bent, B-movie satanist motorcycle gang with guitars had taken over a Las Vegas casino lounge and forced the disco house band to jam with them at gunpoint.

Point being, the evil and debauchery that pervaded TKK's material from 1987-90 was always tempered with enough danceable beats and cult-movie samples to make the music fun without dulling its delicious dark edge.

But let's face it--no matter how much "fun" is injected into a song called "A Daisy Chain 4 Satan" that begins with a woman chanting "I live for drugs/It's great, it's great," a mainstream pop hit is not in the cards.

The group came out further into the light with the 1991 album Sexplosion!, which featured the single "Sex on Wheelz," but the proliferation of organ and horns at the expense of distorted guitar was too much for some industrialists to take.

13 Above the Night (1993) further alienated many older fans with its forays into techno, and TKK's 1994 offering, Hit and Run Holiday, leaned even more toward horn pop.

Live and on record, TKK guitarist/producer McCoy and singer/lyricist Mann are regularly augmented by bassist Levi Levi and singer Jacky Blaque. Blaque is also a member of the leather-clad TKK auxiliary Bomb Gang Girlz, whose other members sport noms de guerre such as Kitty Killdare and Cinderella Pussie.

TKK recently put the finishing touches on a new album, but since the group recently left its previous label (Interscope Records), and has yet to sign with a new one, A Crime for All Seasons is unreleased.

Nevertheless, TKK embarked upon an aggressive three-month tour this fall. Supporting the band on the road is Death Ride 69. Led by Linda LeSabre (a.k.a. The Beatmistress), who has played drums for TKK in the past, Death Ride is known for LeSabre's aggressive female vocals and excellent live drumming.

We recently managed to pry TKK's Buzz McCoy out of a hotel bed at 1 p.m. (EDT) Philadelphia time to discuss the tour, the devil and the status of the new recording.

New Times: We read on (an industrial Internet news group) that you've been selling out a lot of the clubs on the tour--not bad for touring without an album.

Buzz McCoy: Yeah, we're doing really good. We're discovering what a true fan base we have by going out now without a record. Our booking agent at first was just like, "You know, you guys are just going to go out and flop." And we're totally proving them wrong. It's nice.

NT: But what can you tell us about your next album besides the title? Would you compare it to any of the others?

BM: I guess it's more like the first couple, 'cause it takes on a variety of different things; there's a lot of guitar on it. No more horns [laughs]. No more pianos and organs; a lot of synths and guitars, a lot of Groovie's screams and strange sounds. It's harder than the last couple, for sure.

NT: The set lists from your show look like you're playing a lot of material off Confessions of a Knife.

BM: Yeah. Also a lot from the first record--I would say at least six or seven songs. The kids seem to really dig that. And there's one new song called "Blondes With Lobotomy Eyes." It's fun playing the old stuff, you know? One of the owners from Wax Trax! was at the show last night [at Coney Island High in New York City], and he was like, "Oh, it's so great to hear all that old stuff on Wax Trax!."

NT: So did you make a conscious decision to change your sound between, say, Confessions of a Knife and Sexplosion!?

BM: Yeah. I mean, Sexplosion! was our first theme-oriented record. We just wanted to make a record that was sexy to us, that encompassed all the different aspects of sex, and the kind of music that goes along with them. And then with 13 Above the Night, we wanted to get more into sort of tripped-out, storytelling fantasies. Hit and Run Holiday was another concept-type thing, where we just focused in on sort of an earlier '60s, go-go, Motown/surfy kinda sound.

NT: You've been having some record-label difficulties. Are you close to signing with anyone, and when's the new album coming out?

BM: They haven't really been difficulties. We just didn't like what Interscope was doing with us, and they could care less about us. To them, Hit and Run Holiday was like, "What can we do with this?" They didn't promote it at all. To us it was our most pop-oriented record; we're like, "Whaddaya mean? Every song's a pop song!" So after the tour, we just parted ways. We really didn't attempt to contact anyone after that. We just went about making a new record, and we finished it about a month or so ago, and then we said, "Let's go on tour." Now, we have quite a few labels all giving offers, and coaxing us, saying, "Hey, come here." We're just biding our time; we're in no rush. We do plan to get the album out by January or February 1997, though.

NT: Your songs have a lot of references to the occult. Care to explain the devil thing?

BM: It's just another image that we play with. Powerful images, religious images. Sex, drugs and all that kind of stuff. So many different connotations. We just like to take them into our grinder and churn them up and spit 'em back out, in various ways just to say, "People, listen! It's not so one-faced." They're toys for us.

My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult is scheduled to perform on Thursday, October 10, at Gibson's in Tempe, with Death Ride 69. Showtime is 9 p.m.


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