10 Questions with Thrill Kill Kult

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult (Credit: Mindway)
The pioneering industrial electronic band, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, have lined-up five California dates that kick-off this Friday in the East Bay at Montclair's That 80's Bar. On Saturday they hit the South Bay at San Jose's Blank Club, and then wrap-up their Bay Area visit on Sunday at the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco. Be sure to check the links above if tickets are still available!

Thrill Kill Kult (TKK) are one of a handful of artists that were instrumental in defining industrial music coming out of Chicago in the late 80's. Founded by Buzz McCoy and Groovie Mann, the band was signed to the legendary Wax Trax! record label and released college radio staples such as "Kooler than Jesus," "Devil Does Drugs," "The Days of Swine & Roses," and "Sexplosion."

Unlike Wax Trax!'s other core industrial artists Ministry, Front 242, KMFDM & Frontline Assembly, TKK's sound began to shift into an electronic funk disco amalgamation that's still hard to quantify even today. The band left for Interscope records in 1991 and shortly thereafter, Wax Trax! was acquired by TVT Records, the original label of Nine Inch Nails.

We were lucky enough to get a chance to interview both Buzz McCoy & Groovie Mann earlier this week and you can find the interview below. Be sure to make it to one of their three Bay Area performances this weekend!

SFBAC: You're one of a handful of artists that are synonymous with Wax Trax! Can you talk a bit about what it was like during that time?

TKK: It was exciting and chaotic. I think we were the only ones to have an EP and an album out on the label before we even created a band, which made us a bit different than the rest. We weren’t shopping for a label. Everything just fell into place after Jim [Nash] and Dannie [Flesher] heard some tracks we were working on for an experimental film idea. They really pushed us to create more and gave us the studio time and backing for us to start the project. We had no idea of what we were doing, and probably still don’t! Haha!

SFBAC: Looking back, do you have any regrets about leaving Wax Trax! when you did?

TKK: Not at all. We had outgrown Wax Trax, and things were changing quickly with both us, and the label. We kind of had an inside perspective of things because both of us worked there and knew what was going on behind the scenes so to speak. We saw the label starting to spiral out of control. Naturally Jim and Dannie were a bit hurt when we decided to move on, because we were almost like their children who they nurtured from day one. It took a little time for all of us to reconnect, but Jim conceded that we were right in our decision and Wax Trax could never have done the things for us that eventually happened with our career. Both he and Dannie conveyed they were very proud of us.

SFBAC: Can you describe the reasoning for your shift away from the satirical satanic undertones to the disco-funk feel of what's made-up your 'sound' over the past 10-15 years?

TKK: We like to experiment with new sounds and ideas. We’re not the kind of band that has one sound or style and sticks with it. After all, we were just an experiment from the beginning. We need to change and constantly grow. The horror movie stuff was just the first chapter. Then came the disco with Sexplosion. Drugs were a big influence for 13 Above the Night. Rebellion was the theme for Hit & Run Holiday, and so on.

SFBAC: You’ve performed a number of times in the SF Bay Area, what's your craziest story or memory?

TKK: I don’t know how crazy it was, but the first time we played SF was at the I-Beam on Haight. No one remembers the show because we drank 5 bottles of cheap vodka between the 6 of us before the show. The promoter was in awe of how much we could put away, and I’m sure she’s seen a lot. But that’s how we roll in Chicago! Lol.

SFBAC: Do you have a favorite venue?

TKK: DNA has always been a great place for us, and they treat us good there. It’s a mainstay when we tour. We played the Folsom Street Fair about 7 years ago, and that was pretty awesome too.

SFBAC: Of all the artists you’ve worked with over the years, who stands out and why?

TKK: Well of course Siouxsie is an icon, and the whole band were great to tour with (and party with)! Budgie would watch our whole set every single night from the side of the stage. Big Stick is a band we were both very into, and they were fun to work with. The EMF boys were a hoot!

SFBAC: What artist or artists would you want to collaborate with in the future (who you haven't already worked with)?

TKK: We really don’t collaborate much. We have our own way of working. It’s like asking a writer if he wants someone else to write a book with him. We’ve had a few friends like Lydia Lunch join us in the studio to add some added sparkle here and there, but collaborations just aren’t our thing.

SFBAC: Do you find it challenging translating studio material for the live environment? 

TKK: Not really. We’ve worked with some really great musicians over the years, who really know how to enhance the studio work (which is mostly drum machines and samplers), and they really bring the live experience to the next level. We love playing live. Connecting with our fans “one on one” is the real satisfaction for us.

SFBAC: You released Spooky Tricks earlier this year. Can you describe the writing/recording process that went into this album? Did it differ from your 'usual' process?

TKK: The writing process is pretty much the same as it always has been. We start with some initial grooves and ideas of what we want to convey with the album and go from there. We took a kind of voyeuristic approach with Spooky Tricks. Each song is it’s own story, with a lot of sexual escapades thrown in. It’s like peeking into the windows along the Reeperbahn in Hamburg. Every storefront offers something different and tells a different tale.

SFBAC: What can fans expect of your upcoming shows in the Bay Area?

TKK: We’re playing an old school style set we call the “Inferno Xpress”. It’s a trimmed down version of the band, relying mostly on bass, drum machines and samples to perform pumped up, heavy dance oriented versions of our songs. It’s not the “rock” show this round, so prepare to get down and dance. Our line up is Groovie Mann (vox), Buzz McCoy (Keys & Vox), Mimi Star (Bass & Vox) and Toxic Rainbow (DJ & Sound).

SFBAC: Thanks for making the time guys and we're looking forward to your shows this weekend!

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