LAST SERVING OF
century after the formation of the legendary industrial band, the music
of Throbbing Gristle is finally being collected, remastered, remixed and
rereleased. With a one-off live reunion of the band on the way, Cosey
Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter reflects on the past and present for Release.
at work 1980.
sound guerilla gathers
The definitive sound guerilla gathering of the year takes place in Camber
Sands, Sussex, UK in May 2004. An event organised by legendary noise/industrial
pioneers Throbbing Gristle, ”Re-TG” features a one-off appearance
by the group in their original line-up as well as live sets by the group
members’ individual projects Coil, Thee Majesty and Carter Tutti.
Additionally an impressive cast of sound renegades will be appearing,
some of the major names being Scanner, Merzbow and Richard H Kirk (of
Cabaret Voltaire fame).
– We decided from the start that we did not want this event to be
about celebrating TG or looking back to the past, Cosey Fanni Tutti says.
We wanted to do something special, and to have the positive attitude that
we’ve always employed in Throbbing Gristle and our other projects.
The artists chosen to appear are people whose approach to culture resembles
ours. It’s not an industrial music event or something.
Throbbing Gristle was formed by Tutti, Genesis P-Orridge, Chris Carter
and Peter Christopherson out of the performance art troupe COUM Transmissions
in 1975. The group explored new avenues of electronic noise, and sprinkled
it with pop and disturbing imagery, pioneering independent record releasing
and promotion in the process, before ceasing operations in 1981.
– In the seventies there was still a lot of creative freedom left
from the sixties empowerment, says Tutti. But it was being stifled by
commercial interests. Eventually things are picked up by the industry
and sold to people and it gets more and more empty. And today it is even
worse. But people start getting restless, they are realising that they’re
being sold nothing, and they don’t want to pay for it. It’s
the same now as it was then, it’s cyclic.
Releasing best of and remix albums decades after the active period of
a band, as Throbbing Gristle is about to do now, might seem to sit neatly
in the cynical marketing scheme, except for the part about money.
– If we were getting rich doing this I’d say we were part
of the problem, but we’re not exactly talking about millions of
pounds here, Tutti laughs.
Old industrial fashion?
bad quality bootlegs
Rather, the sudden burst of TG activity was provoked two years ago by
the vast number of sub standard bootlegs of live shows appearing on the
– I was spending a lot of time hunting down these bootlegs, says
Tutti, and fans were somehow blaming us for their bad quality, as if it
was us releasing them. We decided that the only way to sort it out was
to give the material a proper official release.
To that end, Chris Carter spent two months listening, choosing and remastering
numerous recordings, often from different sources during the same concert
and of varying quality. The result was ”TG24”, a box set of
24 CD:s. The floodgates were open, and Chris went on to do remixes for
the ”Mutant TG” album and remaster tracks for ”The Taste
of TG: A Beginner's Guide to the Music of Throbbing Gristle”, an
introductory album for the uninitiated.
– It was a strange experience being confronted with your past like
that, Chris Carter remembers. After hearing Throbbing Gristle constantly
for months I got to the point where it felt like I never wanted to hear
another Throbbing Gristle track in my life. At the same time I have fond
memories of some of those shows. The remix project started with me and
Cosey splicing together the tracks ”United” and ”Hot
on the Heels of Love” and using it in a DJ-set. Some people at Mute
Records heard it and proposed the idea of a remix album to us. It turned
out pretty dancy I think, which is kind of the point of remixes.
And no wonder, with TG fans in the dance scene such as Andrew Weatherall
and Carl Craig contributing work to the album. Now all that remains to
be seen is whether the event in Sussex will turn out to be about hipgrinding
and strobolights or powerdrilling and endless night...