Throbbing Gristle Interview, and Hacked Synth Tech (BB Video)


(Download this video: MP4)

So, what is it like to see industrial music legends Throbbing Gristle perform live?

“Next closest thing to an internal organ massage standing next to [SRL's] V1 pulsejet engine,” said BB pal Karen Marcelo, after one of the dates on the band’s 2009 reunion tour. “It was like my diaphragm resonated until my lungs became a subwoofer while words once from a man’s mouth sprung from the same woman’s mouth,” twittered TG trufan t. Bias.



Before we shot the Boing Boing Video interview which is today’s episode, above, Richard Metzger and I spoke to Throbbing Gristle’s sound technician backstage, and asked what we should expect in the way of sub-bass frequencies — rumored to be so powerful during performances that cameras can’t hold a steady shot, and bowels sometimes can’t hold their contents. Charlie Poulet, TG’s sound tech, cracked up and flashed an evil grin.

“Oh, we got some frequencies,” he laughed, “Yeah, we definitely got some frequencies ready for you people tonight.”

Those “frequencies” are part of what make TG’s music so transcendental and disturbing, and in the BB interview with Chris Carter, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson, and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, we explore their technical and creative underpinnings.

We learn about the hacked-together synth and sound modification machines built back in the early 1970s, like “Thee Gristleizer,” shown below.

We hear TG members talk about the sort of mind-meld trance they all fall in to while performing, and we learn about the early days of recording work like “Hamburger Lady” to cassette tapes, then walking down to have a hamburger together at a corner sandwich shop down the street from their old studio in what was then a really shitty part of London.


Gen talks about her first time with Twitter, and we hear what it’s like for the band once called “wreckers of civilization” to be celebrated, more than 30 years later, as living legends.

Information on TG’s remaining 2009 tour dates here. Industrial Records just released a special limited edition framed vinyl LP to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the release of Throbbing Gristle’s debut album, “The Second Annual Report” — more info here. More recordings (digital and otherwise), t-shirts, and other merch are here.


RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there’s a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video. (Special thanks to Boing Boing’s video hosting partner Episodic, and to Target Video, who shot some of the archival clips shown in this episode).

Previously on Boing Boing: Throbbing Gristle: What A Day. (Boing Boing Video shoot notes)


About Xeni Jardin

Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: xeni@boingboing.net.
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2 Responses to Throbbing Gristle Interview, and Hacked Synth Tech (BB Video)

  1. noggin says:

    Must share this story: the first time I took acid in the 90s me and a friend returned to his house after a night of wandering the countryside.

    Back in his room he switched on the fan, a desktop one that turns slowly from side to side, and put Hamburger Lady on the stereo.

    There’s a dull droning noise that comes and goes throughout the track, and I swear the side to side oscillations of the fan stayed in time with the coming and going of the droning right to the end.

    I love stuff like that!

    And that’s what I think of when I think of TG, cheers!

  2. xzzy says:

    I liked the appearance of a DS Lite in their stage gear.. running the Korg DS-10, I assume.

    Little guy fighting for some attention. ;)

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