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On Misogyny in Industrial Music
May 9, 2013 1:53 AM   Subscribe

"But something happened. Once industrial music had fully transitioned from avant-garde venues into nightclubs, the stench of Axe body spray began to dominate the subculture as a certain douchey, bro-tastic vibe emerged. Where the goth/industrial scene had once existed as a safe haven for artists, weirdos, outcasts, geeks, dreamers and rebels, a disturbing trend of sexism, racism and anti-intellectualism is driving people out."
posted by cthuljew (94 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sooner or later, someone had to miss the irony of the fascist cosplay, and someone had to mimic them.
posted by acb at 2:32 AM on May 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


There's an industrial scene still?
posted by empath at 2:42 AM on May 9, 2013 [16 favorites]


Where the goth/industrial scene had once existed as a safe haven for artists, weirdos, outcasts, geeks, dreamers and rebels

Well I imagine a lot of them decided that they didn't really actually want to be a member of a scene that would accept them. I mean when your rebellious way of dressing and living becomes copied by thousands of other rebels and sold off the rack at H&M, a true rebel/outcast/freak/weirdo has no choice but to move on.
posted by three blind mice at 2:54 AM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wait a minute... Industrial music is still a thing?
posted by smackwich at 11:52 AM on May 18, 2012 [6 favorites +] [!]


Second comment on the metafilter page linked to by the article.
posted by panaceanot at 3:18 AM on May 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


> Well I imagine a lot of them decided that they didn't really actually want to be a member of a scene that would accept them.

Marx predicted that.
posted by jfuller at 3:20 AM on May 9, 2013 [22 favorites]


I had no idea about any of this and it was a fascinating read, thanks.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:27 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that there's a distinct threshold where you go from being an odd little subculture that the assholes go out of their way to mock, to where you become mainstream enough that they show up to participate; bringing with them all that that implies (a miasma of Axe, douchery, etc.) If you want to be a safe haven for artists, weirdos, outcasts, geeks, dreamers and rebels the first thing you need is an action plan for convincing Maxim magazine that you live in your parents basement and never have sex.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:27 AM on May 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


high-art totalitarian whatthefuckery of Laibach

That's one way of describing Liabach, but not one I would use.

I'm just going to cut and paste my comment from the last thread:
I was never a huge industrial fan, especially towards the end of the '90s, but what it has (partially) turned into is gut-churning.

I think Amelia from Angelspit is right on the money ("I feel the bands that are very popular in industrial at the moment mainly comprise of pretty bro-ish dudes singing about ‘manly’ things like guns and being violent with girls"), but I am an outsider these days so maybe things are different inside.

I'm not the best at picking misogyny, and the article is over-thinking some things, but you package it all together and ... eh.

And I can't even say young people ruin everything because half of these bands have been going for 15 years.
posted by Mezentian at 3:30 AM on May 9, 2013


Marx predicted that.

Groucho Marx predicted that.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:40 AM on May 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


I believe many years back Consolidated had one of their interstitial bits about this very issue.
posted by Abiezer at 3:42 AM on May 9, 2013


How is this a new thing? Industrial has always been somewhat shady in its goals as a movement. The push and pull of the intellectuals and shitheads have been the only interesting thing about it since it's inception, which was mostly a co-option of Stockhausen with a beat.

Mostly, it seems, a movement made to disturb without artistry; vehemence without real direction. Like the various METAL and PUNK movements, a very few use it to create something of real energetic thought; most have used to create incoherent, juvenile, misogynistic garbage.

The great sounds out of it blossom naturally: accidentally, out of a pile of shit.
posted by converge at 3:42 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


> Groucho Marx predicted that.

Oh, was there another one?
posted by jfuller at 3:44 AM on May 9, 2013 [25 favorites]


Not surprising this would happen: industrial as an aesthetic pretty much demands "extreme" people, and it already had its Nazis and Fascists in the 90s. The thing none of these dicks get, though, is this: Throbbing Gristle wore Nazi uniforms onstage and had songs about Zyklon B, yes. This is because they were artists in post-war England who were playing with an aesthetic that was still dangerous and shocking, not because they believed in Nazism. That's the same reason Siouxsie Sioux and Sid Vicious wore swastikas, but that's a different point to make. The point of industrial was to challenge you and make you think by shocking you, now it just wants to shock you. Just not interesting, IMO. Plus, have you LISTENED to Combichrist? Suuuuuuucks.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:51 AM on May 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


Nah, it wasn't interesting when Siouxsie Sioux and Sid Vicious wore stastikas either.

When 7-11 wants annoying adolescents to go away, it plays some music that annoying adolescents don't like. People can adjust their personal musical tastes accordingly and to similar effect.

The last Nazis that appreciated classical music were the Nazis.
posted by dgaicun at 4:02 AM on May 9, 2013


I remember reading an interview years ago with Love and Rockets cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez, where he was bemoaning how 1970s Southern California punk was great until the jocks came in and ruined it. This is definitely a thing: there's something artsy and weird that the smart, misfit kids are into, and then the jocks show up, adopt the superficial aspects of the artsy, weird thing, and basically turn it into another excuse to hop around without shirts on and headbutt each other.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:02 AM on May 9, 2013 [26 favorites]


Nah, it wasn't interesting when Siouxsie Sioux and Sid Vicious wore stastikas either.

It was dumb, but what I'm saying is they didn't do it because they were Nazis, they did it because their parents fought WWII and that was the most effective way to shock their whole generation.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:04 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


> "Oh, was there another one?"

Four others, actually, although Gummo left the act before producing any economic and sociopolitical worldviews based on materialist interpretations of historical development and analysis of class-relations within society.
posted by kyrademon at 4:04 AM on May 9, 2013 [19 favorites]


All the industrial Nazis like Boyd Rice and Doug Pierce actually are Nazis, is what I'm saying, and these new pricks actually are misogynists, not artists making statements about feminism.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:05 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


how 1970s Southern California punk was great until the jocks came in and ruined it. This is definitely a thing: there's something artsy and weird that the smart, misfit kids are into, and then the jocks show up, adopt the superficial aspects of the artsy, weird thing

I want to say that that was a very specific thing that happened with punk rock solely because of the violent "creepy crawling" that attracted jocks who just wanted to beat people up (it wasn't only California, that happened everywhere), but I don't know that this new industrial scene is any different.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:08 AM on May 9, 2013


> Sooner or later, someone had to miss the irony of the fascist cosplay

10% irony (or less, 10% is generous), the rest being exploit pour épater le bourgeois and anybody else who may have wandered in.


> who were playing with an aesthetic that was still dangerous and shocking, not because they believed in Nazism.

Not a great deal of difference between "playing with" and "jerking off to." If we're gonna give Throbbing Gristle a pass then Prince Harry in his Afrika Corps party duds and swastika armband gets a pass too. Or if not Harry then not Throbbing Gristle either.
posted by jfuller at 4:10 AM on May 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Groucho Marx predicted that.

There is a wee bit of irony that country club that inspired his famous quip welcomed him as a member soon after the quote became popular.
posted by sammyo at 4:12 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not to derail (OK, derailing a little bit), but I would appreciate the kooky design of the linked website a little more if the background elements didn't consume some two-thirds of the page, leaving us with a text size more typically reserved for the copyright information on the back of a DVD.
posted by dgaicun at 4:16 AM on May 9, 2013


Mark E Smith of The Fall sported a swastika in his very young days so there's a lot of truth in saying that Siouxsie and the Pistols and their entourage just picked the ultimate in parent-unfriendly at the time.

There have also always been some genuinely sick fucks in and around the industrial scene.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 4:28 AM on May 9, 2013


I liked the article - and appreciated this bit especially:

In other words, the answer is not censorship (it’s never censorship), but more context. If you care for your audience to include people other than basement-dwelling virgins and 35 year old aggro muscle heads, but you’re artistically moved to repeatedly depict women being punished, called sluts, beaten and humiliated - talk about what that means publicly. Write a blog post. Engage with your audience. Talk about consent. Talk about your inspirations. Own what you’re doing, but talk about the problematic nature of it. Don’t hide behind cheap defenses like “it’s art” or “it’s just a character” or “it’s grindhouse” or “some of my best friends are women.” You may find that your audience may expand, because, guess what? Sexual violence is a fascinating topic, and within the right context, it’s something that people of all ideologies (GASP – feminists included!) can find interesting, appealing, fun, and exciting. And isn’t being an artist more fulfilling when your fans come from all walks of life?
posted by dubold at 4:31 AM on May 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


All the industrial Nazis like Boyd Rice and Doug Pierce actually are Nazis, is what I'm saying,

I thought this had been pretty comprehensively debunked endlessly. They're certainly not Nazis in any way that matter, and they're about as divorced from the modern thump-thump-don't-rape-the-dead-girl school of music as, well, Throbbing Gristle.
posted by Mezentian at 4:31 AM on May 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is definitely a thing: there's something artsy and weird that the smart, misfit kids are into, and then the jocks show up, adopt the superficial aspects of the artsy, weird thing, and basically turn it into another excuse to hop around without shirts on and headbutt each other.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:02 AM on May 9 [+] [!]


Isn't that pretty much what happened to the Seattle grunge scene when Nirvana hit it big in the 1990s as well?
posted by Paul Slade at 4:41 AM on May 9, 2013


"Isn't that pretty much what happened to the Seattle grunge scene when Nirvana hit it big in the 1990s as well?"

Much to Mr. Cobain's horror. In Bloom is a pretty awesome attack on the more appalling members of his own fanbase. Screw being grateful for their money; Cobain thought they were dicks, so he called 'em dicks.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:54 AM on May 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


During the Siege of Sarajevo in 1995, Laibach’s NSK diplomatic passports literally saved lives by enabling people to escape from the war zone at a time when Bosnian passports weren’t considered valid.

Wait, what?
posted by NoMich at 5:05 AM on May 9, 2013


> The point of industrial was to challenge you and make you think by shocking you,

That sounds so wholesome! So has anyone got even one example of a thought they were shocked into thinking because of seeing a band muso in Nazi drag, that they would not have thought otherwise? Because without some examples it's hard not to consider it thought-provoking in the same degree as circus geeks biting the heads off fat crunchy cockroaches is thought-provoking, which is to say not.at.all.
posted by jfuller at 5:07 AM on May 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Sigh. Industrial music is my favorite, and this shit is so embarrassing. I'm glad people are addressing it.

The only exception I could take with the article is the Faderhead video is easier to write off as parody, because he spends most of it beating up members of other industrial bands, and it's literally a cartoon.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:50 AM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, was there another one?

Duh. Louis Marx.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:07 AM on May 9, 2013



“What would Jello Biafra do?”

That is often an excellent question.
posted by Foosnark at 6:22 AM on May 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Isn't that pretty much what happened to the Seattle grunge scene when Nirvana hit it big in the 1990s as well?"

But it's not just a matter of "and then the jocks showed up en masse" (and it is en masse; everyone from any kind of art scene knows that you always get a few jock-types who are okay and turn up as individuals just like anyone else would in the early days).

It's the fact that art movements (like political movements) 1. are contested and 2. become exhausted because they begin in order to speak to specific needs, wishes and matters of the time. We all wish that it could be, like Riot Grrrl 1992 forever, but it can't. (Consider that Talking Heads song "Heaven" - "The band in heaven, they play my favorite song/play it once again, play it all night long" or for that matter, the Fall's "Repetition") The wish that the perfect artistic and social moment could last forever is a contradictory wish - the thing that makes it perfect and meaningful is the thing that also makes it transitory.

That's why artists and activists get stuck - we want our old favorite tactics to work forever and to be meaningful forever.

A movement that is contested - as, for example, Occupy was contested - can do a certain amount to structure itself in order to stay focused. But that also comes with some cost in spontaneity and accessibility.

If industrial music is no longer Genesis P'orridge and Cosi, then the people producing industrial music need to think about what they really need to do and respond to artistically and politically.

The whole business of punks wearing swastikas in the UK in the late seventies - I always understood that to be a [poorly chosen] response to social smuggery about being "the good guys" in the war, while the same people who were so smug about being the ones who defeated Hitler were basically just a bunch of fascist, racist "rivers of blood" idiots. That may have made a certain amount of political sense at the time; it would be at best oblivious, asshole-ish nostalgia now and at worse actual cover for fascist sentiments.

Again, morality is hard - there may be a moment when depicting sexualized violence is politically powerful; there are also moments where it reinscribes the violence it tries to critique, and there are moments when it is anodyne, sanctimonious, empty. And it is really, really hard sometimes to figure out which.

Morality - by which I mean art and politics - is really, really difficult. There's no ideology or manifesto which works at all times and in all places; you have to be politically and morally alert and nimble all the time, for your whole life. It is frustrating and scary and at times makes me want to move to the woods.
posted by Frowner at 6:38 AM on May 9, 2013 [38 favorites]


Oh, was there another one?

Let's not forget Richard Marx...
posted by hippybear at 6:43 AM on May 9, 2013


Hands in pockets, looking at the floor and wagging their heels are Gummo, Zeppo, Harpo, and Chico. And nobody has enough Gummo for the rest of the class.
posted by Twang at 6:53 AM on May 9, 2013


And Leo Marx!

I must say, jfuller, you are woefully ignorant of your Marxes.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:04 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Groucho said it well, but Yogi said it better.

"Nobody goes there any more. It's too crowded."
posted by bukvich at 7:24 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Amelia from Angelspit is right on the money ("I feel the bands that are very popular in industrial at the moment mainly comprise of pretty bro-ish dudes singing about ‘manly’ things like guns and being violent with girls"), but I am an outsider these days so maybe things are different inside.

Angelspit sings about murder and cannibalism, and more than one of their songs is about a sicko torturing women. But they're on record as being against crazy double-standard sexism, and if interviewed about their imagery, I doubt they would be as full of shit about it as Combichrist.
posted by Foosnark at 7:46 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


That sounds so wholesome! So has anyone got even one example of a thought they were shocked into thinking because of seeing a band muso in Nazi drag, that they would not have thought otherwise? Because without some examples it's hard not to consider it thought-provoking in the same degree as circus geeks biting the heads off fat crunchy cockroaches is thought-provoking, which is to say not.at.all.

Throbbing Gristle did many interesting things with Nazi imagery, and many people have many different opinions on it.

Here's an interesting paper on industrial music's seeming fascination with fascist imagery. [PDF]

Here's just one example of my own.

Too often, we let the Nazis determine how we feel about Nazi imagery. The Nazis appropriated the swastika and made it their brand. The Nazis wanted to be seen as ultimate power, for which their enemies feel total fear and revulsion. Somewhat ironically, many who most vociferously hate the Nazis agree with them on this point. Many believe that Nazi imagery should trigger a powerful, instantaneous negative response in your System 1 thinking - that we should, in this way, surrender Nazi imagery to the Nazis. This point of view has the dangerous side effect of preventing us from examining more closely what made Nazis Nazis, and what makes almost-Nazis quite close to being Nazis. It also has the dangerous effect of Otherizing such behavior - we are never closer to danger when we believe that evil societies comprise the inhuman. We must always be aware that the abyss is closer than we think.

What TG did with Nazi imagery, however, was to take the Nazis off the pedestal of Ultimate Evil and to put audiences in a room with swastikas and noise and shit and blood and noise and noise and noise. Nazi propaganda becomes meaningless. "Deviants" co-opt Nazi imagery. Signs and signifiers are blurred and distorted. We are no longer reflexively shocked by Nazis. We do not fear Nazis in the same way that we automatically remove our hand from a burning stove. Instead, when we see Nazi skinheads, we see a sad person struggling vainly to become an object of power, fear, and yes, revulsion. A Nazi skinhead is an otherwise powerless person who is trying to hitch their wagon to something with power. However, the work of Throbbing Gristle seeks to reduce these powerful symbols to something both more and less than what they had been before: less, because our knees don't jerk so quickly nowadays, and more, because you can step outside of what the Nazi skinhead is trying to have you feel, and instead look at them from a bird's-eye view.

Of course TG also enjoyed the shock value of it all, and to that extent it also became tiresome and childish. However, it was never altogether quite so simple, and what's more, it's important to note that Throbbing Gristle could have only existed in a universe where the Nazis have been defeated.

Laibach took this perversion of totalitarian imagery to even more interesting places. By never "giving up the game" with their act, even as they would veer ever so closely to out-and-out parody, they constantly kept even the most smug and self-aware audience on edge, even after the fall of Communist Yugoslavia. Their focussed their attacks not only on Nazi propaganda, but also on capitalist propaganda, communist propaganda, Titoist propaganda, and also unwitting propaganda in its many forms.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:49 AM on May 9, 2013 [17 favorites]


It's funny what constitutes "shock" in art and what the motives are behind it. Sometimes it's just marketing, sometimes it's for a purpose.

And it's funny that Adversary speaking out against misogyny shocked some people and was seen as a marketing ploy by some people.

Wait, no it's not.

Some people are so deeply unsettled by the idea they should treat women with respect, and that feminism is something worth talking about, that they deny it exists or brush it off with "it's just a bit of fun". This is pretty obvious from the discussions going around in gaming circles lately, where every article about women in games is met with "if we wanted to read this stuff, we'd go to Jezebel" or "it's not sexism, it's just the way gamers are and women better get used to it."
posted by Foosnark at 8:00 AM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


What's more, I guarantee you that Combichrist's audience is not especially shocked by Combichrist. So, who is supposed to be shocked, and why?
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:05 AM on May 9, 2013


To me it seems that what lies at the crux of this is the role of rage. Rage can be vital because it can be critical: we need to rage against hypocrisy and bigotry and the institutions that bind us. So sometimes good art and good music needs to be critical and angry, shocking or brooding--expressing our upset or just raging against the dying of the light.

But there's another role played by rage in our society, and that is in constituting masculine power. Contemporary society divides up emotions in odd gendered ways, so that femininity becomes defined by love, and masculinity by anger.

So: create a musical movement around critical anger at institutions, and if it's still around in 5 or 10 years, chances are it has been appropriated by guys who are using it to reinscribe the very things the musical movement wanted to critique, because they are using the rage to underline their masculine power.
posted by DrMew at 8:07 AM on May 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


this makes me feel incredibly old...I was very into the goth/industrial scene in San Francisco in the 90s. great clubs, and yes, a wonderful haven for shy weirdos, gender-bending androgynes and medieval geeks galore. I had NO IDEA there was still an industrial scene, nor have I heard of any of these kids that are playing their sexist rape music on my lawn...sheesh. I guess I'm glad of that!
posted by supermedusa at 8:55 AM on May 9, 2013


Once industrial music had fully transitioned from avant-garde venues into nightclubs

1988? I suppose my own perception colors.

Others ^^^ have said it, but once a scene gets big enough, there's always gonna be assholes.

Cobain thought they were dicks, so he called 'em dicks.

Total derail, in small font ... which I think is ultimately what cost Cobain his life. He couldn't stand being adored by people he hated, nor could he see any way out.

One of my favorite musical moments ever was Nirvana/L7/Breeders(!)/Disposable Heroes a@ Cow Palace 1993.

Kurt comes out alone with a guitar and starts Rape Me and that's the first time I've heard that song and now it's clear he fucking hates it all but is going to put on a hell of a show before he goes.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:56 AM on May 9, 2013


Where the goth/industrial scene had once existed as a safe haven for artists, weirdos, outcasts, geeks, dreamers and rebels
i have spotted the flaw in your cunning plan
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:05 AM on May 9, 2013


Since nobody seems to be pointing it out: Ad-ver-sary = Metafilter's own Jairus. Props to him for taking a firm, public stance against this kind of crap - that was pretty courageous, dude.
posted by Ryvar at 9:31 AM on May 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


So, a lot of industrial relies on outrage, and misogyny is transgressive — so you know it'll offend people and gin up outrage — but it's also low risk, since the outrage and provocation isn't aimed at your main audience (dudes), but rather the invisible women at the periphery. It reinforces in-group solidarity at the expense of a group not seen as having a voice or power to push back within the genre.
posted by klangklangston at 9:32 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


"So has anyone got even one example of a thought they were shocked into thinking because of seeing a band muso in Nazi drag, that they would not have thought otherwise? Because without some examples it's hard not to consider it thought-provoking in the same degree as circus geeks biting the heads off fat crunchy cockroaches is thought-provoking, which is to say not.at.all."

Laibach were pretty great at drawing parallels between Nazi/fascist ideology and Serbian militarism. They also provided a way to acknowledge that the Nazis were pretty great at propaganda, without the message of that propaganda being subsumed by Nazism. And Laibach did it while being pretty funny.
posted by klangklangston at 9:54 AM on May 9, 2013


When I was younger I wanted to be part of goth/ebm/industrial scene (usually events combined these three) , but I found the clothing and self-presentation part to be really difficult for males. All of the role models were more on the romantic side of goth, people who lived their style all day: hair, accessories collected along many years, confidence to be a romantic ponce, clothing. For newcomer it was really difficult to wear goth gear partially and with confidence. Partial and awkward was the option for me for many years, since I don't like the aesthetic enough to make it a full day life.

However, 'starter kit' for industrial dude would have been so much easier: anything military, anything dominant, black top, look serious and mean, maybe get piercings, mesh shirt or slightly shocky haircut when ready. For young man that posture is so much easier; at least if you don't see any moral problems with that. For me in those days it was important to not give any dom wibes, to not sexualize power.

If this is any common experience, then it could explain hown industrial scene tends to grow towards bro-tastic. If you go with dom-tough attitude, then there is a route to participate in the scene occassionally or fully. Other 'kits' are more difficult to start with and most of the people tend to cease trying at some point and few decide to go full in. Numbers end up favoring the attitude that is easier for beginners.
posted by Free word order! at 10:12 AM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Interesting article, guess I wasn't the only one offended by Combichrist's - "fuckmachine". Too bad cuz they are great in concert, lots of pounding energy and I really like dancing to "This is my rifle", "This shit will fuck you up", "Sent to Destroy", "Get your body beat", etc.
posted by Gwynarra at 10:18 AM on May 9, 2013


Since nobody seems to be pointing it out: Ad-ver-sary = Metafilter's own Jairus. Props to him for taking a firm, public stance against this kind of crap - that was pretty courageous, dude.

Thanks, man. I remember joking years ago that if you wanted to really shock people at an industrial show, all you needed to do was wear a "this is what a feminist looks like" t-shirt. I wasn't too far off!
posted by Jairus at 10:24 AM on May 9, 2013 [14 favorites]


>Marx predicted that.
Groucho Marx predicted that.


We all get the Marx we deserve.
posted by JHarris at 10:28 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Total derail, in small font ... which I think is ultimately what cost Cobain his life. He couldn't stand being adored by people he hated, nor could he see any way out."

No, really, it was more that he had chronic stomach pain that was unmanageable without opioid painkillers, which he developed a hellacious addiction to.
posted by klangklangston at 10:40 AM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I thought Axe body spray was a brilliant bit of self-parody from its inception because the adverts were so blatantly stupid.

basically turn it into another excuse to hop around without shirts on and headbutt each other.
I loved slamdancing. It's odd how the violence can change. Particularly how it becomes violence of oppression rather than communal.
Mostly because of marketing.
You can't sell a group of people involved with each other and communicating. You have to introduce some intercessor in order to try to make money off that interaction.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:46 AM on May 9, 2013


Yeah, this is part of an almost-inevitable cycle. Rock and roll started out with misfits and nerds like Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly, and even Elvis (who used to get beat up at high school for dressing "black" in clothes from Lansky Brothers on Beale Street--this at a time when segregation was still very much a thing), but got adopted by the greaser younger brothers of the guys who used to beat them up. Someone else said once (can't remember who) that the successors of the groovy, mellow-on-acid-and-pot hippies of the late sixties were the seventies stoners puking up their Quaaludes backstage at a Grand Funk Railroad concert. The evolution described above was probably fated once Danzig got into techno.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:58 AM on May 9, 2013


Did that process also happen to hip-hop and rap? Certainly there were a lot more intellectual and socially conscious acts at the beginning, but I wouldn't think of them as nerds compared to the later gangsta jocks.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:18 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


As someone who once enjoyed the industrial music scene but has long since aged his way out of it, I just wanted to say that I recently turned down a used car that I really wanted because it reeked of Axe body spray. That is all.
posted by davejay at 12:34 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Did that process also happen to hip-hop and rap? Certainly there were a lot more intellectual and socially conscious acts at the beginning, but I wouldn't think of them as nerds compared to the later gangsta jocks."

Using rock as a template for rap culture is problematic, but the narrative there basically goes Party-->New School/Hardcore-->Conscious-->Gangster-->Pop. I don't think that there were more intellectual and socially conscious groups at the beginning, and I think it's also misleading to look at hip hop/rap, which is a huge genre, with the same lens as looking at grunge, which is a sub-genre.
posted by klangklangston at 12:54 PM on May 9, 2013


I abandoned this scene a long time ago, but this thread has me getting nostalgic. My soundtrack for the rest of the afternoon:
Caustic Grip
Fir for Flogging
Soli Deo Gloria
Bloody Kisses
Too Dark Park
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:19 PM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I thought this had been pretty comprehensively debunked endlessly.

Not to derail, but yes it has: by them. Here's a huge site full of examples and proof that they may not be Nazi skinhead thugs, but they're close enough that they really aren't worth defending. And I like Death In June as music even if I loathe Douglas P as a person.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:29 PM on May 9, 2013


Did that process also happen to hip-hop and rap? Certainly there were a lot more intellectual and socially conscious acts at the beginning, but I wouldn't think of them as nerds compared to the later gangsta jocks.

Rap started out as party music for the hip hop culture, it was only later that it tried to do anything at all other than make the party move. And even then social consciousness was kind of a fad that ended with NWA and gangsta rap. Now rap is back to more making the party move again, unless you go deeper to underground MCs.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:09 PM on May 9, 2013


Oh god. THIS.
This subject is something that I have discussed with my bandmate extensively, and is actually part of the original inception of his other project. As he explained it to me, a lot of the "art" in the industrial music and IDM/Noise scene had completely lost it's focus and had little to no substance other than to bloviate and attempt to be rock stars, just with fake blood and bad synth presets. So he started writing songs using Britney Spears samples, effecting them all to hell and back, and then pushing it through an overdriven soundcard to create "rhythmic noise". Then he'd go to the club, hand his track off to his DJ friend, and watch the hardcore macho fuckwads dance to Britney Spears.

But that was years ago. Now, we just shake our heads that no one cares what the subject matter of the songs are. They just want to dance to something stompy with a goblin singing about unintelligable garbled dreck, maybe with a few samples thrown in from some movie everyone loved the aesthetic from. And fashion. Oh, the fashion.

I can see what some people say about the old scene, with the "lifestyle" members, who wouldn't leave the house without makeup on, that to this day probably still talk in a horrible fake Anglophile accent from nowhere, and think "Black #1" was a triumphant anthem, not a mockery of a bands fandom. But industrial fans? Some of the biggest fans I've ever met never wear black, and only have combat boots from serving as medics in Iraq and Afghanistan, because they went there to help save lives, not take them. Or they wear dark jeans and maybe a solid black t-shirt, or occasionally a band t-shirt they bought at a show in 1992, back when they were really into the music and still went to big shows. But now? They miss the days of going to the club and meeting like minded people and talking until the sun came up about the art and aesthetic that their chosen scene and chosen family was into and a part of. I hope each and everyone of you gets the chance to just once hang out with people that are into something you are into and that are passionate about what makes it great. Not someone who feels they need to nerd-god over you with their esoteric knowledge of some band or how amazing they are because they have some rare vinyl. But someone who just loves the music and loves to dance to it, and loves to think about the imagery and what the music is trying to say, what the artist is trying to point out.

People bring up Skinny Puppy, and they are the prime example of a band that had a message, had a theme, and ran with it so hard that they imploded. But the message and the theme were what mattered. On the surface, you could walk away thinking that they glorified the horrible images they used on stage. But it was always about raising awareness of how awful those images really were, and the nightmare that humans created. And it wasn't just words. It was always words, images, and sounds, a full multimedia experience that really did break down a lot of the barriers that people put up to avoid those subjects.

But as the article points out, something got lost between those pioneering acts and the current roster of performers that make up the scene. At best, you have bands that attempt to recreate the aesthetic, like many of the Deathrock bands of today, or many of the Goth bands that pop in and out of existence but never seem to gain any traction. But in the industrial sphere, I always point to the rise of Wumpscut and the following that gave us Suicide Commando. Both bands were very, very, influential in the late 90's on into the early 00's. But something happened when Suicide Commando suddenly became the favored dancefloor filling track that DJ's started to *seriously* overplay. And part of it was due to Napster. The horrible message lost it's context, and became the 'edgy' attitude and high water mark for a lot of people. They only knew a few songs by an artist, and they only downloaded those individual tracks and never bothered to learn about the discography of those bands. Then new bands formed and what they wanted to be was the next Suicide Commando, where their tracks were played in every club around the world, and they'd be famous. But instead of having a full catalogue of multivaried and thoughtful music, you ended up with dance tracks with goblin lyrics and heavy beats and "dark" subject matter. No more context, no more prevailing sense of connection to anything outside of itself. Microcosms of blithering idiocy, as I refer to them frequently. Some bands continued to make the art, but for the most part, if it wasn't playable in a club, no one bothered. If it didn't make the fashion victims shake their booties and buy drinks at the bar, it didn't get played, and languished in obscurity. And to me, that is the failure of EVERY scene (even the ones that never had the original art project beginnings).

To this day, I still think that Industrial music is a viable art form. But you have to know what Industrial originally meant. You have to know what this phrase means: "we didn't hear on the radio any music we liked, so we made our own." That, at it's core, is what Industrial music had going for it that attracted so many different kinds of people. The freaks, the shy loners, and the thinkers. Even if you didn't make your own music, you got to see and hear something that wasn't mainstream, that had to be analyzed and thought about, even after the drum track ended and the synth line faded. And if you never saw that, or never knew it was there, then I implore you to really look at what some of the bands are doing. If it only goes skin deep, it's probably dreck, masquerading as art. But if there's a story there, it there's a reason that the song was written (other than to be a commercial success), I guarantee it's something worth talking about.

As it stands, I can't stand talking about Combichrist's musical content. It is literally pop music in a minor key, with distortion and bad lyrics. The live show is certainly a fun performance, but the difference between Combichrist and Creed is simply the amount of black eyeliner.

I could go on and on about this subject, as it's one of my favorite things to talk about regarding music.
posted by daq at 3:32 PM on May 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


"Rap started out as party music for the hip hop culture, it was only later that it tried to do anything at all other than make the party move."

It's more complicated than that — Afrika Baambataa coined the term "hip hop," and folks like Gil Scott Heron and the Last Poets were part of the movement from the start. But outside of a brief time in the '90s, "conscious" rap was never even the most critically hailed part.
posted by klangklangston at 3:51 PM on May 9, 2013


Good piece. I miss Coilhouse.

And now I know who wrote the song that played during the opening of Vikings.
posted by homunculus at 5:03 PM on May 9, 2013




“What would Jello Biafra do?”

You know, when I went on tour last fall after that show at Kinetik, there was a punk kid in Ohio who came up to me before the show and gave me a stack of patches he had hand-made. He had read my interview about Kinetik where I said "What would Jello Biafra do?", and he made me a few dozen patches with "What would Jello Biafra do?" on them. He told me they were for me to sell on the tour so that I could make a few more bucks and try to break even.

I did break even on the tour, but even if I hadn't, getting those patches would have made the entire tour worth it.
posted by Jairus at 5:37 PM on May 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


This rise of misogyny, racism, and anti-intellectualism plays out rather unfortunately in the few cities in which I know the club scenes. We used to be the safe group, the one's that would stick up for each other because no one else had our backs. But now we've got parking lot rapes and all kinds of crazy f'd up stuff we hadn't been having to deal with for over 20 years.

This is what I invested years of community action, social protest, etc for? I tried to make the world a better place but now my sanctuaries are Axe clouded bro-fests with hipsters grabbing strangers boobs because they saw someone else do it (to their own girlfriend, not to some unknown). Now, if anyone speaks up, they're told they have no sense of humor, no sense of irony, etc, and/or seriously can't be that much of a rebel if they're not willing to be douche-bags to women, minorities, or the less-aggressive.

I can't find the right words but, yes, this is becoming a problem and not just for ideological reasons.

The fact that strippers* have also joined in isn't helping. What used to be a sex positive environment is now sexploitive between the misogyny and the willing victims.

*No, I don't think strippers are a bad thing, per se. But when you have the worst examples of the profession behaving in the worst ways, half-dressed as "goths", it just feeds off the problem already arising. Also, the plastic-y vanilla body spray they use mixes terribly with the Axe.

We've always had goths that also worked as strippers; they're not quite what I'm talking about.

posted by _paegan_ at 5:49 PM on May 9, 2013


daq I can't favourite your comment enough, I loved when industrial bands were all about creating an original and unique sound, and then there was that point at which.. they all started sounding like suicide commando.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:01 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sticherbeast: "Laibach ... focused their attacks not only on Nazi propaganda, but also on capitalist propaganda, communist propaganda, Titoist propaganda, and also unwitting propaganda in its many forms."

Interestingly, I wonder what an industrial band could do to really really really work on conveying the hegemony of a given political structure. In particular, I am thinking of capitalism. I haven't seen Laibach's work, I admit, but I doubt it deals with the mundaneness of capitalism, but rather the obvious consumerism/money-cult aspects...

How do you depict the horror of something you're swimming in and making people realize it by using the subtlety of a hegemonic approach to point out the hegemony and making people go "a ha!"

Maybe Laibach does that and I'm not aware? Can anybody point out an industrial band that rips apart Capitalist hegemony? I mean, we see the concepts of alienation and fetish commoditization all the time. (Of course, here I am, looking at it via a Marxist lens, so... You could do the same thing with all this, of course, and I try my hardest to do so with my thinking all the time).

I suppose it's asking if any industrial band has turned New Wave, eh? It's the passage from Joy Division to New Order, I suppose. Skinny Ties, hair gel and stiff dancing to synthetic pop beats. Except, I don't think New Order really... tried to subvert anything, or at least not to that level? But that shift from overt gloom/doom/dark to mass-pop-sound-image is sort of what I'm thinking, only a little more conceptual, perhaps.
posted by symbioid at 6:11 PM on May 9, 2013


So, is Combichrist the Skrillex of industrial?
posted by symbioid at 6:25 PM on May 9, 2013


Can anybody point out an industrial band that rips apart Capitalist hegemony?

Snog.
posted by Jairus at 6:39 PM on May 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


So, is Combichrist the Skrillex of industrial?

It's funny because Skrillex is the Trent Reznor of dubstep.
posted by Jairus at 6:40 PM on May 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Can anybody point out an industrial band that rips apart Capitalist hegemony?

Snog.


Jairus has it, Snog are great. I'd also throw Pop Will Eat Itself into the ring. I'm not sure if Negativland or Emergency Broadcast Network count as industrial, but they're up there.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:56 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I haven't seen Laibach's work, I admit, but I doubt it deals with the mundaneness of capitalism, but rather the obvious consumerism/money-cult aspects...

Much of what they do is about exploding otherwise unremarkable Western pop music. It's pretty great, highly recommended. I'd start with "Life is Life", which is a brilliantly militaristic cover of a chirpy German pop song.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:59 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's been a long long time since I've really paid attention but KMFDM always had a pretty strong anticapitalist bent and focus. But you are talking about more of a Devo or Negativland type approach?
posted by furiousthought at 8:42 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jairus beat me to it. If you can find the DVD of SNOG videos, they seriously warp the fuck out of consumer culture and turn it into a funhouse horror visage that always gets my brain going. Although, I still can't tell if David Thrussell is really as wacked out and kooky as he comes across in the video interviews on that DVD. It's like this surreal overblown massive shit on counter cultural tropes and strange pre2000 conspiracy theories. And I mean really, really, really blown up like some great broken thing that babbles incoherent gibberish that almost sounds like complete thoughts, but somehow does not seem to connect to reality. There is also a bonus track of stuff about the feminist conspiracy to enslave us through ancient witchcraft that steals the vital essence of masculinity through technology and plastics, and it honestly makes my brain itch to watch it.

I think I'm going to dig up my copy and subject my roommates to a SNOG video marathon.
posted by daq at 9:01 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I booked Dave Thrussell to play a show once. I had never met him before so he had no idea what I looked like, and I had to pick him up at the airport. So I made a big sign that said INTERNATIONAL MIND CONTROL CORPORATION and held it up next to all the chauffeurs and conference greeters.

Unsurprisingly, you end up having some really weird conversations with people if you have a sign like that.
posted by Jairus at 9:31 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's funny because Skrillex is the Trent Reznor of dubstep.

No, NIN was the Skrillex of Industrial.
posted by empath at 10:03 PM on May 9, 2013


From what I've seen of the local goth/industrial scene, they're as far from 'jock' as you can get. I think saying that absolves the nerd/geek/goth subculture of mysogony, which is there if you look.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:49 PM on May 9, 2013


No, NIN was the Skrillex of Industrial.

Ministry was also the Skillrex of Industrial.
You can plot a lot of the changes to the wider industrial scene with the arrival of the scene of both bands with the very fey With Sympathy (and the less fey Pretty Hate Machine) and the move intro increasingly aggressive music that was beloved by the charts (Psalm 69 or The Downward Spiral) which brought the dudes chanting "I wanta fuck you like an animal".

On a tangent (sort of), but I remember the era when Nick Cave went from underground guru to whatever he is now. Two concerts less than three years apart. The second was when he was breaking in the charts, and I have never seen (nor heard about) more of my friends getting felt up than I have at that gig when all the dudebros came in.

He's mellowed and his music and venues have changed, and apparently it's not like that any more, but it's always stuck with me.
posted by Mezentian at 10:54 PM on May 9, 2013


I'd start with "Life is Life", which is a brilliantly militaristic cover of a chirpy German pop song.

Life is Life.
posted by homunculus at 11:10 PM on May 9, 2013



On a tangent (sort of), but I remember the era when Nick Cave went from underground guru to whatever he is now. Two concerts less than three years apart. The second was when he was breaking in the charts, and I have never seen (nor heard about) more of my friends getting felt up than I have at that gig when all the dudebros came in.

He's mellowed and his music and venues have changed, and apparently it's not like that any more, but it's always stuck with me.


Maybe his music was driving men into a violent sexual frenzy? I'm pretty chill but it can even have that effect on me.

He's mellowed, but now he's angry and fiery again. Then he went back to being mellow. I don't want to blame his music, but from what I read his shows have always been rough, and his music is pretty nasty to women. I still love it.

There's a Melbourne band I love with a really chill fanbase, but as soon as they started getting a bit popular fights started to break out in the pits.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:16 PM on May 9, 2013


daq: "But that was years ago. Now, we just shake our heads that no one cares what the subject matter of the songs are. They just want to dance to something stompy with a goblin singing about unintelligable garbled dreck, maybe with a few samples thrown in from some movie everyone loved the aesthetic from."

These people are not the problem. The problem is with the people who do care what the subject matter of the songs are, and enthusiastically enjoy and seek out Combichrist-like lyrics, who find that kind of subject matter to be cool. People who just don't care about lyrics, period, are just people who like music but don't like poetry.
posted by Bugbread at 11:43 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not a great deal of difference between "playing with" and "jerking off to." If we're gonna give Throbbing Gristle a pass then Prince Harry in his Afrika Corps party duds and swastika armband gets a pass too. Or if not Harry then not Throbbing Gristle either.
posted by jfuller at 12:10 PM on May 9 [6 favorites +] [!]


This is too simplistic and lazily dismissive, and incorrect because of it.
posted by Decani at 12:35 AM on May 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Its all just aesthetics.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:42 AM on May 10, 2013


Charlemange: The Australian goth-and-whatnot scene has always been a lot more insular and less prone to attracting jocks than the US scene. It's the whole (and please forgive me for the turn of phrase) "not wanting to look like a fag, mate" aspect. We're also traditionally like, five years behind the states in terms of scene music trends. So it'll be interesting to see if this comes over here too.

Further, we're too small to have a dedicated Industrial scene, so it gets melded in with the goths and death rockers and rockabillies. For a while up here in Brissie things were small enough you'd have the metal kids turn up too. Weird times. So if you want to thrash out to your grindy whatever, you have to be prepared to deal with the rest of the club, and the rest of the club still tends to be fairly tight.

That's not to say that there's not a fairly substantial representation from the misogynists. They've just a bit more defensive and more likely to get booted/banned/shunned than not. It helps that most the club runners I know are women and not afraid of smacking heads when need be.
posted by Jilder at 3:52 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


IMHO, Nick Cave jumped the shark at about the time he discovered the New Testament in his Bible.
posted by acb at 4:29 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's been a long long time since I've really paid attention but KMFDM always had a pretty strong anticapitalist bent and focus. But you are talking about more of a Devo or Negativland type approach?

No, you're absolutely right. Also, I think symbioid was explicitly looking for anti-capitalism in a pop format, so KMFDM are more on point than Negativland.

Unsurprisingly, you end up having some really weird conversations with people if you have a sign like [INTERNATIONAL MIND CONTROL CORPORATION].

The best would be if someone from a domestic mind control corporation handed you his card, hoping to network. Although I suppose that, instead of giving you a card, he'd just control your mind, so it's just as well.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:46 AM on May 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


empath: "It's funny because Skrillex is the Trent Reznor of dubstep.

No, NIN was the Skrillex of Industrial.
"

You did not just do that.
posted by symbioid at 11:15 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess in a sense what I was thinking with attacking hegemony hegemonically would be more a DEVO approach, though my own personal preference to sound in general is more Negativland style pludering and chaos.

I guess I feel like these aren't quite subtle enough with what I'm thinking, but then again, perhaps I can't really explicate the subtlety or know how I could go about it. Regardless, I'll have a look at Snog :)
posted by symbioid at 11:21 AM on May 10, 2013


I still can't tell if David Thrussell is really as wacked out and kooky as he comes across in the video interviews on that DVD

He is, and he isn't; a while back me and my friends were very into booking and hosting bands in Toronto, so when black lung was playing here they stayed at my place. Hanging out with David was a lot of fun - he is full of awesome stories, and totally whacked out ideas, and just as he has you believing that he really believes these goofy theories, he'll give you that little smile that says he's been having a wonderful time bullshitting you. We took him out for a vegan dinner, and he spun an awesome tale of how fungus spores are actually from outer space while he carefully dissected his spring rolls to remove all the little shreds of mushroom, he actually made it sound plausible - and just as we were saying, yea? really? he says with a smirk "no, actually, I just don't like how they taste" Such an awesome guy, and such great music.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:15 PM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Actually, I just learned something last night that blew my brain. David Thrussell is no longer David. It's now Dee Thrussell, and if you go look at the IMCC website, it would seem that (um, help me out, I have no clue what pronoun to use at the moment) David has successfully gone through gender reassignment surgery and is now a trans-woman. I had no idea until my roommate told me last night and sure enough, when you look up SNOG now, it's Dee Thrussell.

Honestly, I think that's awesome.
posted by daq at 12:52 PM on May 10, 2013


Holy crap! I didn't know that, but yea, that's awesome. and squee!!! new Snog album!!!!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:47 PM on May 10, 2013


DecemberBoy's post regarding Death in June and nazism (which I'm not entirely convinced by) contains this article which is an interesting read: Far-Right Tendencies in the Wave and Gothic Scene, which is interesting.
I'm not convinced, but there it is.

But I'm spinning out that "2013’s incarnation of the legendary Snog is now an all female act, a powerhouse trio delivering slyly subversive electro pop".

Like most Australians I've met David a few times, and I had no idea.
I am now trying to wrap my brain around what the new Snog will sound like. As a singer he was quite fond of the ultra-deep voice in most of the songs I am familiar with (I stopped paying attention after a while...) Now?
posted by Mezentian at 6:19 PM on May 10, 2013


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