C86 Show - Indie Pop

Scraping Foetus off the Wheel with JG Thirlwell

January 2, 2020

Foetus special with JG Thirlwell in conversation with David Eastaugh

Thirlwell was born in Melbourne, Australia. He briefly studied Fine Art at Melbourne State College (now part of the University of Melbourne) before moving to London, England in 1978, where he played with the post-punk band prag VEC and formed the first of his numerous musical projects, Foetus. In the 1980s, under the pseudonyms Clint Ruin and Frank Want, he contributed to various releases by Nurse With Wound, Marc Almond, The The and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. He co-wrote "Wings Off Flies" on From Her to Eternity, the first Bad Seeds album. Longtime Nick Cave associate Mick Harvey would later report that Thirlwell's time in the band was cut short, in part, by a clash between Thirlwell's highly structured studio routine as contrasted with Cave's at-the-time habit of "shambling through it" while recording.

Thirlwell released his first 7" single, OKFM/Spite Your Face, in 1981, on his own Self-Immolation record label in his first incarnation as Foetus. Over the next few years, he would release two more singles, a 12" EP, and four full-length albums, Deaf, Ache, Hole and Nail (Some Bizzare Records) . After visiting the United States during a live stint with the Immaculate Consumptive (Lydia Lunch, Nick Cave and Marc Almond) Thirlwell settled in New York City, where he is still based. Since his move he has released several singles, fourteen EPs (including Stinkfist, with fellow New York artist Lydia Lunch and Thurston Moore), and seventeen full-length albums.

In addition to being a prolific artist in his own right, Thirlwell has remixed and produced numerous pieces for artists including Faith No More, Nine Inch Nails, Pantera, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, The The, Zola Jesus and Swans. He has also done voice-over work for MTV and other entities.

Since 2000 Thirlwell has become more active as a composer, having written commissions for Bang on a Can, League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots, and the Kronos Quartet, and scoring cartoons The Venture Bros. for Adult Swim and Archer for FX. He also revived his primary instrumental project, Steroid Maximus, and initiated a more experimental instrumental project in Manorexia. He continues to write and perform regularly as a solo artist and with various ensembles. He is also a member of the freq_out sound art collective, and has created solo sound installations in Kaliningrad, Santarcangelo and Vienna.

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