Biography

JG Thirlwell is a composer/producer/performer based in Brooklyn NY. He was born in Melbourne, Australia, where he studied art at Melbourne State College for two years before moving to London in 1978. After working with experimental group Nurse With Wound, Thirlwell started making his own records in 1980, initially releasing them on his own  “Self Immolation” label. He was inspired by the post-punk explosion of creativity in the UK which engendered the accessibility of DIY, as well as  the writings of John Cage and systems music, among other things. He relocated to NYC in 1983, where he still lives and works today.

Thirlwell’s discography is extensive under many pseudonyms including Foetus, Steroid Maximus, Manorexia, Baby Zizanie, Wiseblood, Clint Ruin and others. If there is a common thread to his varied musical styles, it is dramatic intensity and evocative, cinematic quality. Thirlwell’s oeuvre stretches the gamut from orchestrations, big band, cathartic noise-rock to abstract electronics and sound sculpture, chamber music, serial music and imaginary soundtracks – sometimes all in the same album.

In recent years, with commissions for Kronos Quartet, Bang On A Can, and his occasional eighteen piece ensemble, he has been increasingly interested electronically and sample generated music being re-scored for traditional instrumentation – played both conventionally and not (recent examples include performing with a chamber ensemble version of Manorexia). Thirlwell is also a member of the “freq_out” sound-art collective, who create on-site sound and light installations led by curator Carl Michael Von Hausswolf. In addition, Thirlwell scores “The Venture Brothers”, a hit cartoon show on Adult Swim/Cartoon Network.

Thirlwell’s Projects:

  • Foetus — Thirlwell’s main project. From 1990 until 2006′s ‘Damp’, most Foetus songs featured lead vocals. Though popularly known as simply “Foetus”, Thirlwell released albums under diverse variations of the name, including: Foetus Art Terrorism; Foetus Über Frisco; Foetus Corruptus; Foetus In Excelsis Corruptus Deluxe; Foetus Inc.; Foetus Interruptus; Foetus Over Frisco; Foetus Under Glass; Philip and His Foetus Vibrations; Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel; The Foetus All-Nude Revue; The Foetus of Excellence; The Foetus Symphony Orchestra; and You’ve Got Foetus On Your Breath.
  • Steroid Maximus — Primary instrumental project.
  • Manorexia — Experimental instrumental project.
  • Other projects/involvements too numerous to mention here. For complete details view the detailed discography.

Archive:
JG Thirlwell Biography, 2005
Foetus Biography (Thirsty Ear’s version, 2001)
Foetus Biography (AMG’s version, ca. 1996)
Foetus Biography (Sony’s version, 1995)
Foetus Biography (Wax Trax!’s version, ca. 1990)

Abridged biographical timeline

(for detailed timeline, click here)

1960
Born in Melbourne, Australia in Chinatown during Chinese New Year

1977-78
Studied art at Melbourne State College

1978
Moved to London

1980
Member of Spec Records (pragVEC) for nine months.
Made recordings with Nurse with Wound and Come (Whitehouse)

1981
Released first two Foetus singles and Foetus LP DEAF on JG’s own Self immolation label.
Recording with Nurse with Wound.

1982
Released Foetus single, 12″ EP and second album ACHE.
Began work and promoting Einsturzende Neubauten in assembling Stratagien Gegen Arkitektur for his Hardt Records label.

1983
Signed with Some Bizzare.
Toured as guest vocalist with Soft Cell.
Briefly a member of first incarnation of Bad Seeds.
Produced Coil Scatlogy.
Member of The The live band for shows at the Marquee, London.
Joined Immaculate Consumptive with Lydia Lunch, Marc Almond, Nick Cave for shows in NYC and DC.
Moved to NYC.

1984
Formed Wiseblood with Roli Mosimann.
Release of landmark album HOLE, three 12″ EPs and an empty box called Foetus of Excellence.
Stinkfist collaboration and other work with Lydia Lunch.

1985
Begins to score Richard Kern’s Deathtrip films.
Release of Foetus NAIL album.
Tours with fresh pig heads adorning the stage.

1986
Release of Wiseblood album DIRTDISH and ensuing touring.

1988
Formed first Foetus live band and toured Europe to support Foetus THAW.

1989
Release of Foetus SINK.

1990
Formed instrumental guise Steroid Maximus.
Founds Ectopic Ents inc.
US tour as Foetus.
Voiceovers for MTV sports show (5 seasons).
Engaged in career as hotshot remixer.
Release of Foetus Butterfly Potion

1991
First releases as Steroid Maximus.
US tour as Foetus.

1992-4
Produced Silverfish, Beyond, White Zombie, Lydia Lunch and Rowland S.Howard, Mesomorph Enduros comp.
Works with Swans, Cop Shoot Cop, Unsane. Remixes for NIN, Front 242, RHCP, Pantera and many more. Composes and records.

1995
Foetus GASH is released by Sony/Columbia in an ill-fated relationship.
US tour as Foetus.

1996
Two European Foetus tours.
Japanese Foetus tour.
Performs semi-improv set with large ensemble as Foetus Symphony Orchestra with guest Lydia lunch at the Anchorage for Creative Time.

1997
Releases Foetus NULL/VOID and YORK

1998
DJ Otefsu is born.

2000
Foetus plays at Royal Festival Hall, London.

2001
Manorexia is born.
Release of Foetus FLOW and BLOW and first Manorexia album Volvox Turbo.
Foetus tours US and Europe as “rock band” format for final time.

2002
Baby Zizanie, a collaboration with Jim Coleman, is born.
Commissioned by UCLA to create Steroid Maximus 18 piece big band in Los Angeles.
Solo electronic serial performance, Yale University.
Release of Steroid Maximus Ectopia.
Release of Manorexia Radiolarian Ooze.
Baby Zizanie tour.
Joins Murnau with Oren Bloedow for one show.

2003
Becomes member of Freq_out sound art collective at the invitation of CM Von Hausswolf to create installation in Copenhagen.
Steroid Maximus 18 piece plays Nantes, Tilburg and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Baby Zizanie tour.
Release of Baby Zizanie Thalassaphobia.

2004
Performed in Kastanienball opera in Munich.
Scored Venture Brothers cartoon series for Adult Swim / Cartoon Network.
Freq_out installation in Oslo.
Conducted audio worksop with CM Von Hausswolf at Staedelschule, Frankfurt.
Recorded Murnau album.

2005
Premiered 18 piece version of Foetus at the Donaufestival.
Freq_out in Paris at Centre Communiste.
Commission for Bang on a Can premiers at Merkin Hall.
Release of Foetus album LOVE.

2006
Commission for Kronos Quartet performed at Carnegie Hall.
Second season of “The Venture Brothers” airs.
Works with Tony Oursler and Dorit Chrysler.
Premiere of Manorexia live ensemble in Russia .
Freq_out installation in Berlin.
Spoken word debut in London.
Created Miasma with Lary 7.
Release of Foetus album DAMP.

2007
Commission for LEMUR.
Freq_out installations in Chiang Mai and Budapest.
Scoring third season of the Venture Brothers.
Release of Foetus album VEIN.
JG Thirlwell Composer Spotlight concert at Whitney Museum NYC.
Manorexia European debut in London.

2008
Terry Bozzio and his big brass section performed opening and closing themes to venture bros. based on arrangements by JG Thirlwell, at a tribute to Buddy Rich at Hammerstein Ballroom.
JG sculpture at Farfabriken Norr.
Manorexia at ATP and Brainwaves fest.
JG curates a month of concerts at The Stone NYC.

2009
Release of Venture Bros soundtrack album Vol 1.
Release of Foetus LIMB CD + DVD.
Solo sound installation at Santarcangelo festival.
Scores fourth season of Venture Bros.
Field recording travels to Oman.

2010
Awarded 2010 fellowship by the New York Foundation for the Arts, in the music & sound category.