Jim Thirlwell, alias Clint Ruin, is the man behind such titles as Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel, Foetus Art Terrorism, and Wiseblood. Some of the most potent and frightening music available today. The man eminates power and emotion with every sung word. His rhythmic, electronically orchestrated, vocal music is enough to stimulate insanity. Yet, amazing enough, this man talks in a light, easy to understand British accent, with only a speck of said superiority.
UF-HOW HAS THE BAND CHANGED WITH EACH NEW TITLE ?
JT-The sound and presentation of each new record might resuscitate a new name. Also, I just get sick of the same name, I like using the concept of Foetus as the core and deviating from there. The idea behind one record might not relate to the next one. Someone who likes Foetus Art Terrorism might not like Scraping Foetus as one example.
UF-WHY DO YOU THINK "MOTORSLUG" DID SO POORLY ?
JT-That was the first release from Wiseblood. The release and reviews were really badly coordinated.
UF-COULD IT ALSO HAVE BEEN DUE TO THE NAME CHANGES? PEOPLE MAY GET UNFAMILIAR WITH YOU.
JT-There's two main projects that I work on. There's the Foetus stuff. I think people can assimilate that because there's Foetus in the name. Then there's Wiseblood. I've been working for the past year or two making sure people know the name. I had them put a sticker on the outside of the lp saying, "Featuring Clint Ruin from Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel." Anyone that might be interested in Foetus should be advised that Wiseblood exists and that Foetus stuff is still carrying on. I'm still doing Foetus records and there's a new one out in April, an ep, by the Foetus All Nude Review. It's called "Bed Rock". After that, there's an ep by Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel coming out in May.
UF-IT MENTIONED IN THE PRESS RELEASE THAT IT TOOK THREE YEARS TO GET "DIRT DISH" TOGETHER.
JT-Well, we got together originally in the middle of 1984. We recorded a lot of the basic tracks for "Dirt Dish" in the middle of 1985. It took us a long time to get it together. The lp was totally jinxed in terms of organization. We had to remix a lot of the stuff because we weren't happy with those nagging things about the mixes. They weren't filled with the power that we wanted them to have. The room that we were mixing in wasn't representing what we were hearing. A lot of different technical things were happening that held it up. Then, the sleeve for example, which was extremely expensive. It's got this silver foil blocking technique which is copyrighted by a company in England. We had to press up the sleeves for the world in the place, then ship them out to all the licensees, then try and coordinate a release world-wide at the same time. So, really a lot of work and hardship has gone into that record, but I think it's worth it. I'm really happy with it.
UF-HAD ANY QF THE WISEBLOOD TUNES BEEN ORIGINALLY EARMARKED FOR SCRAPING FOETUS' "NAIL--, OR HAD THEY ALL BEEN DESTINED TO BE ON "DIRT DISH" ?
JT-They had all been destined to be on "Dirt Dish." "Stumbo" I wrote before Wiseblood existed. I wrote it originally for this set that myself and Lydia Lunch were doing which was called "Swelter", which we performed four times. We did it in San Francisco; L.A.; Portland, Oregon; and New York. It started from the basis of this song called "Stinkfist" and then broadened out into this entire set that we did called "Swelter", and one of the songs was called "Stumbo". We performed those four times with improvised vocals and live percussion in back of us, and aided and abetted by Chris Martinez who used to be in 1313 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. "Stumbo" emerged from that. I just felt like reworking it and it went through a few mutations to Wiseblood.
UF-I SAW YOU AND LYDIA TOGETHER WHEN YOU WERE HERE ALMOST TWO YEARS AGO, AND I WAS WONDERING IF YOU WERE GOING TO COLLABORATE WITH HER, OR WITH ANYONE IN PARTICULAR IN THE FUTURE ?
JT-We've got an ep coming out which is "Stinkfist" rerecorded. It was rerecorded early last year with Chris. It was actually a drum core that he worked with in L.A. that was four drummers all playing the same beat at once, which was terrifying. It's him and D.J. Bonebreak from X, and this other guy from Fear, and this guy called Niel. They did a lot of the beats under there and there's four versions of this song coming out on an ep under the name of Clint Ruin and Lydia Lunch later this year. It's not out of the realm of possibility that we'll be doing further work in the future.
UF-WHAT COMPANIES ARE THESE COMING OUT ON ?
JT-I don't know what label is picking that up.
UF-HAS RELATIVITY SHOWN ANY INTEREST ?
JT-We'll see what's happening with that.
UF-HOW WERE YOU INVOLVED WITH THE VIRGIN PRUNES' "THE MOON LOOKED DOWN AND LAUGHED" LP ?
JT-I played sax on a couple of tracks on that. Just because they're friends of mine. That was actually recorded years and years ago. It was recorded in 1983. It just took a really long time to come out because of a lot of legal rangling they were going through. I've not actually been able to listen to it yet.
UF-WHEN I SAW YOU ON STAGE, AND YOU WERE OUT THERE BY YOURSELF, WITH NO BACK UP EXCEPT FOR THE TAPE, AND NO PROPS EXCEPT MAYBE A BOTTLE OF PERRIER, AND IT WAS SO POWERFUL. IS IT HARD FOR YOU TO SHOW SO MUCH EMOTION BY YOURSELF UP THERE ?
JT-No, I wouldn't say it's hard. It's a fairly natural thing that I feel. It's just what happens when I go up there and do it. I don't contrive it or anything, it just happens. To me, it a the best way for me to hear my own music. I don't think the Walker Art Center Was the primo venue for me. That's not the sort of venue that I particularity like to play in, because I do like to utilise the traditional set-up of--I'm interested in having a stage. I feel that I should be above the audience, because that is the nature of what I am portraying and also it's easier to see and project. I feel that the rays of energy can flow easier (giggles). I don't know if you saw us when we played at First Avenue, but that was a lot more my speed, where we have control. In a situation like at the Walker Art Center, I don't feel like I am really in control of the environment in which people perceive the Performance. (The stage at the Walker is lower than all the seats-Ed.). Whereas like at First Avenue. I did feel that I was totally in control and that's about the most important part for me in terms of live performance. I get an opportunity to present to people, on a one-to-one basis, the way they should perceive my music. Because I control the volume at which they listen to it at. I can lock the doors, I can choke them, I can wrap the mic cord around their neck, I can shit in their face if I feel like it.
UF-IN WISEBLOOD, ARE YOU TOURING WITH OTHER MUSICIANS OR ARE YOU JUST BACKED BY THE TAPES ?
JT-It was me and Roli (Mosimann). Roli playing trumpet, keyboards, and also tapes.
UF-WHAT DRIVES YOU TO DO SUCH A POWERFUL MUSIC ?
JT-It's a pretty hard question. It's just a natural outpouring of what I want to say at one point in time, from the deepest places possible with as much honesty as possible.
UF-IS IT HATE COMING OUT ?
JT-I'D say it is extreme emotions that's coming out. Sometimes it might be hate, sometimes it might be--I'd say it was intense emotions coming out. It's the channeling of those intense emotions.
UF-ARE YOU SPECIFICALLY TRYING TO GET ANYTHING ACROSS ?
JT-Yeah, song-by-song I'm obviously trying to get specific things across, but I think they're pretty obvious. Song-by-song it changes. I don't work by a formula. I can't really say that I've got an overriding cliche. There's certain things I refer to, and certain records that I've done that I feel address certain subjects that I'm trying to touch on, but I wouldn't say the one basic message is "fuck you." It's an expression of myself, and whatever people want to perceive from it on whatever level is fine. I think it can be perceived on many different levels. Spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, they can shake booty to it.
UF-IS THERE A LEVEL THAT YOU STILL WOULD RATHER HAVE PEOPLE EXPERIENCE IT ON ?
JT-I don't care really. My art is the artifact. I go to great pains to hone down my statements into exactly what I want them them. The lyrics are there and everything that I choose to surround it. I'm creating this artifact. I don't feel that interviews qualify any further what I have to say because I've spent a long time honing down and reediting and reediting the statement so I get it in the most concise way possible. People should perceive it on that level and it can be interpreted in any way. I can't tell people how to perceive it. That's what happens when I play live, that's when I tell people how to perceive it, because I am choosing. I can't go into peoples' homes and adjust their stereo so it's full volume.
UF-WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WHO CALLED YOU SEXIST OR VULGAR ?
JT-I'd say yes to everything. What are they going to do, shoot me? Probably.
UF-DO YOU ENJOY DOING YOUR LIVE SHOW OR WOULD YOU RATHER COME ACROSS ON AN ALBUM ?
JT-There's stuff that I get across in the live show that I don't get across in a studio experience obviously, because the energy is totally different. With the live show, I make X amount of creative decisions beforehand, like what the lyrics are gonna be and shit like that. I'm not improvising words and stuff like that. A lot of the music is on tape and then there's X amount of chaos that happens on top of that. Married with whatever visuals or crusihing volume or crushing effects that come across. But I really don't compare the two, I like it all.
UF-AS A RESULT OF WHAT SOME PEOPLE CALL SEXIST. HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED ANY CENSORSHIP ?
JT-With the Scraping Foetus name, people are very cagey. I've had advertisements banned from British newspapers and stuff and even a bit of active censorship on ads that have been placed, which is really disgusting. I mean magazines that would have me on their front cover, but wouldn't run an ad by me. It's ridiculous. In the New York Times for example, Robert Palmer reviewed "Hole" and they censored the name Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel. So he's talkin about this record by Clint Ruin. If people read the review, which was a very glowing review, they couldn't hope to get the record because they don't know the name. Even on MTV, they played this video of me performing a song from "Nail", "Descent Into The Inferno", which was originally filmed for this British TV show called "The Tube", and they refused to say Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel. They just said this is Clint Ruin, who works under various different names. What's the fucking point? In the song I say "shit", and obviously they'd rather have shit said than Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel.
UF-DOES THIS KIND OF STUFF EVER MAKE YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING NORMAL, TO GET SOMETHING ACROSS ?
JT-No, I don't care.
UF-WHAT ABOUT VIDEOS ?
JT-There's a live video from the last European Wiseblood tour called "Yank 'Em, Crank 'Em, Don't Stick Around To Thank 'Em" which was filmed in Berlin and that's being reedited at the moment and it should be out in four to six weeks (Right now--Ed.).
UF-HOW LONG IS THAT ?
JT-That's forty-five minutes.
UF-IS IT GOING TO BE RELEASED IN THE U.S. ?
JT-Yeah, it's going to be released world-wide, and that's it on the front. No rock videos in the works.
UF-DO YOU EVER GET HATE MAIL ?
JT-No, I don't even get love mail. I never get mail. I never publish any address on my records, so I've not been getting mail. I'm planning on setting up a large mail order / information service this year, in a couple of months hopefully. It's gonna be called Foetus, Inc. It's basically going to be a channel for me to decimate propaganda and also offer mail order. I've never had any formal communication with people who buy my records. I think that people should be able to buy my records, and as it is now, people can't, so I've got to do something about it. Also, I get chronically ripped-off by fucking fly-by-night rip-off artists who sell T-shirts and posters of mine, which they have no right to. And if anyone's gonna be making money from it, it should be me. At least I can offer it to people at cheap prices.
UF-IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO TALK ABOUT, ABOUT WISEBLOOD OR "DIRT DISH" ?
JT-Well, I think it's all there. Basically it's the "complete package" as Lex Luther would say. (Now see "Dirt Dish" review--Ed.)
WISEBLOOD-Dirt Dish lp
The newest of Jim Thirlwell's (Clint Ruin) thundering creations only a bit similar to his Scraping Foetus material of recent dates. Power drums back excrutiating vocals. Seemingly charged with hate and other such strong emotions, this lp builds tension. Roli Mosimann, formerly of the Swans, provides the strong rhythms, while various effected vocals, and sometimes synth or guitar lines fluctuate in and out. Seriously driving music stowed in a seriously driving black and silver cover of almost t Nazi proportions. Now see the interview. SOME BIZZARE/ RELATIVITY Records / 149-03 Guy Brewer Blvd. / Jamaica, NY. / 11434
Source: Uncle Fester of 1987 (issue #12), Jake Wisely.
(original text left mostly intact, as I got damn tired of fixing typos in this one)
Last updated 15 January 1997