Punk Sundays: Throwback: Throbbing Gristle by Christian BC

killerPOP has always been about indie, hip hop, pop, and dance. It’s our bread and butter. But I try and make it my job for our readers to to keep in their hearts the greatest genre of all: punk. If you’re looking for snippets about Plain White T’s and Arctic Monkeys, tab back to MySpace now. And if you’re looking to hear rants about how punk is dead or what real punk is or how much The Exploited rule, you’re out of look too. All I’m gonna do is keep ya’ll up on the hottest shit in the punk world and occasionally bring your attention to those who made it all (including at least 1/4 of what we talk about on kP) possible. Now that the boring stuff is over: THROBBING GRISTLE!

OK, so TG is really an industrial band, a true industrial band (I love NIN and Reznor as much as the next lad, but even he says he’s not an industrial artist). But the genre and the band came out of the same performance and shock scene as many of the other postpunkers of the mid-to-late 70s. These guys held all the values of punk rock and sonically devastated all colleagues and founding fathers. They continued preaching destruction while their peers looked to the future, waved around Nazi symbols with the best of ’em, and the knocked down every boundary, even gender.

TG grew out of London’s performance art scene and their tactics of shock and awe eventually led them to form a band, operating from ’75 to ’81. The group consisted of Genesis P-Orridge (now legal name), Cosey Fanni Tutti (same), Peter Christopherson, and Chris Carter. Pop and rock were nowhere on their radar and their music is more akin to the psychoanalysis of society and the human condition than to music. But music it was, and it was also incredible. They were early pioneers of tape music, sampling, and found sounds in what music historians would dub “pop” or non-art music. This coupled with heavy distortion, the use of horns, strings, and synthesizers, and constant confrontation with ideals of society, gender, fascism, death, and all pre-conceived ideas of what separated music from noise would make any true music critic hard pressed to deny it as art.


“Something Came Over Me”

I consider punk music to be my forte and I believe at it’s core was rebellion. And not merely societal, but musical rebellion. Even the bands who were attempting to resuscitate long dead genres, they were still battling against everything that was popular and the results were hardly the sweet, wholesome sounds of the past, but loud, fast, destructive tunes that forced their way into your head due to their underlying melody. Throbbing Gristle retained the innovation and repetition of the pioneers before them like the VU and Can and continued expanding the role of music and sound and punk. They were pioneers within a pioneering genre and true punks through and through.

The band intially released 5 albums and a compilation. There most well known, and closest to pop, was ’79’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats.

The four members reunited in 2004 and have since released 2 albums and an impending DVD set. They are also working on a new album which will be their interpretation of Nico‘s album Desertshore which I for one think will be immensely fascinating.

Interview with Genesis conducted by Douglas Rushkoff, writer and former keys player for Psychic TV, P-Orridge’s band after TG.

For those truly interested in TG and postpunk, check out Simon Reynold’s amazing book on the period: Rip It Up and Start Again.

– Christian BC

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Great post Christian. I like Throbbing Gristle, but I just haven’t been able to get into them outside of a few tracks. I’m about halfway through Rip It Up and Start Again; need to get my shit together and finish it.

The one band that Rip It Up forced me to reconsider was Young Marble Giants. I reviewed the reissue of ‘Colossal Youth’ and it struck me as too aesthetically austere to really feel any sort of emotional attachment to. But boy, have repeated listens changed that! I absolutely think ‘Colossal Youth’ is one of the heavy hitters of the post-punk era. One of the few groups who you can really feel justified in saying that no one’s ever done anything quite like their stuff since. Definitely check it out if you’re a Throbbing Gristle fan.

Also, I don’t know much about this, but I know that Throbbing Gristle have a song called “Dreamachine,” and apparently Genesis Porridge was obsessed with dreamachines. (From “The Dreamachine, invented by (Brion) Gysin with mathematician Ian Sommerville, is a device where light comes at your closed eyes through cylinders slotted at precise intervals – complementing the brain’s alpha rhythm and resulting in dreams, hallucinations, and oracular tendencies.”) I’ve used a couple dreamachines before and even built a crappy one (using this website:, but they’ve never really done anything psychedelic for me. Apparently the song “Dreamachine” is supposed to be played while using a dreamachine.

Anyways, keep up the good work. Cheers.

Comment by Joel

[…] Gristle – United : I wanted to put this in my TG post a few weeks ago, but didn’t know how to post the track, so here it is now. I can’t help […]

Pingback by Punk Saturdays: Monday: Punk Primer Mix « killerPOP

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: