Among industrial music band's fans are Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson, and once you're in, it's a lifelong commitment
Thursday, June 21, 2007
More than 25 years ago, Skinny Puppy formed with the goal of releasing one record, and that would be it. "Somehow it caught on," says Ogre, the lead singer, "and affected a lot of people."
Included among those affected and influenced by Skinny Puppy are Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson.
At the core of the band is Ogre and Cevin Key, who is responsible for the musical arrangements and sampling. In 1995, band member Dwayne Goettel died of a heroin overdose. Ogre says early Skinny Puppy was creatively fueled by drugs.
Ogre has given up using drugs, but says the creative process isn't that different. "You open those doors a couple of times," Ogre says, "and that's all you really need. It doesn't mean that once you stop doing drugs, you don't have the same accelerated, or decelerated, or twisted, unique perspective that you find yourself stumbling upon when you're using."
A live Skinny Puppy show includes a degree of performance art mixed with video projection, and the majority of the set list showcases selections from the group's latest release, "Mythmaker," which has a different sound from Skinny Puppy's earlier releases.
"We've always made records with a great deal of care and love and also always try to keep them very connected to what's really happening in our lives right now as opposed to going through some formula of making something to sell records based on demographics," Ogre says. "We've always moved on, but every album kind of feeds off of each other to a certain degree."
"Mythmaker" includes driving industrial rhythms, dark atmospheres and meticulous sampling from Key and Ogre's cynical lyrics. The first track, "Magnifis -- " tackles their take on our current political state: "I am the liar's nation/ Oh yeah/ I am the undisputed god/ Oh yeah/ I am the maggot's muscle, magnet missile ... master of it all."
In the last track, "UgLi,'' Ogre chants, "Jesus is ugly.''
"It's my normal disdain for the rise of the national imperialist empire in America, treatment of other humans in the world," Ogre says. "Not that I don't think there are good Christians, I think there are some very good Christians, but they need to clean their act up a bit."
Ogre refers to himself as a character for his live performances.
"This show's dealing more with a character that I found myself doing when I first started touring with Skinny Puppy," Ogre says. "It was coming from a place of real insecurity and being looked upon and really judged and I was a lot more introverted, so I create a playground for myself to operate in."
When someone becomes a Skinny Puppy fan, they're usually in for life.
"It's kind of like a Deadhead thing, isn't it? You either love it or you don't, and then people come along and they get it at certain times in their lives and they're like, 'Oh wow,' " Ogre says.
While Skinny Puppy has been influencing industrial music fans for more than a quarter-century, Ogre remains humble. He says people up come to him and express how the music of Skinny Puppy has really helped through difficult times in their lives. "That means a lot to me," he says.
Tony DuShane, 96Hours@sfchronicle.com
This article appeared on page G - 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle