Chain D.L.K.: Why have you moved from the land of kangaroos to England and later toAmerica?
Foetus: You don’t really choose where you are born do you? My mother is Scottishso I spent some time in Scotland intermittently in my youth, a monthhere and there. I felt culturally isolated as a kid in Australia, as oneis so geographically isolated there (it may be different now with theshrinking digital world, but then it was extreme). I’m not asun-worshipper. I think I pined for Europe and the Northern Hemisphere.When I had the opportunity I moved to London. I packed two bags and toldmy parents I was going on vacation though I knew I would never return. Iknew I wanted to do something involved with music but I didn’t know whatyet. It was a particularly exciting and fertile time for music inLondon, punk had imploded and the ashesof post-punk experimentalism were burning brightly. Rough Trade had juststarted up. The tools of self production were accessible and the fireswere flamed by the feeling that anyone could do it. It was about ideas.There was a great divergence – if punk was the big bang then itsaftermath was the universe being created. It only lasted for a couple ofyears, but in London I was regularly going to see bands like Swell Maps,This Heat, Throbbing Gristle, Joy Division, Essential Logic, Wire,Scritti Politti, The Monochrome Set, Rema Rema, Gang Of Four, BirthdayParty etc. I started releasing my own records in 1981. I don’t think Iwould have been able to achieve whatI did from Australia, nor would I have wanted to.
Chain D.L.K.: Some people say the fact Australia once was a penal colony and the factits Aboriginal people were warriors has had a big weight on the factpeople coming from there is rude/violent or at least physical…is JimThirlwell an australian-original?
Foetus: Aboriginals were warriors? I don’t remember any aboriginal wars! Ialways thought they were nomads. I would say no, I don’t conform to thestereotype you describe. Actually I have lived in New York City muchlonger than I lived in Australia. Frankly I don’t feel like anAustralian, or a citizen of anywhere particularly, and I don’t rememberso much about living in Australia. I am an alien wherever I roam, but Iwas never in touch with that “macho” sporty beer drinking type ofculture that typified Australians and was ostracized for being a “poof”!The dominant youth sub-cultures when I was growing up was skinheads andsurfers. I haven’t been back to Australia in over 25 years!.
Chain D.L.K.: You’ve always de-focussed yourself from the most of the lay-out of yourrecords and you have different nicknames for every different project(that de-emphasize a bit your involvement in that specific project).Anyhow, by your works the perception is you alwaysplayed the protagonist role in the 90% of the situations in which you’reinvolved
Foetus: Yes I felt that I wanted the focus to be on the artifact and mystique,not on a personality, it allowed me to assume a corporate identity andcreate a graphic vision. I was always into the graphic packaging of mywork. They were studio creations and mass produced pieces of art whereeveryone could own an original. With Foetus, Steroid Maximus andManorexia I would say I am the protagonist 100% of the time.
Chain D.L.K.: Have you ever felt you were doing the wrong thing? I mean have you everhappened to feel you were gonna quit the music system for any reason(above all at the beginning your carrier)?
Foetus: Not at all. Why would I want to quit when I was starting? I wasn’t in itfor glory or money! (that came later!) I feel blessed and fortunate thatI feel that I am doing what I was meant to.
Chain D.L.K.: What kind of person do you think you could have been if you wouldn’thave become a musician?
Foetus: I don’t even know what person I am now let alone in any othercircumstance. If my emphasis wasn’t so much on music it would be onvisual and conceptual art, as it is already in addition to my music andcomposition.
Chain D.L.K.: What music were you listening when you were young and whichmusic/musicians/records have influenced your musical growth or just madea change in your life?
Foetus: There really isn’t one or album or artist that compelled me to makemusic, I can’t tie it all up into one neat bundle! My first musicalobsession in my memory was The Monkees! Later Bowie and the SensationalAlex Harvey Band. Alice Cooper and Sparks. ELO and 10cc! Then theStooges and Can. Millions more. The Sex Pistols and Stockhausen. I havealways had a voracious appetite for music and still consume it like awhale devouring plankton. I suppose I found music to be anall-encompassing means of expression. And to sweeten the package, youcould make a tangible artifact from it, where it becomes a fetish itemwhich informs the music (this was before it was just a piece of digital”content”). In regards to muses for my own expression, I was swept up bycumulative inspiration from the seductive graphic power of propagandaand the whimsy of dadaism to the openness in approach to composition andsound of 20th century composition and the energy and anyone-can-do-itattitude of post-punk rock.
Chain D.L.K.: Probably I’m wrong, but it looks like you were a rebellious teenager oran “uneasy guy” to deal with at school…by the way, how have you familyperceived you after “mr. Foetus” has become a appreciatedmusician-producer?
Foetus: No, I don’t think that’s true about being an “uneasy” guy in school – Iwas very studious in school. I went to an all-boys baptist school fortwelve years. I disliked it so intensely that I excelled because I wasso scared to be held back and have to repeat a grade! I started schoolearly in my life, and was only sixteen years old when I graduated. ThenI went to art school for two years and left that and went to London whenI was eighteen years old. I think my mom is proud of what I have done,she studied music at the London Academy before meeting my father andmoving to Australia..
Chain D.L.K.: Have you ever happened to get in contact with somebody from yourschool-days?
Foetus: No I don’t know anyone from my school days. You sure are obsessed withmy childhood!
Chain D.L.K.: Probably together with the video of “Death Valley 69”, “The right sideof my brain” is the most popular movie directed by Kern. I remember in aforum I’ve read people was speaking about the movie and somebody waswondering how does it feel to get sucked in front of a camera…
Foetus: If they want to know, they should try it sometime. Basically I wasworried if I’d be able to get hard and stay hard.
Chain D.L.K.: What do you think about the fact most of the people involved in thatmovie have become “icons” of the ‘80s (which itself has been on eof themost prolific and important decades in the history of underground music).
Foetus: I am aware that people romanticize that “Death Trip” stuff. I don’t knowwhat that means really, an 80s’ icon. Does that mean that you are notvalid in any other decade? That you become a postage stamp like JamesDean? It’s a bunch of naughty people doing naughty things.
Chain D.L.K.: You worked with a countless number of people from rock stars to unknownor underground musicians. What was the worst experience (and obviouslythe best one too) you’ve had from these collaborations?
Foetus: I have had very good collaborations with Roli Mosimamnn (Wiseblood) andJim Coleman (Baby Zizanie). I would love to work with Pamelia Kustinagain, who played theremin on LOVE, as she is a consummate musician andvery creative with a great melodic sensibility. She is also fun andsexy! I’d like to work more with Jennifer Charles at some point too. Ilook forward to working with more organic ensembles performing my works,but democratic collaborations as such just aren’t so interesting for me- I prefer to realize my own vision that to workas a part of a committee! I’m into working with other musicians, butmore in a capacity where they are realizing my vision.
I continue to work with people sometimes where there is a leap of faithin vision, particularly when one is working on a video or commissioninga remix, and you work around it to the best of your ability (you mayhave noticed I am a bit of a control freak).
Chain D.L.K.: I’ve read about the whole backstory behind “Not Adam” about that girlyou knew that hung herself up and about the other one who drowned in thebathtub during an overdose…it’s sad but I found it incredible. In whichway have been influenced by these coincidences, I mean it’s obvious she(they) didn’t commit suicide cause of your lyric but I think many peoplewould be dead scared by the coincidences related to the lyric or by thepower of the “words”.
Foetus: There are coincidences and there are karmic forces and you can noticethis every where. I feel that song is a little haunted now. There are alot of songs where I have lines in them that are very sad and powerfulwith significance relating to my life, but they are codified in a waythat I understand them, someone who doesn’t know me (and most of thosewho do) might not. But it is great when people can make their ownconclusions about the words. Someone mentioned recently somewhere onlinethat they found “No Disgrace”, a song that I did with The Melvins, to bea real tearjerker. That was gratifying to me ‘cos they recognized thatwas coming from a very sad place.
Chain D.L.K.: You said there are times when you feel that song is double-haunted by these two girls, and do you believe in spirits or in somesupernatural essence/power? It’s strange but many times I’ve had theimpression sometimes you love to “work” with the image of JesusChrist both in your lyrics and in the scenario you recreate with yourworks.
Foetus: I’ve used that Jesus guy as a hook now and then, not for a while nowthough. It’s all about Mohammed!
Chain D.L.K.: Is there anything you still haven’t done or any result youhaven’t accomplished during your carrier?
Foetus: Write work for a full orchestra, score a big budget movie and haveBowie perform one of my songs.
Visit Foetus on the web at:
[interviewed by Andrea Ferraris] [proofreading by Benjamin Pike]