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Interview with Jim Thirlwell of Foetus - conducted by Skot Kirkwood - Satyricon, Portland, OR 10/16/96

Skot: I noticed that on the most recent album "Gash", the band is just called Foetus. Will there be any new permutations of Foetus in the future?

Jim: There is an album coming out in February 1997, under the name Foetus Symphony Orchestra. The record was performed by a nine piece band which was comprised of Justin Rojas from Spanish Fly on tube and didgeridoo, David Ouimet on trombone, Steve Bernstein on trumpet, Oren Bloedow from Elysian Fields on guitar, Kurt Wolf from Pussy Galore also on guitar, Brian Emrich from my band, Vinnie Signorelli from Unsane on drums, and Lydia Lunch doing spoken interludes. It is a very different sort of Foetal project.

In November of this year I have a double CD called "Null/Void" under the Foetus name which consists of unreleased material and remixes. Ultimately I've whittled the whole name issue down to just Foetus because I feel that I have kind of gotten all of the adjunct Foetus names out of my system.

Skot: Will the Foetus orchestra sound anything like Steroids Maximus?

Jim: No. It will be a whole new sound. It sorts of illustrates the daily life in my home neighborhood in the Brooklyn ghetto. It also talks about a number of my inside problems and I think that Lydia illustrates the whole thing quite well.

Skot: Did you originally come from New York?

Jim: No. I was born in Australia. I am also half Scottish, so I spent a great deal of time there. I ran away from home in 1978 to London and did what I wanted to do. Then in 1983 I moved to New York and have been there ever since. Over the years I have also spent a great deal of time in Berlin and Amsterdam.

Skot: Early on in your musical career, you worked with Steven Stapleton of Nurse With Wound. How did you first meet him?

Jim: I was working in this record store on Oxford Street in London. When the first Nurse With Wound record came out he came into the record store during a break from his job down the street where he worked for a graphics company. He asked if we had his record in stock and I said that we did. He asked me what it was like and I described it to him. He ended up being very impressed that I knew what the record was like without even knowing who he was.

From there we struck up a friendship through mutual interests like avante-garde and classical composers. We would go to the pub during our lunch hours and it would end up being a three way dialogue between myself, Steven and William Bennet of Blackhouse. We would drink beers and dissect the Marquis de Sade as well as other interests.

Later we started doing studio experiments prior to my involvement with Foetus. We did a lot of music that resurfaced on future Nurse With Wound releases. I think I was on about nine Nurse With Wound albums over the years. The recording period was not that long, but the release process was very extensive. I also did a similiar project with William Bennet that we did in a single evening that was released under the name Coum.

Skot: What was your contribution to the Coum record?

Jim: I recited and screamed vocals for him. I never ended up being very pleased with the results in as much as I don't even own a copy.

Skot: Have you worked with William Bennet on anything since?

Jim: No. I haven't even seen him since he played guitar with Laura Logic in Essential Logic. He had a perm, with blue eye shadow and was playing a guitar.

Skot: One of my favorite pieces that you did with Steve was the cover version of the Brain Ticket track.

Jim: I still haven't heard the original version. Steven just gave me the transcription of the lyrics and I just wrote my own version. However, recently someone gave me a copy of it on vinyl. Unfortunately my record played it broken at the moment so I still haven't heard it.

Skot: I have always been impressed with the Brain Ticket stuff because it was a very logical lead-in to what became Nurse With Wound.

Jim: When I first started working with Steven, before Nurse With Wound, in the Sylvie and Babs projects, which used to be just Steven and Myself. However Foetus started to take over my life and he ended up using about fifty other contributors for that.

Skot: Will "Deaf", "Ache", as well as some of the older singles ever be released?

Jim: "Deaf" and "Ache" will be coming out in the middle of 1997 through Thirsty Ear as a limited edition of 4000 copies each. As for the early singles I have not decided yet. I have so many CD's out right now that I don't want to clutter the market any further. So I am holding off on the singles and contributions to compilations until the swell of Foetus material dies down.

Ironically enough with all of these re-releases I have learned that the demographics of my audience has dramatically decreased in age whereby my audience is very young. There are many people who want to hear my material who were not even alive when it was first recorded. It is very exciting to me, especially when they recite every lyric along with my when I perform live. It definitely indicates a longevity for my work.

Skot: How many people are with you on this tour?

Jim: This time we are a five piece instead of the usual six because we lost one of our guitar players to a chronic illness and he had to go under the knife which is very unfortunate. So we deliberately made this tour a very hardcore assault. Many of the orchestral or brass oriented pieces are often difficult to perform live so often I have to write a different version of those tracks depending on the whose is playing in the band.

Skot: Have you ever done anything with David Tibet of Current 93?

Jim: No. However he used to live down the street from me. I used to live on Beck Road in the Hackney district in London. He used to live in #2, I used to live in #12, #11 was Operation Twilight label, and #56-#58 was where Genesis and Paula P-Orridge lived. It was quite a collection of musicians within one block. We all knew each other and shopped at the same shops.

However that was as close as any of our relationships ever got. During that time David got together with Steven and I always used to make fun of David to Steven because I thought David was an opportunistic wimp. I haven't heard much of the recent Current 93 stuff but from what I have heard in the past, I liked it.

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