|06.24.10|| This one needs a little backstory.
In my musically formative years, I was really into industrial music. This was mostly due to my neighbor Cameron. He turned me on to the Red Hot Chili Peppers right before Blood Sugar Sex Magick came out, then a little while later, I remember very clearly camping one friday night in the woods behind my house and him bringing two cds for the battery-powered boombox: Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine, and Ministry's The Mind album. At first I didn't like it but very quickly I warmed to NIN's album and, after some conditioning, Ministry's stuff too. Moreso, from there we started exploring the community around both of these bands, discovering the plethora of Al Jourgensen's one-off side projects. We got a video of In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up and saw the iconic chain link fence in front of the band as they stood there shouting out "Breathe, you fucker!" I noticed the cool tattoo on one guy's arm and traced that to the Revolting Cocks. And so, pretty quickly, I was a bona fide industrial music fan, anything on the Wax Trax! label specifically.
Cameron had a major man-crush on Chris Connelly. From watching him shout the lyrics to So What on the Ministry video, he wanted to grow out dreads (he tried one weekend and they looked terrible so he had to wear a rasta hat to school for a day then he brushed them out, probably pulling out half of his hair in the process). So his excitement rubbed off on me and I became a Chris Connelly fan. I remember finding out he had a solo album and listening to Phenobarb Bambalam... the menacing photo on the cover not preparing me at all for the crooning inside. I still liked it. Martin Atkins started Invisible records and I loved that as much as the WaxTrax! stuff. I remember making mail orders to both places and having to wait for months until one random day i'd get a big box of stuff in the mail, some of which I had ordered, other stuff just randomly thrown in. It was awesome.
So i was a pretty huge fan. Then my musical tastes kind of shifted and dwindled to the point of a random live show here and there. Pigface came to Rochester a few times which were always fun. Connelly also had a gig at my school, in which a small handful of dedicated goths sat and listened to his acoustic stylings. I remember finally getting the nerve up to walk up to him and shake his hand before the show and stutteringly confess how big of a musical influence he's been on me and what a huge fan I am of his work, then he asked if I'd heard any of the stuff he was doing with his new band The Bells and i was like "who?" Pretty terrible. I walked away feeling like a jerk and resolved never to fanboy it up like that again. Consequently, Martin Atkins was saved from an awkward exchange a few years later when i saw him at a Dave & Busters while I was doing a geekweekend in Chicago. I'm sure he subconsciously appreciates it.
So anyway, these days the old WaxTrax! stuff and Ministry stuff and all that have the cozy sheen of nostalgia for me, and when I saw that Connelly had written a memoir I thought it might be nice to revisit all that stuff through his eyes.
It's kind of a shame really, because he's so negative about almost everything that I loved back then, that it kind of ruins it.
If I had known that when I sent those mail orders into WaxTrax!, it was probably neglected by Connelly himself because he was too busy on speed marathons and booze benders, i don't really know how 15 year-old me would react. Now I look back on that whole period in a completely new light. Of course all those guys were rail thin, they were zonked out of their brains on coke and speed!
It's weird how drugs can had kind of a long-distance perception for me. Oh yeah, Al's big time into heroin... but you know, he's rough n tumble. But reading this book, he comes off more like a sniveling poseur scumbag. Granted, everyone comes off like complete addict scumbags because the whole book is basically "then we went to and took a bunch of then I vomited. Ha ha." on repeat. My memories of listening to these classic albums over and over again are pretty hard to hold up to this account when Christ himself condemns the work as shit.
Pigface for example. Chris has nothing good to say about Pigface. He did it for the money and nothing more. From the other side - that of a consumer - it all seemed much more fun and artistic. I almost wish I didn't know how seemingly miserable he was for that whole period in his life.
It also makes me wonder how the other people ended up. Where is Paul Barker today? What did he do after leaving Ministry? I know for me personally they got too metal after (and during parts of) Psalm 69 for my tastes. Did Paul agree?
It's also kind of shocking for me to find out that there's a Ministry CD release called something like "Side Cuts" or something that's basically all of the old classic WaxTrax! side projects re-released as one. I remember having to make a tape of my Pailhead CD for a friend in high school because the damn thing was out of print and super hard to find. Now you can hear samples on amazon. Pretty strange. It took me forever to track down a copy of PTP on CD (I remember a local downtown record shop had it as a 12" but I didn't have a record player at the time (I think I eventually found it on one of my holy pilgrimages to a shop called Phantasmagoria in Wheaton, MD; the same place I bought my own copy of The Mind album, Acid Horse, 1000 Homo DJs, and many many more discs too cool to be stocked in the local mall music stores)).
So yeah, this book is kind of a bummer. I wish Chris had a better time of those days because I sure got a lot out of them. I also wish he had taken less drugs. If for nothing else than to have something else to write about his memories of some of my once-favorite music.|