A Throbbing Gristle Primer

Everything you wanted to know about jasonaparkes's most-referenced band, but were too afraid to ask. (Includes paragraphs of a disturbing nature.)

Throbbing Gristle, a few decades after their vagina-slitting heyday

This is the second in our readers week series of articles. To read yesterday's, click here. To read tomorrow's, you'll have to wait a day. Unless you are actually reading this tomorrow, in which case: is the future really like they said it would be?

· Throbbing Gristle formed in 1975 and were the first band ever to call themselves "industrial".

· In common with all other industrial bands, TG wouldn't last 10 minutes in a real factory. They'd probably run home crying after mill girls held them down and put milk bottles over their penises, flashed their garters and then smashed the bottles off wi' cobblestones.

· Punks threw stuff at TG and demanded they played proper punk rock. This made the Throb and the Throb's fans sneer. This made them happy. The Throb Nation is happiest when sneering,

· The only two members of Throbbing Gristle you need to know about are Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti.

· Genesis P-Orridge used to look like a shaved baby panda but now most people think he looks like the old British comic villain Grimly Fiendish

· But he actually looks like this.

· Cosey Fanni Tutti's greatest moment came when she appeared in a series of strip-tease photos in a Sunday colour supplement that caused a Radio 1 DJ to have a sexist, drooling on-air melt-down the following Monday.

· This is a typical Throbbing Gristle lyric: "I am one of the injured/A tear blurs flesh/ Dissolving/Like an injured dog" (Six Six Sixties)

· The Throb are directly responsible for Nine Inch Nails who are indisputably the worst live band ever.

· The P in Genesis P-Orridge stands for Peter.

· Peter Orridge was the name of a notoriously cheerful birdwatcher character who appeared irregularly in the BBC radio serial The Archers from 1964 to 1972 when he moved from Ambridge to Walsall.

· Marilyn Manson is a sort of Throbbing Gristle with tunes.

· Hobbit's Pistle are a "semi-humorous" LA-based dwarf tribute band who play Throbbing Gristle songs on authentic medieval instruments at "Renaissance Fayres" across the US--often in the company of the UK based 'baroque and roll'" medieval-punk band Barnstormer.

· The most important fact about Throbbing Gristle is that their fans are to be avoided at all costs.

· Members of the Throb Nation are easily spotted by their died-black woolen Polish railway-workers caps, "individual" neck tattoos, jackboots. perma-sneers, eyeliner, thumbed-to-pulp copies of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and the fact they've all got unfinished 670.000 word novels titled Berlin on their battered black laptops.

· That's a caricature. Some Throbsters only sneer when they hear a melody. A melody they imagine being stamped on again and again and again by the iron-shod boot of a giant man who is not a man but is a superman - the will made flesh.

· The last Grizzler I met was working the cash register in the upbeat, happy, smiley, US-based, Polynesian-themed feel-good hippy supermarket Trader Joes. I told him I was a music journalist. He asked if I liked The Throb. I said I liked the idea of The Throb and then I pointed to the satanic pentangle necklace he wore under his jolly Hawaiian shirt.

"Oh, are you into magic?" I asked.

"Yeah. You could say that," he sneered. And then I felt sad. Because working in a bright and breezy, super-customer-friendly, soul-hits of-the-60s-and-70s playing neo-hippy supermarket in Philadelphia in a Hawaiian shirt must literally be a living hell for a Grister. He was probably sent there by his fellow Frobsters as a punishment for billycooing over a bunny rabbit or whistling or listening to Arcade Fire or something.

· The Throbbing Gristle spin-off band Psychic TV came third in a televised competition to find Ireland's Eurovision Song Contest entry in 2001.

· Here's all you really need to know about Throb. Take it away Genesis, you gibbering freak, you:

"I used to do things like stick severed chicken's heads over my penis, and then try to masturbate them, whilst pouring maggots all over it. In Los Angeles, in 1976, at the ICA I did a performance where I was naked, I drank a bottle of whiskey and stood on a lot of tacks. And then I gave myself enemas with blood, milk and urine, and then broke wind so a jet of blood, milk and urine combined shot [out and] then [I] licked it off the not-clean concrete floor.

"Then I got a 10-inch nail and tried to swallow it, which made me vomit. Then Cosey helped me lick the vomit off the floor. And she was naked and trying to sever her vagina to her navel with a razor blade and she injected blood into her vagina which then trickled out, and we sucked the blood from her vagina into a syringe and injected it into eggs painted black, which we then tried to eat. And we vomited again, which we then used for enemas. Then I urinated into a large glass bottle and drank it all while it was still warm. This was all improvised. And then we gradually crawled to each other, licking the floor clean. 'Cause we don't like to leave a mess, y'know; after all, it's not fair to insult an art gallery. Chris Burden, who's known for being outrageous, walked out with his girlfriend, saying, 'This is not art, this is the most disgusting thing I've ever seen, and these people are sick'."

· This is what we in England call "trying a bit too hard".

· Which would make a great title for a book about Los Gristle Que Palpita.

· Genesis P. Orridge currently runs a pony farm in Lanarkshire. But he still seethes with the desire to destroy.

· Cosey Fanni Tutti runs a beauty salon in Bournemouth with her husband of 37 years, Wattie from the Exploited.


Steven Wells

The GuardianTramp

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