Wax Trax! and the Industrial Revolution

Posted: August 1, 2013 by The Social Retard in Music
Tags: , ,
My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult

My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult

To properly tell this, I need to disclose when I first became aware of “industrial music”. It was the summer of 1992 and MTV’s Headbangers Ball was still a viable thing. They played a music video by some band I had never heard of in a cage surrounded by a sea of humanity. It was sweaty, filthy, and louder than anything I had ever heard before. Nine Inch Nails‘ “Wish” became my new favorite thing. I joined up with the ultra scam BMG Music club just so that I could get the much coveted CDEP.

Around the same time, I also was introduced to Ministry‘s “NWO”, something even louder and more aggressive. There seemed to be a music revolution going on. Nirvana and “grunge” was already going strong and, now, this. It was clear a sea change was taking place. The days of Poison and Warrant were numbered. In 1994, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult appeared in my (for a long while) favorite movie ever, The Crow. In 1995, my cousin had purchased KMFDM‘s Nihil and I was again floored.

After some investigation, I found that these bands all knew each other and had worked together in some form or another. In 1997, MP3s became a thing. As a result of that, CD ripping became a thing as well. I had tried to purchase the Black Box: Wax Trax! Records boxed set but was unsuccessful. I did, however, find it at the Downers Grove Public Library. I ripped the whole set. After listening to it, I deleted some but kept some as well.

This set was a revelation. It starts off with the reason I had to hunt it down in the first place. I had heard 1000 Homo DJs with Trent Reznor singing Black Sabbath‘s “Supernaut” on the radio and set out to buy it. I listened to the CDEP that Music Warehouse had but the vocals clearly weren’t right. This is not to be confused with Sound Warehouse which was a bullshit chain. You only go there when you wanted to rent Moonwalker on VHS, only for it to be replaced by some softcore porn flick. Maybe another time for that story. The Reznor version was nowhere to be found…until now. Al Jourgensen from Ministry’s fingerprints were all over these CDs. Ministry, 1000 Homo DJs, Revolting Cocks, Pailhead with Ian MacKaye from Minor Threat. This was an absolute gold mine. For the next few years, however, I somehow managed to forget all about this.

It wasn’t until I was an assistant manager of Crown Books in 2000 and got involved with a co-worker Jenny, that I was re-introduced to TKK. On a side note, I realize how stupid this was. I was still hurt from the blonde vulture that ruined my life that I just latched onto the first person that seemed remotely interested. This caused some issues for me at work eventually but I was never truly bitter about it. I was broken and defeated. Looking back, I don’t have any ill will towards Jenny because I realize that my feelings for her weren’t real. It was silly transference. She was fucking crazy. She smoked pot through a gas mask and named her cat Ralphus, after the midget character in Bloodsucking Freaks. That is the worst movie ever. I once rented it and brought to a friend Sandeep’s Memorial Day barbecue. Everyone left, Sandeep included. My buddy Steve and I stayed until the bitter end. If Jenny liked this movie, then it should have been obvious that this wasn’t going to work.

Anyway, we had a CD player in the store that we used to play all manner of unsavory things on. Jenny used to play sucky things like Punk Goes Acoustic but also, often, TKK’s 13 Above the Night album. I have no rational reason as to why, but “Disko Fleshpot” really stuck with me. The song is ridiculous with its Casio keyboards but, strangely enough, everyone I know likes this song after I play it for them. I eventually saw them at the Metro and they were fantastic. I have attempted to see them several times since and a litany of ridiculous circumstances have prevented that from happening involving illness, arguments, and people not knowing what’s good for them.

Wax Trax! was alive for me again. I bought all the TKK CDs out there and all of their subsequent Rykodisc re-issues. There was also the amazing Side Trax CD credited to Ministry. It had every Al Jourgensen WT! band sans Ministry. It had both Pailhead EPs and 1000 Homo DJs’ Apathy. Since I started collecting vinyl, trying to find WT! records has been a tough go. I got into this way too late. These records didn’t exactly set the world on fire twenty years ago. It’s not like I could go to a garage sale and find Mussolini Headkick mixed in with Peter Frampton and Procol Harum. I was going to need luck (still do).

The majority of the Wax Trax! vinyl (3 of the 4) I have found was at the now defunct Cyklopx in Forest Park. They have been taken over by Chicago indie chain Reckless Records. Damned shame. I haven’t been in there since. I hope they kept all the weird pop culture artifacts. That place was a nostalgia goldmine. There, I found, in excellent condition, Pailhead’s Trait EP and  “I Will Refuse/ No Bunny” 12″ single. The grand daddy, though, was the TKK self-titled 12″ with “First Cut”, “Shock Of Point 6”, and “Resisting the Spirit”. For the longest time, I couldn’t even find an image of it online. I also found a copy of TKK’s classic Confessions Of a Knife album sealed on eBay for $6. It’s only defect was that it was a radio promo copy and had the hold punched out through the barcode. I didn’t care because the thing clearly had never been played.

Now, if I could just find the “Kooler Than Jesus/Devil Bunnies” single.

  1. Gigi Coan says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only person who hated Sound Warehouse. What a bunch of chode commanders.
    As for “industrial”, I would put down all of the above named bands but would add Front 242, Einstürzende Neubauten, and Nitzer Ebb.

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