Thursday, March 5, 2015

CLINT RUIN: The Foetal View of Heaven, or, the Top-40 From Hell [1986]

Text by Julia Masi / FFanzeen, 1986
Introduction © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2015
Images from the Internet

While I never saw Clint Ruin play, I did have the opportunity to meet him, sorta, back in the 1983, when he appeared on Videowave, the long-running cable access show while I was a floor manager on the program.

He was interviewed along with fellow Aussie Nick Cave by present-day fashion maven Merle Ginsberg. They arrived with Lydia Lunch, as they were all collaborating on a join project called Immaculate Consumptive. When they appeared in the studio that late morning, Clint and Nick entered with literal bottle in hand, and were already smashed out of their minds, giggling like little girls. They were courteous, nice, and seemed to have a good time with the whole event, never letting go until the container was empty; whether they remember it or not is another matter. After the taping, they disappeared into the late afternoon. A clip of the interview is at the bottom.

Considering the categories that describe his music, such as Electronic, Experimental and Industrial, it should come as no surprise that I’m not a listener, though I respect the work he has accomplished over the years, with his own music and his production work with bands like Jon Spenser Blues Explosion, the Swans, Pantera and Nine Inch Nails.

This interview was originally published in FFanzeen, issue #14, dated 1986. It was written by the Managing Editor of the magazine, Julia Masi. – RBF, 2015
No one understands red haired people. Our intellectual superiority is ignored by the masses who fail to appreciate why we contemplate death during a day at the beach or the fact that we face aesthetic terrorism every morning when we look in a mirror. Although some of us have been accused of possessing a persecution complex, Clint Ruin’s work on the album Nail, which hasn’t a prayer for commercial success, and his confession of a “crucifixion addiction,” inspires the revelation that he is either an extremely avant-garde genius or his brain has rusted.

Clint Ruin is the current alias of Jim Thirlwell, the man who introduced the Foetus concept to rock’n’roll. “It’s the lowest common denominator. Everyone will not deny being one, yet everyone is offended by it. So, it’s basically the words that surround it that people take offense to, I suppose,” muses Ruin, who has fronted such bands as Foetus Art Terrorism, You Have Foetus on Your Breath, and now, Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel.

All of the LPs that he has released have four letter titles (Dead, Ache, Hole, and Nail) and his music has a strange appeal. It’s your basic Top-40 From Hell, concerned with subjects running the gamut of negative situations from murder to death and disease. Oddly enough, some of these songs sound almost pretty. And Nail would be a great score for a (very modern) ballet. But not even in your wildest nightmares could you imagine this stuff being mainstream enough to make elevator music.

Nail is a concept LP. A short of catalog of oppression that describes Ruin’s vision of “the balance of power” and a state of mind called “Kingdom Come, a Foetal View of Heaven.” Nail culminates with “the ultimate tour de force in my positive negativism theory, which is a song called “Anything,” which is a rejection of all that oppression.

“So, having built a seemingly negative landscape beforehand, I am rejecting it.” Further questions on the theory of positive negativism lead Ruin to fix his laser-like blue eyes into a piercing stare that scores your soul as he sneers, “Buy the record.” He also declines the offer to share his concept of death with a menacing growl of, “I’d rather show you.” But he does love to talk about his theory of aesthetic terrorism.

“I see aesthetic terrorism as plundering various forms and throwing them together in a way they’re just not supposed to be thrown together. I mean, plundering forms of music as well as visuals, for the sleeves, and juxtaposing them in such a way that they haven’t been seen before and, as a result, terrorizing them.”

One of the most terrifying images of Ruin is a poster that he put out a few years ago that depicts him nailed to a cross. “It was the natural culmination of the recording that I was doing that time, and the visual equation of the rigorous schedule that I’d been holding. Just the basic rigors that I’d put myself through under such a situation. I think everyone, to a certain extent, has a Christ complex.”

He acknowledges that his music is a “cathartic experience. It’s getting a lot of the seemingly negative aspects of my personality out.”

One of the more positive aspects of his personality is that, when he likes a question, he gives an honest answer. “As an artist, I don’t’ feel oppressed because my art is carried out in fairly rarefied circumstances, like a recording studio. As a human being, I feel oppressed.”

 As with his audience, he feels (aesthetically) terrorized.



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