Hailing from Chicago’s renowned Wax Trax! Records stable of recording artists, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult have been conjuring up sonic tales of sex, blasphemy and kitschy horror since 1987. Along with label mates such as Front 242 and Ministry, TKK helped develop the industrial music genre, but they themselves continued to evolve their sound over the years, creating one of the most diverse repertoires in modern music. They can be described as electronic rock, heavily influenced by both disco and punk, yet the echoes of lounge, glam, surf and new wave can also be heard. The use of spoken-word samples lifted from B-movies laced between sleek and slithering vocals gives the band their signature mark. They have released 13 albums, a slew of remixes and compilations, and their music has appeared in a wide variety of films, shows and soundtracks.
Artist Franke Nardiello and musician Marston Daley, two Chicago neighbors who enjoyed late night binges watching trashy exploitation flicks and horror movies, wanted to make their own film to be called “My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult”. While the project never came to fruition, they wrote some music to be the accompanying soundtrack. Both worked at the Wax Trax! record store, and when label founders Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher heard the songs, they were intrigued. Using the title of the film as the name of the band, they released a 3-song EP in early 1988. The response was overwhelming, and it was clear fans wanted to hear more.
Taking the stage names Groovie Mann (Nardiello) and Buzz McCoy (Daley), they began to focus on music full time, creating an occult meets leather clad biker image to compliment the band’s name. This included enlisting a bevy of voluptuous back-up singers/dancers known as the Bomb Gang Girlz. In June of ’88, the duo flew to label mate Luc Van Acker’s studio in Belgium to record their first album I See Good Spirits and I See Bad Spirits. It was recorded in just ten days, and mixed in another ten days at Southern Studios in London. They followed that up with two hard-hitting dance floor 12”s - Kooler Than Jesus (1989) and 1990’s Cuz It’s Hot, which features no-wave chanteuse Lydia Lunch on vocals. The New York Times wrote, “Sex, blasphemy, big beats and go-go dancing; they’re all in a day’s work for My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult”. This attracted the attention of indie fans, and the ire of the PMRC and conservative religious groups in practically equal measure. By the time of their sophomore album, Confessions Of A Knife (1990), they were far and away one of the biggest selling acts on the label.
1991 saw the release of their third album Sexplosion!, a calculated visual and sonic departure from their previous work. They replaced the Satanic imagery and distorted instrumentation with 1950’s pin-up models, sleazy horns, and disco beats. They also put together a provocative stage show, complete with spinning police lights, mirror balls and a full bar with bartender to serve the scantily clad musicians and dancers while they performed on their 44 date North America summer tour. Alternative Press reviewed the show as “Sin-sational!”, while Melody Maker described it as “A Cabaret from Hell”. It was a huge success, and the album sold so well (fueled by the phenomenal radio hit Sex On Wheelz) that the band signed a deal with Interscope Records shortly afterwards and released two more albums - 13 Above the Night (1993) and Hit & Run Holiday (1995).
The band moved to Rykodisc in 1997, where they released 4 studio albums, as well as the entire remastered and repackaged back catalog. In 2002, they formed their own label, Sleaze Box Records, enabling the release of a growing number of side-projects, in addition to new TKK material.
Hollywood has also embraced the Kult, recognizing the unique cinematic aspect in their sound. Most notably, they scored five songs for animator Ralph Bakshi’s “Cool World” (1992), while director Paul Verhoven asked Buzz to write the lap dance scene for his saucy escapade “Showgirls” (1993). The band made a cameo appearance in the 1994 cult classic “The Crow”, performing the song After The Flesh. Comedies “Baseketball” and “The Flintstones Movie” prominently feature songs from the Hit & Run Holiday album. More recently, the group was written into the story line of the film “Sexy Evil Genius” and the club hit Kooler Than Jesus can be heard blasting in Season 3 of the Netflix series “Narcos”. The boys can also be seen sharing some insight into those early Chicago years in the 2018 documentary “Industrial Accident: The story of Wax Trax! Records”.
Today, Sleazebox.com boasts the complete Thrill Kill Kult anthology in addition to related projects like Mann’s Darling Kandie and McCoy’s self titled works. They've also partnered with Wax Trax! for the purpose of re-issuing special “collector edition” albums on vinyl and CD. Buzz and Groovie still record and perform extensively with band mates Mimi Star (bass) and Justin Thyme (drums), all the while making a reputation for themselves as one of the most notorious and controversial cult bands of their generation.