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 sounds 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 and horror movies, wanted to make their own flick to be called “My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult”. While the film 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, Wax Trax released a 3-song, self-produced EP in the spring of 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 the project full time, creating a Satanic, leather clad biker look to compliment the band’s name. This included enlisting a few cocktail servers from the local bar to form a bevy of voluptuous back-up singers/dancers known as the BOMB GANG GIRLZ. In July of 1988, 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 7 days, and mixed in another 7 days at Southern Studios in London. They followed up with two hard-hitting dance floor 12”s - “Kooler Than Jesus” (1989) and “‘Cuz It’s Hot” (1990), which featured 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.
In 1991, they released their third album “Sexplosion!”, a noticeable sonic and visual departure from their previous work. They dropped the occult references and distorted drums, replacing them with lyrics full of sexual innuendo, sleazy stripper horns and disco beats. The group hit the road that summer with 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. Alternative Press reviewed the show as “Sin-sational!”, and Melody Maker described it as “A Cabaret from Hell”. The tour was a 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.
Hollywood also took notice, recognizing the unique cinematic aspect to their sound. Animator Ralph Bakshi hired the boys to score 5 songs for the movie “Cool World” (1992), and director Paul Verhoven’s saucy “Showgirls” features exclusive TKK tracks both on film and the accompanying soundtrack. In 1994, the band made a cameo appearance in the cult classic “The Crow”, performing their song “After The Flesh”, which is also featured on the multi-platinum soundtrack. More recently, the group was written into the plot line of “Sexy Evil Genius” and the song “A Daisy Chain 4 Satan” appears in the film.
THRILL KILL KULT continue to unleash new music via their own Sleaze Box Records (sleazebox.com), and continue to work with Wax Trax! as they re-issue the band’s back catalog on limited-edition vinyl. Groovie and Buzz still touring extensively with a rotating cast of musicians and dubious characters, all the while making a reputation for themselves as one of the most notorious and controversial cult bands of their generation.