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Artist/performer Franke Nardiello and musician Marston Daley shared drinks one night at a neighborhood Chicago bar in the fall of 1987. They discussed their common love for tabloid newspaper tales of sex and Satan, kitschy horror flicks, and trashy exploitation films in the vein of Russ Myers and John Waters. It was then they started conjuring up the plot for their own B-movie to be titled MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT – a headline taken from a British news rag that Nardiello noted a few years earlier while living in London. Yet with little experience and limited access to video equipment, the duo soon scratched their dreams of celluloid, but continued working on what was to be the film’s accompanying soundtrack. Chicago’s renowned industrial-dance label Wax Trax Records heard some of the initial tracks and were intrigued by the unusual blend of hard beats, distorted vocals, lush instrumentations, and sampled movie dialogue. They released a 3 song, self-titled EP in 1988, followed by the full-length album I SEE GOOD SPIRITS AND I SEE BAD SPIRITS later that year. The response was unexpectedly overwhelming, and the pair realized the world now perceived their debunked film idea as an actual band.
In the spring of 1989, Nardiello and Daley took the monitors of Groovie Mann and Buzz McCoy (respectfully); rounded up some of their bar fly musician friends; created a back-up group of bodacious, brazen singers/dancers dubbed the BOMB GANG GIRLZ; jammed nine people, gear and lights into a van and hit the road for an eight week tour of the USA. The “Cabaret From Hell” attitude and feel the tour exuded had both the kids and the press intrigued – quickly establishing THRILL KILL KULT as one of America’s premier industrial/elctro/goth acts.
For the next few years the KULT ruled in the underground club circuit, releasing a string of tracks with almost blasphemous names such as “The Days Of Swine And Roses”, “Kooler Than Jesus”, “A Daisy Chain 4 Satan”, and “A Girl Doesn’t Get Killed By A Make-Believe Lover Cuz It’s Hot”, which featured cult-poet Lydia Lunch on vocals. Needless to say, the PMRC were not too thrilled with the band’s choice of song titles and accompanying sacrilegious imagery, and they were swiftly placed on the PMRC band “hit list”, so to speak.
Groovie and Buzz decided to mix things up a bit to create their next endeavor SEXPLOSION! (1991). They dropped the dark and sinister twist and turned to pumping disco bass lines, wah-wah guitars and big burlesque brass to set the new mood. The album was filled to the brim with lust, unearthly desire and sexual innuendo. Though some of the early fans were put off by this sudden change of musical direction, a new fan base emerged after the song “Sex On Wheelz” topped college and commercial radio charts. Soon the major labels came knocking… loud!
TKK signed to a fledgling Interscope Records in 1992. In addition to re-releasing SEXPLOSION!, the label released two more albums: The first was a haunting, techno inspired masterpiece titled 13 ABOVE THE NIGHT (1993). This was the first album the duo recorded with their touring band mates. It featured bassist Levi Levi, drummer Otto Matix, guitarist Trash Kavity and “Chicago House Diva” singer Shawn Christopher. The second album HIT & RUN HOLIDAY (1995), had a surf-punk meets Motown groove. It told the story of vixen Krystal Starlust and a drifter named Apollo, and their misadventures along the road of life.
Oddly enough Hollywood began taking notice in the band and the cinematic aspects in their music. The boys soon found themselves back in the world of film, writing material for an array of soundtracks like director Paul Verhoeven’s naughty “Showgirls”, animator Ralph Bakshi’s “Cool World”, and even “The Flintstones Movie”. The band also stepped in front of the camera for a cameo appearance in the cult classic “The Crow”, performing the soundtrack’s song “After The Flesh”.
In 1998 MLWTTKK signed to Rykodisc, who reissued the band’s Wax Trax catalog. In addition, Ryko also released two more very diverse albums: 2005’s GAY, BLACK & MARRIED – a sleazy homage to the 70’s disco era; and 2007’s FILTHIEST SHOW IN TOWN – a sultry and depraved strip-lounge-rock feast.
Over two decades have passed since its conception and THRILL KILL KULT continue to evolve musically with each new album, which are now released via their own label SLEAEBOX MUSC. This summer 2012, they will release the very first BOMB GANG GIRLZ solo album titled A TASTE 4 TROUBLE. It features long time vocalist/dancer Jacky Blacque, with guest appearances by Groovie Mann, Viva Nova and Stellae Suicide. The album is produced by Buzz McCoy.
The band also remain a favorite among directors, and their music is used frequently in both major and independent films, television, and most recently on Showtime’s Californication.
TKK still tour extensively with their rotating cast of dubious characters. In 2010 they re-created their role in the “Sextacy Ball” tour along with Belgium’s outrageous Lords Of Acid. Last year they performed at the “Wax Trax Retrospectacle” show in Chicago, with old label mates Front 242 and Revolting Cocks. This fall 2012, the KULT will embark on their 25th Anniversary Tour – a six week tour of the US beginning September 12.
Standing up to the test of time, MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT remain current and are true innovators in today’s alternative music scene.