Interview: Jim Thirwell A.KA. Clint Ruin of Foetus, Inc.

Music Interviews

SLUG: So you’ve been pretty busy lately?

Foetus: Yeah, pretty much.

SLUG: You had two EPs that came out in the last two weeks…

Foetus: No, three actually: Steroid, Maximus album, Wiseblood mini album and Cint and Lydia EP.

SLUG: How do you find the energy to do all these different projects.

Foetus: I’m just a boy who can’t say no. I have a lot of projects going on at once. They all kind of come out in clusters cause I’m working on a lot of different things simultaneously. As well as working with a lot of other people.

SLUG: Are they mostly projects inspired from yourself or do people approach you?

Foetus: I’ve been approached by people. More often it’s people I want to work with anyway, or people whose work I’ve admired. Sometimes I approach people and offer my services, thinking we could do something good together. Like Steroid Maximus which sort of evolves over a period of time, cause I wanted to do some collaborations with people in that format, because the Foetus records have been becoming increasingly instrumental, I wanted to split it up and focus purely on instrumental stuff.

SLUG: Does Steroid Maximus have the same kind of feel as Foetus?

Foetus: No, it’s very different. It doesn’t really though on rock music at all. IT’s another genre, not rock, that doesn’t have a name yet. It’s atmospheric but it’s very gripping at the same time. 3-D music.

SLUG: It seems like with Foetus you’re not really confined within one genre. There’s a lot of jazz and blues…

Foetus: That’s the idea. When I’m working on a project I tend to get…even within a song, I get that out of my system and then I can move on to something else.

SLUG: Is there a schizophrenia than in Foetus?

Foetus: No, I wouldn’t say so. I think it’s all different sides of … multi-facets of the one. It’s all coming from one place.

SLUG: So is there another Foetus record that you’re working on?

Foetus: The next thing to come out is a triple live album, in January, that was recorde on the last tour, so it’s not officially Foetus since I’ve worked with other people. Then after this tour I’m going to be working on a few remixes for people and the starting on a new Foetus studio album, which will be out next September. And follow that with a world tour.

SLUG: How long has it been since the first Wiseblood album?

Foetus: It came out, I think, in 86 or something like that.

SLUG: Was it just a matter of finding time to get back together?

Foetus: Yeah. I mean we both have pretty grueling schedules. It’s hard to find time. That’s one reason it’s taken so long. We started in ’87, so that’s five years in the making.

SLUG: Was it the same thing with the Lydia Lunch single?

Foetus: To a certain extent. And then there’s, you know, when you live in different cities it’s more difficult to get together, so, besides doing all the music and production and so on, it’s more rewarding to me…I mean I might as well do a Foetus record. So that’s why it took so long between them.

SLUG: About your choices for the Ruin/Launch EP… Why Don’t Fear The Reaper, Why Why Don’t We Do it in The Road?

Foetus: Don’t Fear The Reaper I’ve always like and it seems particularly timely now. Why Don’t We Do It In The Road came about through this compilation that Lydia was asked to contribute to she was going to do a spoken word, and then I suggested Why Don’t We Do It In The Road. Then I suggested maybe I should put sounds underneath and next thing you know it turns into a song, and next thing you know it’s not on that compilation it’s on our record.

SLUG: It seems to make more sense, your version of it, than the Beatles.

Foetus: It’s different. Musically it’s totally different.

SLUG: You’ve been doing a lot of producing lately. The new Pig album has a lot of Foetus sounds on it.

Foetus: Yeah, well, the old one too. I don’t know why the (Raymond Watts) even sends me those records, ’cause if I were him I wouldn’t. It’s just pure plagiarism. I worked with him a bit on the Steroid Maximus album that’s coming out in January and he lifted sounds wholesale from that record. I can’t listen to it. I find it really simple. It’s just too contrived.

SLUG: Is that frustrating for you?

Foetus: It’s more irritating than frustrating. Imitation is the highest form of forgery.

SLUG: So there’s no hero worship involved?

Foetus: What, me worshiping him?

SLUG: No. Him worshipping you.

Foetus: I don’t know.

SLUG: You were doing some stuff with Jad Fair too?

Foetus: We did some tracks together on this project called Stinky Puffs, which is his song Simon and him. He’s brought in different people to work on it. We did five or six song in two hours of something—which seems to be the way Jed likes to work.

SLUG: Do you think Foetus translates into the live situation?

Foetus: It’s very different. I think it translates great but a lot of the songs we perform I wrote never with the intention of playing live, so there was no strict adherence to a musical line-up, which is one of the restrictions of playing with a band. I get a chance to reinterpret them and they take up a totally different light; they’re totally new songs.

SLUG: Do you like going back and reworking songs?

Foetus: Yeah. I think it’s great. I think it’s valid. Kind of like remixing other people’s songs as opposed to producing work; trying to bring out their performances.

SLUG: How many dates do you have left on this tour?

Foetus: Only about five to six. We’ve done about thirty.

SLUG: And then back to work in the studio?

Foetus: Yeah, pretty much. Make up all the money that I’m losing on this tour. This is like my paid vacation pretty much. I have to work non-stop so when you finally get a tour together it’s like, it’s my vacation. I do that and then start again. I just wanted to clear my shelves of all the released that have been piling up and start with a fresh slate.

SLUG: So we should be looking forward to new Jim Thirwell projects, then?

Foetus: Yeah, well after these five there’s still bits and pieces dribbling out that I’ve worked on. It may take a while but I’m ready to start on something totally different, totally new.

SLUG: Do you have any ideas or are you just waiting?

Foetus: I’ve got vague ideas but I’m past the point of hypothesizing and waiting for manifestation before I do something. It’s more of an instinctive process.

Pick up Thirwell’s latest three projects at finer record stores in the Salt Lake area.

For more from the SLUG Archives:
Concert Review: Fractal Method, Tom Purdue, Lily’s Remains
Record & Tape Reviews: December 1991