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Skinny Puppy

Skinny Puppy

Skinny Puppy is a Canadian electronic music group, formed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1982. The group is widely considered to be one of the founders of the electro-industrial genre.Initially envisioned as an experimental side project by cEvin Key while he was in the new wave band Images In Vogue, Skinny Puppy evolved into a full-time project with the addition of vocalist Nivek Ogre. Over the course of a dozen studio albums and many live tours, Key and Ogre have been the only constant members. Other members have included Dwayne Goettel (1986–1995), Dave "Rave" Ogilvie (long-time associate, producer, and "unofficial" fourth member until 1995), Mark Walk (2003–present), and a number of guests, including Bill Leeb (1985–1986, under the pseudonym Wilhelm Schroeder), Al Jourgensen (1989), and many others.After the self-release of their first cassette in 1984, Skinny Puppy soon signed to Vancouver label Nettwerk, anchoring its early roster. From their Nettwerk debut EP Remission in 1984 to their 1992 album Last Rights, Skinny Puppy developed into an influential band with a dedicated cult following, fusing elements of ambient, noise, new wave, electro, and rock music and making innovative use of sampling. Over the course of several tours of North America and Europe in this period, they became known for theatrical, horror-themed live performances and videos, drawing attention to issues such as chemical warfare and animal testing.In 1993, Skinny Puppy left Nettwerk and long-time producer Rave, signing with American Recordings and relocating to Malibu, California, where drug problems and tension between band members plagued the recording of their next album, The Process. Ogre quit Skinny Puppy in June 1995, and Goettel died of a heroin overdose two months later. The album was completed with Rave and released in Goettel's memory in 1996. Key and Ogre, already active in a number of other projects, went their separate ways, reuniting for a one-off Skinny Puppy concert at the Doomsday Festival in Dresden, Germany, in 2000. Reforming Skinny Puppy in 2003 with Mark Walk, they have since released three albums on the German label Synthetic Symphony, and toured extensively.Early years and first releases (1982–1987)Skinny Puppy formed in 1982 from the partnership of cEvin Key (Kevin Crompton) and Nivek Ogre (Kevin Graham Ogilvie) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Key was dissatisfied with the pop direction of his then-current band Images in Vogue, and began Skinny Puppy with the intention of doing something more raw and experimental. Initially Key had planned Skinny Puppy to be a side project while he continued his work in Images In Vogue, however, when Images In Vogue relocated to Toronto, Key made Skinny Puppy his full-time project. Key had already created the name of the project and the concept of music from a "dog's eye view" when Ogre joined, and it was with this idea that they recorded their first self-released cassette Back & Forth in 1984, with help from Dave "Rave" Ogilvie. This was the beginning of a long partnership between Skinny Puppy and Rave, who would serve as their producer until 1993, and again in 1995, and was occasionally listed as a member of the band in album liner notes. Back & Forth drew the attention of Vancouver startup label Nettwerk, who signed the band later that year. The first live Skinny Puppy show was at Unovis in Vancouver in February 1984.The dark electro-pop styles of their debut EP Remission in 1984, and first album Bites at the following year, earned the band a fan base. Tom Ellard of Severed Heads lent a hand to the production of the Bites track "Assimilate", which became one of the band's first underground hits. Other popular songs from this period included "Smothered Hope", "The Choke", "Dead Lines", "Last Call", and "Far Too Frail".Key and Ogre opened for Chris & Cosey on their 1985 Canadian tour as Hell 'O' Death Day; some of this material appeared on later Skinny Puppy releases. Bill Leeb, working under the pseudonym Wilhelm Schroeder, an early friend of the band, was never listed as a member in album liner notes, but contributed bass synth to a handful of tracks and was a touring member in 1985. By 1986 he had left the band to form Front Line Assembly. Dwayne Goettel, who played synthesizers and samplers, joined Skinny Puppy in 1986 (his band, Water, had opened for Skinny Puppy in Edmonton in 1985). Classically trained as a pianist/keyboardist, Goettel had previously worked with the synth pop band Psyche, among others.Their audience expanded with a distribution deal with Capitol Records/EMI, and Play It Again Sam issued a number of their releases in Europe. Their production values improved with the addition of Goettel on Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse in 1986, and Cleanse Fold and Manipulate in the year that followed. Skinny Puppy performed live in-studio on CBC Radio's Brave New Waves program in September 1986, while M:TPI's "Dig It", the band's first single and video, received a fair amount of airplay on Toronto's CFNY-FM. Other prominent songs from this period include two singles and one EP, "Addiction" (remixed by Adrian Sherwood), "Chainsaw", "Stairs and Flowers" (12" vinyl; United States only), along with two other tracks: "Deep Down Trauma Hounds", and "One Time One Place".Skinny Puppy toured for three years in North America and Europe; a live performance at Toronto's Concert Hall in 1987 was released on VHS in 1989 and CD in 1991 as Ain't It Dead Yet?.

Subsequent success (1988–1989)

Over time, the band became outspoken advocates for animal rights, and used the European Head Trauma tour and North American VIVIsectVI tour to draw attention to the issue. The title of the album, VIVIsectVI, released in 1988, was a pun intended to associate vivisection with Satanism (i.e. the "666 sect"). The album's lyrics dealt with criticism of pollution, chemical warfare, deforestation, rape, cocaine addiction, and the promotion of sexual abstinence to stop the spread of AIDS/HIV. Lead track "Dogshit" was released as a single in 1988 under the name "Censor" (due to censorship issues, radio stations urged the band to change its name for radio airplay), while the single "Testure" (which denounced the vivisection of animals for research purposes) reached No. 19 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in 1989. A music video was produced for "Testure", featuring footage of a man being tortured by monstrous-looking surgeons, augmented with clips from The Plague Dogs and Unnecessary Fuss, and included a statement denouncing vivisection. Key and Ogre were arrested for "disorderly conduct" at a 1988 concert in Cincinnati, Ohio after an audience member, believing the stuffed animal Ogre was "vivisecting" to be a real dog, called the police.During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the band members also worked on various side projects. Key and Goettel were involved with The Tear Garden (a collaboration with The Legendary Pink Dots), Doubting Thomas (an outlet for their non-Skinny Puppy instrumentals), and the rock band Hilt. Ogre struck up a friendship with Ministry's Al Jourgensen, and joined Ministry and some of its side projects on their live tours. For Skinny Puppy's fifth album, Rabies, released in 1989, Jourgensen joined Rave as producer. The album, featuring Jourgensen's electric guitar work on several tracks, drew mixed reviews, although the singles "Tin Omen" and "Worlock", the latter of which paired a riff sampled from The Beatles' "Helter Skelter" with a clip of Charles Manson singing the song, became enduring favorites among many fans. A video produced for "Worlock", featuring spliced-together footage from dozens of horror films, and a statement denouncing censorship of the genre by the MPAA, was circulated widely as a promotional and bootleg item.This period marked the beginning of divisions within the band, as rather than tour in support of Rabies, Ogre joined Ministry's The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste tour as an additional vocalist. Key was later quoted as saying of Ogre's involvement with Ministry and Martin Atkins' Pigface during this period that he sometimes felt "like a wife that's been cheated on".

Too Dark Park and Last Rights (1990–1992)

Their next album, Too Dark Park, was released in 1990. The album is built on the harsh electronic rock of previous albums, yielding the singles "Tormentor" and "Spasmolytic". Environmental degradation was a major theme on songs such as "Nature's Revenge" and "Shore Lined Poison", while layers of background noise grew to a crescendo on the album's closer "Reclamation". The North American Too Dark Park tour included the band's most graphic backing film to date, featuring everything from Budd Dwyer's televised suicide, to animal experimentation, to nerve gas attacks in the Iran–Iraq War. Ogre was restrained in a stage piece called "The Chair of No Cares" and injected with various substances, then prowled the stage on large metal stilts. Similar sequences were featured in the "Spasmolytic" music video, directed by Jim Van Bebber.The album that followed two years later, Last Rights, pushed the dark noise of Too Dark Park further into experimental territory. The stage show of its accompanying tour in North America was built around a detailed narrative that involved Ogre interacting with a backing film, a "virtual reality" machine, a bleeding crucifix, and a large, rotating device called "The Tree of No Cares" from which dangled severed heads and pornographic magazines. The 1992 single "Inquisition" included the b-side "Lahuman8", one of several pieces commissioned by the contemporary dance group La La La Human Steps for their 1991 production Infante C'est Destroy. A second single, "Love In Vein", was never released, although an unfinished remix intended for it later appeared on Brap: Back and Forth Series 3 & 4 in 1996. The "Killing Game" video and tour backing film were directed by William Morrison.A track titled "Left Handshake" was excluded from Last Rights, leaving a blank track 10 on some copies of the album. Clearance for a lengthy vocal sample from Leary's Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out, released 25 years prior to the album's release, was approved by Leary, but denied by the copyright holder. The song, in which a crazed Ogre responds to Leary's instructions for avoiding a "bad trip", was eventually released on the initial European edition of Brap in 1996, and on a limited edition single called "Track 10" sold at the Skinny Puppy reunion concert in 2000\] at Dresden.

The Process and breakup (1993–1999)

Ogre, Key, and Goettel signed a contract with American Recordings and moved to Malibu, California, in 1993 to record The Process, a concept album inspired by 1960s cult The Process Church of The Final Judgment, with Roli Mosimann producing. The recording sessions were beset by everything from fires to the Northridge earthquake (this event occurred in early 1994), and Mosimann was eventually replaced with Martin Atkins. Atkins' presence exacerbated the rift that was forming between Ogre on the one hand, and Key and Goettel on the other. The band's bickering and excessive drug use made the recording process so long and costly that American reduced Skinny Puppy's contract from three albums to one. In 1994, Key and Goettel returned to Vancouver with the master tapes, but Ogre remained in Los Angeles and quit Skinny Puppy in June 1995. Goettel was found dead of a heroin overdose in his parents' home two months later. The Process was eventually completed with Rave, released in 1996, and dedicated to the memory of Goettel. It was an overall stylistic departure from their previous albums, prominently featuring untreated vocals, guitar, and more accessible song structures. The liner notes that accompanied the CD included thank-yous to "Electronic Music Lovers" and "Puppy People", followed by the words "The End" in bold type.During the Process era, a loose-knit art/philosophy collective also known as The Process was formed, with early contributions from Ogre and Genesis P-Orridge, among others. P-Orridge and Larry Thrasher of Psychic TV jammed with Skinny Puppy during this period, a recording of which was eventually released as Puppy Gristle in a limited edition in 2002. These jams partly inspired the creation of the Download project, which Key and Goettel formed with Mark Spybey and Phil Western in 1994. Download explored everything from electronic improvisation with spoken vocals to minimal techno and IDM, and toured in 1996. Earlier, in 1993, Goettel and Western had issued a breakbeat hardcore single on their own Subconscious Records, and after Goettel's death in 1995, Subconscious evolved into a recording studio and record label imprint that Key used to release a number of his own and Skinny Puppy's recordings. Key also continued to work with The Tear Garden, produced ambient techno and chill out music with Western in the side project platEAU, and released his first solo album in 1998.Ogre had toured extensively with Martin Atkins' industrial supergroup Pigface since 1991, and toured with them again in 1995 after leaving Skinny Puppy. He recorded material for his side project W.E.L.T. with Ruby's Mark Walk before quitting Skinny Puppy, but due to legal issues with American Recordings, this would not see release until 2001 under the new name ohGr. In the meantime, he guested with KMFDM in 1997 and 1999, and released an album with Martin Atkins under the name Rx (also known as Ritalin). The ohGr and Rx releases included some of Ogre's most pop-oriented songwriting to date. Ogre and Mark Walk also contributed several tracks to the Descent II game soundtrack.Several collections were released while Skinny Puppy was dormant, including Brap: Back and Forth Series 3 & 4 in 1996 and The Singles Collect and B-Sides Collect in 1999. Nettwerk commissioned a remix album in 1998; titled remix dystemper, it featured classic Skinny Puppy tracks re-worked by a diverse range of artists, including IDM pioneers Autechre, alt-metal band Deftones, rapper/hip hop producer Guru and Industrial mainstay KMFDM. Ogre and Mark Walk also took part, contributing a breakcore remix of "Dig It" and an updated version of Remission's "Smothered Hope" with new vocals by Ogre.

Reunion, The Greater Wrong of the Right and Mythmaker (2000–2008)

In 2000, Ogre and Key reunited and performed live as Skinny Puppy for the first time since 1992 at the Doomsday Festival in Dresden. This unique concert was professionally filmed and recorded, and while a DVD never materialized, live clips of "Testure" and "Worlock" were broadcast on the Crazy Clip Show in Germany and "Worlock" was included on a VCD compilation by German magazine Sonic Seducer in 2002. The live album Doomsday: Back and Forth Series 5: Live in Dresden was released in 2001.Key joined ohGr on drums for its 2001 tour, while Ogre appeared on the track "Frozen Sky" on Key's 2001 album The Ghost of Each Room. The first new Skinny Puppy track in several years, "Optimissed", appeared on the Underworld soundtrack in 2003. Ogre, Key, Mark Walk and various guests, including Danny Carey of Tool and Wayne Static of Static-X, recorded the band's ninth studio album, The Greater Wrong of the Right, released in 2004 on Synthetic Symphony, a sub-label of SPV, their European distributor since the mid-1990s. The new Skinny Puppy sound was in a similar vein as The Process, with a somewhat more rock-oriented style. "Pro-Test", the band's first music video since 1996, was rather different than any of their previous video work (featuring a showdown between rival b-boys and goths breakdancing/krumping crews on a sidewalk in Los Angeles).Skinny Puppy toured North America and Europe in support of the album in 2004, joined by William Morrison on guitar and Justin Bennett, formerly of Professional Murder Music, on drums. Shows in Toronto and Montreal were filmed for the live DVD Greater Wrong of the Right Live, which was released in September 2005. The DVD included Information Warfare, a documentary about the U.S.-led wars in Iraq made by Morrison. The anti-Bush administration stance taken by the band at their live shows drew the ire of PABAAH (Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti-American Hollywood), which attempted a boycott of college radio stations that played Skinny Puppy. Skinny Puppy toured Europe again in 2005, and returned to the studio to complete their next album, Mythmaker, which was released in January 2007. While some fans longed for the sounds of their earlier days, the band stated their intention to move forward rather than dwell in the past, and played a mixture of new and old material at their shows, including material from the back catalog that had never been performed live before. The band's 2007 North American and European tour, titled Mythrus, began in May 2007.Nivek Ogre under Ogre, also appeared in the 2008 dark musical, Repo! The Genetic Opera. Alongside such superstars as Anthony Head and Sarah Brightman, Ogre showed yet another side of his repertoire in a supporting role.

In Solvent See Tour and HanDover (2009–2012)

According to a news posting on the official Skinny Puppy website, the band's next studio album was originally slated for release in October 2009, but the release of this album has since been delayed due to insolvency issues with the SPV label (thus leading to Ogre naming the 2009 tour the "In Solvent See" tour). These issues were not expected to be resolved until the end of 2009. However, the "In Solvent See" Tour took place as planned, and began on October 30.In October 2010, there were reports that the new Skinny Puppy album would be released in February 2011. In May 2011, Skinny Puppy announced that they finished recording a new album titled HanDover, and that they are soliciting it to other record labels for a September 2011 release date. On August 27, 2011 HanDover was officially confirmed as having an October 25, 2011 release in the United States and an October 28, 2011 release in Europe. Steven R Gilmore created the artwork for the album once again.Skinny Puppy were scheduled to perform at numerous European festivals in the summer of 2010, including the Amphi Festival in Germany, the 2010 Waregem Gothic Festival in Belgium, and the Recession Festival in Denmark. A live album, titled Bootlegged, Broke, and In Solvent Seas and recorded on the band's 2010 European tour, was released on June 12, 2012.

Weapon and Live Shapes For Arms Tour (2013–present)

A new album, entitled Weapon, was released on May 28, 2013. The album includes a re-hashed version of the Remission-era track "Solvent".In October 2013, Skinny Puppy announced their Live Shape For Arms Tour, a North American tour starting in January 2014.

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