Skinny Puppy's Rage is Still Potent 30 Years After They Started
Skinny Puppy's music has always been inspired by the domineering view that corporations and the government are out to get us. Specifically, vocalist Kevin "Nivek Ogre" Ogilvie has said that he's always empathized with tyrannized people and animals; thus the quintessential image of the band is of a loving and sensitive creature that has been pushed to the extent that it bites back. The other principal puppy is Kevin "cEvin Key" Crompton, who performs and engineers the typically vicious and nightmarish soundscapes.
Meanwhile, their music, their philosophy, their lyrical style often reflect the social issues that grab them at the moment, though the songs still retain the same fire they've had since the early days. Together, the pair will take the stage tonight for a rare OC performance at the Observatory.
The inspirations for the band's initial sound came from early electronic and industrial bands such as Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle and Portion Control. After a brief collaboration with Wilhelm Schroeder (aka Front Line Assembly's Bill Leeb), Skinny Puppy was joined by keyboardist / sampling artist Dwayne Rudolph Goettel, and their sound evolved into a unique and seamless hybrid of music, drum rhythms, film samples and found sounds. Producer Dave "Rave" Ogilvie was also a key player in helping the band develop its identity. Early recordings of the band still reveal the group's experimental, abrasive approach to creating music.
Although cult musical figures such as Syd Barrett and Ian Curtis were lyrical inspirations to Ogre, he has cited the book Les Chants de Maldoror by the Comte de Lautréamont (a pseudonym for Isidore Ducasse) as the blueprint for his goals with Skinny Puppy. The book consists of the nihilistic tales of the title character, Maldoror, who recognizes beauty and goodness but for various reasons spends most of his life spitting in the face of God and committing evil deeds. This philosophically challenging tome was also one of the principal inspirations of Salvador Dalí, André Breton, Antonin Artaud and other members of the revolutionary Surrealist movement.
The band's theatrics are typically just as innovative and challenging as their recordings. Their early shows featured a stage bedecked with skulls, stylized props and televisions depicting shocking footage of animal experimentation (Ogre and Key are ardent animal lovers and animal rights activists). Additionally, Ogre's theatrics have run the gamut from disturbing shadow play to graphic evisceration to interaction with torturous set pieces. Over the course of the group's career, Ogre's conceptual stage designs, backing films and costume designs have illustrated the various themes of the shows - any of which would leave a memorable impression.