Genitorturers: The (M)Arc Of Gen
Interview conducted on October 2, 2009
The Genitorturers have been billed as the sexiest band alive, the Genitortures have been feeding our need for sin since 1991. Now, with a new record "Blackheart Revolution," a new tour, and several delightful goodies, Gen sat down with Unrated Magazine to discuss what she's been up to for the past few years.
Jackie Lee King: It has been five years since the last record, so what how has your music volved and developed during this time?
Gen: A lot of the elements that we were talking about, doing a record, writing a chapter in an ongoing saga of a storyline so once again, it's not just throw some music together it's tying in conceptual elements of how we're going to tell the story of the evolution of my character which started in "120 Days," created "Sin City," delved into "Machine Love," proclaimed "Flesh is the Law" for all the world to see. Now in "Blackheart Revolution" my character is kind of-- and also see on "Flesh is the Law" we kind of dealt with the fact that I was starting to become persecuted for being an outspoken creator of this realm of "Sin City." The powers that be don't like that.
JLK: Yeah well and it seems that way because the cover art it seems like you're sort of like this Joan of Arc piercing your own heart.
Gen: Gen of Arc. Absolutely. It's a strong statement and the artwork does sum it up because of the fact that we've evolved to the point where the piercing is now into our soul-- that's the music-- and kind of showing once again a leadership of the vocals and the music is extremely leading. It's not like background music. There's no B-sides. Every single song is making a very strong statement. Once again, this is a record that's like "Welcome to My Nightmare." It's meant to be listened to from start to finish. It's meant to be digested as a body of work and not like oh here's this one song. Because if you hear one song you're not going to remotely understand the record. And it's funny because you've heard "Devil in a Bottle" and "Cum Junkie" and the funny thing is like there's so much diversity on the record when it comes to where we take you musically speaking and maybe cross-genre speaking, and it all ties in with the strength and aggression and there's a definite like meanness that comes out too.
JLK: Yeah I definitely liked where it was going. I went back and listened to all your CDs again last night and just there's something that I'm not getting with the two songs that I've heard and I think I need the rest of the album to fill in the blanks because it seems like those two songs are leading from something or to something.
Gen: That is correct.
JLK: I'm like I want the album before I talk to Gen. I want to actually sound like I know what I'm talking about.
Gen: Yeah, it's very-- the whole project works together and really puts forth the next chapter to understand where we've evolved.
JLK: Right. So it's kind of like the next story of the Ringmaster after the show and then the backlash of that?
Gen: Absolutely. It's being a woman who has provoked people to become who they want to be in society and living in this realm of Sin City and the backlash of becoming that and the fact that the powers that be are not happy that there's especially a woman leading the charge. Sort of like Joan of Arc. And at the end of the day branded a heretic and somehow I need to bear some penance for my creation.
JLK: The last time I got to see you I had to go all the way to Canada. Your music has an international audience and isn't Toronto the Amsterdam of North America?
Gen: Yeah, Toronto's a cool place and as a side note interestingly enough every person who's ever mixed a Genitorturers record has been Canadian.
JLK: Well there's the Skinny Puppy people. Oh! Ogre (Skinny Puppy, ohGr, Pigface, and RX) says hi!
Gen: Oh, awesome!
JLK: It was just funny that he's got a new oHgr album and he's just been busy all over the place with a new Skinny Puppy record so he's just sort of like yeah, yeah tell Gen I said hi. I'm like okay.
Gen: He's great. I've known those guys for a very, very long time and I have to tell you on our first record "120 Days" they were responsible for saving that record. I was ready to go back to med school and just can that record because I was so -- it was mixed actually one time in Orlando and I just didn't like the record. I was like, this sucks. This is not what I wanted and I even told IRS I'm done because I really literally left medical school to do this, right? So I was even in and out of transplant surgeries while I was doing the record. It was hilarious. Coming in, in my scrubs, and singing and then leaving. Yeah, I actually lived this stuff and it was funny. I actually went and saw Skinny Puppy and I'd met him a few times and I just told Kevin-- I said man, I don't like this record and he said you know what Gen? Come up to Vancouver, we'll get Dave Ogilve, we'll fix this record. It's going to be great. And they did and honestly if you can hear-- Sometime I need to find this because there's old tapes and A/B them and see how it changed. But it definitely breathed some life into that first record. They really did a great job. And then obviously with "Machine Love" we worked with Dave as well and then he mixed one of the tracks on this record as well.
JLK: That's perfect. I've noticed that even speaking with Ogre-- not to make this about him, but just some of the people he's worked with over the years have really created something special. And how working with really good people, who don't necessarily take IT too seriously, are like look, just take a step back, we can work on this. I could care less about the business aspect of it.
Gen: Well, I hear you on that one.
JLK: Yeah, it's just funny that you know it seems like you have more momentum now that you don't have the major label backing.
Gen: I think so too, and I think that it's because we can do it exactly how we want to do it. I think when people hear the record and get everything together as a package it's very, very clear that we're mavericks and we're striking out on our own here. And once again, hey, one of the reasons it takes five years for us to make a record is I don't have major label backing. We've self-funded this record. We've done everything ourselves. We've hired the best people to mix and to do whatever. That's a slow process and I mean it is just what it is, but at the end of the day it's so worth it because it's exactly what we want. I'm 100% happy with this album. There's not one thing I dislike on it.
JLK: That's the gift of being a musician - It is a gift that you continually give yourself and it's a blessing to be able to give music to people because the best part of making music is sharing it with other people.
JLK: Considering your current release, do you that the concept of a concept album is dead?
Gen: I think that it's needed more now than ever for that reason. For that concept of the fact that you're going into it in the whole realm of the pod casting and iTunes and they could buy this one song I think we have lost an element of-- once again one of my favorite albums is "Dark Side of the Moon." Can you imagine for one moment-- or "The Wall"-- imagine today okay, here's one hit off this and then how disjointed would everything else seem if you just hear the one thing? But back then you got the album you put it on you know you smoked a doob or whatever you did back then.
JLK: Exactly. I think it's kind of required with Pink Floyd. They should ship it with weed.
Gen: Right and still you digest it-- the Art. Okay? People don't do that anymore and what if I have to force that concept down someone's throat in terms of this is how we envision this people-- this is how it needs to be digested. That's so important to us.
JLK: I think there are some artists out there that still do that. I think Rob Zombie still does that, definitely Skinny Puppy and just a lot of other artists but they have that core audience. What do you think would it take to open that up to new people who are just in the iTune mentality to actually bring the concept album back?
Gen: This is something that's going to be important with us-- it's probably going to involve putting things together in a more visual form where you marry it with a visual form and you tell the story via film because then people get it. It really takes a lot to transcend that single mentality these days. But I know that for us-- one way that we're doing some special things with this album is that we're releasing vinyl. We're releasing 7 inches-- conceptual 7 inches from the songs on the record. In each embodiment the photography is super over the top and it's all conceptual so you get--it once again drives the concept of what the story is home. I think that's really, really going to be important. We just released-- like next week, the "Cum Junkie" 7 inch is going to be out in stores. We did pre-orders and it was hugely successful. I could not even believe how many people ordered vinyl and you think oh vinyl it's like-- let's do it on 8 track, you know? They're like whatever-- I've even had some random people on Myspace like oh, what are you doing on 8 track next? They're not getting it. But, people want something that they can keep-- that they can have and we did a really cool photo layout for this. Every single one, different various versions are splattered differently shall we say?
JLK: Nice! Kind of what Metallica did with "Loaded?"
Gen: It's-- well literally. This is the most over the top thing and the first one is "Cum Junkie"-- the first vinyl, and you know the first 140 are clear vinyl with white splatter.
JLK: Nice! Is there any reason that I don't love you?
Gen: The next 200--- the next couple hundred are white and red and we added some blood in there. When you see the photo shoot you'll know why. And the last one's going to be-- I call it the castration series of "Cum Junkie." You actually just have clear vinyl with the red splatter. It's pretty cool. So when you see the photos you'll get it. It's pretty fun. You can go on Fire Express. It's on their blog. We got vinyl pick of the week. They're pretty chuffed about it.
JLK: I have to run right out now and do my pre-order. Okay, odd question: What is the most embarrassing CD you have in your collection?
Gen: Oh God! Probably Wham! No, I don't know. It's just one of those things that it's just-- it was kind of funny. I was never into George Michael at all, and we had a drummer that played with us and now he plays with Comedy Christ and he played on a lot of this record too. And he just really-- we'd get on the tour bus after a show and just get absolutely, you know, start drinking and he'd throw in Wham! I took a liking to it.
JLK: Have you ever karoke'd to "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go?"
Gen: No. That's not one of my karaoke songs. I do have favorites, but that's not one of them.
JLK: That's interesting. I'm going to blackmail you on that later on.
Gen: We're here.
JLK: Well, I can't get into blackmail you with Wham! Everybody knows that group in some way or another. What about bands back in the day like Dead Kennedys and DRI?
Gen: You know I just have to say I was a die-hard punk rock hardcore person. In fact, when it came to metal, my first like metal thing that I got into probably was Celtic Frost and Venom because it was like on the cusp of being cool for me because I didn't really like the big metal, but okay I could listen to this because the vocals were cool or it was really like crazy sounding. So I'd say Venom and Celtic Frost were my first-- you know then obviously Judas Priest because "Hellbent for Leather"-- how could you not like that?
JLK: I know, I mean my first album was "British Steel."
Gen: Oh, I love "British Steel." Yeah.
JLK: Then I got into Iron Maiden and then some other bands where it became more about the stories contained in the record. I went to Merciful Fate, and later on King Diamond, because I liked the stories that were attached to it.
JLK: And speaking of stories, tell me how you met and ended up working with Evil D. How did that relationship go considering you were in different bands and now he's moved over to your band and I hear you are married?
Gen: Yes. I met him at all places at a Napalm Death show. It was very funny because he was good friends with them. I was friends of a band called Godflesh who was actually opening. They're a little more industrial, and I went over to see Godflesh and he went over to see Napalm Death and I had a mutual friend who actually owns a record store in Tampa who had been telling us each about the other-- oh, you have to meet this person. This is like a strong person, and like this is amazing, like the singer or whatever-- and he just-- he almost was kind of like a little matchmaker and he introduced us and it was there you go. Crazy.
JLK: So wait, who asked whom out?
Gen: He came up to me. Very strong as he is and just said, "I've been wanting to meet you for a long time and we have a lot to talk about," and I went "oh really?" -- so it was interesting and he is a very romantic person. Let's put it this way, he pursued me and was very demonstrative and very strong and I was in awe of just how-- what an amazing artist and really steadfast individual he is.
JLK: Yeah, because it seems like you pull from different influences. There's a definite change from when you released "120 Days" to "Machine Love" and "Sin City" and how it's progressed and it even seems a little bit more pop-oriented. Do you see a lot of your music going that way with the new release?
Gen: I think that what it is-- I don't know. If you want to call good songwriting pop.
JLK: Not necessarily. Just lack for a better word.
Gen: Yeah I think that what it is that the biggest thing you're going to notice with this new album with "Blackheart Revolution"-- it's a mean, aggressive, very leading, very strong, big record but very, very well-written in terms of the song structures and how it comes across and yeah, it's catchy. You want to sing along and you know we credit you know Evil D. He just-- he wrote I'd say you know 99% of the music on this record and I wrote the lyrics and we just got in there and we decided what made us want to play music. He's a huge Alice Cooper fan. Kiss - things like that. I come from this-- I'm more punk rock - old school punk rock. Joan Jett. Plasmatics. Stuff like that. Black Flag. What came together on this particular record is really the core of why both of us want to start playing music.
JLK: Yeah. No. I'm there with you with the old school punk rocker. I grew up listening to the Dead Kennedys, DRI, and skate punk and all that stuff. I actually just saw Agent Orange about three months ago and they still looked the same. It looks like they're still like living in their parents' basement and playing these shows and it's just funny. With your release, based on the two songs that I've heard: "Devil in a Bottle" and "Cum Junkie" it seems a little bit more introspective. Are you turning that whole fetish type of vibe inward on yourself or is this more of a personal type of release than "Sin City" or "120 Days?"
Gen: I would say absolutely extremely introspective and again based on the fact that Evil D and I we sat down and we really wanted to put together a record that was epic. It's our "Welcome to My Nightmare." Let's put it that way. It's a completely a pivotal record for us and the main reason is just the fact that we wanted to communicate what inspired us and when you really dig deep into that inspiration that's in like the pit of your soul and bring that out like what inspires you to be a musician? And we just like tapped into that and I think that that is as introspective as you can get. Going into your soul.
JLK: Definitely. It's just like having someone just read your inner diary and then rocking out to it. Sure it may have been hard to live through but if you like it, that's good.
Gen: It's something that's very-- it is introspective and at the same time it's something that is the natural progression of evolution of the Genitorturers, which has always been a conceptual element which is--- what we do is we write records and then we go and we bring them to life onstage with a provocative stage show that really tells the story. Live.
JLK: Yes, and the live show is pretty intense.
Gen: Yeah, there's a lot of crazy stuff. I mean, the Society of Genitorture DVD, that was-- you know I did like a funny tongue in cheek mock up of Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS, and the next thing you know I'm a, you know, card-carrying like--- I'm like come on, people! Really? My last name's (INTENTIONALLY DELETED) I'm thinking no, I don't think so.
JLK: But it's just funny how people get misconstrued that way. I love the part on the DVD "Alive in Sin," where some carnival clown introducing the band. You were backstage and said something like he is looking very creepy tonight and oh my God, just that...
Gen: He's awesome.
JLK: I don't know about you but when I was growing up clowns scared me. I don't see the fascination that adults think that clowns are funny to kids because it's not.
Gen: Yeah, they're disturbing. By the way, my parents are both clowns, just so you know.
JLK: Oh no! I'm sorry!
JLK: I've completely offended Gen! She's going to--
Gen: -- my father and mother-- they're Shriners. They go to hospitals and-- it's just one of those things. They are-- they have-- I'm looking on my refrigerator right now at a picture of my parents in clown outfits.
JLK: Oh, I'm sorry. Great, now Gen's going to have me for a slave.
Gen: Yes, your decadency.
JLK: She's going to like tie me up on the side of the stage and then my photographer's not going to save me?
JLK: That's funny, but me personally, clowns scared me as a kid. I don't know.
Gen: Because they're creepy.
JLK: I guess it was a different story for you.
Gen: Yeah, -- Sean looks-- he can transform himself. He's amazing. He's going to be on some of these shows, too and he's a great performer. Very, very disturbing.
JLK: It was just sort of like and it wasn't like anything overtly scary it's just sort of like I don't want to be anywhere around this guy. Light, dark, doesn't matter-- dark alley-- Give me Gen and a chainsaw and I feel safe.
Gen: Right. It's a clown! Oh no! I'm freaked out! We scare people! We really do. It's so silly in this day and age. Really? It's like come on people! This gets you scared? It's all fun!
JLK: Yeah, I mean it's just people onstage in makeup, you know? It just so happens that you have a 16-inch dildo that you're about to, you know, use on somebody.
Gen: You know, I find that-- I don't even know if it's that. Seriously, you know, Manson wore dildos and did a bunch of weird stuff too, but he's a guy and for some reason men can get away with things that women still can't. Once again, the reason for the Gen of Arc picture, you know. It's very telling. Even today in this day and age. We've got Internet and all this personal networking and everyone's like it's a freer situation. The problem is that with more free things that appear on the surface the more the power structure comes down and Big Brothers starts to squash things.
JLK: Yeah, I notice that. I've read some interviews with other female fronted rock groups and what they wear on stage has come up. Some female artists have mentioned that they felt like they had to wear jeans to legitimize themselves as a musician. Do you think there's ever going to be a time when you will wear a nice frilly dress out onstage?
Gen: I've worn some frilly dresses. I mean, typically I cut them off with scissors to reveal some horrifying like bleeding appendage somewhere. One of the things that's always been very important to me is to present the duality of women, and I think that for me-- like for example I'll start the show and I'll appear very glamorous like Madonna or whatever. By the end of the show, I'm covered in blood and bleeding and like laying out-- black eyes and alike-- I think showing the transition between beauty, ugliness, the life-giver, the Eve concept, the heretic-- I think these are all elements that are just very important in the concept of our show. So I present them all. So I'm never opposed to not doing something onstage. I can't ever say no, I would never wear a dress. It's all about the character, the evolution of the character and if that expresses something in the moment that's important to do.
JLK: Yeah because you know people aren't just one-sided We have multi sides to us.
Gen: Well, I'm a Gemini so I'm very dual. I'm definitely a dual of two people. Ask anybody. It's interesting