SCRAPING FOETUS ON THE PAGE
Clint Ruin on Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel:
“SFOTW is having fits of cackling borne of the taste of death and tantrums borne of reality….realisation and disgust of the intrinsic stupidity, futility and stupidity, futility…absurdity inherent in our self-perpetuated systems and mores. SFOTW seeks the pre-apocalypse age to embrace it. SFOTW is exploring the juxtaposition of diverse musical forms, instruments and found sound with percussive power and black humor, drawing inspiration from the despair and disease and desperation inherent in society at large as well as the various manifestations of personal politics. SFOTW is an expression of violence-with-finesse-through sculpting sound and exploring dynamics and structure. SFOTW wallow in aggressive ignorance of currently music-biz values, preferring violently disaffected expression and violence.”
A.RM.: You have at least 3 different names?
C.R: Yeah, more like 20 at least. I like to dismantle the whole idea of personalities in the music business. I like to use different names for different projects which have different intentions, just basically to create some confusion. I work under all the names simultaneously. Scraping Foetus is the major name I work under. I’ve got a 12 inch coming out later this year on Some Bizarre/Self Immolation. It’s called Bedrock. It’s pretty filthy. It’s continuing on themes of oppression. It’s written from the viewpoint of a guy who’s trying to seduce a girl who killed his mother. I’ve been wanting to use that name but haven’t had the appropriate people to work with… I mean I like to use different names. I’ll probably be working under Foetus Art Terrorism again and also as Clint Ruin and so on.
You play all the music on your records?
On all the Foetus records. Yeah.
Your music seems to come from a rock or even blues base.
I guess that’s true to a certain extent. I do lean to a rock basis. I’m not exactly reverential to rock. I’m not steeped on rock tradition. I don’t really have any respect for it. There seem to be a lot of people around who have this belief in Rock and Roll and its early concepts but to me that’s totally stupid. I really dislike the idea of that. I have no use for it.
Okay. Here’s a typical question: How would you describe your music?
It’s pretty much a pure expression of myself. Utilizing an amalgam of elements which I want to hear.
Live shows? Different from recording?
Well of course it’s a totally different ballgame. I’m using tapes so I’ve made a lot of the artistic decisions beforehand. I’m concentrating on more of a pure output or outpouring of what I’m singing about with the opportunity to put my point across on a one to one level. It is quite a cathartic experience for me. I really do glean quite a lot from it. And get a lot out of my system.
You take advantage of the new technology for music.
I use a lot of different stuff, anything that will give a good noise. Usually the song will come into my head first and then I work it out on tape.
You mentioned you used found sounds. What is it about found sounds that you like?
There’s a lot of different things – – first of all the sounds themselves but also the random elements they introduce which can then be transposed into a compositional format.
What kind of resource do you have for found sounds – – do you actually go around with a tape recorder and…
Oh, occasionally. Yeah, I like sound effects, records, just anything; you know, shit off the radio. Sometimes I walk around with a tape recorder. I do listen out for things that come to my ear quite a lot and then try to reproduce them. The atmosphere that sounds can create is really desirable.
What about movie soundtracks, you’ve done a lot of them with Richard Kern. Have you done this type of work with others?
Well, 16 minutes of the music from Nail was used by this Swiss director called Dominique [Dominique Otenin-Girard] on this film called Piege a Flics, which was a film financed by the Swiss television – – it’s like a TV movie film noire, detective-style thing. He was really into the music. I didn’t actually collaborate with him on that but we talked about it. He gave me a free rein. The music he has done in the film is really quite interesting and I may be working with him in the future.
When you’re working with Richard Kern do you usually have the soundtrack down first, or…?
Alot of the time. That same, like, finished product stuff, yeah, he’s last. Stuff I’ve done in Right Side Of My Brain was more of a collaborative process, more married to the images on the film. Alot of it was mainly tape collage from various sources.
Do you like that – working with the film medium?
Yes I do, it’s pretty challenging. I haven’t really gotten an opportunity where I totally control the environment, where I can really write original music for it…
What about acting, you appeared in Right Side Of My Brain…?
Yeah, I’m interested in doing that.
Perhaps in the future?
So you’re from Australia.
Yeah, I moved to England in ’78, stayed there solidly until the end of ’83. Now I’m pretty much based in London and New York. I still do a lot of work in London.
What is it about the U.S. that appeals to you?
Well I don’t really consider N.Y. part of the U.S. Compared to England it’s a lot less of a drag. It’s very convenient here. I like the deluge of culture. It’s 99.9% shit, but I like it. You can walk around pretty blank taking in the cultural onslaught. You don’t have to make any value judgements about it, you can just act like a sponge. I like that element about it. Here garbage is enshrined and culturalized and revered. Trash for trash’s sake, that’s always interested me.
That seems like one of the elements dealt with in Coil’s album, Scatology, that you produced. What was it like working with them?
I liked working with them, it was good. I like their music.
Do you plan on working with them again?
Hopefully. They’re working on a new album at the moment. Hopefully later this year we’ll do a 12 inch or something.
You’ve worked with Steve Stapleton (of Nurse With Wound).
Actually, I worked with NWW before Foetus even existed. I was working at a record store and he was doing sign writing and layout down the road. He used to come into the record store and one day he quizzed me about NWW and was impressed that I knew of their existence, because they only put out one record. So we started talking and agreed on alot of ideas. I really like their music, some of it is more interesting in theory than in practice.
Well, Sylvie And Babs was a tremendous record.
I haven’t even heard that yet. There’s a couple of records out there that I’m on that I haven’t heard yet. But The S&B was originally just myself & Steve. We started on that about three and a half years ago. Then, due to various other commitments, we fell out of contact and then he finally finished. Finished it off with some other people.
Why have you chosen music to work in?
I like the limitations and the discipline. Working in the song medium of a defined length and the discipline you can impose on that length of time in terms of playing with the structure and dynamics, and lateral build-up. Until towards the end of the song it becomes more and more refined, and hones down into a pinprick.
Do you listen to any commercial music?
I hear it. I don’t listen to it. It’s part of the culture like a piece of advertising. I vehemently dislike it, but it’s there. It’s so bland and mediocre it’s difficult to get worked up over. I do like listening to some current chart music to pick up on some of the production values which are sometimes quite interesting. Like some of the rap and hip hop. But generally I don’t even like thinking about it.
Would you like to get hold of that audience and maybe twist them around…?
No, I’m not interested in that audience per-se or who buys my albums or whether they buy it or not. I release artifacts which I think are great. If people like it, great. If they don’t, too bad. I don’t really make it for an audience, I make it for myself. It’s not my job to get great hordes of Foetus Fever.
So if no one bought your records, you’d keep making music?
Definitely. During the first years I’d only press up a thousand of each record and never re-press them. I was a bit nervous about living off music. I didn’t care about commercial considerations, which is not to say that I think my stuff is inaccessable.
Are there any future projects you’d like to do that you haven’t been able to do yet?
Quite a few, but they’re all pretty abstract in my mind. Right now I’m working on an album, Wiseblood at the moment with Roli Mosimann which is real diverse, and people who liked Motorslug may not like it. It’s different than the single we did. But it’s gross, sick, violent and macho. By working with other people it gives me an opportunity to implement ideas which I haven’t been able to impose on Foetus. I’m a heavy self-editor so I can be indulgent on other people’s time.
Source: Another Room Magazine, Volume 3, Number 9, 1987, by John Gullak.
21 Oct ’00.