J. G. Thirlwell : biography
James George Thirlwell (born 29 January 1960) – also known as Clint Ruin, Frank Want, Foetus among other names – is an Australian singer, composer, and record producer. Because of his musical diversity he is known for juxtaposing a variety of different styles.
Life and career
Thirlwell was born in Melbourne, Australia. He briefly studied Fine Art at Melbourne State College (now part of the University of Melbourne) before moving to London, England in 1978, where he played with the post-punk band prag VEC and formed the first of his numerous musical projects, Foetus. In the 1980s, under the pseudonyms Clint Ruin and Frank Want, he contributed to various releases by Nurse With Wound, Marc Almond, The The and Nick Cave. He released his first 7" single, OKFM/Spite Your Face, in 1981, on his own Self-Immolation record label in his first incarnation as Foetus. Over the next few years, he would release two more singles, a 12" EP, and four full-length albums, Deaf, Ache, Hole (his first release on Some Bizzare Records) and perhaps his most seminal album from that period: Nail released in 1985. After visiting the United States during a live stint with the Immaculate Consumptive (Lydia Lunch, Nick Cave and Marc Almond) Thirlwell settled in New York, where he is still based. Since his move he has released several singles, fourteen EPs (including Stinkfist, with fellow New York artist Lydia Lunch and Thurston Moore), and seventeen full-length albums.
In addition to being a prolific artist in his own right, Thirlwell has remixed and produced numerous pieces for artists including Nine Inch Nails, Pantera, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, The The, Zola Jesus and Swans. He has also done voice-over work for MTV and other entities.
Since 2000 Thirlwell has become more active as a composer, having written commissions for Bang on a Can, League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots and Kronos Quartet, and scoring the Adult Swim cartoon The Venture Bros. He also revived his primary instrumental project, Steroid Maximus, and initiated a more experimental instrumental project in Manorexia. He continues to write and perform regularly as a solo artist and with various ensembles.
- Foetus: Thirlwell’s main project. From 1990 until 2010’s ‘Hide’, most Foetus songs featured lead vocals. Though popularly known as simply "Foetus", Thirlwell released albums under diverse variations of the name, including: Foetus Art Terrorism; Foetus Über Frisco; Foetus Corruptus; Foetus In Excelsis Corruptus Deluxe; Foetus Inc.; Foetus Interruptus; Foetus Over Frisco; Foetus Under Glass; Philip and His Foetus Vibrations; Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel; The Foetus All-Nude Revue; The Foetus of Excellence; The Foetus Symphony Orchestra; and You’ve Got Foetus On Your Breath.
- Steroid Maximus: Primary instrumental project.
- Manorexia: Experimental instrumental project.
- Wiseblood: Collaboration with Roli Mosimann.
- Flesh Volcano: Collaboration with Marc Almond.
- Baby Zizanie: Collaboration with Jim Coleman.
- Hydroze Plus: Collaboration with Electronicat.
- Garage Monsters: Collaboration with skater artist the P!zz. (Sympathy for the Record Industry)
- The Immaculate Consumptive: Touring ensemble with Lydia Lunch, Nick Cave, and Marc Almond
- The Venture Bros.: Musical score by Thirlwell.
Throughout the span of his career, Thirlwell has toyed with his own identity by releasing music in the guise of numerous alter egos. During the earliest phases of his recording, Thirlwell’s "groups" were composed of a plethora of fictional characters: Foetus Under Glass supposedly consisted of Frank Want, Phillip Toss and two Brazilian statistics collectors; Scraping Foetus off the Wheel was claimed to be the work of Want and Clint Ruin. Furthering the confusion, Thirlwell adopted these personas outside of his own recordings; for example, Frank Want can be found on The The’s Soul Mining and on releases by Edwyn Collins’s Orange Juice.