America’s most dangerous Kult opens up shop in Kent

Nick Baker

Twenty years ago, an artist and a musician met in a seedy Chicago bar. The pair quickly discovered a common interest in kitschy b-movies and horror flicks, sensationalized tabloid articles about Satan and trashy exploitation films.

The shared film interest led the pair of Frankie Nardiello and Marston Daley to begin work on an autobiographical art film chronicling the adventures of Groovie Mann (Nardiello) and Buzz McCoy (Daley). The film was scrapped, but the accompanying three-song soundtrack, written by Nardiello and Daley, was picked up and released as an EP.

Groovie and Buzz turned the soundtrack into a live effort, recruited some backup singers and dancers, and hit the road on what would become a 20-year industrial dance adventure celebrating funk, lounge, disco, R&B, surf- and punk-soaked and b-movie-inspired sleaze. The result was My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult.

This Sunday, the Kult is bringing the celebration downtown to the Green Room.

With 12 albums, several EPs, remixes, a handful of movie soundtrack credits, dozens of tours and some attention from Tipper Gore and the Parents’ Music Resource Center, Thrill Kill Kult hits the road yet again for their 20th anniversary, doing an “old school” show, mostly celebrating music from its early years on Wax Trax! Records.

The earlier albums attracted attention from parental groups for song titles like “A Daisy Chain 4 Satan” and “Rivers of Blood, Years of Darkness.” The overtly Satanic imagery, however, was not a result of the members being Satanists. The band moved away from these themes after the amicable departure of keyboardist Thomas Thorn, or Buck Ryder, and more into the realm of sleazy sex-themed imagery on their 1991 classic “Sexplosion!” Thorn would later go on to famously say that he “took the ‘kill’ out of Thrill Kill Kult.”

“We’re doing a lot of the stuff from the first albums,” Groovie said. “We’re reflecting on starting in 1987. It’s been 20 years. We figured that it’s good to do the set as a reminder of where we started. A lot of the younger kids coming out want to witness that stuff and be part of it. So, you know, we figured we’ll just play it again for the friends and fans of the Kult.”

Over the years, Groovie and Buzz have enlisted a number of musicians and performers to join them on-stage for the mayhem. This time around, the Kult is going back to the original formula.

“We kinda went back to the basic format of the band, which is two keyboard players,” said Groovie.

Buzz will handle one of the keyboards, and the other will be manned by Brett Piranha, while Groovie will hold down the vocals.

Along with their musical legacy, the Kult has a long history of involvement in film. They have done music for soundtracks for several films, including “BASEketball”, “The Flintstones Movie”, “Showgirls” and most famously “The Crow,” in which the band made their silver screen debut as live performers in the “Kult” classic.

This multimedia influence is prevalent in the live realm of the Kult. This tour will feature video projections with old and original images filmed and edited by the Kult and synched up to the classic tunes.

“It’s the old stuff but, you know, everything is specially sequenced and revamped into a better form,” Groovie said. “It’s not changed that much. The arrangements are all pretty original, but the quality of it is much – stronger. It’s not like when you see a band that’s just doing the hits, you know?

“We’ll do stuff off some of the other (later) albums, too. And, we’re gonna probably debut a new song off of our new album that we’ve been working on since the beginning of this year.”

Aside from relentless touring, the Kult is hard at work on its latest project, the tentatively titled “Death Threat.” Though the band has done albums that vary drastically in sound, from industrial to lounge to groovy surf-inspired rock to disco, this album goes along with the “old school” theme the band has recently taken on.

“We just mix it up,” Groovie said. “It’s just what we seem the most attracted to at the time. We don’t really think about it. We just kinda do it.

“Our last album (2007’s “Filthiest Show in Town”) is like an R&B album, and the new album is more old school, more, to me, like sort of a rock album. Sort of glam-ish, kind of rock, but kind of aggro (raw, aggressive sounding). I even think it’s kind of punky in a way.”

Groovie acknowledged the band’s shows and records are considered controversial. He said, however, the Kult has no intention of cleaning anything up for anyone.

“The Satanic stuff in the beginning people just didn’t get. A lot of, you know, straight people, but we don’t really think about it. We just do it, and whatever the reaction is, we just kinda don’t really care.”

Contact off-campus entertainment reporter Nick Baker at [email protected].