Culture Asylum, interview (1998)

Publication: Culture Asylum
t.o.t.s. Interview w/Gira777, Culture Asylum (Dec. 1998)

Many bands strive for a creative impact but few reach that point. One band that has is Things Outside The Skin. Their cassette “PIED PIPER” is incredible, especially when you’re a band that can do a remake of a Residents’ song with style. Their version of “Ginger’s Lament” is insane I love it. There are six tracks on Pied Piper they are as follows: “Mettle., mov.III:Truth”, “Ginger’s Lament”, “New Law,” “Acquiesce,” “Atmosphere,” and “Eve of Separation”. They incorporate interesting textures that make you feel that you visually see the chaos within the music. The effects are memorizing. I recommend this for those who are interested in music that will slap you speechless.

What year did you establish yourselves as Things Outside The Skin?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: Initially, Things Outside The Skin began as a side project in 1996. It wasn’t until early 1998 that t.o.t.s. became the direct focus of our attention. Essentially, it’s nothing more than a cosmetic makeover of a previous project called Recherche’ that we’ve been involved with for the past seven years.

Who was the original line up and how did you come up with the name for the band?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: Originally known as Recherche’ (circa 1991), it began as a studio project of THE thing, and it’s live members included Raphael Hickman on guitars and Vince Tur-Rojas on drums. After about six years of promoting the world’s most impractical, unpronounceable,
unintelligible band name, THE thing began searching for something that more clearly represented the music and the show. The name Things Outside The Skin had simple, frequently used words that were easily digestible and yet promoted a fairly descriptive concept that represented our current ideas, music and performance. Currently, t.o.t.s. consists of THE thing, Mabon Lugh, Benign the Clown, and Elias.

Were there any other bands you were in?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: The previously mentioned Recherche’, Blood in Vain (another project
with Hickman), and Elohim (existed solely as live experimental-noise -core-type thing, with clarinets and circular saws).

Are there any side projects in the near future?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: Mabon Lugh has a studio project in the works called Victory Through Madness, and Benign the Clown does stand-up anti-comedy on a regular basis throughout Chicago under the title “Randy”; THE thing works his way in and out of both of their projects at their request. There are other projects always under construction, but none have solidified as of yet, and Things Outside The Skin remains the definitive focal point.

What equipment do you use for your trademark style?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: We’ve got a ton of shit, most of it old and useless in the eyes of “modern musicians”, but we call ourselves technical anyway just to piss them off. So here’s some of the more recognizable stuff: Kawai K-1, Yamaha DX-100, Korg DW-8000, Kawai K-11, Yamaha CS1-X, Boss DR-660, and Akai samplers. All the sounds we use are anally constructed by THE thing. We try to the best of our ability not to use anything canned.

What is your stage performance like?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: We glow, we melt, we peel our skin off. We scream and rap, cause epileptics to flop around, and blow up balloon animals. Periodically, we may play some music. A large part of the live performance is the films made by t.o.t.s. .. most of them original, some of them re-edited, but all of them usually repulsive as hell. And if you don’t like seeing hammers shoved up people’s assholes, keep your eye on the stage and off the TVs. Not that everything isn’t without it’s proper context.

In dealing with rumours are there any strange rumours that surround Things Outside The Skin?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: People often misconstrue our violence, whether recorded or live, as both hostile and aggressive. This is not the case at all. We really love everybody, and just have a poor way of showing it.

Where do you see Things Outside The Skin in say five years?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: At McDonald’s serving hamburgers, or something a little more profitable like prostitution, if something doesn’t happen soon to financially compensate our investments.

Is there a tour in the works anytime soon?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: It’s been two years since we’ve played live. In that two years, all of our efforts have been towards building a new live performance that can be toured and not sacrificed. At the beginning of the new year, we’d like to start playing in the Midwest and move out toward the East Coast and back, providing enough clubs let us in the doors.

The music you do is very chaotic sometimes even the feeling of turmoil and detatchment was that an intentional move on your part?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: THE thing has always been really influenced by pretty things. What you hear are his strained attempts at that. The chaos, the turmoil, the detachment… these are things that you’re probably picking up from our over-exertion in trying to avoid the mundane “body-chorus-body-chorus” type of compositions. That part of it was intentional. One thing that seems to plague THE thing is that no matter what he touches, people usually interpret it as “creepy.”
THAT is not intentional, but happens so frequently that he said, “Fuck it”, and we just went in that direction anyway.

Is there an underlined subject of politics involved in your music?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: Yeah. It’s not a unanimous decision, and we do have inconsistencies throughout our personal views. But the views represented through the music and films are usually pro-animal rights, pro-equal rights, pro-pro rites, pro-individuality, and most things pro-“insert moralistic thing here”; and also anti-“any big organized religion that gives more shit about itself than the people it purports to help (cliché, we know)”. We support good things. We hate people that hate. We hate them a lot. Probably a whole lot more than they hate other people. It’s a source of confusion with us. We hate so much sometimes we think we’re the assholes.

In what direction do you see Electronica, Industrial, Gothic, Darkwave music headed in?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: We have no idea. We’ve sat here for two hours trying to come up with an answer. Hour three: It’s rather sad, we suppose, but still we have no clue with where to go with this question. Ummm . . . in a good direction? Or, or perhaps a bad one? Now everyone likes us.

What advice do you have for musicians starting out in this field or any field of music?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: Anyone indulging themselves in any art form should love rejection letters, hate mail, being patronized by your closest friends and family, and accept the fact that they’ll be poor forever. If you keep a viewpoint like this, any recognition is exciting. Hell, even having the money to buy a new cable is exciting. Don’t be afraid to contradict yourself; hypocrisy is actually a pretty good thing. Do what you want to do now, and keep doing it; otherwise, around the age of 45 or 50, you’re going to have a mid-life crisis and kill yourself, or make life miserable for all those around you if you don’t.

Are you school taught or self taught musicians?


Tell me a litte bit about THE thing, Mabon Lugh, and Benign the Clown.

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: THE thing is the primary antagonist and bitches a lot about everything. He considers himself a pretty silly guy, but everyone else thinks he’s a jerk. He does the majority of the programming and song writing, and is responsible for most of the irritating screams and “singing.” Mabon Lugh pushes the occasional button, fondles her breasts in between songs, and handles all the live lighting and sequencing. She also screeches hateful things into the mic whenever the mood strikes her. Benign the Clown makes balloon animals, dances around, tells bad jokes and attempts to sing, as well. He’s an idiot we put on stage to amuse the audience. The funny thing is, he has a Ph.D. in microbiology.

What is the over all concept behind Pied Piper?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: The overall concept behind Pied Piper is much like that behind the children’s tale. The Piper’s music was so enchanting that both the rats and the children followed him without doubt or question. Only after the music was gone were his true intentions realized, and by then it was too late.

When should we expect a new release from you?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: We’re already working on new material, and we plan to press “Pied Piper” on CD in the near future, with the new stuff included.

In such songs as “Mettle.,mov.III: Truth”, “Atmosphere”, and “Eve of Separation” the dark mode of emotion is very noticable is that intended?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: The basic motifs of the songs — permanence, genocide, and racism — were all pretty downbeat. The music always seems sterile to us, so we try to compensate with subject matter that we’re passionate about. The end result tends to be somewhat emotional.

Are there any final words you’d like to share?

THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN: Check out the site at It’s maintained by Things Outside The Skin. If you don’t have access to the Internet, you can write to us for more information at P.O. Box 13248, Chicago, IL 60613. If you want to see us, let us know. We’ll do what we can to get near you, and if not, we’ll say, “Nope. Sorry.” Thanks.
NOTE: The above web link and mailing address are no longer active! They are left in for historical reasons. Ha! -Chvad SB, 2006)

I would like to thank Things Outside The Skin for their time. I found talking with them very liberating. I hope to talk with them in the months to follow. If you wish to contact them to find out more about Pied Piper e-mail them at (NOT ACTIVE!)









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