Genitorturers – Sin City – Interview


Sin City (Cleaopatra)
An interview with Gen
by Scott Hefflon

P.T. Barnum meets the Marquis de Sade in Sin City

It’s been just under five years since 120 Days of Genitorture was released on the now-defunct IRS label. Now Sin City is released on Cleopatra… Why so long?
When we came off tour and were getting ready to do our next record for IRS, some people had disappeared (from the label). Like our radio guy. All these people started leaving the label, and we were getting a bit concerned. We were supposed to be getting our material together to start recording…

Was that a year after 120 Days…, or longer?
Longer. We did a lot of touring because we’re a live band. We went out with Danzig, we did two U.S. tours, we did two European tours, we did festivals, we did a lot. It was probably about a year and a half. It was right about the time IRS was going through their weirdness. We were lucky to get away from that right as it began. We’d been writing a lot of material, and took a lot of our time building a studio. We realized becoming more self-sufficient in the music business is something you really need to do if you want any sort of longevity. We were demoing and recording a lot of new material, and concurrently, I started doing a lot of work with The Society of Genitorture, our fetish/performance art troupe. We’d put on some fetish balls, did some filming, and as I started editing the Society of Genitorture video, we decided to use new Genitorturers music done in our studio. We released the video in ’97, and we started getting a lot of really good feedback. There’s been a lot of pressure from fans saying they wanted a record, and while we wanted a record, too, we didn’t want to jump into a bad record deal.

Did you actually lose any material in the switch-over?
No, we were very lucky. We worked out a very amicable deal with them.

Is the record out of print, or did someone pick it up?
It’s being manufactured and distributed through Capitol. But after all that with IRS, we were kind of gun-shy and didn’t want to sign a seven-record deal with someone we didn’t know. I know a band, without naming any names, who spent two years writing and recording a record, and then the label kept pushing it back and pushing it back, and then the band got dropped. So these are guys who spend three years of their lives on something that never even came out. It happens all the time, you just don’t really hear about it.

So how did you hook up with Cleopatra?
We’d always had a good relationship with Cleopatra. We’d taken Electric Hellfire Club out on tour with us a couple times, and (Cleopatra) had invited us to be on a compilation or two, and we’d just had good dealings with them. After I did the video, I thought I’d put the soundtrack to the video out as an EP. Then it went from being an EP to a full-length record…

So are the songs of Sin City are from video?
Yes, but they’re different versions. These are mixed by Bill Kennedy (NIN, Danzig).

So by 1997, Genitorturers had made the stylistic change?
That had happened years ago. The thing is, unfortunately, people only remember the one record because we haven’t been putting out product, so people don’t know how we’ve evolved. But the record is a reflection of where we’re going, and where we’ve been for many years.

I remember on 120 Days… you had members of Morbid Angel and others…
Not on 120 Days…, no. That was David Vincent. He’s in the band now. A lot of people didn’t know that he played in our band for a number of years while in Morbid Angel. He was writing a lot of material that wasn’t really appropriate for Morbid Angel, so he quit and joined us full-time. If you’re familiar with the old hardcore days, our guitarist used to be in the Crumbsuckers. I used to really like them and the Cro-Mags a lot.

NYHC. It’s a shame people recognize the name Crumbsuckers mainly from bassist Gary Meskil’s involvement. Pro-Pain and Crumbsuckers are opposite ends of the hardcore spectrum.
Very different. We got Chuck Lenihan. Actually, it’s funny, because I think it was summer of ’88, we opened for Crumbsuckers.

So that’s the metal and hardcore background, now tell me about the electronic side.
That stems from our writing material as a collaborative effort. One of the things that’s really moved this band ahead in terms of texturing is our new programmer/keyboard player, Vincent Saletto. He’s been in the band for a couple of years. He’s also a good engineer. He engineered and recorded Sin City.

And then it was mixed by Bill Kennedy?
We had every intention of doing everything ourselves, but because we were so close to it, we wanted to get someone with a fresh set of ears to mix it. We also wanted to get into another studio and hear everything on different speakers… And Bill had worked with David and Morbid Angel, and he felt comfortable with him. Bill also has a really good understanding of tube gear, and was able to turn our digital recordings into something much warmer sounding.

With a band like the Genitorturers, it’s very important to have a really human feel, much of your appeal being tactile manifestation of forbidden fantasies. I notice you didn’t really include lyric sheets.
There are only a few, in pieces, because I wanted to present the record more as a storyline. It welcomes you to Sin City, then, as the album progresses, it takes you on a journey through the human psyche and human sexuality. You experience different feelings. The printed lyrics are really more of a map – I didn’t want to spoon-feed anybody.

But your lyric sheets are available on your website (
Right. We’ve had the site for about three years now, and it’s really been our umbilical chord to our fans between records. We put little video clips up there, and it allowed us to promote our tours.

You have a medical background, if I remember correctly.
I’m a licensed transplant coordinator. I’m the person trained to retrieve the body parts for transplant. Now that we’re doing a lot of touring, and I’ve been busy doing the videos, I haven’t been doing it as much. And as grotesque as it sounds, it was a lot of fun.

I talked with Milo from the Descendents who…
…has a biochemistry degree. When I was in college, I interviewed them for my radio show. I remember they came out while he was doing his research for his Master’s Degree. I’m almost sure he went on to get his Ph. D.

I have to ask you, “Squealer?” You cover an AC/DC song?
Our first dealing with Cleopatra was last years’ Cover in Black, an industrial tribute to AC/DC. We picked “Squealer” because I thought it would be cool to do that song as a woman singing to a woman. I’ve always really liked Bon Scott’s vocals, and you knew everyone was going to be doing “Hell’s Bells,” “Highway to Hell,” and I could care less about the hits. I actually really got into the older stuff – they had a lot of sexual overtones in their songs.

But sex in a rock way, and you’ve turned it into a fetish number.
And truthfully, the only reason we decided to include the cover on the album – especially as it wasn’t even released that long ago on the tribute – was it really worked with the flow of the record. You’ve just come out of “One Who Feeds,” with its tone of seduction, and “Squealer” has the same feeling as well. I really wanted to do something like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or an Alice Cooper album – you put it on, it takes you somewhere. Because of the time span between albums, we’ve got a couple albums worth of material ready. So when we came up with the Sin City concept, we chose the songs that fit the concept and released it as one entity.

Another couple references might be King Diamond’s Them, or Queensrÿche’s Operation Mindcrime. What other, more contemporary theme/concept albums do you enjoy?
I’d have to say Diamanda Galás, what she did with The Masque of the Red Death was amazing.

Have you ever done any shows with Nine Inch Nails?
We were asked, but that was when the whole IRS thing was coming to an end. But I met Trent through Dave Ogilvie, who mixed our first record, and found him to be charming. I have an immense respect for him as an artist. He actually helped us out one time for a tour, lending us some equipment, which was an amazing thing to do. He was like, “Well, I have four of these, you should have a back-up, just take it.” It was a $5,000 piece of gear! And I’d only met the guy once!

Marilyn Manson is from Florida, same as you, correct?
Yup, I know them as well. They came on the scene a couple years after we came on the scene. The first time I heard of them, they opened for us at a really cool club in Miami Beach called Washington Square, and I remember being in the dressing room, and going out to watch them. I loved them. For years they were my favorite Florida band. When our CD came out, we had them play some of our record release parties. At the time, he was talking to different labels, trying to get signed, and he told me all of his horror stories.

For some reason, Sin City, perhaps in name alone, reminds me of Inside the Electric Circus by WASP. Between them, Marilyn Manson, and Alice Cooper, there are shock rock references that I hope you don’t mind…
It’s funny, but I wanted the record to be kind of tongue-in-cheek and almost, dare I say?, glammy. I wanted the intro, the welcoming, to be very Vegas, that whole excess, glitzy thing. I have the whole ringmaster character at the beginning of the shows. The way I wrote the song was satirical, saying, “Cuz the Lord has mercy on the women who sell their pussies to the preacher…” It’s like a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, an evangelist tent rival in Hell. In the video, we have these Catholic kids coming to this weird carnival, Sin City, and I’m beckoning them to come in and play the game. The wheel, just as it’s printed on the CD, is the Wheel of Misfortune, and throughout the show, people spin the wheel and that dictates the flow, and the outcome, of the show.

I’m thinking P.T. Barnum meets the Marquis de Sade…
Totally. One of the inspirations was playing Vegas. I was so excited because you think: Vegas – the ultimate in decadence, hookers, perversity, sleaze, that whole over-the-top excess, the seven deadly sins rolled into one city. And in the ’40s and ’50s, it was like that – everyone wanted to go and let their demons out, then go back home to Middle America. It was a cathartic ritual, like Mecca – they’d make their journey, they’d purge themselves, then they’d go home. So we’re all excited to play there, we go out and what do we get? Fuckin’ Disney World West. I’m disgusted. Literally. After years of living in Orlando, being inundated with the whole Disney atmosphere, I go out to Vegas and I get the same fuckin’ thing. The city I’d fantasized about is gone. Now it’s a family fun theme park. The whole cool sleaze factor is gone, it’s destroyed, and it’s just sad. It made me think about why Vegas was special in the first place, and what function the place served and why people went there. And now that it’s gone, what does that mean?

So where is the Sleaze Mecca now?

It sure as shit ain’t Time Square anymore…
It’s so wrong to destroy something like that. It’s one thing for Disney to do their own thing in their own, self-created world, but for them to go into a world where the whole premise is decadence and twist it around, it’s almost perverse in itself.