Thursday, April 15, 2010

Vintage Sleaze: Electric Hellfire Club - Interview

Originally published 2002. Electric Hellfire Club broke up soon after. They reformed in 2009.
Hail Satan!

The Electric Hellfire Club is the ultimate combination of hardcore sin and forked-tongue-in-cheek shtick, and industrial metal band that you can dance, bang your head, or sacrifice virgins to; part Slayer, part 'Twitch' era Ministry, all blood on the dance floor. Their ruling infernal majesty is the Right Reverend (in the Church of Satan, naturally) Thomas Thorn, perhaps the most openly blasphemous rock and roll super villain south of Heaven. After leaving slinky serial killer death disco outfit Thrill Kill Kult a decade ago for "Not being Satanic enough"- which, by the way, is the greatest reason I've ever heard for quitting a job- he forged together this hoary new clan of digital terrorists. Over the years, they've gone from a spooky but primitive skeleton dance outfit to their current incarnation, a whirlwind of slashing metal and thunderous industrial rhythms, a sound they quite appropriately call "Electro Evil". Hot on the hooves of a new opus, the narcotically black metallic "Electronomicon", the Hellfire Club is embarking on a Devil-may-care, brimstone fueled campaign to raise literal Hell in smoking pits of rock across the country. As a blood moon bloomed over the night skies, Thomas called me from a phone booth somewhere near the 7th concentric ring of Hades to deliver his dark edicts.

God Don't Like It 
"Honestly speaking, it's true", Thomas tells me when I ask him about his infamous departure from the Thrill Kill Kult. "We were sitting around one day, and the rest of them were going, 'You know, I think the devil thing has gotten kind of played out, and we want to write a record about sex, and about sleaze.' For me, it just wasn't going to be fun anymore. I always enjoyed being the guy who was the 'real' Satanist in the band. I've always said that someday, someone will write an article about me that says I was "The man who took the Kill out of Thrill Kill Kult". Thomas laughs, something he does a lot. More imp than demon, this character. "I don't begrudge anybody anything, and I'm glad they're doing well, but I was just more interested in sounding like Judas Priest than Technotronic, you know?" Part of his concept for putting the new band together was that it was going to be a truly Satanic band, for once, free from the trappings of teenage dirtball devil worship, as well as the more clinical sneering from the bedeviled intelligentsia. "You've got organizations like the Church of Satan that are these armchair intellectuals that think Satanism is about sitting home and writing essays, being a stern individual and hating mankind, and you know, I'm not interested in those people anymore than I am the kids that think Satanism is about killing cats", Thomas chuckles. "The thing with the Hellfire Club is that we walk a very narrow line, but the people that are smart enough to realize what's going on can see the tongue in cheek aspect of it."

Wired In Blood
"It's a legend of a mystical book, you know, the Necronomicon. And the concept behind it was biomechanical- a living, electronic book of the dead." Thomas is talking about the new album, and it's sinister origins. "Part of the reason that we're called the Electric Hellfire Club is because I equate spiritual energy with electricity. There's stereotypical examples of that, like on a night when evil takes place, there's always lightning, or like in Frankenstein, when electricity brings the monster to life. That's a theme that runs through our stuff. So that's the concept, you know, it's a book that's 'wired in blood'." Searching for the perfect environment to conjure the digital demons necessary to turn "Electronomicon' from a mere metal record to some kind of Satanic force of nature, Thomas decided to bring the band straight into the belly of the beast- Sweden's infamous Studio Abyss, home of only the blackest metal hearts. "It's pretty weird", he says of Abyss. "Peter Tagtren, who owns the place with his brother, he took money from his band Hypocrisy and said, 'Well, I want a studio, and I want a place to live', so he pretty much bought a whole village that was sort of deserted. It was where the old mental institution was. There's a building there, it's the size of a small apartment building. They don't even use that one, but that was the site of the actual nuthouse. And they've got all these outer buildings, and where the Abyss Studio is, that was formerly the infirmary and the morgue. The other thing is, it's like 23 miles from the nearest city, and we were there for 33 days. We were out walking in the woods, and I tell you, Scandinavia is a strange place. You can see why bands like Mortiis come from there, it just has this feeling like there really are trolls there. It's just pure and untouched, and there's a spiritual energy there that's like nothing else anywhere."

Satan's Slaves
"I'm just a magnet for shit, man."

Being the red right hand of the devil isn't all black lipstick blowjobs, free cocaine, and vacations in Sweden. Keep singing Lucifer's praises, and sooner or later, some very unhinged souls are going to join the chanting. "Yeah, there's always something interesting going on in this band", Thomas sighs. "You know the Philadelphia story?"

Well, citizen, you're about to hear it. Anybody that dismisses the idea of rock and roll being dangerous can just stop reading now. "We're playing in Philly, and this guy comes to the show, and he looks pretty deranged. He's sort of this dumb fat kid, and he's got these scratch marks on his face, and I'm looking at Shane and saying, 'You know, those look like the scratch marks that people on TV who just raped somebody have.' Anyhow, this guy's parents had owned a children's clothing store in a mall. You know how, if you've ever worked retail, the last person's still in the store when you're closing up, so you just lock them in so nobody else can get in?" Yeah, unfortunately, I do. "So what this guy did, is, he killed the woman and the kid, then he raped their corpses, stuffed them in the car, went and dumped them in some field, and then came to our fuckin' show. And what he said to us, was, 'Can you help me?' And I thought it was just some guy who was whacked out on some serious drugs, so I said, 'I don't know, what kind of help do you need?' and he said, 'Well, I'm trying to form a more personal relationship with Satan. I've tried the Satanic rituals, and I've tried the Electronomicon, and I've tried everything, and it's just not working'. I was like, 'Whoa.' What he neglected to mention was that the last thing he tried was ritual sacrifice."

Although certainly an extreme example, this is the life of a rockn'roll Super Satanist, and Thomas has learned to just roll with it. "It's funny, you know, when people say, 'Oh, Thomas Thorn isn't a real Satanist, he doesn't really believe in those things that he sings about", Thorn sighs. "I say, 'No, I don't believe it, man. I just live it, on a daily basis." Ahem. I believe an 'Amen' is in order, brothers and sisters.

- Sleazegrinder

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