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Skinny Puppy is a Canadian industrial music group formed in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1982. The group is widely considered to be one of the founders of the industrial rock and electro-industrial genres.
Skinny Puppy are one of the most influential bands in the field of industrial Music. However, their mainstream success has been modest at best (a few hits on the dance music charts during The ’80s). The impact of “Skuppy” comes primarily from the amount of artists they in turn have influenced.
The band was formed when Kevin Crompton (a.k.a. cEvin Key), drummer for the band Images in Vogue, got bored with making Synth-Pop and wanted to make new and groundbreaking Electronic Music. He got his friend Kevin Ogilvie (a.k.a. Nivek Ogre), to provide vocals. Along the way, various other members have provided the role of third member, such as Bill Leeb (who went on to form Front Line Assembly), and most famously Dwayne Rudolph Goettel (who died of a heroin overdose in the mid-90s, causing the band to break up for almost a decade), and most recently Mark Walk.
Skinny Puppy are widely considered the band responsible for the more popular vibe Industrial has today, as opposed earlier Industrial, which was largely inaccessible to the average audience. Basically, they took the experimental and bizzare approach pioneered by bands such as Throbbing Gristle and applied it to almost-entirely electronic music. Unsurprisingly, their first releases, “Remission” and “Bites” (their first full album, released in 1985), sounded like experimental, angry Synth-Pop
Skinny Puppy were not the first band to take Throbbing Gristle’s attitude and approach Electronic Music with it. Arguably, Throbbing Gristle did this (albeit their work was more eclectic and less electronic than Skinny Puppy’s), and Cabaret Voltaire (as well as many other acts associated with early ’80s Synth-Pop) did it as well. But Skinny Puppy took these ideas into much Darker and Edgier industrial metal territory and were easily the most influential partly because they had a truly gruesome stage act and never refrained from the use of Nightmare Fuel.
The band’s second album, Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse, added Dwayne Goettel to the lineup. Goettel was a classically-trained keyboardist who also had a knack for extremely demented synthesizer and sampler programming. This is the classic lineup that defined the band during their golden age.
Their output was released on the Nettwerk record label and managed to influence a very large number of artists. One of these artists was Trent Reznor, who decided to combine Skinny Puppy’s style with heavy riffs and rock-style vocals and lyrics (and, at times, increased use of guitars). The result was Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor himself acknowledges his inspiration, and the song “Down in It” off of “Pretty Hate Machine” is very similar to Skinny Puppy’s “Dig It” from Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse. At one point in Trent’s early career, Nine Inch Nails was the opening act for Skinny Puppy.
In 1989, Skinny Puppy released the album Rabies, which was (upon release) considered a New Sound Album because it contained metal-style guitar riffs on three tracks, courtesy of Ministry’s Al Jourgensen (who had struck up a friendship with Nivek Ogre when the two bands were touring together). In hindsight however, most Skinny Puppy fans have got over the ‘surprise’ and embraced the album, partly because the song “Worlock” is considered one of Skinny Puppy’s Crowning Moments and to this day remains one of their Signature Songs. Unfortunately, it was during this era that Al introduced the band to heroin.
In 1990, the band released Too Dark Park, which is arguably considered their artistic high point by the majority of their fans. The album is not the most bizarre and inaccessible of their works (that honor is reserved for 1988’s “VIVIsectVI” (pronounced “Vivisect Six”), but it manages to approach it, with tighter songwriting, catchy basslines, and surprising sonic range that went from pure Mind Rape rhythmic noise (songs like “Convulsion”) to dark ambient (like “Reclamation”) to danceable, melodic and bizarre industrial (like “Tormentor”) to darker and more minimal industrial (like “Nature’s Revenge”) to going between all these various different styles within the same song (like “Shore Lined Poison”).
In 1996, the band suffered Creator Breakdown after switching to a new label. They released what was believed to be their final album, The Process (a Concept Album about a psychotherapy cult known as the Process Church of Final Judgement), after Dwayne Goettel’s fondness for heroin caught up with him and left him as a corpse at his parents’ house.
In the early 2000’s, Skuppy did a one-off reformation show in Dresden at the “Doomsday” festival. The two Kevins performed in front of a screaming crowd of goths and rivetheads; they left a spare spot on stage for Dwayne out of respect. This reformation resulted in new albums; 2004’s The Greater Wrong of the Right followed by 2008’s Mythmaker, 2011’s much delayed hanDover, which incorporated more minimalist IDM elements, and 2013’s Weapon.
Weapon is the twelfth studio album by The band. It was released on May 28, 2013 through Metropolis Records. Skinny Puppy received mainstream media attention when the band billed the U.S. government for using its music as torture in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, which was a primary source of inspiration for the album. Musically, Weapon’s sound is reminiscent of Skinny Puppy’s earliest releases, Remission(1984) and Bites (1985), due to the employment of old equipment and simplified songwriting.