Genesis P-Orridge has led a wild life of drop out experimentation delving into art, music, drugs and anything else at hand. Fronting the bands Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, the Manchester born artist lived at the forefront of the electronic and acid house movement during the ‘80s and experienced life at the forefront of the rave revolution. Psychic TV released more than one hundred albums in their time and in 1986 they won a Guinness World Record for most records released in a year. Paula Frost spoke to Genesis P-Orridge about the band’s ecclectic history.
How It Began..
Exploding Galaxy Street Performing Group
I was at Hull university and very disenchanted with the whole system and basically looking for a way out. These people who called themselves the ‘Exploding Galaxy Performing Group’ came to the university to do spontaneous, improvised, psychedelic performances. I immediately left university and became a member. The psychedelic underground had started to challenge every tradition, every preconception. That was the environment I ended up staying in. We slept somewhere different every day and nobody had any possessions, we just shared a big box of clothing. The idea of breaking everything down stayed with me. That’s really how we ended up with industrial music, it’s stripping away conventions.
Venturing into music
I wanted to get rid of the idea of a band having a drummer because they immediately limit you and tend to play traditional rhythms. I wanted to find some other way, something completely different. So I’d hit a bass rhythm with a glove on my hand and Chris Carter would create sounds on his modular synth which he built himself. Why do you need a lead guitarist? Their weakness is they know how to play. I wanted to use someone with no training because they would do something unique. Why did a song have to be sung in a fake American accent? Why can’t it be a Manchester accent like mine? We just kept stripping away. Whatever’s left is the project. Hence we used to say, “The process is the product.”
We originally pressed 780 copies of ‘Second Annual Report’ because we gathered all the money we had between us and gave it all to the pressing plant. We said “Press them till the money runs out.” My guess was it would take about two years to sell all those records but it only took about six weeks. We touched on the hunger for something different. The other thing that happened parallel of course was punk. Music was completely manufactured at the time and in the ‘50s and early ‘60s too. It pissed us all off! We wanted something that spoke to our experience.
Psychic TV and The End
We had no idea it would resonate so much with other people, we didn’t. That was a real shock. We were just doing it to speak. Then we started getting letters. Cabaret Voltaire wrote to us from Sheffield and said “We’re doing something a little bit like you” and we worked with Soft Cell and The Cult. When it became popular and a thousand people would come to the show, it didn’t feel right. We were trapped by our own success and we had to do something else. The most sensible thing was to say “That’s it, it’s over. We can’t do this anymore!” Because you like it. You’re not supposed to just like it, you’re supposed to think about it. And we’d started to get a little bit too professional about what we could create. We could actually start to construct what was more or less music. That wasn’t the idea. That’s why we stopped in 1981. We’d been forced into a corner of our own making.
Genesis’ Final Work
I’m working with the singer Wez, from Cold Case. He’s asked me to write a poetry book for him, which I haven’t finished yet. Wez and I also wrote three songs together, we’re going to go into the studio and record them soon. I’m also touring in the UK in November.
I’m quite ill, I’ve got leukaemia so I can’t really tour anymore. I’ve got time to write books. I can sit back and write that book of poems and I’ve been invited to write an autobiography which is a great idea, but I’m daunted because it’s so much to try and remember. How many volumes do you need? I’m gunna try. I’d like it to just inspire other young people to know that they can live a life based on all their dreams and fantasies and urges to create. They can have a life too that’s built by them and gives them the maximum thrill of being alive. I want to tell people it’s always possible to try and do something special even without money.
We’re working on two documentaries, one for the BBC about COUM Transmissions and one for Sacred Bones which is about The Temple of Psychic Youth. We’re also still making art for art exhibitions. We’ve got three art exhibitions coming up later this year. So even though I’m still theoretically terminally ill but it’s stable at the moment. I’m trying to be healthy and I’m busier than ever. It’s crazy.
Genesis passed away in 2020.
Way Out Radio – A Brief History
Way Out Radio is a music brand dedicated to reviews, interviews and radio. The fire was lit in 2012 when we held our first event at The Queen Charlotte in Ramsgate and launched a fanzine. Poets and artists performed with Riskee and The Ridicule topping the bill. We also held a raffle and gave away a signed Buzzcocks t-shirt.
Led by music journalist, writer and drummer Paula Frost, the brand has gone from strength to strength over the years. We hosted a successful radio show on Kane FM for five years and undertook a world tour in 2017-18 meeting fans and bands across the globe and DJing live.
We look to the future with excitement and joy for music will never die! Keep dancing