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Updated on March 15, 2010

JG Thirlwell

aka: Foetus, Wiseblood, Clint Ruin, Frank Want, DJ OTESFU (to name a few)

affiliations(& sometime aliases): Foetus Under Glass, Scraping Foetus off the Wheel, Steroid Maximus, Wiseblood, Flesh Volcano, Garage Monsters, Foetus Corruptus, Foetus Interruptus, The Immaculate Consumptive, Manorexia, Baby Zizanie, Wiseblood, Foetus Inc., etc.

composed for: Bang on a Can, League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots, Kronos Quartet, The Venture Bros, etc.

Born 1/29/60 in Melbourn, Australia, possibly under the name of James George Thirlwell, Foetus has evolved into a prolific vocalist, composer, artist, musician, record producer, writer who absolutely pulls no punches. The term 'politically correct' does not exist in the work of Mr. Thirlwell - so evidenced by the first song of his I ever heard, 'The Only Good Christian Is a Dead Christian' from the 'If You Can't Please Yourself You Can't Please Your Soul' compilation. Shortly after this I discovered his album 'Hole' in a Colorado Springs, Co. record store.

Nothing's Been the Same Since.

Waking up in the Morning to 'Throne of Agony', eating breakfast to 'Streets of Shame', smokin a cig outside to 'I Am Surrounded by Incompetance' does not even come close to expressing the variety of power and subtlety Ruin is capable of.

From projects completed with Marc Almond (although my least favorite, still much appreciated by many), Lydia Lunch (their cover of Blue Oyster Cult's 'Don't Fear the Reaper' is awesome), the instrumental 'Steroid Maximus', the multi-faceted 'Gash' album (eshewing the industrial sound for melodic noise one moment, expressing emotion through finger snapping toe tapping jazz the next), fellow Aussie Nick Cave (along with Lydia (again), Marc Almond (again)) in the live only 'The Immaculate Consumptive', to DJ-ing with Felix Kubin, Thirlwell has influenced (and been influenced by) some of the best in the music business. His best work, by far, is done alone in the studio; his supposedly favorite instrument.

Following a natural progression of his compositions, ala Oingo Boigo's Danny Elfman, Foetus has begun composing, performing, producing music for television with the theme song (and tunes for) for the Adult Swim show 'The Venture Bros.' Anyone who has listened to Foetus at any point in his career can easily pick his stylings out - he has a powerful, swing, gnash, chainsaw slam sound distinctive as a fingerprint at a crime scene.

J.G. Thirlwell is one of those influences behind the scenes - effecting many without showing his face, speaking through the originality of his compositions, and the powerful, sweeping performances only he is capable of.

I've been fortunate enough to see Foetus perform live twice, ten years apart, in Boulder, Colorado (where I've also seen Butthole Surfers, the Jesus & Mary Chain, NIN (before fame - they had a cool garage sound in Reznor's early days). Seconded only by Einsturzende Neubauten, Foetus has a manner which whips a crowd up until it's barely on the threshhold of riotous activity, and then with a gentle hand brings them back. Swigging a bottle of Jack Daniels (at the first show), becoming not quite sloppy with his vocalizations (for him, it works though) Foetus laughs at the stereotypes of manhood, race, and religion. At the goading of a good friend (alas poor yorick...) I spoke to Thirlwell after the show and played a game of pinball with him. I don't remember who won, but was amazed at how well spoken, intelligent, and amiable Mr. Ruin was. As many of those who seek and find fame, Mr. Thirlwell is short and slight of stature, soft spoken, and listens to what others say.

Ten years later Foetus had evolved, had many new tunes (he only played one of the oldies, and that was as an encore) and a certain maturity which had not quite tamed his swagger. Unfortunately the audience of 2002 exercised more self control than 1992's, however that only put more of the show on the shoulders of Mr. Ruin rather than the audience. By the end of the show my buddy and I had at least seven vodka martinis in each of us and were rarrin for a fight.

Foetus always brings out the best.

foetus, by me, D.A.M.
foetus, by me, D.A.M.

discography (may not be complete):

Spite Your Face

Wash It All Off




Calamity Crush







Vice Squad Dick





The Venture Bros.

Official Site:

(really should check it out - everything from awesome tunes, to foetus specific (read: created) art, to prose - it's got it all)

myspace: - more greatness


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