Thrill Kill Kult's name originated with Frankie Nardiello, who was touring with Ministry in 1986 as a lighting technician. Frankie wrote a few songs with Ministry frontman Alain Jourgensen, who was a previous bandmate of Nardiello's in an outfit called "Special Affect", and one of the songs was titled "Thrill Kill Kult". Soon after, Nardiello and friend Marston Daley began to conceive an art film called Hammerhead Housewife and the Thrill Kill Kult. The film was never completed, but the music they had recorded for its soundtrack appealed to Wax Trax! Records, who released the completed songs as a three-track EP.
Dubbing themselves Groovie Mann (Nardiello) and Buzz McCoy (Daley), they launched My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult. When the first EP sold well, a full length album, I See Good Spirits and I See Bad Spirits, followed in 1988. Both attracted attention from college radio stations and dancefloors, as well as religious groups who balked at the overtly occult imagery in both the music and the artwork of the releases. The group continued to stoke controversy with each subsequent release, which included a remix EP entitled Nervous Xians, and they became even more popular with release of the 12-inch single "Kooler Than Jesus".
Thrill Kill Kult's second album, Confessions of a Knife, became one of the best-selling releases on Wax Trax!, and continued to goad parental groups with song titles like "A Daisy Chain 4 Satan" and "Rivers of Blood, Years of Darkness".
Along with labelmates Ministry, KMFDM, and Front 242, Thrill Kill Kult helped develop the industrial music genre, but they themselves continued to evolve, creating a sound that wasn't easily identified or categorized. It was electronic club music with heavy beats, reminiscent of both disco and funk, yet amplified to a sometimes abrasive level. Thrill Kill Kult reflected a shift where dance records could be ominous and aggressive, and they laced their music with riffs and references that would seem more at home in a heavy metal group. One of their most distinctive characteristics is their use of spoken-word samples lifted from B-movies and other sources.
At the onset of their career, the band's music was known as having a "Satanic" theme, but it's worth noting that none of the songs ever had anything overt about Satanism or devil worship, although blasphemous images were often a part of their lyrics and artwork. For instance, the aforementioned song "A Daisy Chain 4 Satan" would seem to suggest otherwise, but in reality it was simply the title of a pulp mystery novel written by Joan Fleming, spotted by Nardiello on a bookshelf.
The occult element of the band has moved to the background in recent years, as they have focused more on their sleazy disco sound. The 1991 album Sexplosion! marked TKK's leap toward more psychedelic house beats and their later grind house lounge sound. Later albums expanded on these sounds and explored new directions as well, such as the 1995 Interscope release Hit & Run Holiday, which combined the Kult's signature electronic sound with a psychedelic surf rock/go go theme reminiscent of 60s garage rock and more modern acts like The B-52's.
Nardiello and Daley recruited Thomas Thorn (aka Buck Ryder) to play keyboards and administer samples on the band's first tour. The live act also featured female backup singers referred to as "The Bomb Gang Girlz", among the first of whom were Jackie Blaque, Rhonda Bond and Kitty Killdare.
Thomas Thorn soon departed amicably from the live act to form his own band, The Electric Hellfire Club (which embraced the overtly Satanic themes My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult had only flirted with), although he would later lay claim to TKK's dark sound and allegedly make the statement "I took the 'kill' out of Thrill Kill Kult." Since the split was amicable, however, it is likely that Thorn's statements were not meant to be taken seriously, particularly since his part in the creative process on the early albums was minimal.
My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult kept adding a revolving cast of characters to their stage show that, over the years, has included Goth chanteuse Lydia Lunch, bassist Charles Levi, guitarist William Tucker, Chris "Curse" Mackey from the bands Evil Mothers and Grim Faeries, Lady Galore from Lords of Acid (who appeared in TKK as Cherrie Blue), and a great number of artists, sound technicians, musicians, and filmmakers. Creatively, however, the core of the band has always been Nardiello and Daley, both on record and in the live act.
The "Sexplosion!" tour in 1991 achieved a particularly notorious reputation. In addition to being interestingly staged, featuring an actual bar and bartender onstage with the band, the show also featured a male/female duo known as Ten and Avaluscious White, who appeared onstage dressed in a number of different guises. At one point, Ten was dressed as Jesus strapped to a cross and featuring a large black dildo between his legs, while Avaluscious White simulated oral sex on him. This created controversy and protest in a number of American locations, adding to the band's notoriety.
Thrill Kill Kult left Wax Trax! Records after their third album, Sexplosion!, surpassed Confessions to become the biggest seller on the imprint, and major label Interscope Records took notice. TKK signed to Interscope, which re-released Sexplosion! and garnered the band their most familiar alternative radio hit, "Sex On Wheelz", (Factory QC Mastered By Marty Munsch). Their following two albums, 13 Above the Night and Hit & Run Holiday, were recorded for Interscope until they parted with the label in 1996. The band's subsequent album, A Crime For All Seasons, was released on Red Ant Records.
In 2001 the album The Reincarnation of Luna appeared on their own Sleazebox Records imprint, distributed by Invisible Records. The band released a companion piece to Luna called Golden Pillz: The Luna Remixes, as well as a live album called Elektrik Inferno. Rykodisc became the band's next and most current home after putting out the rarities compilation Dirty Little Secrets. Rykodisc eventually released My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult's entire back catalog, as well as a new "best-of" compilation, a remix album, and a long-unreleased project entitled Gay, Black & Married.
Frank Nardiello first appeared in a band called Special Affect which also featured Alain Jourgensen on guitar and Harry Rushakoff on drums. After the disintegration of Special Affect, Nardiello went to England to become the lead singer of a band called Drowning Craze. It was after returning to America that the idea for My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult came about. A more recent project called Darling Kandie originated in 1999 as a duo comprised of Nardiello and William Tucker. After Tucker's death in 1999, Nardiello released their work as an EP titled People Next Door. In 2005, Nardiello regrouped Darling Kandie with a new lineup and is currently working on the follow-up to Darling Kandie's debut EP.
Marston Daley was the producer of a single in the mid-80s by a band called Rota, a cover of KISS's "Do You Love Me?". In 1991 he worked with Sascha Konietzko of KMFDM on a band called Excessive Force. The same year, Daley appeared on the live Pigface album Welcome to Mexico, Asshole. Together with Ruth McArdle (aka Lady Galore) from Lords of Acid, he released a project in 2002 called Cherrie Blue. As Buzz McCoy, Daley has also remixed tracks for bands such as Radio Iodine, KMFDM, Evil Mothers, Pigface, Voodou, and Professional Murder Music.
As an original Wax Trax! artist, Buzz McCoy returned to Chicago February 23, 2007 to DJ Classic Wax Trax! rarities and remixes from his personal collection at famed TKK hangout, Berlin Chicago.
Note: This is TKK's debut album, and was released in 1988 (Wax 056), virtually simultaneous with another EP Some Have to Dance, Some Have to Kill (Wax 055). Their sound was initially an amalgam of heavy dance rhythms, horror film sampling, and quasi-Satanic imagery. Their early recordings were extremely popular in industrial dance clubs.
Note: The original vinyl version of this CD was only the first two tracks. The cassette and CD versions added the tracks from the first two releases My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult (Wax 039) and Some Have to Dance, Some Have to Kill (Wax 055) which had been vinyl only.
Note: This album, released in 1990, brought the band some additional publicity due to the objection of Tipper Gore and the PMRC over the title of the first track "A Daisy Chain for Satan". This album became the number-three top seller on WaxTrax! upon its release.
Note: The band released the EP, Kooler Than Jesus (Wax 9088) in 1989, along with the album Confessions of a Knife (Wax 7089) and the 12" single, "A Girl Doesn't Get Killed By a Make-Believe Lover (Cuz It's Hot)" (Wax 9140) in 1990 for Wax Trax!. They released the title track off their next LP, Sexplosion! originally on Wax Trax!, followed by the LP. Interscope Records took notice of the album's notable sales on Wax Trax!, signed the band, and released Sexplosion! themselves a year later. The single "Sex on Wheelz", taken from the album, was a hit single on the alternative music charts, and was featured in the movie Cool World.
Note: This album is different from the earlier release of the same name. This version was a promo-only release sold during the band's 1998 tour.
The Resurrection of Luna is a 2007 re-release of 2001's The Reincarnation of Luna, with new album art. The original songs from "Luna" were re-recorded, re-edited, and re-ordered, then packaged with three bonus tracks. One bonus track, Hallowed Be My Name, was previously only available on Mutations: A Tribute to Alice Cooper, a compilation album released in 2002 by Underground, Inc..
Note: This CD is a compilation of the following singles and EPs: My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult (1987), Some Have To Dance, Some Have To Kill 12" (1988), Kooler Than Jesus (1989), 'Cuz It's Hot (1990), plus 4 bonus tracks.
Note: This 12" was the band's first release (Wax039) before I See Good Spirits and I See Bad Spirits. Side one is the track "First Cut", and is 45 RPM. Side two has "Shock of Point 6" and "Resisting the Spirit", and is 33 1/3 RPM.
Note: This CD is only availabie at the merchandise booth on the 2007 tour. It features remixes from The Filthiest Show in Town, Gay Black & Married and The Reincarnation of Luna.