By Bob Gourley | Published on December 8, 2011
Since emerging in the mid 80’s as part of dance/rock band Finitribe, Chris Connelly has been involved with so many different projects that it’s difficult to keep track. He’s worked with Ministry, Revolting Cocks and various other bands with Al Jourgensen, collaborated with Martin Atkins on numerous projects, sang with KMFDM, and the list goes on and on. But beginning with his own 1991 release “Whiplash Boychild,” Connelly has also found acclaim as a solo artist. Known for his powerful voice and poetic lyrics, Connelly has been musically quite diverse over the years. Having explored quieter, less aggressive sounds on many of his recent releases, Connelly has delivered a pretty heavy rock album with his latest, “Artificial Madness.” The following is an email interview with him.
Of all the various projects you’ve been involved with (other than your solo work), which of them do you think have had the biggest impact on your overall career development? Which do you perhaps feel you have less personal attachment too (maybe done more for fun, or because of the people you were collaborating with, etc)?
I feel like I have taken something valuable away from everything I have done, in certain cases, perhaps I have learned what not to do rather than what to do – I certainly feel that on some occasions I have been lazy, and on others, I have tried valiantly to make something work which-through no fault of anyones-just would not work. I don’t think I took anything away of any musical merit from Pigface, but I did forge a few good friendships, so there are certainly no regrets. I worked on a record with a band from detroit called the Final Cut, my work there was atrocious, I walked away knowing that it just was not a good fit. Certain aspects of DAMAGE MANUAL & MURDER INC, I feel served me well in terms of working in a very organic environment with accomplished yet highly idiosyncratic musicians, ditto the HIGH CONFESSIONS-which was perhaps the most organic of all.
Since you’ve worked with many different projects & people over the years, is it always obvious that something is going to be a Chris Connelly solo album, as opposed to another new project? Have there been any cases of something starting as a solo effort morphing into another ‘band’?
That used to happen more in the old days, when I was working with a more incestuous pool of musicians, and when there was more of a budget! But over the years as I developed more as a writer, the process became almost exclusively one of complete solitude, only one key opens that door-but once it gets to the recording stage-sure-you meet new people as creative as you are, and things happen.
I was disappointed to see that “Concrete, Bulletproof, Invisible and Fried: My Life As a Revolting Cock” is out of print. Any chance of a reprinting? Or an ebook version?
I’m glad it sold out! I had no idea!! perhaps it will be reprinted, I’ll have to see if the publisher is still around…
Since your started out, things have changed considerably with the music industry and surrounding media. People can very easily keep up with you now through your website, facebook, etc, but how to you address the challenge of initially letting fans of your earlier work know that you’re still around and have new releases?
Well-I don’t tour-at least not now-I may in the future, and I’m not a go-getter, I do what I can, but I can’t be bothered with any damn challenges, there’s a lot out there, and I’m not about to run huffing and puffing after current trends trying desperately to assert my validity, I like what i do, and if people hear it and like it, I am more than flattered with that.
I read that “Artificial Madness” was written in one concentrated session, when you had the flu. How do you feel this affected the overall result? Other than the being sick part, had it been an approach you’d wanted to take? Do you feel any previous albums have suffered by your spending too much time writing them?
No-it’s just what i felt like doing, I don’t think it informed to music in any unique way, I had time to kill, and I happened to be in a very creative mood that day. In the past I have worked away at songs, but it has never been a struggle, the songs themselves will fall into place when they are ready, if I find I am beating an idea to death because I can’t accept that it’s anything less than worthwhile-I will eventually just throw it away and maybe pull it out another day-I can’t tell you how many songs include tiny parts re appropriated from bits I have previously discarded maybe years ago.The albums never suffer from overworking though-ask anyone who works with me, I spend as little time as I possibly can get away with on them, there is too much to write that has not been written!
In general, what do you think the makeup of your audience tends to be, in terms of people who first became aware of your through projects like Ministry and RevCo vs those who specifically discovered you as a solo artist?
Hard to tell these days, a lot of the past audience who I managed to skillfully alienate with my solo albums have started to come back, as I have started to acknowledge more of my earlier excursions into noise and violence whilst retaining some of my more current sensibilities, we all come home to roost in one form or another! I think the 2 can coexist and maybe even procreate peacefully together
I have a few Fini Tribe tracks on compilations, but have been curious to check out more. However, the only songs the digital music stores have are those 4 contained on your ‘Out-Takes, Rarities & Personal Favourites’ release. I realize that there are label/legal issues involved, but as a music fan I feel that any older release should be made available for sale, at least as a download (if there is not enough demand for actual CD/vinyl manufacturing.) Otherwise the only way to get stuff is by tracking down use copies, or resorting to piracy. What are you thoughts on this, both as an artist and a listener?
We-THE FINI TRIBE- are basically just lazy and noncommittal- there are no legal issues, there are 6 of us, and when we communicate to try and get things moving, it never gets past the early discussion phase, but I feel very strongly about the band, and I truly love these guys like the brothers they are, but what I did with them-well, we are talking about 30 years ago..sometimes I feel it’s just supposed to be out there, obscured in the ether and shrouded in our own lazy noncommittal mystique!!
You’ve done music, poetry, non-fiction & novel writing – is there anything else you want to try your hand at creatively? Do you have plans for any more books?
No, writing is it, I like drawing, but just for my own personal enjoyment, I have always been most strongly attracted to the written word, and yes, I will write more when the time is right, just now I am too distracted with myriad musical collaborations
I’ve always felt, and I’m sure others have pointed out, that your voice can sound reminiscent of David Bowie. Do you agree with this, and if so has it impacted you at all creatively?
I am pleased with the comparison, of course I’m a huge fan, and have been since “station to station” came out in 1976, what can you say, really-I feel like I have learned from his work, his lyric writing , his use of melody and his amazing charisma, he had (i use the past tense since he has retired) something that transcended genres and made him inconceivably cool for most of his career..and sooooooooo handsome!
What’s in the immediate future for you? Any touring plans?
I am working with a man named MICHAEL ESPOSITO on putting some edgar allen poe poetry to sounds & music, I am also working with Meshell Ndegeocello (I co-wrote with her on her new album) on lyrics, and a new high confessions record, no plans to slow down, but no plans to tour.See all interviews →