8/2/13

David Thrussell: Black Lung, a new Snog album and... transgender?

This post is about David Thrussell of Snog / Black Lung fame, the new Snog album: Babes In Consumerland, and… that whole transgender thing on the new album's cover artowork? Read on…

I consider myself very fortunate to have caught various gigs over the last decade or so that have in one way or another been linked to Snog front-person Dee Thrussell (formerly known as David Thrussell — but we’ll get to that in a moment).
The fact that I live in Melbourne certainly made it easy, what with it being the capital of Snog’s home state of Victoria. I will confess that I didn’t pay much attention on the very first occasion that I caught them live — it was almost the first time I’d been in a club and I barely knew my arse from my elbow, let alone good music — but otherwise, seeing the word “Snog” on a flyer was always more than enough incentive to leave the house.
The mind of Thrussell (and Thrussell’s co-conspirators) is a fertile one that in over 20 years has been responsible for almost two dozen full-length albums, plus dozens of EPs and singles across a mind-boggling array of mostly (but not always) electronic projects. The best known are obviously Snog, along with Soma and Black Lung, but there are a plethora of others.
And yet, despite the benefit of geographic proximity, until a few months ago I’d never managed to catch Thrussell at a non-Snog gig. That changed when I finally got to catch Black Lung along with Forces and headliner Atom™ at a small gig in inner city Melbourne.
So this is how I found myself talking to Thrussell — and despite it not being a Black Lung event I couldn’t resist asking about the then-upcoming new Snog album, Babes In Consumerland.

 Dee Thrussell: the person formerly known as David Thrussell,
as shown on the cover of the new Snog album Babes In Consumerland.

 EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG
Pick up a copy of Babes In Consumerland and you’ll probably do a double-take when you see the cover artwork.
Yes, that image. It depicts the new Thrussell — Dee Thrussell. The person formerly known as David Thrussell.
“What you see on the cover of Babes In Consumerland, all this time, that’s actually been a part of me,” says Thrussell.
“Through Black Lung and Snog I’ve ended up doing things over the years that, let’s be frank here, just wouldn’t be considered normal. For example, I was commissioned by the US government to create a soundtrack for DARPA back in 2008 and 2009 for the recording of the Black Lung album Full Spectrum Dominance. That is, the US military. That’s not something that happens every day. I have to say I’ve never actively gone out of my way to go there but as I’ve said many times over the years how, I’ve been contacted by people in the most unexpected of places. There are people who listen to this music in government, on oil rigs, in prison, even in the military. There’s even a monastery somewhere in NSW I believe where they play this music. The truth is, I look back at all those crazy moments, and revisiting it all again I see myself subconsciously trying to find myself.”
Thrussell is of course referring to his transgender depiction on the album cover. Gone are the long locks and luscious beard, replaced by silicone implants, surgery scars and what is presumably a daily dose of hormonal supplements.
His record label put it as follows: “Though not mentioned explicitly lyrically, band mastermind Dee Thrussell’s long journey to recently arrive as a transgender woman informs every musical gesture and plaintive lyric.”

Babes In Consumerland takes on some confronting themes not usually found in industrial music.

According to Thrussell, this is the key to understanding the new Snog album. On one hand, it touches on so many of the staples that you would find on previous Snog albums. Consumerism. Oppression. Rebellion. Conspiracy theories. Anti-capitalism. Fighting the system. Culture-jamming… they’re all there, as they have been for more than 20 years. But questions and themes of gender have always been absent. At least in the lyrics anyway.
“Retrospectively, knowing what I know now, you might say I was somewhat lost. All that subconscious anger came out as bad feelings. The lyrics to Hey Christian God and Born To Be Mild, for example, and all the cynicism and sarcasm. That was all an outlet.
So I’m glad I’ve finally been able to take a big step and get closer to it all, even if I’m not yet ready to explore these deeply personal ideas in a lyrical form.”

Babes In Consumerland is out now.

Note: yes, this piece is satirical.

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