Music: Throbbing Gristle

"Industrial culture? There has been a phenomena; I don't know whether it's strong enough to be a culture. I do think what we did has had a reverberation right around the world and back."
Genesis P-Orridge

Widely recognized as the ur example of the genre, Throbbing Gristle was an avant-garde industrial band from England, originally active from 1975 to 1981. They reunited in 2004, only to disband again in 2010 after the death of Peter Christopherson. Though they are oft overlooked these days, the group was notorious in the 70s for their transgressive, gruesome live shows and extremely dark lyrical content, which covered (among other things) serial killers, cynical political/social commentary, and feelings of angry helplessness that followed the 1960s; this effectively set the tone for future industrial bands, whose subject matter rarely strayed far from these themes. They also founded Industrial Records, the label which gave the industrial genre its name, and published many of its earlier exponents.

Band members included:
  • Genesis P-Orridge (bass, violin, vocals, vibraphone)
  • Cosey Fanni Tutti (guitars, cornet, vocals)
  • Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson (tapes, found sounds, horns, vibraphone, synthesizer; also a member of the Hipgnosis studio; also also one half of the duo Coil)
  • Chris Carter (synthesizers, tapes, electronics)


This band provides examples of the following tropes:

  • And I Must Scream: "Hamburger Lady". She's been burnt from the waist up and is stuck to several wires in a hospital bed.
  • The Band Minus the Face: X-TG. Genesis pretty much left the band in 2010, and he refused to let the remaining members use the name. They folded soon after the death of Christopherson, but continued releasing works up to the end of 2012.
  • Bizarre Instrument: Or as they called it, the Gristleizer.
  • Black Comedy:
    • "We Hate You (Little Girls)"
    • The innocent-looking cover of 20 Jazz-Funk Greats has the band on Beachy Head, a popular suicide spot.
  • Breakup Breakout:
    • Sleazy joined with Jhonn Balance and formed Coil
    • Chris and Cosey have been performing as a duo for years.
  • Careful With That Axe: P-Orridge dips into this very, very frequently.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: "Something Came Over Me"(the studio cut), "Five Knuckle Shuffle"
  • Deconstruction
  • Disobey This Message: Invoked and deconstructed with "Don't Do As You're Told, Do As You Think" and, more subtly, "Convincing People".
  • Gorn: "Slug Bait" and "Very Friendly"
  • Hermaphrodite: Genesis became one by choice as part of an unrelated project.
  • Improv: Most of their live shows extended their songs length by several minutes, with mostly improvised or added lyrics to some of their songs.
  • Industrial: The Trope Codifier and arguable Trope Maker. In any case, their record label was the Trope Namer.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: "Throbbing gristle" was an old regional slang term for an erection.
  • Logic Bomb: See Disobey This Message.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: All of the band members come off as extremely affable in interviews, standing in stark contrast to the brutality of their music.
  • Mind Rape: "Persuasion"
  • Mind Screw
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: They stay at the 10-11 ranges of the scale. Yes, their music is downright brutal even to this day.
  • Neo Classical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: They touched on a very wide variety of different genres (Ambient, Punk Rock, Lounge Music / Exotica, Synth Pop, proto-Techno / House Music, Spoken Word and more-or-less pure noise, among others), though it generally all counts as Industrial due to its noisiness and overall menacing feel.
  • No Ending: Their live performances would often end up abruptly, simply because they would cut the power when their time had elapsed.
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: Played with on "Discipline" and "Persuasion".
  • Ripped from the Headlines:"Slug Bait" and "Very Friendly" were both inspired by actual killings, and "Hamburger Lady" was based off a medical letter the band read.
  • Sampling: One of the very first musical acts of any genre to do this- they built primitive sampling equipment themselves, since at the time such things weren't commercially feasible. They generally sampled everyday sounds, machine noises and the rantings of criminals and the mentally ill, rather then other music, though.
  • Sensory Abuse: Their live performances often mixed extreme sonic frequencies with wild visuals and intense lighting effects for the express purpose of disorienting their audience.
  • Serial Killer: "Very Friendly", "Urge to Kill", "Slug Bait"...
  • Spoken Word in Music: Several of their songs included it. "Slug Bait - Live at Brighton" from their first album chillingly included the confession of a child rapist turned killer.
  • Stealth Parody: "United", "20 Jazz Funk Greats" and "Hot On The Heels Of Love" all play with this, to differing degrees.
  • This Loser Is You: "Maggot Death" may or may not be this.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Their earlier works tended to fall into this.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Invoked with "Five Knuckle Shuffle", gradually devolving into Singing Simlish.