The Electric Hellfire Club
by Andrew Frey
Electric Hellfire Club on the cover of Maximum Ink in March 2002
photo by Rokker
“My motto is “Failure to evolve is exactly that, failure.” If I sounded the same that I sounded in ‘93, then I fucked up somewhere along the line. The intention of the band was not to create a formula and make a million dollars. The intention of the band was JUST to make music,” states Thomas Thorn, lead singer and founding member of the infamous Electric Hellfire Club.
Electronomicon is the fifth full-length release from Satan’s little helpers, and is certainly no failure. In fact, it is their most ambitious and best sounding album to date. Part of the genius lies in the fact that it was recorded at the famed Abyss Studios in Sweden, and produced and engineered by Tommy Tagtgren. EHC was the first American band to ever record there, (and may be the last, as studio owner Peter Tagtgren has decided to close the studio.)
The sound on the new album has definitely changed some from their previous releases, something Thorn has already been hearing about. “Honestly, it gets a little tiring because we grew out of that whole goth industrial thing, and you have a lot of people who are just discovering it now that never bought a Wax Trax record before Wax Trax went bankrupt. They’re all the ones e-mailing me saying, “I really liked ” Burn Baby Burn” (EHC’s first album). Why can’t this one sound more like it.” And I’m like, “That was 1993, and we recorded it in 92”. We’ve obviously been listening to a lot more black metal than anything else. You don’t listen to the (new) record and say, “Oh, this is a black metal record.” But you can hear the influence, and not just because Ahriman from Dark Funeral plays on it, and not because we recorded at Abyss in Sweden.”
So how about the album title itself? Obviously the name is a take-off of on the infamous book of the dead, the Necronomicon , a book allegedly compiled from ancient Sumarian texts that drove the writer insane. Even though Thorn has read the book, he remains skeptical of the validity of it. “I don’t think that the one that you can buy at Waldenbooks is any way, shape, or form real. The story that I’ve heard is that some people got together and said, “We can make a lot of money if one of us just sat down and pooled our ideas and said, “OK, this is what the Necronomicon is.”” I think that’s what happened.” So what is the Electronomicon then? Again Thorn . “Basically it’s the book of the dead according to the (Electric) Hellfire Club.”
Electric Hellfire Club may not be a household word in this area yet, but it’s not for lack of trying. Deriving the name from an 18th Century Gentleman’s club, Thorn formed the band in 1991 after leaving industrial-dance pioneers, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. Thorn remarked “Everybody has to realize that the band has existed for 10 years! We’re gonna have T-shirts that say “Down with the devil for a decade.” The infamous band has survived countless line-up changes, and even the death of a founding member, Shane Lassin, aka Rev Dr. Luv.
After years of touring with the likes of GWAR , Type O Negative, Fear Factory, Danzig, and many others, EHC has garnered a loyal following. A following Thorn cares about and pays attention to. He even finds time to council them on-line. “Ya know what? ‘NSYNC ain’t doing that. They’re not on-line. They’re NOT preventing another Columbine. Which I can GUARANTEE you I have. There is no doubt in my mind, that I have kept a kid from going to school with a gun. If that’s my mark I’m making, then so be it. I can’t even count how many times, how many kids have said to me, “Listening to (the song) “Circuit Breaker” after I broke up with my girlfriend, or my boyfriend, kept me from killing myself.” I’ve had easily a hundred people tell me that.”
Outside of their regular releases, EHC has also appeared on numerous sound tracks and tributes. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good. Thomas recants, “I’ll take this moment to apologize to the fans. I’ve definitely done some (tributes) that I’m ashamed of. First and foremost is Smashing Pumpkins , because I hate them. I never did a quote-unquote tribute to them. What I did is, I tried to the best of my ability to desecrate one of their songs to the point that it would make them want to quit. At the very least I hope my fans think it’s funny, and can forgive me.”
The band is currently based in Madison, but local appearances are rare. On March 23rd you will have the opportunity and see the Electric Hellfire Club with the current lineup of Thomas Thorn on Vocals, Ricktor Ravensbruck on guitars, Sabrina Satanica on bass, Klem Kthulu on drums (from Angels Or Insects ), and Black Circle Chucky on keyboards, do their thing at BOMBLASTICA 2002 the Annex in Madison on Saturday, March 23rd.(6217) Page Views Electric Hellfire Club Online:
Electric Hellfire Club
CD: Electronomicon Record Label: Cleopatra
• Purchase Electronomicon on Amazon