Southern California-by-way-of-British Columbia's Skinny Puppy emerged in the early-'80s post-Throbbing Gristle industrial scene, offering a corrosive aggregate of Tourette's thrusts and metallic rutting that influenced Nine Inch Nails, among many others. While acrimony split the group in the late '90s, founding members cEvin Key and Nivek Ogre reconciled in the new millennium to again turn an electro-turgid microscope on festering society.
Subsequently, Southern Florida's tonal teabagger Otto Von Schirach, a prolific Cuban/German breakcore deconstructionist, hooked up with his idols Skinny Puppy doing sound design for 2004's The Greater Wrong of the Right after years of splaying corrugated percussion on Miami's Schematic Records. Now the two touring parties—going by Otto Von Dickrot and Big Penis Nightsky, or the Frog and Sasquatch, depending on when you ask—are sharing a speakerphone in the bowels (appropriately) of Atlanta's Center Stage to discuss their hermaphroditic sonic perversions and arrhythmic, anthem-assimilating stage contortions.
OC Weekly: So, Otto, what's the skinny on the Puppy?
Otto Von Schirach: I wake up, smoke about a quarter-pound of Snoop Dogg's crop, and then we start making music. We make four albums a day.
cEvin Key: And I wake up and try to convince Otto into treatment, and then he convinces me to join him. We're recording a song a day for exercise, and that's besides anything we'd do for Skinny Puppy. We're on our 14th show; the family vibe is there, and we're playing to crowds that have probably never seen either of us before. And Otto is a massive superstar on this tour, finding his niche and attacking supervillains along the way.
What is it about a Skinny Puppy tour that leaves the scrotum quivering?
Von Schirach: cEvin lays down thick-ass bass, while Ogre extracts energy from his shadow, and there is banging on metal and mutant lizard sounds, like the sound of Godzilla urinating on the city we played in. It's like a Japanese sci-fi horror movie.
cEvin, you already half-answered this question, but what makes you get blotto off Otto?
Key: Otto is part of the extended family of circus freaks we attract and gather . . . and Otto cleans the world of its anonymous supervillains with destructive, futuristic sounds.
Von Schirach: They aren't down with the church burnings I do. But I'm not done describing the Skinny Puppy show. You'll feel all your energy went to a cube that steals your light—then it gets used like a Transformer uses an Energon cube to power his transformation, but it's reality in front of you. Our sound guy uses this digital mixer to harness all the power of the building, every single watt and frequency—even bass—down to the brown note, the Devil's note.
Has working with so . . . arousing a production changed your approach to dropping that Miami bass in the face?
Von Schirach: On this tour, I don't play the Miami bass. I transformed into a black-metal superhuman, killing Satanists for Jesus, and playing screaming black- and block-beats. But I'll always hit the triple-X frequencies.
Key: We both like to play in the key of Double D. [Laughing.]
cEvin, what does Otto do to the crowd that you respect and/or fear, and vice versa for Skinny Puppy?
Key: He masturbates. He's much larger than Peter North. He's a size dimension larger, very firm; he could use some baby powder there, but the audience is soaking it all up. What I really like is we have a LOAD Records band in the middle; it's like being in front of a smorgasbord representing all genres. [Silver Daggers] is human, Otto is the future, and [Skinny Puppy] is more like the past. We're multidimensional, and I think it brings forth better improvisation for all involved.
Von Schirach: I bring total Las Vegas; I try being Frank Sinatra of the demon world. Every night, we get new members of the show who will head back to their city, spread the legend and get people to come back to make a new show next time. While they're waiting for Skinny Puppy, I have to annihilate their ears. . . .
Key: . . . Their aural floodgates. But they're there for you, too, and for LOAD to stroke their rims. And then I guess Skinny Puppy fucks them.
What influences did you share, and what influenceshave you shared?
Von Schirach: On the last tour, every time I'd come to cEvin's house, it was about spooky ghosts and 8-bit alligator sounds. There's a lot of cats, too. This go-around, we have a studio in the back lounge, two pelicans that source our sounds, expensive lo-fi stuff. So we get out of the show and go into the studio.
Key: I've lately been inspired by the idea that Rob & Big from MTV should market the Manpon. Most inspiration of this tour is based on that.
The "Man Pawn"? Like, a guy who gets moved around by another guy?
Von Schirach: The Manpon is for guys when they cough and release fluid—shart, if you will. So you can feel more comfort to be leaky, knowing you have the protection of a Manpon.
Okay, now on to the most important question: cEvin, can Otto ever hope to achieve anything as impressive as your hair in the '80s [for reference, imagine a more oblique Edward Scissorhands]?
Von Schirach:[Laughing] Oh, man, that's a great question, but cEvin had to walk out just as you were asking that. Maybe I can answer that: No, I will never. His hair in the '80s was priceless. It inspires me now to give it all I got. If they make a plug-in after cEvin's hair, it would have to be the fucking Mad Max of the plug-ins, granulating hairstyles and decimating emo cuts.
So how has your time with Skinny Puppy proved most valuable?
Von Schirach: I think my stage show has been upped by 20,000 points. cEvin and Ogre always put on the theatrics, so being around that element has helped my magic show. I think every night that's what Puppy does: a magic show for people to dream about.
[cEvin darts back into the room.]
Von Schirach: Hey, cEvin, you have to hear this question.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Yeah, so I asked, "Can Otto ever hope to achieve anything as impressive as your hair in the '80s?"
Key: [Laughing] Otto is worthy of bringing back the '80s hair. It'll look good on him. That's another way we're bridging the worlds. Gotta go to soundcheck. Bye.
Von Schirach: Yeah, we're speaker-fisting America until everyone's hair sticks up.
SKINNY PUPPY AND OTTO VON SCHIRACH PERFORM WITH SILVER DAGGERS AT THE HOUSE OF BLUES, 1530 S. DISNEYLAND DR., ANAHEIM, (714) 778-BLUE; WWW.HOB.COM. SUN., 8 P.M. $25-$30.