Deep in the bowels of Guantánamo Bay, extreme bass music rumbles from Bazooka speakers as federal agents use the music of Skinny Puppy to torture prisoners. It's a fact that has been confirmed by the pioneering industrial band, and that inspired its latest album, Weapon.
Now, if you've never been to military prison, rest assured the Skinny Puppy tunes are the best part. So try to avoid being detained by the feds and shipped off to a detention camp. Instead, go see the band in concert at a place like Grand Central.
In the runup to that show, we chatted with founding member cEvin Key to talk about cops, weed, and classic 808s.
New Times: How do you feel about your music being used to torture prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba?
cEvin Key: We were gonna invoice the U.S. government for musical services. But what's funny is maybe they came across a prisoner who was a fan and secretly enjoyed it. Like, it sounds bad to the guy doing the torturing, but the guy getting tortured is like, "Hey, I heard this before. Can you turn it up?"
You're Canadian. What do you think about Justin Bieber getting deported?
I think that's brilliant. He's acting like such a twat. He deserves it, for sure.
Haven't you ever been stereotyped for the music you make?
It's weird, because every time we go through a border or a checkpoint or get stopped by the cops, there's always one guy who's like, "Hey, I'm a fan." It happened just the other day. We got pulled over in Arizona, and they found all our weed and busted us and took it away. But I think since one of the guys said he liked us that they just let us off with a citation, so it was a lucky situation in the end. I think that military guys and people in the police force tend to like intense music.
What's your live show like for somebody who has never seen it or even heard of you before?
Whether it's 1985 or '92 or 2004 or whatever it might be, we've approached it the same since the first day. We bring a heavy balance between theater and music in a live setting. You have the three-dimensional visual aspect from our projectors and films, a transforming and transitional stage that I can't define — you have to see it to understand it — and a huge, beautiful crew making it all work. It's a whole integrated performance that's like a time capsule that makes industrial music slightly relevant again for a brief moment.
What about the bass?
Oh yeah, a lot of fuckin' bass. Bass-friendly for sure. I love bass. I even have a bass bra. I'm wearing this thing onstage that is actually a vest that is a polymer attached to these electrical current wires that vibrate in a perfect tone on my spine. SubPac invented it, and I think it might be the next level of feeling music on an extreme level without damaging yourself.
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What's your history with Miami?
Crazy. We've been playing there since like 1987. Giant rave shows, wild shows at the Cameo Theater. Also, two of my best friends in the world are from there. Shout out to Otto Von Schirach and Nayib Estefan. I'm in with the Cubans.
You speak any Cuban?
Yeah. Oye, broye. I love that.