Skinny Puppy: Not really the kind of guys you want coming after you for money. Photo via Facebook.
In the late 80s—while Trent Reznor was cleaning studio toilets and brushing the dust off of fuzzy TVs—Vancouver’s Skinny Puppy were properly pioneering industrial music. Regardless of your taste in 2014, if you’ve painted your nails black or hated on your stepdad, then it’s safe to say that Skinny Puppy has influenced your musical preference. And if you’re unfamiliar, they’re like Joy Division meets Marilyn Manson.
Anyway, last week it was revealed that the band’s music was being used as a tool of torture by the United States Military on prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Unlike Metallica—the twats who were actually “proud” that their music being used for torture—Skinny Puppy thinks that using their tunes for such a purpose is fucking sick. Plus, Skinny Puppy did not receive any royalty payments for the torture placement! So the band sent an invoice for $666,000 dollars to the US military for using their music.
That’s why I got in touch with Skinny Puppy's cEvin (pronounced Kevin) Key, on tour in Miami, to get some reaction on this whole torture-rock fandangle…
VICE: How did you find out your music was being used at Gitmo?
cEvin: We found out through Terry Holbrook who was a guard stationed in Guantanmo Bay. He retired, and after his retirement he started writing a book. Part of the book got relayed to us, and we were then contacted by Terry himself and given more information about what the actual specifics were; upon hearing that, we had the idea of recording an album, fuelled with that theme of being angered by the US using our music as a weapon, and that set us on a path…
How was your music being used, specifically?
It was documented that they used four specific songs… Strangely they were using songs that were politically based, which we’re talking in a manner that is, well it’s almost ironic, like this song called “VX Gas Attack” which is a song about Saddam Hussein using chemical weapons against the Kurds long before it was on the news.
They were playing our songs at super unlistenable levels for multiple hours at a time, up until the point where Terry witnessed defecation, urination, passing out… guards would come up and kick prisoners awake and belittle them and call them a pansy for passing out. Then they would subject them to another song for another six hours at 125 decibels or whatever it was…
Since then we’ve been contacted by some investigative reporters who’ve helped to verify a lot of stories, as well as helped us to find the right people to contact and send our invoice to and keep it on the right path because it is kind of an unprecedented setting.
What’s the significance to asking for $666,000 dollars?
It’s an evil number. For the wrongdoing, we felt there was only one number that started coming to mind.
We felt there was only one number that came to mind, that came back to the evil wrongdoings of all time, it always seemed to come back to one number—it wasn’t 777 or 444, it was always 666.
What would you do with the money if they paid up?
Even though I highly doubt that they’ll pay up, I’m sure that they’d try to keep it in court if it came to that, keep it there forever with red tape thus keeping the average person unable to proceed under those circumstances because they have deep pockets and they can just keep you running forever.
I think the point here is that if we were to earn any reward, I would try to help anybody who was affected [by US torture] or find ways to better the conditions.