Throbbing Gristle: Q&A with Chris Carter & Cosey Fani Tutti
When their pioneering industrial band Throbbing Gristle broke up after playing their last show at San Francisco's Kezar Pavilion (see the article on TG's San Francisco return and legacy), synthesizer expert Chris Carter and guitarist/cornetist Cosey Fani Tutti went on to help define seductive techno music under the guises Chris & Cosey, CTI, and CarterTutti. Here they recount the show and their connection to our fair gray city:
What interesting moments do you recall from your time in San Francisco in 1981?
COSEY: The most interesting moments are too private to tell, for obvious reasons.
With whom do you remember meeting and spending time?
COSEY: Primarily we were with Monte and visiting Mark Pauline (SRL), having fun with him firing cement blocks etc. His place was an amazing Aladdin's cave of mischievous ingredients and 'toys'. Also we all got to go to the firing range - something we would never had the opportunity to do in the UK back then. I had a fantastic time. We also spent time with [RE/Search publisher] V. Vale and [Bay Area sludge-punk band] Flipper, and our radio station interview was fun. I'm sure we went other places and met other people, but I can't remember.
What do you remember about the gig itself and/or the venue?
COSEY: It was a crazy gig mainly because of the personal tensions between us and because the LA gig had been disappointing (to me anyway). So for San Francisco I really wanted to crank up the energy and gel as one again as a final farewell. I don't know how we did it, but it worked, and I remember feeling like I was three feet above the stage, entering another dimension. The energy was electric, the sprung floor was bouncing with everyone jumping up and down in time to the TG rhythms. I loved that gig.
What were your impressions of the city at the time? What were you expecting to experience here?
COSEY: I had no expectations really because I'd been there before, to stay with Monte. I already had affection for the city because of its association and link with him. The expectation if anything was all about the TG gig being the last and leaving TG behind once we'd played San Francisco. It was thrilling being on the cusp of a new life as one chapter ended, so San Francisco has great poignancy for me not just because of TG in '81 but also because I've been back there to play shows as Chris & Cosey and we had great audiences and uplifting times. It's still one of my favorite cities.
CHRIS: To be honest, terminating TG's mission in San Francisco was quite a relief, as tension within the band were at breaking point. In fact, I was surprised that we didn't stop in LA (the show before SF), that was such a downer. By the time we got to San Francisco, Cosey and I just wanted it all to end, so we put all our efforts into making that last performance one to remember. We really pulled the stops out at that gig. I remember during our last number, "Discipline," the audience was in such a frenzy, jumping, shouting and singing along that the sprung floor of Kezar Pavilion was literally bouncing up and down to the song. Ah...those were the days.
Personally I loved the city in the '70s and '80s--the people, the ambience, the climate, the night life, everything about it. I even considered relocating to SF then. But Cosey and I had a son shortly after TG ended, and for various reasons we decided to stay in the UK--although we did take him to San Francisco a few times on our Chris & Cosey tours in the '80s and '90s.It'll be good to go back to SF with TG under such positive circumstances.