For all the ’80s industrial noise-nik Throbbing Gristle-ites out there, Culturcide don’t
seem to get their proper due. Their Consider Museums / Another Miracle 7″ is probably my
favorite American post-punk single, and even in its scarcity, you can probably find one
for less than the copy of a new indie-rock LP if you surf the web hard enough (average list
price is what, $18.98 these days?). The lack of hyped critical blathering is often the case
for the uniquely-great artists out there, but I try to do my part to get the word out,
forcing Culturcide’s Year One album on friends until they get it (and they always do). Their
music is visceral and biting without shocking for shock’s sake, delivered with razor-
sharp wit, cynical anger, and a voice distinctly their own. If you love this sort of stuff,
please make Culturcide a part of your life. Through a mutual acquaintance, I was able to
get in touch with Mark Flood (aka Perry Webb), founding member and vocalist. He’s long
since moved past the Culturcide label, creating art and music and living the dream, or at
least my dream of being a wily provocateur that maintains relevance through decades of
creativity. He didn’t even know that Culturcide’s Home Made Authority CD was finally released
after twelve years, but he was willing to revisit the group’s earliest years with me
anyway, surprised that anyone cares. Frankly, I’m surprised that anyone doesn’t care.
What was the impetus for starting Culturcide? Was there a specific intent behind
Culturcide’s sound before the band started, or was it something that just kind of congealed
I’ll just speak for myself. In 1979, I met Jim Craine who worked at Ronnie Bond’s record
store. We both loved Throbbing Gristle. I said I wish I could make a record. He said he
knew how but didn’t have the money. I borrowed it. $600.00. Boom, first single. The Wikipedia
entry covers it in excruciating detail.
Throbbing Gristle was the model and also I had absorbed the ’77 punk idea that ’60s-’70s
mainstream rock music was regressive. So I thought it was cool to avoid rock music structures,
and this was convenient for me, since I had no music skills at all.
After that first single Culturcide soon stumbled back into rock, when we rehearsed for our
early live gigs, either as parodies like the song “Terrorist”, or just because it was
intuitive and easy and fun to play. Dan had officially joined and he was a guitar hero;
Jim also had plenty of music skills. So you hear us wavering between noise and rock on the
Year One LP, a motley collection from those days.
What did you actually use to make the noise? Did you learn the actual act of
making noise with your gear from anyone, or was it solely a trial and error thing?
In the early days I had a card table with a number of cassette tapedecks playing and I would
hold the mic up to them sometimes. Each song had its tape. Sometimes Jim used the tapes
through his synth. Dan put the guitar through a homemade effects box. Over the years we had
a lot of people play noise a lot of different ways.
From the flyers I’ve seen, it seems like Culturcide was a part of the punk scene,
more or less. How did the fans of say, Really Red, react to your performances?
The early audience were all weirdos drawn to this weird underground thing. It was a small
world. They were not critical. There was a solidarity. I would say we were sometimes
appreciated, sometimes ignored, occasionally attacked. But if sometimes someone hated us,
that was enjoyable too. It was in the punk rock script from the UK. Culturcide never tried
to take it to a level of fans liking us, supporting us. We played a little, toured less,
had no interest in conventional success. I was irritated when people sometimes assumed we
wanted conventional success.
Early on, do you have any memory of being satisfied by the group for any particular
reason, or from any particular experience?
In general, there are lots of social reasons for a young person to be in a band. Also, the
joy of creating is powerful and addictive. At that time, with the punk rock energy swirling
around, I felt like I was part of a community of sorts, and we all wanted to make a mark of
Songs like “Hating My Father”, or the lines about working for Exxon in “Another Miracle”
struck me as particularly real, for lack of a better word. Maybe you’re just excellent fakers
and I’ve been tricked, but that sort of direct approach really struck me as far more visceral
and jolting than the usual “kill the cops / destroy the system” punk rock rhetoric. Was there
a conscious decision to speak directly about real things that affected your life?
Yes, because I learned from the Clash. All their details were drawn from their personal London
world. Just like James Joyce and Dublin. So lyrics-wise, I wanted to re-make punk energy into
something very Houston. Exxon was the biggest corporation in the world at that time, and a huge
presence in Houston. My grandparents had owned Esso stations.
Punk rock rhetoric didn’t really congeal into a cliche until the late ’80s. Earlier than that,
I remember how we made fun of people who imitated UK punks too slavishly. We called them “stuck
Are you still in Houston now? What keeps you there?
I’m not sure which city this is.
How did the Hiroshima Chair split LP come about? I have never seen or heard it…
what kind of material ended up on there?
Some Australian guy wrote us. Tom Ellard was his name I think. We sent him a tape, he did
the rest. It had some material that never came out anywhere else, mainly noise.
Were you surprised that a random Australian guy wanted to release your music?
Stranger things have happened. Lots of people wanted us to contribute to cassette releases.
What was different about this was that they did vinyl.
I understand that Tacky Souvenirs caused a bit of a stir back in the day.
What sort of reaction were you expecting from it, versus what you received? I recently
played “Love Is A Cattleprod” out in public, and one person got visibly upset – I feel
like there are very few records from 1986 that could continue to provoke such a reaction today.
It was shocking from the first time we did that material on stage, which was 1984, and we got
a wide range of responses whenever. I want to release the Tacky Souvenirs live collection because
you can hear the audience’s remarks on the tapes. Sometimes fans of the original song got
upset, like when a Bruce fan trashed the mic stand at Strake Jesuit High School during our
version of “Dancing In The Dark”.
When we embarked on recording the LP, which took many painful years, two band members quit
over it. It was okay as a piece of a live show, but to make it the next LP was not acceptable.
Also, I remember having to cajole some of the engineers we worked with. It was very hard to
explain that LP before it existed. To walk into a recording studio and hand them a Bruce
Springsteen single and say “put this on tracks one and two…” it was startling. It was a
hard-sell. People got freaked out.
I remember the process – the money, the recording sessions, the creative decisions – as one
of the most grueling creative experiences of my life. Ironically, reviewers all seemed to think
we made it in one night after a couple of six-packs. I don’t know what reaction I expected.
I just felt it had to be done. I was afraid of the consequences, but I felt compelled to do
The legal consequences never came but we pretended they had. I felt everyone wanted us to be
punished, and once they thought we had been, they’d leave us alone. And that’s exactly what
happened. We got two calls and I never responded. We were so nothing, so small, so obscure…
it wasn’t worth their while. We got great reviews in the UK and a promoter in the Netherlands
brought us over for a brief tour. We sold out the first pressing rapidly and never did another.
For some reason, the Bruce Springsteen song seems to catch the most heat. Maybe
because he was the most socially revered of the artists you “covered”?
He was revered.
Is Culturcide an ongoing concern?
Is there any Culturcide record that you are particularly proud of, or one that you
think most people overlooked?
Tacky Souvenirs hold up best because the relationship of pop to its audience is still the same.
I’m proud of the work we did, but I’m surprised people still pay attention to Culturcide. I
didn’t expect the society’s obsession with eighties underground music.