Culturcide

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Houston's seminal punk/experimental outfit, Culturcide was assembled in 1980 by Perry Webb and record-store clerk Jim Craine out of a mutual admiration for punk rock and pre-industrial noise auteurs Throbbing…
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Houston's seminal punk/experimental outfit, Culturcide was assembled in 1980 by Perry Webb and record-store clerk Jim Craine out of a mutual admiration for punk rock and pre-industrial noise auteurs Throbbing Gristle. Bringing in Dan Workman, a longtime jazz freak and recent convert to new wave, to play guitar, the group released its first 7" single, Another Miracle/Consider Museums as Concentration Camps, in 1980 with no intention of ever playing live to support it. But soon enough, local demand dictated that the three perform. Culturcide's debut LP, 1982's Year One, was composed solely of live performances. The band's draconian sampling techniques involved mounds of portable tape recorders playing prerecorded cassettes; the results were often startling -- perhaps too startling for Craine, who left soon after the album was released. With synthesizer wiz Craine gone, Culturcide ditched the beat box for a human drummer and evolved into something resembling a rock band, albeit of a dissonant variation.

The group's implosion at the tail end of the '80s began with the thieving 1986 epic Tacky Souvenirs of Pre-Revolutionary America. A blatantly illegal work of manic-dub genius, the album ransacked 14 of the '80s most vapid radio hits: everything from "We Are the World" to "Ebony and Ivory." In keeping with its anti-technology stance, Culturcide simply re-recorded the tracks, changing the titles (e.g., "We Aren't the World") and superimposing nasty vocals, jarring cut-and-paste clatter, and dizzying loop effects over the original versions; all, of course, without authorization. Despite haphazard distribution methods, Tacky Souvenirs managed to find its way to a number of critics, several of whom commended the band for going where no other indie act had gone before, earning Culturcide a kind of cult celebrity. But the costs far outweighed the benefits: tepresentatives for three artists whose work was desecrated on Tacky Souvenirs threatened legal action, and subsequent settlements emptied the band's already piddling coffers.

Despite the internal and external turmoil, Culturcide's popularity continued to snowball in underground circles as the decade wore on, a streak capped by a brief West Coast tour in 1985. Though the band did record for the tiny punk imprint CIA, labels with any aboveground connections wouldn't go near them. Still, they continued to perform into the late '80s -- even touring Europe -- before various creative conflicts and substance-abuse issues led to the group's calling it quits in 1990. Attempts to resurrect Culturcide were all for naught until 1993, when Workman and Webb began work on the material for 1995's Short CD. Home Made Authority came three years later, and 2003 saw the CD release of the band's 1982 debut, Year One.