Skinny Puppy is a Canadian industrial band formed in 1982 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The band is widely considered pioneers of the industrial music genre. Skinny Puppy originally comprised vocalist Nivek Ogre, keyboardist cEvin Key, and drummer Bill Leeb. Over the years, Skinny Puppy has gone through several lineup changes, hiatuses, and reunions. So an important question for fans is, is Skinny Puppy still together today?
Yes, Skinny Puppy is still active today, although with a somewhat fluid lineup. The core members are Nivek Ogre and cEvin Key, who have kept Skinny Puppy going since the band’s inception. After reuniting in 2000 following an initial breakup in 1995, Ogre and Key have continued to tour and record new Skinny Puppy music up to the present day. Other musicians have rotated in and out of the lineup over the years, but Ogre and Key remain the heart of Skinny Puppy.
Skinny Puppy’s Early Years and Initial Success
Skinny Puppy formed in 1982, arising out of Vancouver’s punk rock scene but taking inspiration from early industrial music acts like Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, and Chrome. Ogre and Key began crafting an abrasive, electronic sound that blended synth with punk rock energy and attitude. The duo was soon joined by drummer Bill Leeb and released their first EP, Back & Forth, in 1984.
Skinny Puppy’s first full-length album, Bites, followed in 1985 and was an underground hit, selling well for an independent release. The album introduced Skinny Puppy’s harsh, nightmare-like soundscapes, Ogre’s guttural vocals, and lyrical themes of animal rights and politicized horror. Bites set the template for the band’s influential hybrid of electronic and punk/hardcore styles.
Rise in Popularity
Skinny Puppy’s second album, 1986’s Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse, built on Bites’ sound and brought the band greater attention. The single “Dig It” especially helped boost Skinny Puppy’s profile. 1987’s Cleanse Fold and Manipulate further cemented their fusion of synth and rock. The album yielded the underground hit “Addiction” and helped expand Skinny Puppy’s audience.
The band signed to Capitol Records for the release of their fourth album, 1988’s VIVIsectVI. The album was a college radio hit and reached No. 171 on the Billboard 200 album chart as their popularity grew beyond underground circles. The single “Testure” helped make Skinny Puppy icons in the industrial scene.
Changing Lineup and First Breakup
Bill Leeb left Skinny Puppy in 1989 to form the electronic act Front Line Assembly. He was replaced by Jim Cummins, known by the stage name Igor Cavalera. This lineup of Ogre, Key, and Cavalera recorded the abrasive Too Dark Park in 1990 before Cavalera also departed the band. He was replaced by drummer Rey Washam for 1992’s Last Rights.
Last Rights proved to be Skinny Puppy’s last album for 15 years. Ogre quit Skinny Puppy in June 1995, citing divisions within the band. Key and Washam tried to continue on as Skinny Puppy with a new vocalist but ultimately decided to end the project.
Reunion and Continued Work
In 2000, Ogre and Key finally buried their differences and announced a reunion of the core Skinny Puppy partnership. They embarked on an extensive North American tour in support of the rarities/outtakes compilation Brap: Back and Forth Series 3 & 4. The concerts proved Skinny Puppy still had an avid following.
Skinny Puppy resumed recording with the release of The Greater Wrong of the Right in 2004. The album marked a return to the innovative electronic and hybrid rock that defined their classic recordings. Although no longer on a major label, Skinny Puppy charted again for the first time since Last Rights.
Recent Tours and Albums
Ogre and Key have kept Skinny Puppy active with a string of tours and albums up to the present day. The band released Mythmaker in 2007 and discharged a live album, Bootlegged, Broke, and In Solvent Seas in 2012.
In 2013, Skinny Puppy returned with Weapon, inspired by Ogre’s anger over their music allegedly being used for torture at Guantanamo Bay. The album was one of their most acclaimed in years, proving the duo still had something compelling to say.
For their tours since the reunion, Ogre and Key have been joined most frequently by guitarist Mark Walk. Other guests have included drummer Justin Bennett and keyboardist William Morrison. For their studio albums, Ogre and Key do much of the instrumentation themselves, but they collaborate with additional musicians for live shows.
The core of vocalist Nivek Ogre and keyboardist/programmer cEvin Key remains intact nearly 40 years since first teaming up. Their continued creative partnership is what has kept Skinny Puppy’s unique vision alive even through periods of inactivity. Ogre and Key repeatedly return to the project that remains their most famed musical endeavor.
Notable Tours in the Reunion Era
|Doomsday: Back and Forth Series 5 & 6
|The Greater Wrong of the Right
|ín Solvent Seas
|Down the Sociopath
This table shows some of Skinny Puppy’s most notable tours since Ogre and Key reunited the band in 2000. They have remained prolific on the live front, consistently bringing new tours to fans around the world.
Style and Legacy
Skinny Puppy pioneered a new sound that blended synthpop and rock with the avant-garde electronic experimentation of early industrial acts. Ogre’s surreal, horror-tinged vocals and nightmarish lyrics juxtaposed with danceable synth grooves created a dark, paranoid mood that set Skinny Puppy apart. Their innovative production and sampling techniques were also influential.
Though lesser known than genre peers like Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy’s status as pioneers of industrial rock and electro-industrial is widely acknowledged. Their fusion of electronic and rock served as a blueprint for industrial bands expanding beyond underground circles in the 1990s. Skinny Puppy also helped take industrial into hard rock and metal territory.
Influence on Industrial Scene
Skinny Puppy’s shadow looms large over industrial and electro-industrial acts that followed them. Their unapologetic, challenging artistic vision won them a cult following that has remained loyal for decades. Groups like Ministry, KMFDM, Marilyn Manson, and Filter all exhibit Skinny Puppy’s influence. The band’s iconic status is confirmed by the numerous industrial acts that have covered their songs.
Ogre’s Inimitable Style
Nivek Ogre’s distinct vocal delivery and surrealist lyrics defined the Skinny Puppy sound. Screaming, growling, and crooning in obsessive poetic fragments, Ogre created an immersive atmosphere that was often unsettling but always memorable. Though an acquired taste, his experimental vocal style is widely respected for its originality. Attempts to replicate Ogre’s signature approach often fall short.
Legendary Live Performances
Skinny Puppy also earned a reputation for theatrical, intense live shows. On stage, Ogre adopted a variety of masks, costumes, and props to supplement the music. At times shocking and visceral, Skinny Puppy’s concerts built on their music’s chaotic punk energy. The use of fake blood, animal intestines, and other graphic elements made their shows almost séance-like events for diehard fans.
Some tours particularly exemplified Skinny Puppy’s extreme live performances:
– The VIVIsectVI tour in 1988, promoting their first album for Capitol, saw Ogre begin incorporating animal organs on stage.
– Too Dark Park in 1990 was marked by striking visuals like ICC video footage and a meat grinder spewing mashed meat.
– The Last Rights tour in 1992 memorably featured the mock execution of a Boy George lookalike.
– 2004’s Greater Wrong reunion tour included the mock vivisection of Ogre on stage.
– 2013’s Weapon tour incorporated torture imagery in protest of the band’s music allegedly being used at Guantanamo Bay.
These tours cemented Skinny Puppy’s reputation for confronting audiences with thought-provoking theatrics and sticking to their avant-garde vision.
Hiatus Periods and Side Projects
There have been several hiatuses during Skinny Puppy’s long career, mainly prompted by divisions between Ogre and Key. These breaks saw Ogre and Key focus on various side projects before eventually reuniting for more Skinny Puppy work.
Notable Side Projects
– Download, an electronic duo formed by Key and Philth in the mid 1990s.
– Rx (formerly known as Rx0r), Ogre’s experimental solo act.
– Doubting Thomas, a project Key and Ogre formed in the late 1990s, releasing one album in 1999.
– OhGr, Ogre’s primary solo outlet, exploring synthpop and rock. OhGr has released several albums since 2001.
– Key has produced ambient music under aliases like Ken Marshall and Dead Voices on Air.
– Mark Walk’s solo work includes collaborations with Key under aliases like Crud and City of Fire.
These side projects allowed Ogre and Key to stretch different creative muscles while taking breaks from Skinny Puppy. But the influential act’s main legacy remains the innovative music they created together.
Lyrical Themes and Visual Aesthetic
Lyrics Focused on Horror and Societal Problems
Skinny Puppy’s lyrics often deal in unsettling, graphic imagery and a dim view of humanity. Ogre sings of horror, disaster, addiction, disease, and environmental abuse. Like expressionist art, Skinny Puppy’s lyrics hold a funhouse mirror to society’s ills. But moments of black humor and satire peek through the darkness as well.
Visuals Focused on Animal Rights
Visually, Skinny Puppy extensively use animal and vivisection imagery to promote animal welfare causes. Ogre often wears fake animal parts on stage and uses animal rights films as backdrops during shows. The band’s morbid visuals harshly condemn cruelty towards animals. Their iconic single “Testure” protested animal testing specifically.
Overall Artistic Goal
Ultimately, Skinny Puppy seek to unsettle audiences through both their music and visuals, forcing listeners to confront harsh realities. The band channels dystopian, cynical themes but with a humanistic hope for change underlying the darkness. Their innovative sounds and visuals make Skinny Puppy a singular presence in alternative music.
Influence on Popular Culture
Beyond their sizable influence on industrial and electro-industrial music, Skinny Puppy have impacted popular culture in a few notable ways:
Use in Films
– The band’s music has appeared on the soundtracks of films like The Blair Witch Project, Underworld, Saw II, and Dead End.
– Ogre acted in the cyberpunk horror film The Doom Generation in 1995.
– Skinny Puppy contributed the song “Rodent” to the soundtrack of the first Mortal Kombat movie in 1995.
Inspiration for Marilyn Manson Stage Show
Brian Hugh Warner adopted the Marilyn Manson persona and live show style after being inspired by a Skinny Puppy concert in the band’s early days. Manson’s gruesome stage antics echo Skinny Puppy’s macabre performances.
Associations with Rick Rubin
Legendary producer Rick Rubin was an early promoter of Skinny Puppy, releasing some of their early material on his Def American label. Rubin also later produced tracks for the album The Process.
Reasons for Continued Success and Longevity
Several key factors explain Skinny Puppy’s continued existence despite periods of inaction:
Loyal Cult Following
Skinny Puppy built up a devoted cult fanbase during the 1980s and early 1990s that has stayed loyal over decades. That consistent base has enabled Ogre and Key to keep the band viable.
Time Apart Allows Creative Recharging
The hiatus periods have allowed Ogre and Key to rest creatively so they can come back with renewed purpose for more Skinny Puppy material. The breaks help stave off stagnation.
Persistent Artistic Vision
Ogre and Key are committed to following their muse wherever it takes them. They have not compromised their avant-garde aesthetic for mainstream tastes, staying true to Skinny Puppy’s core identity.
Touring Provides Ongoing Income
Skinny Puppy’s regular touring over the years has provided a revenue stream that has funded their ability to keep making music. Live shows remain a big draw for the band.
Side Projects Offer Fresh Outlets
Ogre and Key’s work in different side projects in between Skinny Puppy releases has allowed them to experiment more widely. This helps recharge their creative juices for reconvening Skinny Puppy.
Skinny Puppy’s most recent activity proves the influential band still has much life left:
– In 2021, Skinny Puppy toured Europe and North America, including appearances at prominent festivals like Infest and Amphi Festival.
– In 2022, a European tour was launched to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Last Rights album.
– More live dates are planned for 2023 as well.
– In 2021, Skinny Puppy released a new single, “Brap 2.0,” an update of an earlier song.
– In interviews, Ogre and Key have hinted at plans for a new Skinny Puppy album, which would be their first since 2013’s Weapon.
Clearly, Skinny Puppy show no signs of slowing down decades into their storied career. With more tours and music on the horizon, Ogre and Key continue nurturing the influential band they built together so many years ago.
In summary, Skinny Puppy absolutely remains active today, despite a winding history. The band has navigated several lineup changes, breakups, and reunions since they first emerged in 1982. But through it all, the core artistic partnership between vocalist Nivek Ogre and keyboardist/producer cEvin Key has persisted for nearly 40 years now.
Ogre and Key’s shared vision is the thread that has kept Skinny Puppy’s experimental industrial rock sound alive and evolving across decades, even when the band was inactive. Skinny Puppy’s willingness to follow their own muse, without concern for mainstream success, has earned them a devoted cult fanbase that remains loyal.
Though their lineup may fluctuate, Skinny Puppy continues to record and tour intermittently to this day. The band’s influence looms large, and Ogre and Key’s creative chemistry remains intact. So while Skinny Puppy’s future is always uncertain, their past achievements and ongoing activity confirm their status as industrial rock pioneers who still have much to offer fans old and new.