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SONS OF THE SILENT AGE: Interview With Chris Connelly


Written and interviewed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

Chris Connelly has remained an enigmatic presence in the music world for over 20 years now. Here in modern-day Chicago, we know him as a head honcho at Reckless Records and an avant-garde, jack-of-all-trades musician who can toy with any genre he'd like and end up with beyond stellar results. But in his past, we remember him most as one of the core members of Chicago's own Ministry and Revolting Cocks. Both were projects helmed by frontman Al Jourgenson, but Connelly was just as much of an integral part of both bands, their respective side projects PTP and Acid Horse, and the industrial music scene in general (he did sing lead on Ministry's "So What," which is arguably the most popular favorite amongst hardcore fans). He's released work on the seminal Wax Trax! label and worked with other artists such as KMFDM, Pigface, The Damage Manual, and released an enrapturing collaboration with Bill Rieflin (if you haven't heard Largo, you should get on that). Beyond this, he also penned a memoir of his time in the music industry: Concrete, Bulletproof, Invisible, and Fried: My Life As A Revolting Cock.

A busy guy he may be, but not so much that he can't partner up with friend and collaborator Matt Walker and Garbage vocalist Shirley Manson to get together and play a night full of David Bowie songs at the Metro on January 11th. Billed as The Sons of the Silent Age (the title of one of the best songs from Bowie's Heroes), this collective will be performing on this particular night to benefit The Pablove Foundation: an organization whose mission is to "fund pediatric cancer research and advances in treatment, educate and empower cancer families, and improve the quality of life for children living with cancer through hospital play, music and arts programs."

We had a quick email chat with Chris about the event and his affinity for Bowie (which we at UR Chicago share whole-heartedly), which you can read below.

UR Chicago: First off, what was the initial spark that ignited the idea for The Sons of the Silent Age, and what made you approach everyone who's involved? (I was shocked to see Robert Byrne from Dovetail Joint on the bill.)

Chris Connelly: I was working with Matt Walker, doing some vocals for him, and I commented that the track had a very vague Bowie feel to it. I have known Matt for years and I know that he is a huge Bowie fan (as am I), and I suggested it would be fun to play some of his songs. It basically grew very quickly from there: Matt reached out to several musicians he works with and there you go.

UR: The Pablove Foundation is such a great cause, and I'm curious why you chose this charity specifically to benefit from the event?

CC: Matt knows the people at the organization, as does Shirley  and yes, it is a great organization... one that's very worthwhile and something that everyone can believe in. 

UR: I know as a longtime Chicagoan that you probably have a deep relationship of some sort with the Metro, like most Chicago-bound music lovers  seeing as how they just had their 30th anniversary, I'm interested to hear your favorite Metro related story... whether it's from a show you played or a show you attended.

CC: My favourite Metro story will always be the first ever Revolting Cocks show. We rehearsed in the tiny theatre upstairs from the Metro for two weeks before the gig  quitting late every night to go down to Smart Bar and get wasted!  This was Labor Day in 1987  a long time ago  I was not living in the States yet! It was a real culture shock for me. We got away with a LOT, and the gig itself was a very surreal and crazy event that went on all night. Incredible, but part of me was glad to get back to Scotland...

UR: As a massive David Bowie fan, I have to ask  what's your favorite Bowie album and song? (Hunky Dory and Aladdin Sane are my two faves, but my favorite song would have to be "Diamond Dogs.")

CC: That's a tough one! Station to Station is my favourite album and song. It was maybe the third album that I ever bought, in early 1976, and I have listened to it probably once a week since then! That song and that whole album carry with it an unprecedented fusion of stark, cold European sensibilities coupled with strong, hard funk. It stands by itself; nothing has ever touched it. 

UR: Lastly, as a fan of yours, I have to ask what you have coming up on the horizon past this show? And furthermore, can we expect another performance from The Sons of the Silent Age, or is this a one-off/once in a lifetime thing?

CC: Yes  we'll play again. We have put a lot of work into learning the material. It would be a real shame not to repeat it! As for me, I'm not sure. There's always some collaboration on the horizon; I should also buckle down and do some more writing...

We have two songs from Chris' last album, Artificial Madness, available for free download!

"Wait For Amateur" (Right click/save as... for download)
"Classically Wounded" (Right click/save as... for download)

You can buy the album from your preferred retailer via these links: iTunes | Amazon | Relapse Records

As of this moment, tickets for the show are still available, and you can buy them from this link. Don't forget that the proceeds go to The Pablove Foundation, and if you're unable to make it to the show on January 11th, you can still donate through this link.

Be sure to keep up with Chris Connelly's goings on at

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