Real Name:
James George Thirlwell
Foetus is a main solo project and 'one-man band' of Australian polystylistic composer, multi-instrumentalist, experimental sound artist and producer J.G. Thirlwell. Jim Thirlwell conceived the basic Foetus concept when he relocated to London in 1978. He composed everything and recorded all instruments himself, handling the entire production, even drawing illustrations and designing artworks, but for each album, he would invent a new 'band' with a word 'foetus' in a deliberately profane/offensive name. The debut single, Foetus Under Glass* - Spite Your Face / OKFM 7", was released in 1981 through Thirlwell's own label Self Immolation. Soon after, Thirlwell adopted a next moniker You've Got Foetus On Your Breath, and produced a debut and sophomore full-length albums Deaf and Ache in 1981-82.

In 1984, Thirlwell permanently relocated to New York City, and ever since he had been closely associated with a 'local' (and internationally renowned) avant/industrial/fringe/free improv underground NYC scene. The next two albums, Hole (1984) and Nail '85, were again arranged, performed and produced solely by J.G. Thirlwell, and released under Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel alias. The concept was again re-invented as Foetus Interruptus three years later, for the fifth album Thaw in 1988. All known Foetus aliases and name variations were presented on Foetus Inc* - Sink compilation in 1989, a collection of rare b-sides and unreleased tracks.

During the eighties, Foetus was almost exclusively a solo project for Thirlwell (occasionally credited as Clint Ruin) in the studio, but live he was supported by a group of musicians from industrial/experimental bands and projects like Swans, Prong and <PIG>. They would appear as simply 'Foetus' (in the later years) or yet another Foetus side-project/deviation, such as Foetus Corruptus (captured live in 1988 somewhere in Europe on the 'official bootleg' Rife). In November 1990, an extended configuration of the band, Foetus In Excelsis Corruptus Deluxe, played a concert at the Manhattan's legendary CBGB, which is documented on Male 2xCD, the project's second official live album, released by Big Cat in 1992.

In 1995, Foetus presented their best-known album and the only record produced by a major label, Gash. It was distributed internationally, and released via Columbia in USA & Canada, Rough Trade in Germany, Big Cat in the United Kingdom, and Sony Music Records in Australia and Japan. 'Gash' was the first studio work by Foetus prominently featuring other musicians beside Thirlwell: drummer Vinnie Signorelli, who already played with Foetus live on many occasions, as well as Tod Ashley (bass), Marc Ribot (guitar), and Steven Bernstein (trumpet). The band's third live album Boil was recorded during Rednecropolis 96 tour in Europe, featuring Brian Emrich on bass, William Tucker and Kurt Wolf on guitars, Rob Sutton with keyboards & guitar, and Jim Kimball on drums.

Foetus returned five years later with a new studio album Flow, released by Thirsty Ear (USA) and Nois-O-Lution (Germany) in May 2001. This record marked the transition back to solo Foetus, with all instruments and production by J.G. Thirlwell. It was paired with Blow remix album, featuring Amon Tobin, Pan Sonic, Kid606, DJ Food, Panacea and several others. On subsequent albums, Jim Thirlwell is responsible for all instruments and vocals, though every album features at least 3-4 tracks recorded with collaborators and guest musicians.

A few conceptual themes in Foetus discography include album titles, which are all four-letter monosyllables, and gradual introduction of color in cover artwork: the first three albums only used black, white and red, with the addition of yellow on 'Nail,' and finally full-color artworks were introduced since 'Gash.' Foetus adopted a new visual identity and style in 2004, reverting to black-white-red gamma.


Extended live configurations:

Foetus Corruptus
J.G. Thirlwell as Clint Ruin – vocals
Algis A. Kizys – bass
Norman Westberg – guitar
Ted Parsons – drums
Ray Scaballero (Raymond Watts) – keyboards, guitar

Foetus In Excelsis Corruptus Deluxe
Clint Ruin – vocals
Algis Kizys – bass
Norman Westberg – guitar
David Ouimet – trombone, sampler
Hahn Rowe – violin, guitar
Vinnie Signorelli – drums

The Foetus Symphony Orchestra
A one-off project, supergroup which played live once at Anchorage, Brooklyn in July 1996, featuring Thirlwell plus seven members of Swans, Unsane, Cop Shoot Cop, Pussy Galore, Boss Hog, Lounge Lizards and Elysian Fields. The performance is documented on York (First Exit To Brooklyn) album, released in 1997.

J.G. Thirlwell – vocals, percussion, tin whistle, conch
Brian Emrich – bass, bass synthesizer, guitar /w E-bow
Steven Bernstein – trumpet, slide trumpet
Oren Bloedow – guitar, electric oud
Marcus Rojas – tuba, didgeridoo
Lydia Lunch – narrator
David Ouimet – trombone
Vinnie Signorelli – drums
Kurt Wolf – guitar


WOMB OYBL 1 Foetus - Deaf album art You've Got Foetus On Your Breath* Deaf (Album) Self Immolation WOMB OYBL 1 UK 1981 Sell This Version
WOMB OYBL 2, womb oybl 2 Foetus - Ache album art You've Got Foetus On Your Breath* Ache (Album) Self Immolation, Self Immolation WOMB OYBL 2, womb oybl 2 UK 1982 Sell This Version
PVCC 9903 Foetus - Hole album art Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel* Hole (Album) Self Immolation, Some Bizzare PVCC 9903 US 1984 Sell This Version
WOMB FIP 4 Foetus - Nail album art Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel* Nail (Album) Self Immolation, Some Bizzare WOMB FIP 4 Sweden 1985 Sell This Version
RIFLE 1 Foetus - Rife album art Foetus Corruptus* Rife (Album) Rifle RIFLE 1 UK 1988 Sell This Version
WOMB FIP 5 Foetus - Thaw album art Foetus Interruptus* Thaw (Album) Self Immolation, Some Bizzare WOMB FIP 5 UK 1988 Sell This Version
ABB31/2CD Foetus - Male album art Foetus In Excelsis Corruptus Deluxe* Male (Album) Big Cat ABB31/2CD UK 1992 Sell This Version
CT 66461 Foetus - Gash album art Foetus Gash (Album) Big Cat CT 66461 US 1994 Sell This Version
CLP 9789-2 Foetus - Boil album art Foetus Boil (Album) Big Cat, Big Cat, Ectopic Ents CLP 9789-2 US 1996 Sell This Version
BNCD 002-003 Foetus - Null/Void album art Foetus Null/Void (Comp, EP) Big Cat BNCD 002-003 Japan 1996 Sell This Version
none Foetus - Flow album art Foetus Flow (Album) Thirsty Ear none Germany 2001 Sell This Version
THI57109.2 Foetus - Blow album art Foetus Blow (Comp) Thirsty Ear THI57109.2 US 2001 Sell This Version
none Foetus - Love album art Foetus Love (Album) Birdman Records, Ectopic Ents none UK 2004 Sell This Version
ect ents 028 Foetus - Damp album art Foetus Damp(CD, Album) Ectopic Ents ect ents 028 US 2006 Sell This Version
bmr103, ECT ENTS 029 Foetus - Vein album art Foetus Vein(CD, Album, Enh) Birdman Records, Ectopic Ents bmr103, ECT ENTS 029 US 2007 Sell This Version
ECT ENTS 033, ectents 033 Foetus - Hide album art Foetus Hide(CD, Album) Ectopic Ents, Ectopic Ents ECT ENTS 033, ectents 033 US 2010 Sell This Version
ECT ENTS 035, ect ents 035 Foetus - Soak album art Foetus Soak (Album) Ectopic Ents, Ectopic Ents ECT ENTS 035, ect ents 035 US 2013 Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

WOMB S.201 Foetus - Spite Your Face / OKFM album art Foetus Under Glass* Spite Your Face / OKFM (Single) Self Immolation WOMB S.201 UK 1981 Sell This Version
WOMB ALL007 Foetus - Wash It All Off album art You've Got Foetus On Your Breath* Wash It All Off(7") Self Immolation WOMB ALL007 UK 1981 Sell This Version
WOMB WSUSC 12.5 Foetus - Custom Built For Capitalism album art Foetus Over Frisco* Custom Built For Capitalism(12", EP) Self Immolation WOMB WSUSC 12.5 UK 1982 Sell This Version
WOMB KX 07 Foetus - Tell Me, What Is The Bane Of Your Life album art Phillip And His Foetus Vibrations* Tell Me, What Is The Bane Of Your Life(7", Single) Self Immolation WOMB KX 07 UK 1982 Sell This Version
YW-7423-AX Foetus - Calamity Crush album art Foetus ~ Art ~ Terrorism* Calamity Crush (Single) Self Immolation, Some Bizzare YW-7423-AX Japan 1984 Sell This Version
WOMB UNC 7.12 Foetus - Finely Honed Machine album art Foetus Über Frisco* Finely Honed Machine Self Immolation WOMB UNC 7.12 UK 1985 Sell This Version
WOMB FGH 8.12 Foetus - Wash & Slog album art You've Got Foetus On Your Breath* Wash & Slog Self Immolation, Some Bizzare WOMB FGH 8.12 UK 1984 Sell This Version
WOMB PIG 12.12 Foetus - Ramrod / Boxhead album art Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel* Ramrod / Boxhead (EP) Self Immolation WOMB PIG 12.12 UK 1987 Sell This Version

Reviews Show All 8 Reviews

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July 27, 2020
Foetus, musically and in a god-like way, always ment extravaganza.


February 2, 2012
edited over 10 years ago
J.G. Thirlwell? Clint Ruin? Karl Satan? Frank Want?? The many aliases he has just hint at the level of cerebral brilliance he has. The man who has been mimicked or turned mainstream like a previous review stated, which is fact that some fools don't want to accept (NiN, Manson, even Ministry, but they are actually creative and good) over and over he's been ripped off and still remains on top and much more creative. Where the previous bands mentioned had some moments but never really surpassed any of his work, this man has kept evolving and evolving. The multiple layered orchestral, bombast movements he focuses on now are not at all like the noisy frank zappa meets einsturzende nuebaten barrage of sound he was known for coining, but much more mature. Steroid Maximus, Manorexia (which is now him working with an actual symphony) Baby Zizanie, Wiseblood, his work with Marc Almond, Lydia Lunch, Chrome Cranks, How many side projects do the phonies have?? They are too busy milking an album for 5 years cause they have no real material but what they've stolen from this genius.


April 5, 2011
He will ever be THE diamond for all the people how know him! A totaly master of post-industrial music. I would say every household needs a minimum of 3 CDs of foetus!


June 9, 2010
edited over 7 years ago
JGT is exceptionally talented. He has never compromised. He's always unique. He doesn't satisfy a target market. "How many centuries does a spirit need in order to be understood?"


August 20, 2009
Genius is a much overused word in the music world, but it barely comes close to describing the magnificent and utterly unique Jim Thirlwell. It amazes me that his talent is not spoken of or written about or recognised in the same breath as only a very select few are - lee perry, george clinton, prince, even james brown and phil spector.

Jim certainly deserves to be up there, his early releases are must haves, simply for their sheer energy and virtuosity (in terms of musicality and production).



July 24, 2005
edited over 16 years ago
When the Queen remasters where being made he was approached to do the remixes that are featured at the end of each cd and for quite a large sum of money. However, he turned it down because he wasn't intersted. Now that's punk rock.


January 27, 2005
edited over 17 years ago
Foetus is not "huge," relatively speaking, because the industry does not view Thirlwell's gift as a commercial product that can be sold (dumped) in bulk like "hit" driven top-40 drivel. JGT launched and released material on Self Immolation when existing labels expressed no interest in his recordings. He somehow managed to be every bit as powerful and uncompromising live when I saw him in Seattle maybe eight years ago. The boot shaped bruise on my former roomate's forehead from a Clint Ruin headkick was enough to get me to the next show. Oh yeah, baby!

"I'll Meet You in Poland Baby," "Anything," "The Throne of Agony," Wiseblood's "0-0 Where Evil Dwells" are personal favorites that never get old. "Wash It All Off" and dammit, every Foetus track deserves special mention as well. Thirlwell is the real deal: authentic, original, unforgettable.

Helpful tip for virgins: It's not loud enough, turn it up. That's why you're perplexed. You'll know when it's right, you'll feel it.


August 9, 2003
Why isn't this guy huge! He influenced everybody. Foetus means alot to me. His early sonic explorations were always on my mixtapes. Plus his lyrics were deranged, ironic and super clever. He employed the use of sampling early on. His collaborations with Lydia Lunch were amazing and his remixes for all those metal bands (Prong, White Zombie, Pantera, etc...) were ground breaking. An absolute genius.

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