Philadelphia's Executive Slacks are an often overlooked part of industrial music's history. Formed in 1980 by keyboard player John Young and vocalist/guitarist Matt Marello, they started off making primitive experimental recordings inspired by Tuxedomoon and Cabaret Voltaire before developing an aggressive, driving, danceable electronic rock sound that preceded the commercial success of bands like Ministry and Nine Inch Nails. After percussionist Albert Ganss joined Executive Slacks for their initial live performances, their self-titled debut EP was released in 1983 by Red Music, and while it didn't make an impact in America, its humorous leadoff track, "The Bus," became a club hit in Belgium. Follow-up EP Our Lady (1984) was co-produced by Killing Joke's Youth, who played bass on the song "I'm Coming." Both EPs were compiled as the full-length You Can't Hum When You're Dead, issued by Fundamental.
Youth produced Executive Slacks' 1985 full-length, Nausea, and the group experimented with hip-hop for a club remix of the album's single, "In & Out." After Ganss left, percussionist Bobby Rae joined the band in time for its 1986 LP, Fire & Ice, easily Executive Slacks' most accessible recording. The single "Say It Isn't So" became a goth rock hit, their cover of Gary Glitter's "Rock'n'Roll" was well-received, and one of their songs managed to appear on an episode of Miami Vice for a brief moment. The group was on the verge of signing a major-label contract, but Marello decided to leave the band, leaving Young the only remaining original member. Athan Maroulis (previously of Fahrenheit 451) became Executive Slacks' new frontman and they continued playing shows, but the lineup never released any recordings, and they broke up in 1991. Maroulis subsequently fronted several well-known industrial and gothic bands, including Tubalcain, Spahn Ranch, and Black Tape for a Blue Girl, while Marello became a notable visual artist.
Maroulis frequently produces reissues/compilations and writes liner notes for Cleopatra Records, and the label released the CD compilation Repressed in 1994, eventually issuing the group's entire discography as the double-CD The Complete Recordings 1982-1986 in 2015. Additionally, Dark Entries reissued the band's debut EP in 2014. The imprint also released Seams Ruff, an LP of unreleased recordings from the group's earliest incarnation, in 2016. ~ Paul Simpson