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Houston's harrowing Pain Teens were one of the earlier bands to fuse the chilly gloom of goth rock with the harsh experimentalism of early industrial music, setting the stage for a hybrid that would become increasingly common as the '90s wore on. The Pain Teens' core was the husband-and-wife team of Bliss Blood and Scott Ayers; Blood played the role of goth chanteuse, while Ayers' murky, ultradistorted guitar work veered from creepy psychedelia to pure avant-garde noise, with occasional hints of Texas blues filtered through the Birthday Party. Also filling the role of electronics manipulator, Ayers' tracks were laden with pounding tribal percussion, tape loops, dialogue samples, and assorted found sounds. Like their main influences (Swans, Throbbing Gristle), or even to a degree their fellow Texans the Butthole Surfers, the Pain Teens' lyrical interests were highly provocative: kinky sex, murder, mental illness, child abuse, religious hypocrisy, and anything else that evoked the dark side of human existence. Much more than her forebears, though, Blood tempered those confrontational shock tactics with a tangible, underlying feminist and social concern. The Pain Teens were quite prolific over their decade-long existence, and although the goth/industrial/noise formula shifted its emphasis from time to time, much of their work was generally of a piece.
The Pain Teens were formed in 1985 as a chiefly studio-bound project between Scott Ayers (a veteran of local punk act Naked Amerika) and Bliss Blood. Essentially a Stooges-influenced punk band at first, their sound quickly grew beyond those roots, as documented on a lengthy series of cassette-only releases issued on the band's own Anomie label. After honing their style for a couple of years, the Pain Teens finally started to play live around the area, and developed a provocative stage show that often featured live whippings. Their first official album was a self-titled affair culled from their previous cassette recordings, and released on Anomie in 1988. The follow-up, 1989's Case Histories, also drew its material from the group's cassette catalog, which by 1990 numbered nine separate 90-minute releases.
Later in 1990, the Pain Teens signed with Butthole Surfer King Coffey's Trance Syndicate label, and debuted with the album Born in Blood, their first official release to feature all-new material. Bassist Kirk Carr officially joined the band that year as well, since increased touring commitments made a full backing group necessary. Drummer Frank Garymartin came onboard in 1991, and with this fleshed-out lineup, the Pain Teens recorded two more albums, 1992's Stimulation Festival and 1993's Destroy Me, Lover. Carr and Garymartin both departed in 1994, and Blood and Ayers turned out one final effort, the world music-influenced Beast of Dreams, in 1995; they subsequently went their personal and professional ways. Ayers played with Garymartin in Truth Decay, and also in Culturcide with Ralf Armin, the latter of whom had been a guest musician with the Pain Teens from time to time. He also started the trip-hop-flavored solo project the Walking Timebombs. Blood, meanwhile, moved to New York City and performed with several different groups, including Emma Peel and the faux-jazz Moonlighters. As a supporting musician, Garymartin also played behind Helios Creed and Butthole Surfers side project Daddy Longhead.