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Toy Killers

Rock, Electronic and Alternative

The Toy Killers were founded in New York City during the late '70s by percussionists Mark E. Miller and Charles K. Noyes. While better known to many listeners for their appearances on recordings by the likes of John Zorn, Bill Laswell, and Elliott Sharp, among others, Miller and Noyes also gained notoriety for their wild and unpredictable live performances under the Toy Killers name. Firecrackers and other explosives often featured in these largely improvised performances, which took place at downtown New York venues such as the Kitchen and Miller's own venue, Mort's Social Club (also known as MortSocial and Studio Henry at various points). The group's lineup featured a revolving door of talented noisemakers: Sharp, Arto Lindsay, Thi-Linh Le, and Nicky Skopelitis on guitars; Wayne Horvitz and Michael Beinhorn on keyboards; Laswell on bass; and Zorn on saxophone and game calls, to name just some of the contributors. With these (and other) musicians fluidly coming and going, the group remained an active live entity throughout the early '80s. Based on the lineup, the group's music could run the gamut from no wave skronk (à la Lindsay's DNA) to percussion-heavy semi-tribal post-dance music. However, there were few Toy Killers recordings available during this era to document their ever-mutating sound. These recordings included a few scattered compilation tracks -- including one on the 1984 Homestead compilation Speed Trials -- alongside Sonic Youth, the Beastie Boys, and Lydia Lunch -- as well as a cassette, Humdrum, which was not well distributed. The Toy Killers went on an extended hiatus beginning in the late '80s, with Miller ultimately moving to California and actually playing in a wedding band there during the '90s. However, Miller got back into the world of improvised music during the mid-2000s as he connected with Bay Area improvisers such as Henry Kaiser, Rova's Larry Ochs, and the Flying Luttenbachers' Weasel Walter. The latter persuaded Miller to hand over his old recordings of The Toy Killers for the purpose of making a CD, which became a finished product in late 2008. The CD, entitled The Unlistenable Years (ugEXPLODE), consists of 25 tracks recorded between 1980 and 1983, most of which were previously unreleased. Around the time of this CD, a revamped lineup -- featuring Miller and Noyes along with Beinhorn and newcomers Walter and Kaiser -- was in the process of recording a new album under the Toy Killers name. Artist Biography by William York

PortraitBill Laswell
b *1955 US
PortraitArto Lindsay
g, voc *1953 US
PortraitNicky Skopelitis
g *1949 US
PortraitElliott Sharp
g *1951 US
PortraitMichael Beinhorn
syn US
PortraitJohn Zorn
as *1953 US
Thi-Linh Le
PortraitHenry Kaiser
g, eg *1952 US
PortraitWeasel Walter
dr *1972 US
PortraitWayne Horvitz
key, p *1955 US
Mark E. Miller
bvoc, dr
PortraitCharles K. Noyes
dr, perc
PortraitLarry Ochs
ts, sss *1949 US
Popular Tracks   
Bleed For The Mind on The Unlistenable Years by Toy Killers
24 Handkercheifs For Roger Trilling on The Unlistenable Years by Toy Killers
Sex Carp on The Unlistenable Years by Toy Killers
I'm Embarrassed To Be An American Girl on The Unlistenable Years by Toy Killers
The Devil May Be Your Santa Claus on The Unlistenable Years by Toy Killers
Corrugated Gems Of Woe on The Unlistenable Years by Toy Killers
Death Certificate - 14 Dollars on The Unlistenable Years by Toy Killers
Citymulch on The Unlistenable Years by Toy Killers
Improvisation 1 on The Unlistenable Years by Toy Killers
Teen Sex Carp on The Unlistenable Years by Toy Killers

Track list and 30sec audio provided by

Title Artist Year Type
My Name Is DirtierToy Killers2015Album
The Unlistenable YearsToy Killers2008Compil.
RiotToy Killers1988Album
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To all the music fans that are contributing on Discogs, MusicBrainz and Wikipedia. Thanks to Franz Flückiger for providing Storygram used to visualize band membership.
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