Martin Atkins

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Martin Atkins
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Background information
Birth nameMartin Clive Atkins
Born (1959-08-03) 3 August 1959 (age 60)
Coventry, England [1]
Occupation(s)Drummer / producer / record label owner / writer
Associated acts Public Image Ltd
Killing Joke
Nine Inch Nails
Murder, Inc.
The Damage Manual
Opium Jukebox

Martin Clive Atkins (born 3 August 1959) is an English drummer and session musician, best known for his work in post-punk and industrial groups including Public Image Ltd, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Pigface, and Killing Joke. He also works as a consultant, has written books, and is the music business program coordinator at Millikin University in Decatur, IL. Atkins is an honorary board member of the Chicago-based nonprofit organisation Rock For Kids.


Early life

Atkins was born in Coventry, England. [1]



Atkins' first major exposure as a drummer was with John Lydon's post-Sex Pistols band, Public Image Ltd. He joined in 1979, just in time to contribute to the song "Bad Baby" on the album Metal Box . Atkins' first live show with PiL was recorded and released as a live album Paris au Printemps and his first year with the band included appearances on The John Peel Sessions for the BBC, American Bandstand and the BBC's live Old Grey Whistle Test .

In 1980, Atkins left Public Image Ltd to concentrate on his band Brian Brain with Pete Jones (who also played with Public Image Ltd in 1982 and 1983) on bass (in 1983 replaced by original Go-Gos' bassist Margot Olavarria) and Bobby Surgeoner on guitar (later replaced by Olavarria's husband, Geoff Smyth). Brian Brain released six singles and one LP (Unexpected Noises) on Secret Records, [3] and continued to release singles and LPs on Atkins' own Plaid Records throughout the 1980s. The band had a minor indie chart hit in 1980 with "They've Got Me in the Bottle" (#39), [4] and club hits with the singles "Jive Jive" (1981) and "Funky Zoo" (1982).


Atkins rejoined Public Image Ltd in 1981 to contribute to The Flowers of Romance and, later, produced and co-wrote the album This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get . Atkins eventually left PiL for the last time in 1985.


After leaving Public Image Ltd, Atkins revived his Brian Brain project [5] and recorded an EP at Planet Sound Studios in New York for his own, short-lived label Plaid Records, [6] which was released in July 1985. [7] Throughout the late 1980s, the 1990s and early 2000s, Atkins performed with many bands, including Nine Inch Nails (appearing in the video for "Head Like A Hole"), as well as Ministry. The dual-drumming of Atkins and Bill Rieflin appears on the live Ministry album/video In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up . Atkins later joined Killing Joke, performing on 1990s Extremities, Dirt, and Other Repressed Emotions. He also managed the band for that time, and designed their live show scenery and some merchandise.

Atkins formed his industrial supergroup, Pigface, during a Ministry tour in 1989–1990. After joining Killing Joke for their 1990 recording, Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions, he went on to form Murder, Inc., a new band featuring Geordie Walker and Paul Raven from Killing Joke, and Chris Connelly, in 1992. [8] During this time, he played with the Revolting Cocks and is credited alongside Chris Vrenna in Nine Inch Nails for performing extra drums on "Wish" and "Gave Up," tracks two and six of the Broken EP (as well as the aforementioned "Head Like A Hole").

In between creating albums and touring with Pigface he also formed The Damage Manual with Jah Wobble, Walker, and Connelly. Atkins later produced and released a collaborative album with Skinny Puppy's Nivek Ogre, the latter's first project outside of Skinny Puppy, under the moniker Rx. The resulting album was entitled Bedside Toxicology.

Between 2000 and 2002 he released four albums as Opium Jukebox featuring instrumental cover tunes done in a Bhangra style. [9]

2006 and onward

In October 2006, Atkins visited Beijing to discover the emerging Chinese music scene. During his stay, Atkins recorded and signed a handful of Chinese bands to Invisible Records and recorded material for a new Pigface album.

Atkins has taught at Columbia College in Chicago where he instructed the course "The Business of Touring". He is also an active guest lecturer, speaking at such institutions as the University of Southern California, the Midi School in Beijing and Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania. Atkins has since become an instructor at the Madison Media Institute in Madison, Wisconsin. Atkins has announced plans to take his lecturing further by eventually opening a school of his own. [10] He is also a former department chairman for a music business program he designed at SAE Chicago. [11] He now is the acting Music Business program coordinator at Millikin University in Decatur, IL.

Atkins has held a number of seminars at Tech Music Schools (Drumtech, Vocaltech, Guitar-X and Keyboardtech) in London, with more planned for the future.

Atkins has written what he calls, "the first real book on touring". The book Tour:Smart, featured contributions from Henry Rollins, Cynthia Plastercaster, The Enigma, the Suicide Girls, Zim Zum (formerly of Marilyn Manson), Kevin Lyman, Curse Mackey, CPA Lisa Malina and various other managers, journalists, venues, agents, sponsors, and radio personalities. [12] [13]

Atkins was on the tenth annual Independent Music Awards judging panel, and was also a judge for the seventh annual season of Independent Music Awards to support independent artists. [14]

Starting in 2015, Atkins has written and performed several podcast stories for The Martin Atkins Minute, included with the NPR All Songs Considered podcast. [15]

In 2018 Martin released Band:Smart the follow up to his Tour:Smart book. This book covers record labels, book agents, crafting a stage show, band names, social media and lots more. [16]

Related Research Articles

Public Image Ltd English rock band

Public Image Ltd are an English post-punk band formed by singer John Lydon, guitarist Keith Levene, bassist Jah Wobble, and drummer Jim Walker. The group's personnel has changed frequently over the years; Lydon has been the sole constant member.

Prong (band) American heavy metal band

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Pigface is an industrial rock supergroup formed in 1990 by Martin Atkins and William Rieflin.

Cynthia Plaster Caster is an American artist and self-described "recovering groupie" who gained fame for creating plaster casts of famous persons' erect penises.

The Damage Manual is an industrial supergroup that originally formed in 2000. It featured Martin Atkins on drums and loops, Chris Connelly on vocals, Geordie Walker on guitar and Jah Wobble on bass. A second lineup saw Steven Seibold of the band Hate Dept. replacing both Walker and Wobble after their departure.

<i>The Flowers of Romance</i> (album) 1981 studio album by Public Image Ltd

The Flowers of Romance is the third studio album by English experimental rock band Public Image Ltd, released on 10 April 1981 by record label Virgin.

Paul Vincent Raven was an English bassist best known for his work in the post-punk group Killing Joke. He later played in the industrial music bands Prong, Ministry, and Zilch.

Ted Parsons is an American drummer most notable for his membership in bands such as Swans, Prong, Godflesh, Killing Joke and Jesu.

Murder, Inc. (band)

Murder, Inc. was an industrial music supergroup formed in 1991, featuring vocalist Chris Connelly, Killing Joke members Geordie Walker, Paul Raven, "Big Paul" Ferguson, John Bechdel, and former Public Image Ltd drummer Martin Atkins.

<i>The Courtauld Talks</i> 1989 live album by Killing Joke

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<i>Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions</i> 1990 studio album by Killing Joke

Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions is the eighth studio album by English post-punk band Killing Joke, released in November 1990 by Noise Records. It is the only Killing Joke album to feature drummer Martin Atkins, formerly of Public Image Ltd and Ministry.

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<i>6</i> (Pigface album) 2009 studio album by Pigface

6 is the sixth studio album by the industrial rock band Pigface. It was released in 2009 on Full Effect Records. The song "KMFPF", an acronym for "Kill Mother-Fucking Pigface", is a warped allusion to the band KMFDM.

Mary Byker is a singer, producer and DJ known for his work as the lead singer of Gaye Bykers on Acid, Pop Will Eat Itself, Pigface and Apollo 440.

Hope Nicholls is an American singer-songwriter from Charlotte, North Carolina. She was the lead vocalist of the alternative rock bands Fetchin Bones, Sugarsmack and Snagglepuss. She also briefly toured with Martin Atkins' band Pigface in support of its album Fook. Nicholls is now the lead singer and drummer of a project called It's Snakes. Their eponymously titled, debut record came out in December 2016, self-released. This band features husband and life-long musical collaborator Aaron Pitkin on guitar. She is also a contributing vocalist to The Plaza Family Band, a local education fund-raising project.


  1. 1 2 "Martin Atkins Biography". Billboard. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  2. Kot, Greg (18 December 1998). "Sculpted Chaos : Pigface's Blistering Rock Freak Show Just Won't Quit". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 25 May 2018. Somehow keeping it together is Martin Atkins, a British expatriate and avant-rock veteran with stints in esteemed bands such as Public Image Ltd. and Killing Joke.
  3. "PiL Discography | Brian Brain Discography". Fodderstompf. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
  4. Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980–1999. Cherry Red Books. ISBN   0-9517206-9-4.
  5. Freeman, Kim (25 May 1985). "Grass Route". Billboard. p. 85. Retrieved 23 November 2014. Back in New York, former Public Image Ltd. drummer/writer/producer Martin Atkins has gone solo with a new label called Plaid Records. The first project there is an EP by Brian Brain, which features Margot Olavarria, formerly of the Go-Go's.
  6. Dupler, Steven (15 June 1985). "Audio Track, New York". Billboard. p. 30.
  7. Goodman, Fred (20 July 1985). "Album Reviews". Billboard. p. 66. Retrieved 23 November 2014. Four-song EP by New York based outfit employing heavy drum sound and chant vocal arrangements. Title track is an anti-drug tune that manages to avoid becoming bogged down under the weight of its message.
  8. Harris, Chris (21 October 2007). "Ministry/ Killing Joke Bassist Paul Raven Dead At 46". MTV . Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  9. "Opium Jukebox".
  10. Corelli, Richie (6 March 2007). "Aim Low, Get High: An Evening with Martin Atkins". Soundsect. Archived from the original on 2 February 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  11. Guy, Sandra (22 November 2014). "The Sitdown: Martin Atkins, ex-Public Image Ltd. drummer, educator". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  12. Emerson, Brett (8 February 2009). "Martin Atkins, Tour:Smart". The Second Supper. Archived from the original on 29 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  13. Emerson, Brett. "Martin Atkins - Tour:Smart". The Second Supper. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  14. "Independent Music Awards – 7th Annual Judges". Independent Music Awards. Archived from the original on 6 March 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  15. "The Martin Atkins Minute". NPR. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  16. "Band:Smart Success in the Music Business on Your Own Terms".