Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
At the height of Nu-Metal‘s heyday in the mid to late 90s came one of the genre’s more unique entities, one that branched far outside the confines of Nu-Metal itself, Los Angeles, California‘s Professional Murder Music.
It was in those late Nineties, 1999, to be specific, when former Human Waste Project members Roman Marisak (vocals and guitar) and Jeff Schartoff (bass) felt it was high time for something new in music. The duo soon recruited drummer Justin Bennett (Skinny Puppy, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Peter Murphy), and guitarist Brian Harrah (Tura Satana) and it was then that Professional Murder Music was born.
Quickly developing their own sound, one rooted in emotionally multifaceted music that incorporated Nu-Metal, Industrial, Electronica, and Hard Rock, things began to quickly happen for PMM. Within months of their dominating the L.A. music scene, they were signed by Geffen Records, and work on their debut album began.
The band was teamed with renowned rock producer Josh Abraham (Staind, Static-X, Coal Chamber) and invited such guests as Dave Ogilvie (Skinny Puppy) and Troy Van Leeuwen (A Perfect Circle, Queens Of The Stone Age) to assist with the record.
2001’s self-titled ‘Professional Murder Music’ was a meteoric success right from the start. That was in part due to prestigious support slots on tours with the likes of Marilyn Manson, Staind, Cold, Kid Rock, and more, where the band attracted ever-increasing fans and their diehard support. Professional Murder Music would also perform at the multi-band and tattoo artist traveling tour festival, Tattoo The Earth.
By this time, several songs from the S/T début were taking on lives of their own, as the band’s Official Video for “Slow” went into regular rotation on MTV, MTV2, and MTVX. The song was also used in several bumpers and backgrounds on various shows (such as ‘The Real World’) and other spots.
“Slow“, “Fall Again”, and The Cure remake “A Night Like This”, were all used on several movie soundtracks, including those for Ginger Snaps, Valentine, and the hit Arnold Schwarzenegger film End Of Days.
When the time eventually came to record their sophomore album, changes would come to the Professional Murder Music camp, as they often do. Roman and Jeff had both grown somewhat dissatisfied with the overall managerial aspect of the band’s career. That was also compounded by the seeming disinterest of some of the players.
Before long, guitarist Brian Harrah and drummer Justin Bennett exited the band. Roman simply assumed all guitar duties and continued work on the recording, another featuring guest appearances like the first release. This time the featured artists included drummer Tommy Lee (Mötley Crüe), singer Jason Miller (Godhead), and Thrill Kill Kult’s Buzz McCoy.
Seeking to call their own shots and control their destiny, Professional Murder Music opted to independently issue the record themselves. They created Wormhole Records and, after securing national distribution via Underground, Inc. and Caroline Records, released ‘Looking Through’ in 2003.
They immediately jumped on 2003’s United II Tour featuring Dope and Pigface. In 2004, PMM embarked on its first-ever headlining U.S. tour, featuring new guitarist Tom Hatziemanouel (Graves) and temporarily enlisting drummer Josh Memolo of The Union Underground.
By the end of 2004, drummer Chris Olivas (Berlin) had officially joined Professional Murder Music and once again, the band felt it was time to experiment. Seeking to try something different and being fans of unique, ofttimes eclectic bands themselves, PMM decided to record an “acoustic” release.
They would do so with a bit of a twist, though, as they chose to record five stripped-down covers of other band’s songs, plus five of their own previously recorded songs, but reinterpreted with this new approach. ‘De Profundis’ would be released in 2005, and although it did not contain any new original music, the album was an enjoyable effort nonetheless.
As I alluded to, it contained five previously issued Professional Murder Music songs delivered in a new format, along with covers from PJ Harvey, Stone Temple Pilots, Radiohead, U2, and David Bowie. Though ‘De Profundis’ would be the last official full-length studio offering from Professional Murder Music, the band is still considered active.
There has been activity on the band’s Facebook page as recently as March of this year (2017). Back in 2013, the band released a fantastic new single, “The Reflection“, that allowed fans a glimpse as to how the band has evolved and how great they sound all these years later.