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A rivethead is a person associated with the industrial music scene. Although industrial music emerged in the post-punk period, the identifiable stereotype of an industrial fan emerged in the 1990s.[1] Dress style is typically militaristic.


Origins of the term

Chase, founder of Re-Constriction Records, is responsible for the term's current meaning.[2] In 1993, he released Rivet Head Culture, a compilation including several Industrial acts of the American underground music scene. The same year, Chemlab—whose members were close friends of Chase—released their debut album, Burn Out at the Hydrogen Bar, which had a track called "Rivethead." Chemlab singer Jared Louche said he didn't remember where "Rivethead" came from, although he states that this song title was in his mind for years.[3] The term had been used since the 1940s as a nickname for American automotive assembly line workers.[4] The term hit the mainstream with the publication of Ben Hamper's Rivethead: Tales From the Assembly Line,[5] which is otherwise unrelated to the subculture.


The dress style of rivetheads is inspired by military aesthetics, complemented by modern primitive body modification (tattoos, piercings and scarification) or borrowed visual cues from goths (fetishism, morbid-themed jewelry and imagery, and black hair dye), as well as punk fashion elements such as the fanned Mohawk hairstyle. Below are some of the main characteristics of the rivethead dress style.[6][7][8][9][10]

  • Pants: Cargo pants or Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) pants; often but not always black or urban camo, usually tucked into boots, rolled at the bottom cuffs or as cut-off shorts. Also, leather pants and 'bondage pants'.
  • Headgear and facegear: Sometimes masks, such as respirators or gasmasks; helmets (usually in band promo shots rather than as streetwear) and welding or flight/military-style goggles
  • Additional Accessories: Leather gloves (sometimes fingerless); Wool or cotton fingerless gloves; BDU-style belts; spiked or studded belts; spiked or studded chokers/collars; dog tags; jewelry that incorporates industrial elements such as nails, screws, cogs, gears, computer parts or other hardware.
  • Body Mods: piercings, tattoos, etc.
  • Female Rivets: May dress along with the femme fatale look: sexuality as power. Common are short skirts, military wear, knee-high stiletto heel boots, vinyl, leather or PVC bustiers and corsets, and lip gloss with less makeup than Goths. Often long dyed black(sometimes red or purple for example) hair that is long, short, spiked, shaved bald, partially shaved (undercut), Bettie Paige bangs, or other. Colorful synthetic pony falls or hair extensions and colorful vinyl are seen, but are more known as Cybergoth wear.

Comparison to goth subculture

Rivetheads are different from goths in ideological and musical terms, as well as in their visual aesthetics. Confusion regarding the boundaries of those two youth cultures has heightened because of recent (mid-1990s onwards) hybridization, which has led some people to believe that rivetheads are a goth offshoot, which is untrue.[11][12][13] The Canadian novelist Nancy Kilpatrick calls them "Industrial Goths",[14] as does Julia Borden.[15] Borden locates the period of crossover as beginning in the late 1980s and becoming entrenched in the mid-1990s.[15] The rise of Cybergoths, at the turn of the 21st century, further contributed to this crossing of boundaries.[15]

As Valerie Steele puts it:

In contrast to the old-style goth look, which was androgynous, the male industrial look was tough and military, with a sci-fi edge. Industrial men often dated goth women. The men wore goggles, band T-shirts, black trousers or military cargo pants in black, military accessories, such as dog-tags, heavy boots, and goggles. Their hair was short. Industrial women, who were fewer in number, tended to wear waist-cinching corsets, small tank tops or 'wife-beaters,' trousers, and sometimes suspenders hanging down off the pants. They also wore goggles and sometimes shaved their heads.[15]

Goths are an outgrowth of the punk subculture, while rivetheads developed from the industrial music subculture, which came to be in 1977 after Throbbing Gristle's debut album, The Second Annual Report, released in November of that year. The goth subculture developed around London's Batcave club in summer 1982.[16][17][18]. Rivethead culture is highly violent and sometimes totalitarian in its visuals, but not necessarily in practice. Goth culture is generally devoid of any appreciation for violence.[19][20]. The most important difference is the related types of music.

According to musicologist Bret D. Woods in his Master Thesis about industrial music,

"It is (...) important to note that some industrial artists use Marxist, socialist, and/or communist imagery in a shocking and satirical way to represent tyranny and their protest against tyranny. These are not to be seen as endorsements of particular ideologies, but are to be taken in context to their intent, a commentary on oppression".

Bret Woods[21]

Slovenian band Laibach has been extensively satirizing Nazi symbolism and militarist machinery in the past. However, the industrial music subculture can not be clearly associated with any strict set of political views. Political opinions of Rivetheads are highly individual. Some are aligning themselves with political right, some with political left, while others prefer to be apolitical. Many Rivetheads share nihilistic point of view towards current political system, regardless of whether they are left or right.

Other expressions of political views were that of anti war, Human Rights and of animal compassion. Bands such as the pioneering Skinny Puppy touched on the subject of anti Vivisection through songs, stage acts, even their band name.

See also


  1. ^ Udo, Tommy (2002). Nine Inch Nails. London: Sanctuary Publishing, p. 09
  2. ^ "Re-Constriction". Cargoland!. Retrieved 2007-09-11.  
  3. ^ pHil (2006-02-24). "Chemlab - Teaching you how to bleed". ReGen Magazine :: Industrial, synthpop, electronic, alternative music. Retrieved 2007-10-22.  
  4. ^ "Rivethead @". Welcome to Everything @ Retrieved 2007-08-23.  
  5. ^ "Ben Hamper". Welcome to Retrieved 2007-08-23.  
  6. ^ Jester (2004-02-10). "Industrial 101: Dress". Sonic-Boom Magazine. Retrieved 2007-12-03.  
  7. ^ "Accessories". Insta Rivethead Kit. Retrieved 2007-12-03.  
  8. ^ "Clothing". Insta Rivethead Kit. Retrieved 2007-12-03.  
  9. ^ "Hair". Insta Rivethead Kit. Retrieved 2007-12-03.  
  10. ^ "Insta RivetBitch Kit". A Spark of Sykosis. Retrieved 2007-12-03.  
  11. ^ Thompson, Dave (2000). Alternative Rock. San Francisco, CA: Miller Freeman Books, p. 72.
  12. ^ "The Rivethead". Goth (stereo) Types. Retrieved 2007-10-21.  
  13. ^ Voltaire (2004). What is Goth? York Beach, ME: Weiser Books, p. 06.
  14. ^ Kilpatrick, Nancy (2004). The goth Bible: A Compendium for the Darkly Inclined. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, p. 23; 33-4.
  15. ^ a b c d Steele, Valerie (2008). Gothic: Dark Glamour. Yale University Press. p. 48.
  16. ^ Baddeley, Gavin (2002). Goth Chic: A Connoisseur's Guide to Dark Culture. London: Plexus Publishing, p. 204.
  17. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2006). Rip It Up And Start Again: Post-punk 1978-1984. London: Faber and Faber Limited, p. 422.
  18. ^ "The Batcave". A History of Goth. Retrieved 2007-11-23.  
  19. ^ Taylor, Chris (1999-05-03). "We're Goths and Not Monsters". TIME.,9171,990897,00.html. Retrieved 2007-10-22.  
  20. ^ Lynn, Andrea (2007-09-18). "Oh, my goth - dark, cultural phenomenon thriving, scholars say". News Bureau of the University of Illinois. Retrieved 2007-10-27.  
  21. ^ Woods, Bret (2007-06-06). "Industrial Music for Industrial People". Florida State University ETD Collection. Retrieved 2007-11-29.  

External links



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