Jeff Suffering

Mark Driscoll and Jeff Suffering

In Confessions of a Reformission Rev Driscoll explains how his set up his first punk-rock worship team, and his relationship with Jeff Suffering, who has remained part of the Mars Hill set up in Seattle over the years. At present he is on the staff of the Downtown Campus, where he serves as a Deacon for Biblical Living Arts Ministry.

Driscoll explains in Confessions: “So I grabbed one of our punk-rock worship teams that had recently come together, with Matt drumming, Jeff [Suffering], who had been the front man for a punk band called 90 Pound Wuss, and a college student named Luke singing and playing guitar. They have remained with our church ever since as the worship team humorously called Team Strikeforce. I also grabbed a few young college students who wanted to go into ministry, expecting I could use the experience to train them.” (Confessions, p100)

Ninety Pound Wuss was part of the Christian punk movement of the mid 1990s. According to Wikipedia there was ‘a notable change in the band’s sound, with the music becoming much darker, more experimental, and bordering on thrash punk at times. The vocals would also become more frantic, aggressive, and inaudible, as compared to their debut, while the lyrics still maintained their beliefs with a newfound sense of maturity, as made evident on tracks like ‘Queen Maggot’ and ‘Sick and You’re Wrong’.’ A track by Ninety Pound Wuss entitled ‘Outbreak (Live 1999)’, can be viewed below, and provides a good idea of what punk-rock is all about.

Below are the lyrics of the track ‘Apathetic Selfish Destruction’:

Revolt towards corruption, towards pain.
Flee existance, flee sanity.
Yeah towards denial, towards self mutilation.
Self mutilation.
Apathetic selfish destruction, ah woe (4x)
Flee life, your disfunctional evolution of mind, body, soul, spirit is death.
Nothing is nothing, or so you say.
Everything becomes everything, or so you say.
Its all nothing to you, so just run and hide away.
Its all nothing to you, so just run and hide away.
Why try? why even try?
If death is nothing, but decaying flesh.
What’s to live for? nothing.
Apathetic selfish destruction, ah woe (10x)
Apathetic selfish destruction.

Jeff Suffering

After the demise of Wuss, Jeff Suffering (birth name, Jeff Bettger), went on to form Raft of Dead Monkeys, releasing their debut album ‘Thoughlev’ in 2001. Suffering would go on to front Suffering & the Hideous Thieves, along with contributing to Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. Suffering continues to perform live music with Mars Hill Church in Seattle, where he serves as a Deacon for Biblical Living  Arts Ministry’. (From Wikipedia)

The album, ‘Rats In Heaven’ (2004), performed by Suffering & the Hideous Thieves is reviewed by Justin Brinker:

“Jeff Suffering has been lurking around the music scene for well over a decade. Ever since his inception as front man of the infamous hardcore/ post-punk outfit Ninety-Pound Wuss, he has been the center of controversy. His latest venture, Suffering and the Hideous Thieves, takes art and controversy to a whole new level. He plays the role of ringleader conducting a group of interchangeable musicians, who make up the Hideous Thieves.

I would be a fool to attempt to describe the sound of this record, or to even try to compare it to other bands or artists, because it cannot be done. The term ‘chamber-pop’ is used to describe the sound of Suffering and the Hideous Thieves. There is a large classical component to the music. I can honestly say that this is the first time I have heard a hymn sound like a drunken waltz in ‘There is a Fountain’, which is the introduction to the record, where a choir of voices slur, ‘There is a fountain filled with blood.’

The Collector” starts with a rock riff before the violin comes in, which is heard just as much as the guitar throughout the album, while Suffering and company sing, ‘Run Mary run strait into our heads get rid of everyone and anything that stands in our way.’ ‘Burning World’ a jazz influenced track driven by guitar, bass, drums, and the piano finds Suffering screaming, ‘Oh Death, Oh Victoria, you have stung me now.’ Her Blood would have made a great B-side for Ninety-Pound Wuss’s ‘Shorthand Operation’, and with lyrics like, ‘I tasted death upon your tongue’, it leaves you feeling a bit vile, like you have witnessed more than you had ever wanted to, into the mind of Suffering. There’s ‘Nothing More Beautiful than Loving You’ starts off with the cries of Suffering’s infant child, before the guitar kicks in and the unstable vocals begin to sing, the chorus boasts one of the biggest hooks on the album where he sings, ‘And I, I Hate You!’ The longest song on the album, ‘Souvenir’ which is well over nine minutes, is a look at a serial killers thoughts on his victims, and ends with a choir singing, ‘Your beautiful oh so beautiful’ with hand bells as the background music, which creates an extremely eerie setting.

The last few tracks on ‘Rats in Heaven’ show a softer, but still haunting aspect of the band. Whether it’s the piano and violin driven ‘The Potter’s’ Field or the beautiful string laden ‘Hush Little Girl’ each song breathes its own life and sincerity. The album ends with a Celtic-esque version of the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ complete with strings, drums, and guitar.

I could probably write a novel on this album and still I would be unable to cover every detail on ‘Rats in Heaven’. This is not an album that one would listen to for fun or entertainment; in fact, it was really hard for me to listen to. The content of the album leaves you feeling like you are reading the journal of a man on the brink of insanity. It pulls you in and forces you to face the atrocities of the world. Suffering and the Hideous Thieves have gone beyond musical boundaries to create an album that stays with you emotionally and mentally. After listening to this album you almost feel defiled or like you are witnessing something that is just wrong. Its mix of beauty and repulsion, glory and damnation, and comfort and hopelessness, leaves the listener at a loss for words.”

Jeff Suffering and the Hideous Thieves released four albums. The first album ‘All My Friends Are on Prozac’ was released on February 25, 2003. The most recent album ‘Ashamed’ was released on August 02, 2005. Here is a review of the music of Jeff Suffering:

The tract ‘Ashamed’ can be viewed on youtube. Suffering & the Hideous Thieves – ‘Ashamed’

Suffering & the Hideous Thieves song ‘The Collector’ and its lyrics can be viewed below:

‘The Collector’  lyrics

He’s collecting all his pictures from his past, to set things straight finally
Rearranging order, one, two, and three, he’s been breathing in our cancer all his life

While pressure beats down the livelihood of men caught in the act
Of parenting the beast, within their heads, the shadows play around anything short of emptiness

Run Mary, run straight into my head, get rid of everyone and anything
That stands in our way, for tonight is ours as it has always been
We’ll fly away, never to be seen again
Our veins are puckering up to see more clearly than
We ever dreamed we could, our bone line up together
Parallel with one another, when we feast, we feed alone

Enjoying flesh and all it’s glory, crimson stains cover my thoughts
Of you outside of me, so I’ll burn my bridges
I’ll burn my past for you, this time
Run Mary, run straight into my head, get rid of everyone and anything
That stands in our way, for tonight is ours as it has always been
We’ll fly away, never to be seen

Her Blood
“Covering ourselves with flesh and carnage, I need your wrist to slit wide open
Raining your blood over my wounds, wash me with crimson security
Bathe me with your life, and I taste the death upon your tongue
I smell decay between your lungs, while you sucked me like a vacuum
Your need was never complete, and your soul was always tarnished
And your body lay… And your body lay… And your body lay rotten

Leave me now, leave me now, leave me now, leave me now
Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out!”

This is a brief summary of the music that drives Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. And so we must ask: Is the true God of Scripture, who is worshipped in spirit and truth, in the beauty of holiness, worshipped by punk-rock music? We think not. A close examination of the punk-rock leaves little doubt of the depraved nature of the enterprise.

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