(From Flexipop, UK music magazine, April 1982)

Brief Encounter

Killing Joke put up a front... "Y?" ask Huw Collingbourne.

There are those who like Killing Joke and those who hate them - not just dislike them, but hate them with all the fervour of true Christian detestation.

Of course, no band can expect to please all of the people all of the time. Even such unquestionably brilliant ensembles as The Tweets and The Goombay Dance Band have been known to inspire terminal boredom or, at the very least, copious vomiting amongst the less appreciative members of an audience.

But the detractors of Killing Joke tend to react in a rather different way, a rather more violent way - in fact, it is not at all uncommon for people to become overwhelmed by the frenzied desire to murder the group.

Youth (he's the one with the hairdo like a cushion coming slowly unstuffed) explains that the most aggressive reactions occur in strongly Roman Catholic areas such as Glasgow - "We get bomb threats and death threats when we go there."

One of their most consistent critics is a boy of about seventeen who keeps writing long letters filled with Biblical quotations telling the group how evil they are.

"He's really heavily into Jesus Christ," Paul tells me, "which is fair enough, I suppose, if only he could appreciate the other side too.

"But, you see, the Church has twisted things to suit their own purposes. In everything there is a dark side and a light side - they say that the dark side is bad, but that isn't necessarily true.

"A lot of the music that Killing Joke has played has dwelt on the dark side of Being - and it isn't negative. It's just the other side of the coin - it's something which everybody needs to understand."

And what is this "dark" side?

... it couldn't, by any fearful chance, have anything to do with the Forbidden Arts, Secret Lore, Arcane Knowledge... Black Magic!!!?

"Oh yes," says Paul cheerfully, "in fact, when Killing Joke started out, what we basically wanted to do was perform ritualistic music which involved the audience in the same way that ritualistic magic does.

"But there's nothing really odd about ritual magic. In many ways it's just like the Mass. The principle is exactly the same, although the intention is different."

It is precisely these sort of sentiments which get the group into trouble with devout religious groups.

"People accuse us of blasphemy, corruption and degradation," Youth says.

And these accusations are, of course, unfounded?

"Well..." - Youth and Paul do not answer the question directly. Instead they begin laughing quietly to themselves with a look of warped self-satisfaction.

"It's all crazy!" Paul suddenly exclaims, "because there are all these people claiming to preach love, peace and harmony and yet they really hate us!

"For example, I remember a concert we did in America once. There was this one guy standing right in the front, he looked really conventional, wearing a shirt and tie and so on, and he was just staring at each of us in turn for an incredible length of time and then, right at the end, he just thrust his finger up in the air and screamed out at the top of his voice, pure hatred - 'You evil bastards! You motherfuckers!'."

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what Killing Joke do that provokes this sort of reaction. As far as I can ascertain, they've never actually deflowered virgins, disembowelled goats or bitten the heads off bats on stage. But there is something about there songs and their live performances which seems to convince a sizeable number of people that the group constitutes a physical embodiment of satanic power.

For two of the original group-members, Jaz and Geordie, the conflict between the various demands and frustrations of the music business and their own personal quest for fulfilment through their strange and secret practices became too much. As a consequence they recently decided to leave these hallowed shores in search of solitude within the remote mist-enshrouded crags and crevices of Iceland.

"They say they are going to dedicate themselves totally to the Big It," Paul explains, "but to do that you'd have to cut yourself off from everything just like a monk. They won't be able to do that."

In the meantime, Youth and Paul have lost no time in putting together a new version of Killing Joke - this time with priority definitely being given to music over mysticism.

"Paul is into all that mystical philosophy much more than I am, anyway," says Youth, whose own preferences are unequivocally for stimulants of a physical rather than spiritual nature.

"But Jaz was into it even more than I am," Paul adds, "it got to the point where it was becoming more important to him than the music was.

"Everybody should develop their own philosophy," Youth believes, "you don't need religion when you can rely upon yourself."