(From Spex, music magazine from Cologne, Germany, September 1980)
Killing Joke - Confirm Your Worst Fears
Punk is dead! Only Killing Joke are its legitimate
successors. After them comes nothing. Apocalyptic big
talk like this comes easy from the band. But the decline-end of times-madness atmosphere which Killing
Joke officially spread is one thing, another is the harsh reality of a German tour that is badly organised, often poorly attended and that meanders through a country the band considers as menacing, cold
and money orientated.
The mood in the bus before their Rheinterrassen gig is
correspondingly dreary, only the hash pipe that is constantly circling around
seems to remedy things. Killing Joke are Jaz Coleman, keyboards and vocals, Pig
Youth, bass and vocals (Youth is simultaneously bassist in Jimmy Lydon's 4"be2"
band and will impersonate Sid Vicious in a movie - The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle
part 2 so to speak), Paul on drums, Geordie on guitar and Les on the mixing
desk, plus Wizard, the band's own magician/fire eater. Wizard represents a touch
of irrationality/gamble/magic which already was five years out of time ten years
ago. "I'm the god of hellfire and I bring you FIRE", Arthur Brown sang in 1968.
But to celebrate doom Killing Joke stop at nothing. Their philosophy: zodiac
signs, mysticism, the occult - Jaz would readily let himself call a disciple of
Aleister Crowley -, but it's just for show, superficial and sloganeering - a
trick, because the media are hungry, and the more freaked out a band seems, the
better. The more words produced about them, the bigger the potential attention.
So, punk plus superstition? Hardly! Although Geordie is constantly playing
around with a flick knife - his only contribution to the situation apart from an
occasional "fuck" - Killing Joke are no punks; a few years ago they would have
been more aptly be called hippies.
Our conversation with the band just happens in passing. Now
and then they listen to us, now and then
they say something usable. The topic music, their own and other musician's, is only marginally mentioned.
Killing Joke have made it, their are totally in the millwheel, the record company pays expenses and a
monthly wage, how much we couldn't find out, and expects regular rehearsals, a promotional tour and
otherwise enough discipline so that nobody quits or throws the towel. A first LP should be released in
August, in October they'll go to the USA. Jaz has every reason to promise the others: "Boys, we'll never
be on the dole again! Those times are over." But apart from occasional outbreaks of enthusiasm, their view of things is fixed: Fuck...fuck Clash, fuck Roxy Music, fuck Germany, fuck football, fuck Jah Wobble...
Wobble's (PIL) arrival on the scene caused some excitement, but Killing Joke's only comment was: "Make
sure that he pays, he has enough money." (Jah Wobble's response how he liked the concert: "Concert, what concert?")
The half hour Killing Joke were on stage was characterised by
more focus and precision than we
would have guessed from the interview. The hard uncompromising punk, driven by a frenetic organ and
precise bass playing, was better than expected. Jaz's singing created an atmosphere which was often menacing and dark, sometimes manic too, but all in all irrelevant. The devil he would loved to be he wasn't.