(From Zig Zag, now-defunct UK music magazine, April 1980)

Killing Joke

Pete Makowski

My first sojourn into the pages of this fine mag and what a balls up. Cock up amundo, mate. This was supposed to be the definitive article on one of the finer outfits to make it to the Swinging "Atomic" 'Eighties, that's Killing Joke to you. Yes, Killing Joke have already made an impact on many people's brains with their fine debut "Turn To Red" EP, and more folk will be able to savour the fine talents of this unit in the Zigzag 100th issue party where the boys will be performing.

So yeah, here I am supposedly about to give a highly detailed account of the group's history and instead you shall be getting an excerpt from an interview with one on the people involved in the group's management who also go under the quaint banner of Malicious Damage, the person being Brian Taylor.

So you think you're being short changed, huh? Well, listen bud, for starters one of the band have gone for a short break, so when he returns I'll get together a biography that would make Pete Frame piss his pants, deal!

Okay, bear with me, for the uninitiated, Killing Joke have been their present form for about four months. They feature Jaz Coleman (keyboards/vocals), "Pig" Youth (bass/vocals), Paul (drums) and Geordie (guitar).

They all originate from the south side of London with the exception of Geordie who, as you couldn't guess, comes from Newcastle.

They are sharp and savage at the same time. They have a similar vocal attack of The Stranglers in their better days and sometimes sound like the funky heavy metal PiL. Live they are invigorating visually and musically.

Brian Taylor is one of a team who handles the band's affairs at a quaint little "bombsite" somewhere in Holland Park. He is positive, succinct, sceptical and so far has saved the group from falling foul of the record company stranglehold. He is an ex-university student but definitely not a bath chair philosopher.

Killing Joke have a new single out now on Rough Trade - a double A-side, 'Wardance/Psyche', which is a definite progression on their excellent debut.

Pig Youth (who once got a lot of publicity as being a Sid Vicious lookalike), also plays with Jimmy Lydon's 4be2, and is a much-in-demand bassist (just think we might have new wave session men in the future).

This as I said before is a brief chat with Taylor, it might give you a hint of what Killing Joke are all about. It starts off obscurely with a chat about beatniks, poets and their connections with PiL music.

ZZ: It's interesting how you relate to Lydon as an 'eighties beat poet.

BT: Well he's nicked a couple of things from that era, like I'm sure somebody else wrote "No Bird Can Sing".

ZZ: Do you think he's aware of that?

BT: I don't know. I mean it's an interesting coincidence, he's got a mesmerising mind, even though he has discernible influences. He doesn't necessarily pick them up, they just keep on coming out. At certain points I think he is just basically into noise, but there is a purpose, I don't know where he strings it all together. The "Careering" song is brilliant because it means so many different things and it's as though he has snatched them all out of the air and rammed them into some sort of mixing machine that's produced this song about what people do in their lives and about what's going on in Ireland; it's living.

ZZ: How do you see Killing Joke in comparison to PiL, 'cause they're both quite spontaneous in similar respects?

BT: Lyrically, yeah there is an automatic sense to the writing.

ZZ: Do you go out and see a lot of bands?

BT: I haven't gone out to see so many since I started doing this.

ZZ: Were you into punk when it was living?

BT: Yes, but I wasn't in London at the time, I suppose I wasn't into it initially, but I got into it having read a lot about it in the papers.

ZZ: Are Killing Joke still into punk?

BT: Well I don't think punk ever died. I think it's just a way of naming something. It's like the way "Hippie" was derived, you just fit people in a category. The band are basically into the tenants of punk which was anarchy. They love disrupting anything that is set and criticising conventional attitudes - you'll always have punks as sceptics in a way. The music is spontaneous, it has all the energy of punk, it's also got a lot of close control. They know absolutely what they are doing. For me Killing Joke have grown organically out of punk, they have got everything that punk promised but record companies never gave an opportunity to come to fruition. I think bands like that and there are a lot of them growing up, like Bauhaus, I really think they have grown out of something and are creating a new sound, they are just going to sweep Mod away. There will be probably only a few bands left from the mod revival thing.

ZZ: The Specials?

BT: I don't know about The Specials, I think The Beat have tremendous potential. I think bands like Madness will just go.

ZZ: There's always cabaret...

BT: Yeah they might become the Barron Knights of the future.

ZZ: Do you think Killing Joke will become a part of any movement?

BT: I'd like to think that could happen, they already have a big following for a band who has only been going round for a few months. We put an item in the papers giving free tickets for The Venue show. Normally, say at the Music Machine, you'd get only 20 per cent maximum turning up, but we had a really good night 'cause so many people turned up, almost too many...

The single has arrived on my desk. Neat cover with Fred Astaire dancing in a nuclear wasteland, it also has a conscription leaflet inside. It's all happening and hopefully you'll meet the band in the next issue, but in the meantime purchase the platter, you'll be doing yourself a favour (I mean it's on Rough Trade and you can dance to it, only joking).

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