(From Record Mirror, UK weekly music magazine, 16 February 1985)
All That Jaz
These men are uncompromising. They are really intense. They are also in the Top 40. Jim Reid asks how and gets disturbed.
Crazy or great. Or both. Jaz Coleman, of top 40 pop combo Killing Joke, is playing me a tape of his group's forthcoming LP, 'Night Time'. The volume is LOUD, the music is banging harder than a Hyde Park khazi, and Jaz is just standing there playing his imaginary guitar.
The man is totally absorbed, nary a thought of video or Hippodrome or ORS '85 in his head. As they used to say, he means it maan.
" 'Love Like Blood' is uncompromising music," he says of the group's current hit. "For me it's a very disturbing piece of music. I was disturbed when we recorded it. I don't give a fuck what chart position it reaches, as long as people hear it.
"A lot of younger people seem to be picking up on our music at the moment. It's important to us that we don't patronise anyone. We won't budge from our position or start employing new tactics just to get up the charts.
"Our relationship to our music is disturbingly close . . . we become our music. The way we live our lives determines our sound. The way we live constitutes our music. We've been to hell and back for our music."
Jaz says a lot of things like that. He looks you straight in the eye and just talks. So do the other Killers, dressed in leather and brogues and angry young man stares.
"We thrive on what we're doing," says drummer Paul. "We have our own style and it's irrelevant what anyone else is doing. Our gigs are victories and we treat them as such. Nobody can touch us live."
That's as maybe, but there's something about Killing Joke's obsession that's a bit worrying.
As individuals we don't have much to do with the music biz on a social level," says Jaz. "Outside influences don't affect our lives." Paul chips in: "We just live very volatile lives, get as much out of things as we can. Our music explores all sides of our emotions, there's a depth to it.
"We definitely don't isolate ourselves, though. I think we're aware of what's going on; we're not hermits."
They're certainly not hermits. As the fervour dies down, Jaz tells me of forthcoming dates in Japan, Rio, Thailand and New Zealand. Not bad for a group without a hit single pedigree. And mention of hit singles sets Jaz off again. . .
"We want to be the musical summary of the decade," he says. "The insanity out there -- we rejoice in it. We don't want to create an illusion like all the rest. Killing Joke is our sanity. It's music not just as a pleasure principle, but because we need it. If we didn't do this I don't know what would happen to us. That feeling is 'Love Like Blood' . . ."
Paul: "We have taken that 'Love Like Blood' too far to ever return from it. We can't do without it." Jaz again: "With 'Love Like Blood' we feel that man doesn't get what he deserves but what he resembles; we're trying to explain our fanaticism. With other groups, the relationship between artist and subject is so weak."
And on they go, so convinced you can't help liking them. So right about the gutless parade of top 10 pop that you can't help wishing them well. And if they did well what would they spend all the money on?
"I'd spend it in the right direction," says Jaz cryptically. "Killing Joke is a vehicle for our own freedom, an expression of our own personal politics and a way of being in control of our own destinies. To be in an uncompromising hand is a dream come true for me."