(From Sounds, 8 December 1990)
|Songs From Stress City
From the brink of madness, Jaz Coleman is back with a whole new set for his band, the resurrected Killing Joke. Trish Jaega meets the man who thrives in times of international tension. Trad Jaz arranged by Steve Gullick
The first thing you notice about Jaz Coleman is his eyes.
Black and penetrating, with a slight hint of menace, it's difficult to feel at east under such a formidable gaze.
Coleman walks a tightrope between genius and insanity. He's a man whose opinions, occult fascination and seemingly eccentric behaviour have been much publicised in the eleven years since the birth of Killing Joke.
Following a lengthy absence, the band are back with the recently released album, Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions, and plan to tour Britain in the New Year. Jaz is convinced that it is the most important Killing Joke work to date.
"It's the most intense album of all," he states. "We've all of us basically been to hell and back during the last two and a half years. The title of the album reflects what it is.
"Extremities is what we've been through, the world we have to live in, and trying to make a living doing the kind of music we do. Dirt, because that's the side of human nature we've been in contact with in the last two and a half years. Repressed emotions -- well, I've always used Killing Joke as a medium for my explosive nature. My angers, my anxieties, my fears. My uncertainties about the future. My emotional and sexual repression -- everything."
Jaz admits that 'Extremities' almost didn't happen. Having suffered a nervous breakdown, he went back to his classical beginnings -- collaborating with Anne Dudley (of the Art Of Noise) and the Cairo Symphony Orchestra on the album Songs From The Victorious City.
After deciding that Britain no longer held anything for him, he was in the process of moving to New Zealand when a female psychic told him he was about to make a U-turn and that he had to stay and continue his work here.
"I had a nervous breakdown for a number of reasons," he says. "One was just looking at myself and not liking what I saw. Stress levels -- I live on three hours sleep a day, the stress just built up. They locked me in the bin.
"After that I went to Egypt, stopped taking drugs and started meditating, trying to achieve some self-control. I felt something good come into my life. The idea of being a pop star is repellent to me. I don't want a Harley Davidson or penthouse flat. I don't really have any desires; my own aim as such is to just achieve excellence through music. It's my life. My passion."
After concentrating on classical work, why was it important to resurrect Killing Joke?
"The band has a very important role to play. There' no other group that can create the same atmosphere as Killing Joke. or that can project the same intensity, that can satisfy all of our cravings for music, that can reduce our stress levels.
"At times of international tension, Killing Joke suddenly get very big. We always do very important LPs at this time and tours get sold out. There's a need for realism as opposed to escapism -- like the Manchester scene and the neo-hippy movement that's started. People don't want that, they want concerts where they can release themselves.
"It's a great new line-up with Raven back in the ranks and Martin Atkins from PiL. We're going to go out there, eat as many free meals as we can and produce some fantastic concerts in what I see as a very dark period in human history."