(From Billboard, US weekly, 25 June 1994.)
Influential Rockers Killing Joke Unleash 'Pandemonium' on Zoo
by David Sprague
Joke may not have spent much time on the American charts during its 15 years
together, but the pioneering British apocalypse-rock act's impact has resonated
through '90s music. The trademark blend of thundering tribal rhythms and
gnashing guitars in evidence on "Pandemonium" (set for an Aug. 2 release on Zoo)
has clearly permeated the psyches of envelope-pushing musicians from Steve
Albini to Helmet to Pantera.
"We've certainly had more artistic success than commercial," says guitarist Geordie Walker. "But it's reassuring to see that people have taken notice. I see more bands that have taken direction from us than have from U2 -- which is a good thing for everyone, I suppose."
"Pandemonium," the quartet's 10th album, is the first since 1982 to feature the original lineup -- including bassist Youth, who spent much of the past decade exploring cutting-edge dance music. His credits on that end include Brilliant, the Orb, and the Fireman (a pseudonym for his ambient-house collaboration with Paul McCartney).
"I came back to this because I felt we had some things left to resolve, both on a creative and personal level," says Youth. "I think there were -- and are -- very few bands doing things as challenging as we do."
Brad Hunt, Zoo's senior VP of marketing, is in full agreement about the band's significance. "This lineup was responsible for some of the seminal records of the early '80s, and to have them back together is clearly an event," he says. "We have an educational process ahead, but the new material is so vibrant that once it's heard, I'm confident that they'll make plenty of new fans."
To insure that no potential new recruits are overlooked, Zoo will ship two versions of the single "Millennium" July 1. Dance outlets will receive a 12-inch containing five mixes, while metal and college radio will be serviced with a CD-5. Hunt says commercial alternative stations will be targeted three weeks later.
Zoo also is mounting an extensive press campaign -- features in Spin and Alternative Press are already set up -- to capitalize on the media support the band has received since the release of its self-titled 1980 debut. In addition, a lavish electronic press kit compiled by Big Life (the band's British label) will be packaged with the clip for "Millennium" for service to local video shows as well as to selected retail outlets for in-store play.
"Pandemonium," recorded in New Zealand, where singer Jaz Coleman makes his home, marks the return of what Walker calls "the hypnotic element that's been missing for a few years."
Indeed, long, trance-like tracks such as "Exorcism," "Whiteout," and "Communion" stand in contrast to the more metallic sounds showcased on the band's last effort, 1990's "Extremities, Dirt And Various Repressed Emotions." Youth -- who also produced the 10-song set -- grants that the sonic retooling was an arduous process.
"It was difficult at times," Youth says. "We're all very uncompromising individuals, so sometimes there were clashes. There were a couple of times when Jaz and Geordie were threatening me with bottles. I suppose you could say it was pretty intense."
The band is planning to do a handful of stateside dates in September, with a full-fledged tour to follow at year's end. "Our plan is to stay with this project for at least a year," says Hunt. "And [the band has] given us the goods necessary to do exactly that."