(From Chart, a monthly Canadian music news/reviews magazine, Vol. 5 Issue 5, November 1994)
"Eight years of misery."
Thatís how frontman Jaz Coleman describes his life between the dissolution of Killing Jokeís original lineup and their reunion for the new release Pandemonium. Following a string of break-ups and incarnations, the original lineup Ė minus Paul Ferguson Ė has re-surfaced to witness success like theyíve never seen before.
"After fifteen years, we havenít had the radio chart action like we have now," explains Coleman, "nor has there been the record sales or the recognition weíve been getting. Itís like starting the band all over again." More than a decade ago, Coleman Youth, Geordie and "Big Paul" (Raven, now with Prong) released their first self-titled LP. Since then, others have joined and left their ranks, such as Martin Atkins (also of P.I.L., Pigface and Ministry).
Songs like "Requiem", "War Dance" and "The Wait" (Metallica covered this on Garage Days Revisited) showed the music community just who Killing Joke are and what they were about. While the whole "punk rock" movement was crumbling around them, Killing Joke continued to make music which "filled a void of sound that we wanted to hear," according to Coleman. Even when Youth left the band because of a dispute with his then-roommate Jaz, over the loss of Jazís cats, Killing Joke continued to write songs that constantly changed the face of the "alternative" music scene. Walk into any club today and itís still not uncommon to hear "Love Like Blood" or "Eighties" from their Night Time LP.
Between side projects (one of which included Ravi Shankar), Coleman took an interest in the music of the Middle East and Asia. While temporarily residing in Cairo, Egypt, he learned the "Arabic Violin." Referring to his musical alter-ego as "Jekyll and Hyde", Jaz explained how he has immersed himself in conducting and writing for the London, Cairo and New Zealand Philharmonic orchestras. This has led him to work and collaborate with the likes of Luciano Pavarotti. He calls it "a surprise Ė weíll just have to wait and hear it."
Ironically enough, while mixing the Extremities album, upstairs at the same studio was Youth, working on a Bananarama LP. This meeting was all part of a series of coincidences that Jaz feels led to the reconciliation of him and Youth. "From the moment we met during the mixing of Extremities," says Jaz, "we knew we would be working together again." Again, when Coleman relocated to New Zealand "for peace of mind and absolute isolation" Youth was there producing Crowded House.
Although an earlier Pandemonium was completed to the pre-production stage, Jaz and crew scrapped everything and left the studio to settle personal differences first. At one point, things were so intense that Jaz was threatening Youth with a broken bottle that he almost "bashed over his head." Several days later, feeling content their problems were solved, they returned to the studio to complete the record. The whole new recording for Pandemonium was completed in a whiplash eleven days!
Pandemonium is by far the most commercially successful album for Killing Joke to date. Although it has the excitement of being the new Killing Joke as well as a so-called "reunion" LP, itís a pale comparison at best to the works of Night Time or the debut Killing Joke. Also, Pandemonium has a more "club-oriented" lean to it, with traces of techno-industrial rock and hints of Jazís Middle Eastern interests. Jaz openly admits that "yeah, itís a dancer LP, but thereís nothing worse than playing a gig and having no one move. These days, our gigs take off and explode. Theyíre the best weíve had yet."
Jaz feels out and out blessed and says he hasnít experienced this sort of bliss since he was a child. Fifteen years on, Killing Joke is now comprised of some of the industryís greatest people. This includes one of the best producers in the world (second best, at least in Jazís eye); ex-Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Pageís favourite musician, Geordie, and a "fabulous new drummer", Jeff Dougmore. "I donít know where he came from, "allows Jaz, "but God can he play! When we play these days, we have the energy we always wanted, and it shows in the crowds that come to see us. Itís something Iíve spent half my life doing and I wonít stop until Iím six feet under or if, God forbid, something happens to Geordie, then I would stop. Now, when I leave the stage, I feel for the first time in my life that Iím at peace with myself."