(From the Detroit Free Press, 28 November 1994.)
Touring May Be 'Pandemonium' but Rock Guitarist Found Romance at St. Andrew's Hall
by Gary Graff
When Killing Joke guitarist
Geordie Walker met Ginny Kiraly backstage at St. Andrew's Hall five years ago,
he was instantly attracted.
She wondered, "Who is this smelly English person?"
An inauspicious beginning, perhaps. But a few months later, following a whirlwind courtship, the couple were married. Now they have a 2-year-old son named Atticus and keep house in Royal Oak -- although the musician's responsibilities keep him globe-hopping and away from home for occasional stretches.
That's the case these days with Killing Joke, reunited, touring to promote its new album, "Pandemonium." The group's reunion is no small rock 'n' roll event. The British band's pounding fusion of hard rock and dance conventions has been wildly influential on everything from the industrial rock movement to Seattle's grunge scene.
Ginny Kiraly-Walker and Atticus, meanwhile, are holding down the fort in Royal Oak -- and aren't hiding how much they miss Walker while he's away.
Kiraly-Walker, 32, is, in fact, counting down the days to the Killing Joke show Tuesday at St. Andrew's Hall -- "till I get to see the man," she says with a laugh. Walker has been calling home every night, but, she says, "it's still a long wait."
"When I come back, the boy does get kind of angry, like, 'Where have you been!' " says Walker, 35. "This is a difficult one . . . probably the worst one. He's 2 now, so he knows I'm gone."
Each night and nap time, Atticus -- named after the character in "To Kill a Mockingbird" -- kisses a photo of his dad Kiraly-Walker keeps in his bedroom. When Killing Joke performed late night on "The Jon Stewart Show" recently, Atticus mysteriously awoke at 12:30 a.m., saying, "I want to see my daddy."
"He's pretty vocal about it," Kiraly-Walker reports. "Every time I have to scold him, he says 'Daddy!' "
Though Walker and Kiraly-Walker didn't fall in love at first sight, it was pretty close. After being introduced by a mutual friend, they hung out together the rest of the evening, and Walker promised he'd call her. Right, she figured.
But he did; the next night, in fact. Only it was a little later than he planned.
"I got the wrong number!" he remembers with a laugh. "We were in Canada, and I came back to the hotel and rang Ginny. It was, 'Hi there. Do you remember me from last night?' 'No.' So I figured 'Ooooh, what a tease.' "
After a half-hour of recounting their evening together, the woman on the other line said, " 'You sound like a really cute guy. What's your phone number?' " he remembers. "Then the bell went off; I realized this was a completely wrong phone number, and this woman had kept me on the telephone for half an hour."
Walker wound up calling a surprised Kiraly-Walker around 3 in the morning. "I wasn't smitten with the idea of meeting an artist and falling in love with him -- especially one that travels to other cities," says Kiraly-Walker, whose modeling career has given her a taste of travel and hectic lifestyles.
"I was convincing myself that I wouldn't love him and all, but I did."
Following the 1989 Killing Joke tour, he came to stay with her at her flat in Ferndale. They became engaged just a couple of weeks later and married Oct. 28, 1989, at the Townshend Hotel in Birmingham.
Their life together has been marked by plenty of movement. They lived first in a small town in England, then in London. When Kiraly-Walker's sister and brother-in-law were called into military service during the Persian Gulf War, the couple moved to Kettering, Ohio, to care for her nephew; Walker still refers to the town as "hell's waiting room."
"Of course," the guitarist says, "she hated London as well because I was in the studio all the time. I did have a friend of mine -- Lady Di's cousin, in fact -- who was nice and took her around and stuff like that."
They settled for a time near Turin, Italy, but returned to Royal Oak following Atticus' birth in England. "After nine months and then labor, I said, 'Anything you want,' " Walker says. "It was her agenda, really, so we came here."
And in Royal Oak, at least, Kiraly-Walker's mom gets a chance to spoil Atticus, whose shock of blond hair and smooth features are unnervingly like his father's.
Eventually the family will move again; the choices are now between northern Italy and New Zealand, where Killing Joke singer Jaz Coleman keeps a fully equipped recording studio. Just in case it's the former, Kiraly-Walker has been taking Italian classes at Oakland Community College.
For now, Walker is content to "write music, fish and play with my son." He doesn't drive but likes to ride his bike into downtown Royal Oak or to a fishing pond he has discovered in Southfield, where he goes after the carp other fishermen ignore.
It has helped that Killing Joke took a bit of a hiatus between its last album, 1990's "Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions," and the new "Pandemonium," which reunites the original band lineup of Walker, Coleman and Youth (Martin Glover) for the first time since 1982. The break afforded Walker time to write new music as well as enjoy some family life, but the making and promoting of "Pandemonium" has been, well, just that.
Youth, meanwhile, has become a highly touted producer since leaving Killing Joke in 1983, working with Paul McCartney, Crowded House and the techno outfit the Orb.
Walker says reunion talk began in 1990, when Youth and Killing Joke were recording in the same studio. The deal was cemented two years ago, and "Pandemonium" was made during the next 18 months -- with Coleman's vocals for one song, "Exorcism," recorded in the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid of Egypt.
And so far, the guitarist reports, things have been pleasant within the Joke, with none of the "epic clashes of ego" that Britain's Melody Maker magazine says broke up the band.
"It's like being kids again, which we were back in '79 when we started," Walker says. "It's just like then, all these ideas bouncing off the wall. We're all 10 years wiser now; there aren't as many (fights) as before. Youth looks at me and says, 'I can't pull any of that on you, Geordie. You're like family.' "
ON STAGE: Killing Joke, Stabbing Westward and the Overlords perform Tuesday at St. Andrew's Hall, 431 E. Congress. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $11.50 in advance, $14 day of show. Call 1-313-961-6358 anytime.