(From Hits, a radio station trade magazine, 24 October 1994)
Time to get industrious with Killing Joke's Jaz Coleman
by Richard Winn
Emerging from London's post-punk underground in the late '70s, Killing Joke has spanned the last 15 years with the apparent ease that comes when a group of people know and really understand each other's talents and capabilities. Industrial music pioneers, the trio -- which includes vocalist Jaz Coleman, bassist/producer Youth and guitarist Geordie -- has always pushed the boundaries both as individuals and as a band. Their latest creation, Pandemonium (Zoo), comes after a three-year hiatus and is being hailed as one of the finest albums they have ever made, quite a compliment for a band that has been cited as a major influence by Nirvana, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and Faith No More, to name a few. Hits' resident UK expatriate Commander Dicky "Ticky Tavi" Winn hasn't influenced anybody, but that didn't stop him from badgering Joke vocalist Jaz Coleman and making us the butt of the following lame punchline.
So what have you been doing for the last three years?
I emigrated to New Zealand and opened a recording studio at the same time Youth was producing Crowded House record in New Zealand, so that was pretty strange. There were all sorts of coincidences going on. I just did a recording with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and I had a #2 record this year with 'Symphonic Stones' on the classical charts. Mick Jagger sang on that with the London Symphony Orchestra and I did the arrangements. Next week I conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra, with Youth producing, and in the evening, I play a gig in London with Killing Joke. It's going to be a really interesting day.
Why New Zealand?
I had to get my lifestyle sorted out. I was married to a lovely lady for eight years and it was the worst time in my career; it was just so bad for the music. She just didn't really like it, period. I walked out on that marriage and went through two years of guilt. But I wanted the freedom. I'm in a situation now where I've got a recording studio, so if I want to do an album, I don't have to ask permission from some arsehole A&R man to make music. Now if the record company or management piss me off, I just say, "I'm going fishing," and that's it. I put the phone down and tell them I don't want any calls for two weeks.
How does your passion for classical music fit in with Killing Joke?
I love the diversity. Most people I work with in the classical music industry don't know anything about Killing Joke. [laughs] One of these days, they probably will find out. It's really quite strange; we had a situation with BMG, my publishers, wanting legal verification that this composer Jaz Coleman was the same thug who was fronting Killing Joke. They didn't believe us. What you can do with Killing Joke you can't do with an orchestra. You can't see two or three thousand people exploding in a quivering mass with an orchestra.
What was it like to record with the original line-up?
You're working with two guys you virtually grew up with and that's a great thing. We fight like cats and dogs but Youth and Geordie are the two closest males to me on the planet and we're a happy team. We always thought, if you make your life colourful, the music is already written. There is no intellectual process at all; you just get on your instrument and see what comes out . . . it writes itself. With Pandemonium, we wrote all this music before we got in the studio and threw every bit of it away. It didn't represent the vibe we were feeling at the time. This album was written and recorded in eleven days; then we went straight off to Egypt. Youth suggested we do the vocals in the King's Chamber. Now I've worked in Egypt before and I know a load of musicians over there, but I never thought of doing vocals inside the Great Pyramid. So we ended up meeting the Minister of Culture and it was absolutely hysterical. We're talking to this guy and Youth just gets out 350 US dollars, puts it on the table and the guy says, "You've got two days in the Pyramid." The most amazing thing is that the Pyramid is enormous. It's much bigger than you have any idea of. We had the whole place to ourselves for two days and the ceremonial walk in . . . oh man.
Why did you do it?
Half of it was cheeky, to pull everyone's legs, and the other half of us believes very strongly in ritualising as many moments of our lives as possible . . . everything from making tea with the guide to heightening the environment when we record. We try to change the scene around us by bringing in other strong personalities to make them part of the whole family thing.
After 15 years of Killing Joke, what are you looking forward to?
Killing Joke are now really fucking potent, man. Everyone is so focused. We've just done five enormous festivals with a lot of other big bands and we kicked people's arses. No one forgets us now when we play. There is a strange vibe about the band. We have played all our lives for this time, when suddenly everything comes together. We're doing it for kicks now, because it's a good laugh and it's funny to watch it go off. It don't really care so much about being successful, but continuity is important to me, making sure that Killing Joke's ideas and lifestyles are not compromised.