(From Industrial Nation, published in Chicago, Issue #10, Spring 1995)

Killing Joke

Interviewed by Cage


IN: This album is your tenth album, correct?

G: Actually, the ninth.

IN: When did you start recording the present album, Pandemonium?

G: A year ago in May. We went down to New Zealand and did all the backing tracks in three weeks. Keyboards, vocals in England; and some vocals in the King's Chamber in Egypt - in the pyramid. And then we ended up mixing it in October, just about a year ago.

IN: Why did you record it in New Zealand?

G: Jaz has a studio down there. And Youth was down there producing Crowded House also.

IN: And you presently live in Detroit?

G: Yeah, just outside.

IN: Any particular reason why?

G: My wife's from there. I have my other domestic situation in Detroit too - my little boy.

IN: The record was produced by Youth - how did that come about?

G: Youth, when he left in '83, became a mega-producer. He was always having one person's view in a mix, where otherwise you'd just fuck all. I discovered that for myself. I've never produced before myself. There's so much going on - you've got to have one perspective.

IN: It must be sort of strange having a member of the band producing the record.

G: Not really. Basically me and Youth produced the first two records. We were the ones who wanted to fiddle with the fucking knobs and make this sound like this and this sound like that.

IN: When did the additional musicians that you use - were they present when you actually...

G: We used two drummers in New Zealand and then we got back into the cold light of London, under scrutiny there were six tracks that weren't on it. Youth's got Jeff Dugmore down and he's been with us since - for over a year.

IN: What's the idea behind the more "Eastern" flavor of some of the tracks? Is it Jaz's idea?

G: You've got to remember that the guitar is an Arabic instrument, if you trace it back. Some of the chords and some of the bends sort of lean that way anyway. Stuff going back to "Kings & Queens" - just hints of it anyway. We just thought we'd go for it. Jaz loves his studies - Egyptian music - and it just ended up like that.

IN: Is it difficult matching Eastern keys to Western keys?

G: Do I play Western keys? I don't think I do. If it fits what I do lovely then.

IN: Has it been difficult replicating the sound on the tour?

G: No, it's all samplers these days - just fucking lift it and do it on the keyboards. We don't get too silly. This poor band we signed up got an A-DAT running. All the stuff's on tape that they're doing live. Disgraceful! We do it a bit more basic. We've got the violin sounds, but we play it.

IN: How do you feel abut playing some of the old classics still?

G: They're still fresh as a fucking daisy or we wouldn't do them.

IN: You don't mind playing them?

G: They're fucking great! We only play the ones we like. I'm not sure about "Eighties" anymore.

IN: So what are your favorite tracks from years gone by?

G: The old stuff? I think "Requiem" at the moment - of the old stuff that we still do, I really like that.

IN: That's actually my favorite album, if you don't mind my saying so.

G: Do you think this one's not as good? You know, cos you always get, "I was there when they started...."

IN: I think it's hard to compare the present one to the first one. It's just a different context I think. Obviously you always try to change your sound from album to album.

G: You have to. I think we're pretty consistent.

IN: Getting back to the mechanics of the album, what's the significance of the laughing jester?

G: Well, it's always been a symbol of Killing Joke - zero, the fool, the hero gets topped and the fool always wins out. The idea of the fool. It's an ancient symbolism for initiation.

IN: I notice that you're using fractal imagery on the cover. Whose idea was that?

G: We got back with Mike Coles who did all the early artwork from day one. And he's been big on computers for the last four or five years now. We like it.

IN: Why the title Pandemonium?

G: It was my favorite song title. I talked everybody into it.

IN: Getting back to the recordings again, did you utilize a lot of technology in the recording sessions?

G: We took Greg Hansa with us to New Zealand and he just set up these lines: like, atonal, monotonal, trance loops - techno loops. And just so we all agree on something, do we like this groove? - Yes, the three of us like this groove. Once that was done, I just flew guitar bits over - do you like this? - yeah, yeah! It was like the song was written.

IN: There was sort of an electronic base?

G: Yeah, we got the techno loop done first. The drummers were young, fresh and they didn't know what - so we just agreed on the groove and then we launched over it.

IN: Did Jaz's lyrics come in later or did he write some beforehand?

G: I'm sure he had stuff written beforehand, and he just drew from whatever he had and wrote new stuff when the sounds came up. It came to him, you know?

IN: Have you been doing any writing while you've been on the road?

G: Well, I'll tell you, there's a couple in there. There's a new album lurking. But it's hard work. We've even got the guitars on the bus, but there's loads of people in there. You can't really set it up as a studio and write songs. It'd be too perfect, wouldn't it?

IN: What sort of guitars are you using these days?

G: I've still got the 295s, the big semi-acoustics, and I've still got me Mum's last that I got when I was fifteen.

IN: Really, you still play it to this day?

G: Yeah, man.

IN: I know a lot of musicians over the years have cited the Killing Joke guitar sounds, specifically your sound. Do you have any comment about that?

G: Ten inch speakers, mate. Ten inch speakers. Perfectly little celestial 35 watts.

IN: Cos I know there's always conjecture as to what sort of effects you use.

G: I've got a couple of these I'm gonna have to try. I'm being pressured to find replacements for them because they made these little ADT units in the late 70s for bass players, which is just a single flatback - one repeat 'til you can't even distinguish it. Pitch bend, pitch modulation, I've got two of those. So basically I've got one guitar - I come out with three - and two copies of it, and I'm playing really close. And I just stay and expand that. That's it.

IN: And then you feed those into separate bins, or do you put it all together?

G: We just cross the whole mix. What I'm playing is the latter, but very close behind these two guitarists - doubling me.

IN: When can we expect a new album then?

G: With the line-up we've got, I think we can bang an album out ... I'm thinking around February. Maybe we could dive out somewhere for a month to do an album. We shall see.

IN: Jamaica?

G: That'd be nice, wouldn't it?

IN: How long does this present tour go on for?

G: Right up to Christmas. We're supposed to go back to Europe after Christmas for a week. We might just stay here cos we've got some shit that needs to be sorted out. Then we're back on the road in Europe January 17. It'll be for about a month.

IN: Is it difficult getting all the guys together? You being in Detroit ....

G: Not really. Phones, faxes, airplanes - we're together.

IN: Do you have any production stuff that you're doing yourself?

G: Oh well ... I just did these Pygmy Love Circus boys and I had a right fucking laugh. I'll tell you, it's just seeing the faces of the band - fucking hell, I'd never heard it like that before. Just like they were made up. It's really nice, I've never done it before.

IN: When's that record due out?

G: Apparently, they're unsignable. They're legendary, they're unhandleable. They do all right. I'm sure they're shopping it. I don't really know. Even Youth reckons it's a hit.

IN: The last question - a lyrics question if you don't mind - what is the chorus to "Millennium"?

G: I don't know!

IN: It's not in the bloody lyric sheet!

G: I don't know. I've fucking got chords to play, mate. I've got chords to play.