From Kerrang! 30 April 1994. (Kerrang is a UK-based publication that mostly focuses on metal bands, so the writing style is about what you'd expect - nothing even the casual fan wouldn't already know, but you do get a couple of mildly amusing quotes from Youth, so for what it's worth...)
Acid freakouts! Occult magic! Private armies! The end of the world! Lordy! It's Killing Joke, the barking-mad godfathers of Industrial Rock and masters of intense ritualistic noise! Morat digs deep into the Joke's bizarre history and swaps strange tales with founder members Jaz Coleman and Youth!
In a bad-ass neighbourhood of South London, where BNP and Combat 18 graffiti litters the walls, there is a small shrine where once there was a regular rehearsal studio. Incense burns from ornate brass burners, and huge white church candles flicker, lighting the tapestries that now decorate the walls.
It's nice in here, relaxed and conducive to the flows of creative energy that, for the last 15 years, have made Killing Joke one of the most influential bands in history.
The band are rehearsing with three original members: vocalist Jaz Coleman, bassist Youth and guitarist Geordie. Drummer Big Paul Ferguson played on the new album, Pandemonium', but will apparently not be on the tour.
The rehearsal is a truly intense experience, perhaps even more so than the band's awesome live performances. Coleman's notoriously short fuse regularly burns out, and he explodes ferociously at anyone who makes even the slightest mistake.
"And because you've got the attention span of a fucking goldfish we're gonna have to start right from the beginning," he rages at Youth when Exorcism' goes wrong. Youth, a character very similar to Brad Pitt's Floyd in 'True Romance', gives a resigned shrug.
If Jaz didn't throw shit-fits every few minutes, nothing would get done. Indeed, the moment he steps out of the studio, Youth and Geordie try out covers of the Sex Pistols' 'Pretty Vacant' and 'Holidays In The Sun' and smoke yet more weed.
"I'm trying to bring order into chaos," Jaz fumes during a quieter moment, before smiling wrily, "or is it chaos into order?"
For Killing Joke, both statements are equally apt.
The band's fearsome reputation precedes them, and stepping into their world can be an intimidating experience. They are, after all, barking mad, and have done all manner of nasty things to unsuspecting journalists.
One poor scribe attempted to interview Jaz and found his questions answered in a bizarre language which the singer just made up on the spot. Another victim was gaffer-taped up for asking stupid questions!
Killing Joke's madness is legendary.
"The stories are all true," Youth grins. "In fact they were sane compared to the reality! I mean, when I flipped out on acid, I ended up in a mental hospital, and when people go that far they generally don't come back! I had a friend who took his first trip and ended up in a mental hospital for two years, and he's never been the same since.
"I got out. I was strong and pulled my way through, and when you come through you get stronger, because nothing can scare you quite like yourself. That was something I personally wanted to happen: I wanted to step into that zone of madness ... and I dived in!"
Jaz laughs. "The strange thing was, before that Youth was a sparkly-eyed, secular rationalist. Then he took massive amounts of LSD! I was working a lot of magic at the time (Jaz is renowned for his occult interests). I wasn't taking drugs, I was doing a lot of experiments, and Youth picked up on it. It all went off!"
"As a friend of mine says, there ain't no such thing as a bad trip!" laughs Youth. "It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
"Obviously, I wouldn't wish that on anyone, but I think there are a lot of kids who are confused out there, and they can take comfort in knowing that I've been through that confusion times 2,000 - and still managed to come out the other side to do a number of recordings that have touched many lives.
"It's a very natural thing to do, to realise yourself through those kinds of drugs, but in the old days you'd be guided through it; you'd be initiated into it and it'd be a spiritual ritual, y'know? Today, we do it at gigs and you're on your own! You've gotta have the right people around you, people that you can feel safe and secure with."
It was once rumoured that Jaz intended to buy an army with the royalties from a Killing Joke album.
"I have revised a few of my opinions since then," Jaz chuckles from behind a veil of smoke. "No, I'm pulling people's legs when I say things like that, although my politics haven't changed in 15 years."
Jaz also disappeared to Iceland a few years ago, when he became convinced the world was about to end!
"There is a myth about the islands at the end of the earth, which is based on famous prophecies. I have taken it further by moving to New Zealand."
Which basically translates as: laugh all you like, but Jaz, like so few others, has stuck to his ideals and now gets to do things that others will only ever dream of, like working with 80-piece orchestras or recording with Killing Joke in the King's Chamber Pyramid in Cairo.
"I stay in the country that I love, and if something's not right I go to the fucking beach," asserts Coleman. The more you break down the insanity, the more you will find method in Killing Joke's madness.
Youth has become a respected producer of Dance music; proper dance music, not the chart shit. And if he once invoiced Vinyl Solutions for the use of strobe lights and a smoke machine, it's because that's what it took to make those records sound the way they did.
"We're not mad at all, man - we're very sane," says Youth. "If you wanna look at madness, look at society today, where business is the only priority instead of knowledge and wisdom. Everybody has been turned into a consumer, and that's the only way people relate to each other today, in the media and everything. We're about redressing that imbalance, and not compromising ourselves for that or anybody else."
"You've got to heighten your experience," Jaz explains. "You can have mundane and tortuous mediocrity if you want, but whatever we do in our own little way is to heighten our experience of being here. When I leave here and go home to New Zealand or to the desert or whatever, I'll think back to this time talking to you and I'll remember every second of it.
"I like to be aware, if I can, of every second, every face. Most people are asleep, man; they exchange the hours of their lives for the cash they've already spent. Their leisure time is dissolving the soul into technology. Kids don't read books anymore, they numb their minds with media shit!
"There has been a transition in Killing Joke to a sense of mastery, articulacy and perseverance. We want to ritualise our concerts more. We always talked about that in the really early days, and now we can fulfill that."
There is talk of Killing Joke playing on the edge of a vast canyon - or in the caves where the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra played by the light of fireflies. But how far can these concepts be pushed?
"There are times I remember," smiles Youth, "like at Reading Festival, when it gets so fever-pitched that the sound fazes itself out and you have silence."
"Absolute silence," enthuses Jaz. "It's wild! It can happen to all four of us at the same time, sometimes. The chaos of noise is so extreme that it goes into absolute silence."
Naturally, that sort of extreme attracts some rather odd characters. I remember there used to be a lot of psychopaths at Killing Joke gigs.
"But people focus on that side of it," protests Youth. "We'd always meet doctors and teachers and philosophers and weird poets and all these eccentrics, eclectic mavericks of society; an amazing collage of people.
"We don't deny anybody or anything. We invite everybody. People come away from our gigs changed," Youth grins. "Changed, but not damaged!"
There was also a review in Kerrang's 'Koncertz' section. Click here for the pic/review.