(From SBQ Popular Music Stars, Spring 1995)


Jaz Coleman: Music, generally speaking, is used to create a more desirable reality and historically, our tradition in Killing Joke is catharsis and exorcism and, obviously, hard realism - aspects of life that we all have to encounter. It's more of a social function, Killing Joke, than a pleasure principle.

SBQ: Are you speaking in the song 'Pandemonium' of a global evolution toward tribalism?

Jaz: Yes, I do believe that very much as a politic, absolutely. We live in a very interesting time. We live in a time where basically, y'know, you have a situation like Washington. Washington will no longer be in a position to put money in any of the States of America. We'll get to the stage eventually where each separate area has to become self-reliant. So we are talking about tribalism evolving out of our current economic system. It's inevitable that this is gonna happen, I think.

And you couple that with the fact that the nuclear family is breaking down rapidly, and what's happening is that you have a situation where maybe children will be brought up with a number of different adults in a collective environment with a lot of other people.

We're moving back to the village, toward what the concept of the village is all about. I'm very interested and involved with this idea of permaculture - permanent agriculture. As a politic, I do not believe in an industrialized society or an industrial-based economy. I believe in an agrarian-based economy. Hence, I've voted with my feet and I now live in New Zealand.

And back to the tribalism, we have to evolve out of nationalism to globalism at the same time. We have to. The only way that transition can take place, I think, is through some spiritual evolution. That's my opinion.

SBQ: You strike me as a fellow who's read a bit of Nietzsche and Dostoevski in your time.

Jaz: Of course I have. Now the problem I have with some of the great philosophers, from Spinoza to Nietzsche to Crowley, the outcast philosophers, is that they profess what are essentially intellectual concepts.

It's rather like, um, when the revolution happened in Iran, there were high ideals. Then they started executing 12 year-olds and 8 year-olds. So really, at the end of the day, none of the ideals came to anything.

Things born of the mind or the intellect are very dangerous, in contrast to things born of the heart. You only know if something is right or wrong, ethically or morally I find, when you pass it through your heart. See how you feel. If you feel bad about something, you get a knot in your stomach. If you feel good about something, that whole region is perfectly relaxed, right?

So you can love Nietzsche, you can say, "we are beyond good and evil." "There is no evil; evil is for the finite mind." That's Spinoza. And that's a very fine, beautiful concept, right? But in reality, when a frightened child is looking at you with tears running down the face, you know, and they're frightened by the environment that the mind has created, you'll ask yourself again.

You have to go through the heart. The heart is the key to everything. Human beings without hearts are not worth living.

SBQ: Have you read anything lately that's impressed you?

Jaz: Sure. I mean I can tell you books that move me. Words, literature that moves me to tears: "Little Gidding" by T.S. Eliot, I can't read that from start to finish, especially the end. I can't finish it, it moves me so much.

I'd say also The Magus by John Fowles, have you read that? That really expresses my feelings about domain and territory and man's territorial instinct, and the necessity to shape an environment that can shape the unconscious is addressed extremely well in this book. That moves me also.

Let's go to music. Beethoven's Ninth. It's not just one medium, you see? There are various mediums. Have you seen The Last Wave by Peter Weir?

SBQ: Oh yeah.

Jaz: I mean that's one of my favorite films. Under the right circumstances, that film can move you to heaven on earth. If you're in the right mood to receive it. It comes down to you. You can only see what you open yourself up to see.

It's a short life and all the great religions say that those whom we love in life, we're reunited with in death. I believe that in death there's complete forgiveness for absolutely everybody. I do not believe in hell and punishment. I'm afraid not. I think it's misunderstood when they talk about "the fire." They're talking alchemically and metaphorically.

You see, in alchemy, any impurities are burned away by the fire, leaving only the purest, right? The final elemental goal, basically. And the same with the impurities of the soul. The notion of hell is just to burn away the impurities, and just leave the purity of a man's soul or a woman's soul. It's not damnation. That's just a term used by various priesthoods for political manipulation.

And then we have to address the issue of does God want us to accept dogma? Do we believe this? Right? If we say there's reason or rhyme in the universe that means there are hidden potent forces, right? Some people want to call this "God". Okay, we'll work from this premise, basically.

Then there's "God" as an intelligence that created "man", right, then so man is nature evolved to the extent that nature can experience itself, like a "superbrain" for the globe, if you like, or for the cosmos. This "God", or the intelligent force of nature, so to speak, does he or it or she want us to accept dogma?

I mean even if we follow Christian belief, it says, "Thou shalt love the lord thy god with all thy heart and all thy mind," doesn't it? That's the top commandment. "All thy mind." That means intellectually as well, that we must use the intellect to penetrate to see if something is true or right or wrong.

I'm of the belief that if a religion can't stand up to truth, then it shouldn't exist, because "God" is truth.

I'm quite happy in New Zealand. I want to simplify my life and I want to own less. And after all, our relationship with material things - generally speaking, we're only lent these things for a little while. Even if you make loads of money and you get big success, own loads of land, you're only lent them for a while, you don't take anything with you when you go. I fail to see the point of striving for material accumulation, myself. I would hate to have a double-platinum album, in one sense, because it's a lifestyle they force you to live in order to sustain it.

SBQ: Have you had any interesting dreams lately?

Jaz: Have I?

Yeah. I've had some interesting dreams. It's how you interpret them, though, isn't it? You have to be careful how you interpret them, otherwise you can get yourself really down. Sometimes it's really unhealthy to be existentialist and completely rational and cynical about some of these things. Other times it's great to work in such areas.

It's part of the jester, mate. No one knows when he's serious or not serious.

Because in all the mythologies, it's always the hero who gets slaughtered. The fool survives. I'm a fuckin' idiot, mate. A right fuckin' idiot.

I've lost fifteen years to Killing Joke, I suppose that's a bonus, really. Watchin' people trying to stab you in the back, and all that sort of thing, y'know? Watching their moves, enjoyin' the game. It's been splendid fun.

I'd love to freeze this moment. This is a gift from God. I'm grateful. Gratitude comes from a great attitude. I feel existence is holy. I am awake, I am conscious, I will do all I can to create something beautiful before I'm through.

SBQ: Do you have any cats?

Jaz: My dream is just my girlfriend, my piano, and my cats. I've always had cats. You can tell. It's my totem animal. The cougar is what I identify with. I hiss and I bite, mate. There's another side to me.

SBQ: What's your favorite color?

Jaz: Interesting. What is my favorite color? Let me think about this. Well, I love sapphires, so I love blue. And I love rose quartz, so I love pink. And, my favorite stone of anything is New Zealand Greenstone, because it's a sacred stone. You must always give it and never get it for yourself. It's sacred to the Maori people.

I like pink because of its protective qualities. And I love rose quartz because of how it makes me feel. Red's often too strong and too passionate. And white is too spiritual. Pink is somewhere between, which means spiritual love mixed with physical passion, and that's a nice balance.