(From Ultrakill! exact date unknown - sometime in 1994)
They were the band who gave birth to the whole Industrial Metal movement ... and now, after 10 years apart, the original Killing Joke line-up has returned! Frontman Jaz Coleman and bass-god Youth preach the art of 'Pandemonium' to Paul Rees
The streets outside are miserably concrete grey, the sky is pouring rain like blood from a freshly sliced artery, and there's a freezer box wind snaking around the rehearsal studio in which we're standing. Down one corridor you can hear a booming sound cracking the walls. You open a thick wooden door and it hits you in the chest like a granite medicine ball. Surrounded by dark drapes and burning candles, Geordie is punching out the paving slab chords of 'Love Like Blood' on a foot-high stage. To his right, Youth is leaning in and out of each bulldozer bass line as if he were made of rubber. Between them, Jaz Coleman is jerking to the beat like a tin soldier being hit by a volley of machine gun fire. The original post-Punk Industrial noise machine is back . . .
. . . Killing Joke. They exploded into life at the fag-end of the '70s, with an eponymous album that shoved the rotten corpse of Punk through the steel-hard jaws of technology to create something viciously new. 'Requiem', 'Wardance' and 'Complications' were more than mere songs; they were revolutions.
Youth had gone long before they spat the seething, cynical 'Eighties' back at the next decade. While he mutated into 'Superstar Producer', the band and his successor, Paul Raven, lurched through a series of intermittently inspired albums. By the time drummer 'Big Paul' Ferguson (briefly) joined Warrior Soul in 1990, though, they were groaning to a halt with 'Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions'.
Coleman moved to New Zealand. Geordie holed up in Detroit. Killing Joke appeared to have been quietly laid to rest. Until now. . .
'This has actually been in the cards for four years now," says Jaz Coleman of the decision to reform the original Killing Joke line-up. The rehearsal is finished and the man who has led the band for 15 years is staring straight ahead with unblinking, coal-black eyes.
"I saw Youth when we were working on 'Extremities' . . . It was slightly strange at first, because we hadn't spoken for 10 years, but we got talking about the band and basically took it from there.
"It's something that's unresolved between us musically. Of course, we're human, so there's always doubts, but if you just deal with today, tomorrow takes care of itself."
With that approach in mind, Coleman, Geordie, Youth and Ferguson retired to the studio to make their 'comeback' album. They emerged a few months later with the dense, hulking beast that is 'Pandemonium'.
The finest record to carry the Killing Joke name for an age, it's a bold and uncompromising web of epic soundscapes and cold intensity.
"I love it with a passion," nods Coleman. "I played one track to a friend of mine back in New Zealand, and she started crying! I mean, it's a powerful album.
"And we don't need some fucking dickhead in the music papers to tell us that; we know when we've done a great record . . . and this is a great record. Period."
"Most of our albums, when they're released, are slaughtered by the press," interjects Youth, flopping into a seat opposite Coleman. "And 10 years later, all these contemporary bands cite those very albums as a major influence. You have to question what is valid journalism. It never ceases to amuse me, how something so straightforward can be so easily misconstrued."
So let's set the record straight . . . The people who are currently being hailed as musical innovators - Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Young Gods, Godflesh, and a thousand others? They wouldn't exist in anything like their current form had it not been for Killing Joke.
"You only have to listen to the first Ministry album to know what the truth is" cracks Coleman. "It does make me laugh when we put out records and we get the younger generation saying they sound like Ministry. I mean, they still have to use three guitars to sound like Geordie's one! And fucking Al Jourgensen even married my ex-girlfriend!"
"But it's all relative, isn't it?" sighs Youth. "In comparison to some bands, Ministry and Nine Inch Nails are really innovative. The thing is, by virtue of what we're doing in other fields, we're touching more people than we've ever touched before. And collectively, as a band, we're much more effective at doing that.
"If you can affect people's lives to the degree where you influence their music, then that is about the most you can ever hope to achieve."
"Who would have ever guessed that we would influence an entire generation?" Coleman ponders. "And it's much better now . . . There's not so much frustration, like there was in the early days.
I mean, let's face it, we knew we were articulate, brilliant, gifted people, but we couldn't get it out of our systems quick enough. Now, we know that we can have a dream and make it happen."
The pioneering spirit that fires Killing Joke is burning brighter than ever. Former members have instilled it into a whole new breed of noise terrorists - Ferguson's replacement, Martin Atkins, with the aforementioned Ministry and Pigface, Paul Raven with Prong - and the mothership is back on the road again.
Ferguson may have passed on the tour, but Killing Joke are still presenting a bizarre and brutal theatre of pain to the masses. The edge and the excitement has returned . . .
"Fucking right it has!" explodes Coleman. "I've gone through eight years of fucking marriage, where I could never really go out and let myself rip, and that gloriously came to an end two years ago. And it's only now that I've started really enjoying myself. . ."
"Spending the money on myself before anybody else, filling a jacuzzi full of bubble bath and a beautiful woman, building a recording studio . . . anything. You see a man before you who is surfing on a fucking wave at this very minute!"
The exorcism is complete . . .
Tomb With A View!
Normal bands make records in recording studios. But Killing Joke are anything but normal. Which is why their single, 'Exorcism', was recorded in The Great Pyramid in Egypt. . .
It's not the sort of idea you have on a daily basis, to go trooping off to a bloody great pyramid to cut your new single. I mean, you'd have to be several sandwiches short of a full picnic hamper to even think of it in the first place, right?
"We're mental?! Compared to what?" gasps Jaz Coleman. "People who have to go to work from nine to five, or journalists who do crappy little jobs and would really like to be musicians? I'd like to think that we try to please ourselves in Killing Joke. Instead of being bitter people, we've decided to do things that make us happy. Gotcha. And the trip to Egypt was one of those things!
"Yes. It was a place where we wanted to freeze a moment in our lives, so we could become more aware of it. . . and anyone who is not a philosopher is an arsehole! If you don't try and find meaning and perspective in your existence, then you're a dickhead and you deserve to be doing the lowest things."
Mmmm, fine. So what mystical power did you call upon to pull this pilgrimage off?
"Bribes! Officially, we went through the Egyptian Ministry Of Culture, but a number of green, folded bills had to be used!