(From Guitar World, US music monthly, October 2003)
Where Ya Been?
Punk legends Killing Joke return with a skull-crushing new album and Dave Grohl on drums.
For all the recent hubbub over Detroit's thriving music scene, the fact that British punk's greatest guitarist lives within the Motor City limits has gone oddly unnoticed. Then again, Killing Joke guitarist Geordie has been keeping a pretty low profile since 1996, when his band went on indefinite hiatus.
"I married a Detroit girl, and moved there in 1992," he says. For the first four years, Geordie was away from home most of the time, on tour and making records. "But when the group went on break, I was off for about six years, and it was really nice just being a normal person: you know, refereeing my son's soccer matches, that sort of thing."
Happily, Killing Joke's new self-titled album shows no signs that domestic bliss has softened the guitarist, or his bandmates. Led by Geordie's volcanic bursts of distortion, Killing Joke sound as righteously pissed off as ever - and the added whomp of guest drummer Dave Grohl doesn't hurt either. "Our bassist, Paul Raven, saw him at a show two years ago," Geordie explains. "Dave was like, 'Oh, I'd love to do something with Killing Joke!' But by the time he was able to do it, we'd already finished recording the tracks with drum machines. Dave heard it, loved it, and he came in and recorded his drums over the entire album in four days."
Killing Joke's uncompromising brand of industrial punk-metal has profoundly influenced everyone, from Grohl's old band Nirvana (who nicked the main riff of the Killing Joke track "Eighties" for "Come As You Are") to Metallica, Ministry and Nine Inch Nails. But Geordie remains unimpressed by his musical progeny.
"To me, it would be horrible if all these new bands that were coming out sounded like U2," he says with a laugh. "To paraphrase Peter O'Toole, it's not that I'm so good - it's that everyone else is so fucking awful! There are some nice players out there, but none of them really do it for me. I like The Deftones and I like Tool, but guitar-wise, I think I'll stick with Jeff Beck."