(This is an electronic interview conducted with former Killing Joke touring keyboardist John Bechdel by The Gathering's Alex Wise. Special thanks to Alex for sharing this.)
How long have you played keyboards for?
What bands have you performed in prior to your involvement with Killing Joke?
How did you manage to score the role of Killing Joke touring keyboardist?
I knew Martin from Brian Brain and hooked up with them through him.
When and where was your first gig with Killing Joke?
I-Beam San Francisco- Dec 30, 1990.
I have seen video MPEGS of Killing Joke live at the Astoria in January 1991, which I thought was an excellent performance. Did you play keyboards at that gig? If so, where were you located on the stage?
Yes I performed that show, I was on stage but often not photographed.
During the Extremities days, were there any KJ live shows you know of that were videotaped and broadcasted on TV?
Not to my recollection.
On the KJ LP ‘Extremities’ you were on the credits as ‘Sound and Technical Support’. What was your actual role? Did you play any keyboards on the LP? Or did Jaz play most of the keyboard parts?
He wrote most of the parts and I played in the studio as we recorded. Jaz went over parts that he felt weren't right but a significant amount of the keys were played by me. Inside the termite mound featured a lot of my playing and showed new direction. I played the intro to Solitude because Jaz couldn't keep with the click track.
It has been said that you played a played a big part in the sound chemistry of ‘Extremities’ era KJ and you were the unsung hero of KJ. Was there ever any talk of you becoming a permanent member of Killing Joke?
I was supposed to become more involved on the followup record but that never happened. With Murder Inc I was a full member.
What was the best thing about working for Killing Joke?
It tought me dicipline, determination and acheiving high standards.
Would you ever rejoin KJ?
I was asked to come back on the Pandemonium tour but was committed to Prong at the time. I suppose if the conditions were right I might do it again. Although I have serious reservations.
What do you think of the previous incarnation of KJ circa Pandemonium and Democracy?
I like Pandemonium but not Democracy.
Explain the transition from Killing Joke to Murder Inc?
Well, it was kind of the follow up to Extremities but with Chris singing. I think he tried to avoid sounding like Jaz and explored his own direction. I got to do all the keyboards. it was fun because everyone got to do what they wanted. Geordie and I worked a lot together on parts.
What was life like in Murder Inc compared to KJ?
Short, four weeks making a record and about a week of touring.
There were some very interesting noises used on the Murder Inc LP. What was the scraping sound at the start of Gambit? And the weird vox stab arpeggio on the start of ‘Hole in the Wall’?
A lot of the sounds I made on KJ tours dragging barrels around a parking lot and dropping and banging cylinders. I then manipulated the sounds on the computer and layered them with OBX and custom sounds from my Yamaha SY-77.
Whose car was it on ‘Last Of the Urgents’?
I'm pretty sure that was the OBX.
Did you use an Oberheim OBX on the Murder Inc album?
Yes, I bought one when I was with KJ so I had my own.
What caused Murder Inc to cease trading?
Martin changed and prioritized Pigface. Also, we drifted apart as people.
After the demise of Murder Inc, you joined Prong?
Yes. Raven and I became very close while working on some early Welt stuff and he was already involved with some prong remixes. I met them through him and they offered me a gig.
Which Prong releases did you play on?
Cleansing and the Broken Piece remixes.
When and why did you leave Prong?
They relocated to LA and things were deteriorating. We started drifting apart.
When did you start performing live with Fear Factory?
June 19, 1998 we did a warm up show in Holland. The Ozzfest, 6-20-98 in Milton Keynes.
You have also been involved in a project with Raven called Abstinence. Tell us about Abstinence.
They opened up for KJ once and I liked their stuff. I caught them again at show in Hoboken, NJ. I hooked up with them after the show and soon we started working together on some music. Then it seemed easier if I became part of Abstinence rather than starting yet another side project.
Tell us about this solo album you have been working on. Did you play all the instruments on it?
I pretty much play all instruments, sing and compose but, there are two other guys, Brian and Rob from around here who are in the band too.
What equipment do you use in the way of synths and samplers?
OBX PPG MOOG Roland Yamaha Future/Retro Akai Emu.
Do you use software now?
Yes, Logic audio, Reason, Plug-ins.
To wrap up now, what are your future plans?Pursue my new band, it's called False Icons, maybe do a little touring. Do producing and remixing.