(From Terminal City World Service, Vancouver-based weekly, 14 November 2003.)
The Very Simple Life of Killing Joke
Jaz Coleman, lead haranguer of Killing Joke promises life-altering experiences at their upcoming show. Killing Joke are what you might call one of them seminal influences. As Jaz himself stated in Killing Jokeís promo: ďPeople who know music know whoís who.Ē And people who know Killing Joke hold them in high esteem. Certainly there would be no Ministry, Rage Against the Machine or Industrial music as we have known it without Killing Joke. Kurt Cobain famously nicked the bass line from the classic Eighties for his own Come As You Are and ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl played drums on their newest platter for free!
Started in the late seventies post-punk London, Killing Joke took the prevailing Gang of Four (whose guitarist Andy Gill produces their current self-titled record) and Public Image Limited post-punk sound, added synths and took it all one step further effectively presaging Industrial bands like Ministry. Killing Joke never made quite the commercial impression of say U2 despite classic singles Love Like Blood and Eighties but perhaps thatís because Jaz, bassist Youth and guitarist Geordie did mad things like fleeing to Iceland to await the Apocalypse instead of looking after their image.
Killing Joke have made intermittent albums and occasionally toured but have been absent from these shores since 1996. Jaz Coleman somewhat surprisingly conducts the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra where he lives these days. I spoke to Jaz from Toronto where their current tour finds them. Jaz was quite forthcoming in his opinions and has a wicked sense of humour. He also has a blood-curdling laugh like youíve never heard outside of a horror flick.
TCW: So what brought you guys back together this time?
Jaz: I donít need the money. I live a very simple life and the only thing powerful enough to take me from it is Killing Joke. Weíve been planning it for years, itís just when everyone was free to do it.
TCW: I notice that both (original bass player) Youth and Raven are listed in the credits.
Jaz: Weíve got two bass players with five albums each. So itís a political crisis to get both of them to play on the record. And the advantage of that is live Raven is just fantastic and Youth doesnít quite get into the live side of things but heís great in the studio [Youth has produced bands like Crowded House and the Verve] soÖ
TCW: So are they both on tour?
Jaz: No, [laughs]. No you canít have two bass players on tour. Anyway, Youth is a bit fat at the moment. [laughs]
TCW: Too fat to tour.
Jaz: HA HA HA HA HA. [Easily the evilest fucking laughter that Iíve ever heard]
TCW: You were around touring in the early nineties, were you ever asked to Lollapalooza?
TCW: I thought you would have been brilliant on that huge stage.
Jaz: I donít like that singer from Janeís Addiction.
Jaz: I donít like his nose.
TCW: His nose?
Jaz: Even though mineís bigger I hate his nose. [chortles] I donít really give a fuck you know. I donít do this band so I can be a huge rock star. I do it because I love the music. I get so much out of [playing live]. After a concert I feel a great sense of peace. I like playing the small clubs and I like playing the big shows.
TCW: I notice that all the lyrics are printed out on the sleeve. Was that a conscious decision to get the message out of what you are trying to say about the state of the world today?
Jaz: With Killing Joke obviously coherency is a natural factor in the spirit of things. Although itís quite funny what people think you were sayingÖ
TCW: Do you feel there is a similar feeling now to when you were starting out?
Jaz: I do in a way. But in a way itís worse because corporations are taking over the world. Frankly, the rest of us donít want to be like America.
TCW: Itís nice to see some actors and musicians speaking out about whatís going on. Thereís also been a lot of silence.
Jaz: Theyíre scared of losing their jobs. All the ones who have spoken out have been punished already.
The secret origin of Killing Joke:
Jaz: On the Friday I hitched up to London after having a dream that I would form this band. I met (drummer) Paul Ferguson and we wondered how we would find two other members with the unusual styles we were looking for and who also had an interest in magic. So we did a ritual and within a month we had both members: Youth and Geordie and the rest is history.
TCW: Thatís a spooky story. A lot better than most ďHow did the band get started stories.Ē
Jaz: Itís just focusing your will.
TCW: Are there plans for another record?
Jaz: [Dead fucking serious] There are always plans for another record.