(From Rock Detector, online music magazine, 3 July 2006.)
BACK IN THE RAW - KILLING JOKE FRONTMAN JAZ COLEMAN DISCUSSES PYRAMIDS, NATIONAL
ANTHEMS, NIRVANA AND CIGARS
INTERVIEW: DAVID BORGIOLI-JONES
KILLING JOKEís frontman vocalist Jaz Coleman is one highly
educated being. At the same time heís also one of the most classic hard cases
youíll ever meet. His infatuation with political issues, culture, philosophy and
countless other intriguing realms of study have been the themes behind his
highly distinctive vocal assault since KILLING JOKEís conception. Following
these interests the band has become notorious for journeying to the ends of the
earth to record in bizarre surroundings including Kings Chamber within Egyptís
Great Pyramid, numerous war zones in the Middle East, and more recently in a
basement within the mystical city of Prague in the Czech Republic. The result of
recording in the latter arena is the band's latest album ĎHosannas From The
Basements Of Hellí a brutally raw KILLING JOKE album encapsulating the very
spirit of this legendary band.
The first question to ask Jaz is how he stumbled on the surreal artwork used on the cover of ĎHosannas From The Basements Of Hellí. Painted by Victor Safonkin, the scene depicted is that of war and mayhem. How did you first discover this artist?
"Well, Victor Safonkin, heís a Russian Surrealist and he lives in Prague. What you see of the cover, of course thereís an inside sleeve as well, he started and finished that painting in the same time that we finished the recording. It just looked like the madness of the band and recording in Prague. We recorded this new album in a basement in a 16 track studio on tape. When Victor heard the music, and Victorís son is a big KILLING JOKE fan, he said sure, help yourself and there you go. It was almost like two parallel time streams, one of music and one of art, working on the same sort of sound or theme which is kind of madness in the fucking basement. (laughs)"
The artwork is very different to anything weíve seen on a KILLING JOKE album before. Would you say itís one of your favourites?
"Well for me, of all the records Iíve done itís my favourite artwork because I just keep looking at it and I always find more and more detail. What is really great is that on the vinyl double album of this recording, with a couple more tracks on, you can really see the artwork of the outside sleeve and the inner sleeve, itís just amazing too. You know the size of a vinyl LP, thatís when artwork was great. I donít really care for the CD that much, in terms of itís so hard to see artwork. You need to put fucking glasses on or get a magnifying glass to see bloody artwork in detail on CDs. But yeah, Iím really proud of the artwork on this album. It really represents the music and to collaborate with a truly great artist like Victor Safonkin was really lucky. I just by chance walked into his studio one time when we saw this poster up saying 'Russian Surrealist'. And then we walked into where he exhibits his work and he was actually in there painting. It just went like that basically. It was really one of those lucky coincides."
Can you elaborate more about the madness of recording in Prague?
"Well I think this recording sent everybody a bit round the bend to be honest. Prague is a strange place and of course things are a lot cheaper here than in New Zealand. You know, there are plenty of excesses if you want them and I think everyone just went that little bit too wild. We kind of got the edge on the music this way you know. And it was really good sort of having a low brow recording that is recorded in a dirty basement with no Pro Tools and, like I say, a 16 track studio and putting out a great recording thatís done on inferior equipment (laughs)."
ĎHosannas From The Basements Of Hellí still has that driving raw KILLING JOKE sound. That groove on the last song ĎGratitudeí is mesmerising.
"Yeah, thatís a real special song. I like it too. I think itís quite a mystical album this one for KILLING JOKE. Prague is a weird place, it has a mysticism to it. Thereís kind of spirits in the air everywhere around here and if youíre drunk enough youíll pick up on them (laughs). God, the beer is just fantastic but you turn into a fat bastard, thatís the problem with it. The beer is cheaper than water here and it's healthier than the fruit juice you can buy in the Czech Republic. But Iím sort of cutting back on the old booze at the moment in preparation for touring and everything else like that and then when Iíve finished I hit it again (laughs)."
What about the self-titled 'Killing Joke' album released in 2003? That seemed to be a more political approach while ĎHosannas From The Basements Of Hellí is more spiritual.
"The 2003 album was written during the build-up to the Iraq war. It was kind of affecting everybody you know. A million people marched in the streets of London but no one took any fucking notice. They didnít find any weapons of mass destruction. When we put the drums down on the 2003 album with Dave Grohl (FOO FIGHTERS, NIRVANA) thatís the exact day that they went into Iraq so it was kind of like more of a war album if you like. Whereas with this new one, although I went to lots of different war zones it was really about the lifestyle of KILLING JOKE more than talking about war zones. On this new album. I went to Uzbekistan, to put the strings down on the third track, and I went to Bolivia, where there is pretty much a revolution going on over there, just to write some lyrics. And I went to Lebanon to put down percussion on the third track and while I came back from New Zealand I went to Taipei and Taiwan. So I went to some funny places to do stuff, but what I got out of it was really a celebration of the KILLING JOKE concert and lifestyle really. More so than the previous album which is definitely a war album, it was written with that aura that there is no law left in the world Ė thereís no international law left. And also the way we were all feeling then."
KILLING JOKE now has two self-titled albums. The one you did in 1980, and the 2003 album. Howíd that happen?
"Well I guess we canít do three because everyone would get really confused (laughs). I donít really know? I guess it was just not cluttering the album sleeve up basically. When we did the 2003 album it had been a few years since weíd put a record out so we just figured ĎKilling Joke 2003í and we didnít think any more of it than that really. That album really was just the two of us, apart from Dave, putting the drums down on it. Youth put down a bass line on one track but I think Geordie ended up doing all the bass on the whole thing so it wasnít really just the two of us that recorded that album whereas on ĎHosannas From The Basements Of Hellí itís like four of us actually recording as a band playing live in our little sweaty basement. But basically, KILLING JOKE is a long partnership with Geordie Walker and myself really. At the end of the day itís the two of us that carry KILLING JOKE. I love making music with this guy. Thereís no guitarist like him in the world. I mean, everybody from Keith Richards to JIMMY PAGE to 1000 guitarists, they just donít know how the fuck he gets that sound. And youíve got to remember on this new recording thatís one guitar, itís not double tracking, itís one fucking guitar. Geordie absolutely refused to do any double tracking on this album and so I had to do the same. I just used one track for vocals, thereís no double tracking or comps or anything like that on it. No Pro Tools, just a dirty tape."
Itís amazing to know itís just one track. On the 2003 album you must have used more than that to achieve such a heavy recording.
"Thatís tracked up to fucking high heaven. There must be between two and four guitars at any one time. Thatís the difference, more of a manufactured sound you know. In fact, most of the bands that you listen to, everybody tracks their guitars up. I mean, MINISTRY use up to seven guitars, eight guitars, crunched together so it gets that enormous fat sound. Which is impressive and it works, but whether itís like a true recording of a band playing itís debatable."
The KILLING JOKE sound is very distinct, you just canít mistake it. How have you managed to retain the original KILLING JOKE elements in your music for almost 30 years?
"I donít really know how to explain it except that when you play with the same people year in year out you develop a musical relationship that sort of grows, and when you get together thereís this weird chemistry and it just sounds like that. Before I started KILLING JOKE I dreamt about KILLING JOKE but I didnít know it would sound like it does, the band we know today. I guess it will always sound like KILLING JOKE. I donít really know why but it just does. We are very strict with our style. Geordie has never played a guitar solo in his life. Itís kind of like one huge rhythm guitar if you like and then we like more dance rhythms as opposed to a lot of rock rhythms, which separates us from a lot of bands. I can only think of two other bands that come close to that, one was JOY DIVISION and the other was PUBLIC IMAGE LTD in terms of originality."
Then there were all the bands out there who stole your riffs like NIRVANA who used the ĎEightiesí riff for the song ĎCome As You Areí. They were taken to court for doing that. What was the final outcome there?
"When Kurt (Cobain) blew his bloody head off all we could think about is there is some little kid who is going to grow up without a fucking father, to my bands credit. Itís funny you should say that. Thereís actually a KILLING JOKE movie coming out at the end of the year funnily enough called ĎThe Death And Resurrection Showí and I take Daveís confession for stealing the riffs (laughs)... it's kind of like a black comedy the whole fucking thing. Itís a New Zealand-based movie Iím co-directing, and of course Iím in. Itís got JIMMY PAGE and a number of artists Ė all sorts of people. I donít blame Dave so much because heís just a drummer (laughs), but itís quite funny you should mention it. Our publishers are still actually livid about it and of course publishers respond differently, you canít stop them. If they think thereís money in something they will do it without the bandís permission. They are still talking about going in and getting some money, but I couldnít give a fuck, lifeís too fucking short for all that bollocks. You know what? Iím alive and Iíve got two arms two legs and Iíve got my band after 28 years, thatís so much to be grateful for. I can remember walking around London with 20,000 pounds in my pocket, after Iíve bought a book, taken myself out for lunch, maybe got a cigar or something like that. I donít know what to spend the fucking money on anyway? Everybody wants to be a bloody millionaire, but itís not possible. I just think it's an illusion, you can get a nice big house and all that but you are only lent it for a while before your body fucking croaks. I donít put too much on this philosophy of how much Iíve got and how much theyíve got. In actual fact I intend to own very little in life but like I say, life for me is some good rum and a cigar Ė I donít smoke pot anymore Ė and being with good company, my stomach full of food and somewhere to put my head down. I live a very simple life. My value system is different I guess to the whole fat Rock star dream."
Itís definitely ironic that you ended up recording with Dave Grohl from the FOO FIGHTERS and now youíre starring with him in a movie. When it comes to recording music, whatís he like to work with in the studio?
"He just loves the band. I like hanging out with Dave and recording with him. I saw him when we got the Kerrang! magazine Lifetime Achievement Award last year. KILLING JOKE got it, which is not bad at the old age of 45. I saw Dave there and weíre sort of loosely planning to do a record together again. Not KILLING JOKE, just him and myself. I didnít realise until I hung out with Dave, how much Kurt Cobain listened to KILLING JOKE. He was just a complete KILLING JOKE fanatic, which is kind of interesting. It was the one band that really shaped the style of NIRVANA. So yeah, that was good, and Daveís a fucking great guy. Not all people that have made so much money are as really good hearted and good natured as Dave. Fuck, he can drink as well I tell you what! Quite easily a bottle of Crown Royal whisky a day and heís still a nice guy after heís drunk it.Not like me, I start shouting at everyone! (laughs). Yeah heís quite a drinker Dave, someone said heís doing Yoga now, but I donít believe it (laughs). But like I say, I get to work with such different artists like NIGEL KENNEDY or SARAH BRIGHTMAN. I did her album and flew in a private Lear jet round the Middle East doing that record (laughs). Life is fucking colourful with music. Iím always surprised and itís always up and always down. My life is like shit to the Champagne and back again mate."
You were looking at doing some work with Danny Carey from TOOL at one stage. What was the outcome there?
"Yeah Danny. Iíve kind of played with Danny before. The whole band, weíve known them for fucking ages that lot. Theyíre a great bunch of lads. Two of them made their first decent bit of money, they bought a big rehearsal studio that had like three beds in so whenever they fell out with their wives or their girlfriends they always had somewhere to stay (laughs). I think thatís really good advice. I think that was a really good idea for a band to do that. But yeah, Danny is a great guy and TOOL are also in the KILLING JOKE movie."
Youíre only a couple of years away from KILLING JOKEís 30th anniversary. How do you think youíll celebrate when the anniversary rolls around?
"It is coming up pretty soon. God damn it Iíll be two years away from being 50 years old! I think the most important thing is to survive that long, I think we will just keep playing music. There are always more challenges with music, and the thing about music is it keeps me in this depressing world of terrible things happening and people dying and disease everywhere. Music, it motivates me to live. When I finish one album I get onto the next album. If I count up all my classical records, my Arabic records, Maori records and everything else, Iíve done 40 recordings in my life, and Iím 46 at the moment so recordings are really important to me. One of the things that we want to do is Ė weíre on a good creative roll at the moment Ė not tour for the next two years non-stop. We want to get onto another recording and weíre going to go to this temple in the middle of the damn jungle. There are two locations: Thereís one in Bolivia and thereís one in Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and we are really starting to write music so we can light up an ancient temple with lots of fire and put all the equipment up and just play a whole new set of completely new music. Something like that, where we all just jump on the plane and weíve got all the music written and we just set the gear up in a weird place surrounded by a damn jungle and we play to no audience whatsoever, just do it as a DVD and a recording. Itís ideas like this that motivate me to keep going really Ė freedom with music. In fact, every song that we have written with KILLING JOKE is about freedom somewhere. We must be the only group in the world who has done 12-13 recordings or more and there is not even one fucking love song anywhere."
That next album you do in a temple wonít be the first time youíve recorded in a strange place. When you did the ĎPandemoniumí (1994) album you recorded inside a pyramid in Egypt. What was that experience like?
"Yeah, the ĎPandemoniumí album, we recorded the vocals inside the Great Pyramid and what a great experience that was! Again that was all filmed and thatís in the ĎThe Death And Resurrection Showí. That was an incredible experience. We bribed our way into the pyramid. We met these three Egyptologists and they knew the Minister Of Culture in Egypt. We went to see him and they told us if you want to get the Kings Chamber or the Great Pyramid to yourself you have to say you are going there for meditation purposes. So we met the minister of culture and bribed him like $3,500US and we had the Great Pyramid to ourselves for four hours each day for three days. It was a fucking incredible experience. The weird thing is that thereís nothing to plug into in the Kings Chamber when you go inside the Great Pyramid so we had to take all these massive batteries with us. And every time we would charge them and go up into the Kings Chamber it would absorb nine hours of batteries and we would only have about 15 minutes of electricity to work with, so it's kind of weird. It actually absorbs all the energy from a battery, a fact people with cameras and things like that have noticed. Not that you can take cameras in there because you canít, but we did. We managed to bribe our way into it. I have several memories of it, when we got in there we sort of did a ceremony because the place deserves some sort of respect. Our Arabic record engineer, he fell asleep and he had some weird dream of all these eyes coming at him and he ran out screaming his head off and he has never been back since. And then there were the three Egyptologists who all walked in wearing Egyptian head dresses looking like Isis and Hathor, Egyptian goddesses, and Youth goes to me, 'who are those three birds standing at the back there?' (laughs). It was fucking funny. When we left after the first night a friend of mine Abu Setu Ė heís called Abu Setu because heís got like seven toes on each foot Ė heíd set up all these drummers and people clapping their hands, so when we came out of the pyramid there must have been 150-200 people there just clapping their hands. The sense of elation? Absolutely! I mean, who ever gets to play inside the Great Pyramid? KILLING JOKE is the answer (laughs). It was a marvellous experience!"
Surely no other bands have done as much travelling to play in such weird places as KILLING JOKE?
"Yes and we havenít finished yet, itís true! You know I have this kind of schizoid life where one minute Iím playing at Hammersmith or the Brixton Academy and then the next minute Iím at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden conducting there. I get to play in places that most bands wouldnít sort of get into and itís a colourful experience really, going between two different musical disciplines if you like Ė one Iím a singer in, and the other one Iím composer/conductor. Yeah, itís kind of odd.
"When I look at my career, I think that anyone can do anything you know. I left school at 15 with no exams at all, I havenít got a fucking exam to my name, and Iíve managed to work myself up to work with great symphony orchestras and do all sorts of things. If I donít know something I just get a book out of the library, find out about it. And if Iíve got a favourite composer whoís alive or author whoís alive, I go and meet them and spend an hour with them, show them my work, discuss it with them. I didnít need university. I managed to do my studies without going to university by just learning myself and if there was something, I went to see a master or someone who did know. I just showed them my work and theyíd go 'thereís your problem right there' sort of thing. I spent the best part of from about '82 right the way through to the middle of the 90s studying classical music and orchestration in Eastern Europe basically. And I paid for that myself out of the money I made from KILLING JOKE, so you could say that KILLING JOKE really financed the furthering of my musical education with orchestra, which is kind of funny when you think about it. Yeah, so I think anybody can kind of do anything. I think youíve just got to have the will power to say, 'look I can do it', and have the confidence to just push yourself through it.
"Sometimes I set myself up for things Iíve never done before in my life. The first time I ever conducted an orchestra nobody ever taught me how to conduct an orchestra. I had three hours rehearsal and then I was onstage with the Czech Philharmonic in front of the President and I was fucking shitting it! (laughs). I mean, I knew basically how to do it but nobody taught me, it was really just hard work, putting myself through the fiery hoop as it were. And youíre terrified, you jump through the fiery hoop, you come out the other side and you think to yourself, 'well that wasnít so bad' (laughs). My theory with life is, if youíre a beginner, jump in the deep end and start fucking swimming (laughs).
"So I kind of have my cake and eat it in a way, certainly with playing music. When Iíve finished one record, you know what? I just get onto the next one. I work non-stop. Iíve just worked like two years without a holiday, and worked a seven day week and itíll probably be like that for at least another six months I guess."
How do you cope with the stress of working like that? Is that where the cigars come in?
"Yeah, thatís a very interesting point, how do I cope with the stress? Cigars! yeah, put my feet up. With difficulty because to be honest I barely sleep unless Iím sort of completely medicated in one way or the other (laughs). I sleep a few hours at night and Iím always waiting for daylight to come. Thatís kind of my life, so Iíve got an overactive mind if you like. I donít find relaxing particularly easy except when Iím on the Barrier Island in New Zealand and going out doing a bit of fishing, maybe a bit of snorkelling, something like that."
It sounds like your fascination with travelling to remote places started way back. Legend has it, you moved to New Zealand because you believed it would survive when the rest of the world would fall. You also moved to Iceland first, a similar geographical concept to New Zealand.
"Now youíve seen the pattern, you know too much, I have to kill you! (laughs). The truth is that in KILLING JOKE in 1982 we found all these references to an island at the end of the earth that would survive the great upheaval and lead the world to a better way of life. Two of us in the band believed it was a geographical place, if you like, and the other two believed it was the island of your soul or your being. So two of us zoomed off and went to various different islands, not just Iceland, and then Aotearoa. And I ended up marrying a Kiwi and the rest is history."
Youíve done a lot for New Zealand music over the years including establishing York Street Studios and producing SHIHADís debut album 'Churn' (1993). Then thereís the great story about your work with the New Zealand National Anthem.
"That was the Rugby World Cup with Hinewehi Mohi. That was a scam! (laughs). It was the 1998 Rugby World Cup at Twickenham, at the opening of it when the All Blacks were playing England. I set it up with Hinewehi that basically sheíd do a sound check and sheíd sing the New Zealand National Anthem, first of all in English when we were just testing out the microphone, and then when it came to it Ė of course it was all a bit suspicious Ė she went out there and she sang just an amazing performance of the New Zealand National Anthem but in Maori. Of course, all Kiwis the world over, nobody could sing along and only one All Black could sing it (laughs). It was the funniest fucking thing Iíve seen in my life actually. I was on the side of the pitch and I was laughing my head off (laughs). And then six months later because of the all the upset they changed it so that it has to legally be sung at the very least in Maori and in English. But of course it should be done in Maori in my opinion. So we managed to change the law. And then Hinewehi and I got a few death threats from rednecks and a few other things happened after that, but it was a highly amusing time of my life. I can remember being with about 20 Maori people from the haka group and we had our own kind of box if you like at Twickenham. That night the stink of Marijuana coming outÖ you had the Rugby Cup Union or whatever theyíre called banging on the door saying 'weíre going to call the police' and the reek of Marijuana was just fucking everywhere (laughs). It was really quite funny because when they made Hinewehi sing it again in English, then the All Blacks lost. There was a kind of weird magic about the whole thing. But yeah, it was one of the most colourful moments in my life. It was really funnyÖ it was a fucking scam mate! A Punk Rock scam! (laughs)."
So KILLING JOKE has certainly left behind a legacy. Do you think many of our modern day Rock bands will be able to say the same in a few decades?
"The legacy thing is a funny thing. To be honest, while I love being in this group and I love making music, I donít really have grandiose ideas about immortality with music, and the whole idea about being a Rock star is just a joke to me. I work with the best classical musicians in the world and they donít have big egos as the Rock stars in New Zealand. Coming from the Punk era the whole Rock star thing we just used to laugh at it. Itís possible to be gifted and talented and make music without having to strut round like fucking PRINCE or Jon Toogood from SHIHAD (laughs). I laughed my fucking head off when they changed their name from PACIFIER back to SHIHAD and they still couldnít get an American record deal!"
Looking back to when you produced SHIHADís 'Churn' album, do you think that the KILLING JOKE influence is what helped them become so highly regarded? That album totally has the KILLING JOKE stamp on it.
"I made them work in my basement in west Auckland. Before that they were a bit METALLICA-like. They were playing guitar solos and again coming from a Punk tradition I donít tolerate guitar solos at all, so I said to them you can't do guitar solos if you are going to work with me. So I had my tuppence worth if you like for that record. I donít wish to the guys bad, but I think one of the weak spots with SHIHAD is the lyrics. For me they donít mean anything. I remember sitting Jon and the band down and saying, look at this line 'Salvation's got a gun', and I said to Tom 'What does this mean to you?', and he goes 'I donít know', and no one could come up with an explanation of what the lyrics actually meant? And I think you have to communicate just a little bit more with an audience with a theme or an idea or something like that. So I think that is kind of one of the weak spots with the band. But thatís a long time ago now, that must have been 93/94, that kind of period, but since then my contribution to New Zealand music has really been with Maori music and itís something that I intend to do later on this year. Iím going work with Hinewehi again and do another record with her but probably with orchestra as opposed to any kind of beats or band on it, it wonít be quite OCEANIA this time. I love to work with Maori music because when I hear a Maori voice it makes me feel homesick to be perfectly honest. This is the culture of the country for myself. A lot of the Pakiha bands they sound like a cold meat pie to me and Iíve no more interest in working with them. I will tell you one band I like is STERIOGRAM. Those guys make me laugh my fucking head off. I walked into York Street Studio and there they were drinking their whisky and they went, 'Oh come on Jaz sing on the track, yeah get the microphone up', and we just fucking went for it. I canít remember what the fuck I sang but we had such a laugh and they are a great bunch of guys. Totally unpretentious and down to earth, exactly how I like musicians. I think they are the best Pakiha band I have heard to come out of New Zealand in a long time."
You have been very involved with York Street Studio in Auckland over the years. Did you ever have anything to do with a Metal band called FURIOUS GEORGE at York Street Studio?
"Absolutely did, and they are one band that really shouldíve seen the light of day. At their peak they were fucking great that band. All the guys lived the lifestyle you could say (laughs). Nobody released those recordings and they were just fucking great recordings. I spoke to the singer last week and I hope that he puts those recordings out because they still sound great to this day. I thought they were one of the best bands to come out of New Zealand. Energy, lifestyle, they shat over all their peer groups and Iíve always been sad that nothing came of it. Great guitarist, great singer, awesome drummer... absolutely fucking awesome drummer, probably one of the best drummers Iíve seen ever come out of New Zealand. A world-class drummer and now heís fucking cutting down trees somewhere. You know how New Zealand is, if you are serious about your music you have got to jump on a plane and leave. You can pop back to New Zealand when you have done a few tours overseas and you have notched up a couple of things, but youíve got to leave New Zealand to make any dent, and anyway Kiwis, you know what they are like, they donít appreciate their own unless you go away and come back with a bit of success. Then they say they loved you all the time, like THE DATSUNS and the rest of them, they had the same experience. I think a number of people have. I think NEIL FINN has had that experience. Itís just funny like thatÖ that tall poppy syndrome, I didnít even know that word when I first moved to New Zealand, but its there. Itís this kind of competitiveness that is really quite ugly between bands. Itís not like after the Punk era or during that time everyone was in a band and when someone did well you were happy for them and there was more fraternity between bands. I will say this, if you can survive making music in New Zealand you can survive fucking anywhere."
Was it hard to become established as KILLING JOKE back in the day?
"For me it happened really, really fast and youíve got to remember that there was probably half a million record companies when we started and there are probably three or four now. So I will tell you exactly how long it took from the time that we got the four of us together. When we wrote our first three tracks my girlfriend paid for the recording and then we stood outside the BBC and waited for John Peel, jumped on him, shoved the fucking EP in his hand and then he played it non-stop for about five weeks. Then we got a John Peel session and then our first London gig was sold out. John Peel played the EP to death. It took 10 weeks from start to motoring along before we were making money so it was really quick. That kind of thing doesnít really happen much nowadays. Itís a long struggle and a long ride up these days. When I see new bands, I think go for it my son because itís not easy out there. The period of time is different. When I started you could make a video when you signed a record deal, and your record was released in every country in the fucking world not just in one country, it was released absolutely everywhere with tour support. That means you could go out with a big PA system, lights, everything. You did not have to pay that back, that was non recoupable. It was all non-recoupable up until about 1985 and then all the record companies changed overnight and they billed the band for all that. So we saw the end of the golden era of fleecing record companies (laughs). Although Iíve managed to keep doing it to this ripe old age. Iím 46 now and Iíve been with so many record labels I canít remember them all? I guess we are lucky KILLING JOKE is kind of a weird style of music that when you hear it you know its KILLING JOKE. You know, itís nobody else and itís used as a reference point these days for a lot of groups and Iím proud that we have contributed to musical history in that way."
KILLING JOKE has been a strong influence on musicians but there must be bands that you listen to as well. Can you name some of your favourite bands?
"Songs not bands, I donít think I like any album of any band all the way through every track funny enough. Thatís a real difficult one. The answer to that, and I have to be honest with you, is I donít really listen to music, Iíve got so much music going around in my fucking head. I donít buy CDs. I play a bit of Reggae music in the mornings sometimes to cheer myself up, but generally I find that if I listen to a lot of different music it kind of unconsciously influences you and my headís so full of music that I donít bother. I havenít bought a CD for probably 10 years so Iíd have to really think hard. Of course thereís a lot of music that I like, but itíd be different tracks andÖ now youíve got me see. Yeah, although I create music I donít have a big record collection or CD collection at all and I cut-off, if you like, from music really."
Whatís touring like for you guys now compared to back when you were doing it in the early 80s?
"Well, thatís a very good question. From my perspective I walk on stage and I come off stage and I donít really remember an awful lot in-between. Unless someone shoots at me or throws like tear gas on the stage, both of which Iíve hadÖ they werenít a very good shot either. Itís a weird kind of oil painting. I donít really notice any difference to tell you the truth except of course back in the day it was a little bit more Punkified. There was a bit more of a uniform or code of dress if you like, thatís probably the only thing really. KILLING JOKE concerts are normally very physical events and anything can happen. Itís just like a squirming sea of people I guess and itís always been like that since we did our first London concert. Itís always been a very physical affair with KILLING JOKE. If I compare KILLING JOKE to JOY DIVISION; we went out touring with JOY DIVISION twice, everybody would just stand and watch JOY DIVISION and not move, and when KILLING JOKE played the whole place would go nuts physically. So itís kind of a physical form of catharsis if you like. But yeah, thereís not a great deal of difference to back in the day and now I suppose, except now Iím somewhat older!"