Killing Joke Network Magazine Issue 5
Welcome to issue 5 of the Network Magazine and thanks for the letters saying you like it. I will start with the bad news, and that is me asking for more of your money for the next few issues. I will explain now that I have not banked any money that has arrived since the last issue because if there is not a big enough response then I will knock it on the head and send the lot back to you. As I said last issue, the price has done the opposite to inflation and actually gone down to £13 for the UK and £18 for elsewhere. The difference is due to postal rates and so on.
Since the last time I wrote I have seen Jaz a couple of times and been to Big Life. Now there is an unusual thing. I have asked them for ANY Killing Joke promo items and it is a big no-no. Unfortunately Big Life are about as useful as a chocolate fireguard when it comes to KJ and promo items. When I think about it there is not a lot of incentive to carry on with the magazine sometimes because the attitude from all these ego inflated, half-baked, out to lunch, pseudo musicians is just a bit too much for the average guy on the street. For the musicians themselves, well, I don't meet many so I shall not comment. However, I am sure you get the picture (they even left our address off the remix CD) and if you want the Network to carry on then send me your dosh and I will do the next few until the time comes to gather money again. It will be at least the next four depending on the response.
Anyway, that is that off my chest now so on to the story. I went to London to see Jaz a couple of weeks ago. He has written, produced and was due to mix the new album coming out by the Maori Princess Hine. She sang on part of Jaz's Symphony No. 2 "The Black Onyx" which has not been released yet. The voice that can send a thrill down a thousand spines and bring a tear of sorrow to so many eyes. I might even go as far as to say that she has one of the beautiful voices I have heard in a long time. (Female that is).
We sat and talked for an hour or so and then Hine arrived. We were listening to the demo CD which had all traditional Maori instruments and chants with Hine singing in Maori. It was not an uneventful few hours because the record label was ringing up and so were a few of the 'names' who are being deployed for some of the mixing. We escaped to the outside world and went along to Big Life (my first time) to listen to the tracks we had just heard on the demo CD, but with some drum beats put over the top. We sat in the little room and on it went. Jackie (someone who works for the management) looking rather pensive In case Jaz hated what he was about to hear, Hine waiting to hear it and wondering how her voice would come across, Jaz listening, bopping around, smiling and looking very chuffed - and me. I just sat. It sounded damn brilliant. It was amazing what a few drum beats can do. All that was left for the next 14 days was for Jaz to do the mix and that would be it. We left for the hotel and Hine's day was on the up from the moment she arrived in the early afternoon to the moment I left at night. Lucky girl.
While I was talking to Jaz he was telling me that Youth has been asked to produce the next Guns n Roses album. He also told me that Geordie had been asked to play session guitar on the album but had declined in the typical good-natured way that only Geordie can. (Read into that what you like - I cant say). I think (read: was told) that it was him who said no to Faith No More a few years ago as opposed to what was said in the press release. But he had a very good time while staying with them (all expenses paid) and even invited the KJ road crew along for some relaxation time.
There was also talk of going to Morocco to record a new Joke album later in the year. Hopefully with a release towards the end of the year (which will probably mean early next year). It will be the regular threesome with a drummer. If it is Geoff Dugmore we shall see. The name Big Paul was mentioned but if that ever happens we shall see. I was invited along but the difference between them and me is that work goes on and time off = lost turnover = no money = sorry, can't go. I was also reminded of the party on Barrier Island at New Year 2000. There are a lot of people going. The Orb will be playing, Youth is the Master Of Ceremonies as well as the bass player in another visiting band (yes - KJ). Hine will be singing and there will be a few other guests to help liven the place up. There was not much else said that day as the phone was on the go constantly. Polygram were saying how amazing the new one was and Big Life rang to say it was brilliant. Even Philip Glass rang to compliment him on the whole CD. There is also a huge wad of money for Hine to do a video and Jaz talking of doing 3 mixes of each track. They will be done by, among others, Howie B, who re mixed "Ziggarats of Cinnamon" (from the "Victorious City" CD) as a 12" dance single and Dead Can Dance. They have had a few releases out. Pretty laid back but worth checking out. I have a couple of theirs and it is good for that 'end of the night' type sound. From the talk it sounds as if this one may go pretty big time. We shall see. But it would be good, like Youth with The Verve singles as producer.
I also asked about the book that Jaz is writing and it is still being done. That is to say it is like a diary which will put the whole story together of the last 20 years of life for Killing Joke and Jaz. I will suggest I proof read it and see if we can get more progress and maybe see the thing published. I know that time seems to be a very precious thing, as the writing and recording of some works is a very long process which is a constant pressure to get the job done. This gets in the way of other projects like the book but eventually it will be published as at the moment Jaz's career is on a rapid climb upwards so the book will hopefully become a necessity and we will get the chance to see it (especially if I get hold of it). I do know that there are a few hundred pages completed so hang on for another little while and see what happens.
I left the hotel and as I got onto the motorway I was thinking what an amazing day Hine had. It started off with her asking "I wonder if they will use all the tracks" to which the answer was yes and from the slight nerves in the morning it ended up with loads to spend on a video. What a day. As I was smiling about it the warning light came on and the car stalled. The engine had cracked. And I thought "What a funny old world it is." The good news is that I did get home before 2.00 am. The bad news was £420. The rest, well, this is KJ not Steve Network.
I went back to see Jaz for the playback of the finished product. It was not
what I expected. When the rough mix was played at Big Life and the drums were
over the top of everything it was a really powerful drum dance beat. What I
heard yesterday was more an updated Maori album. Three/four possible singles
and a heck of a lot of scope for remixing using the drum tracks at the front.
It was fun to see it really. I heard the original two weeks ago and the transformed
item yesterday. It is astounding what can be done. It is also amazing how many
different types of people you meet in the music circles. It is not what you
would call an atmosphere of soulful harmony to start with. There were all types
of people there. Performer, producer, engineer, technician, management, a couple
Jaz's friends and a Mr. Jones. They ranged from being shy, very talkative, quiet,
very interesting and funny - together with just odd. Once the ice broke it was
a great evening.
Jaz is back again in 2 to 3 weeks and I will be seeing him then. I hope Gareth has got his act together and you have had this by then.
Lastly, Patrick is working on a competition for the Tarot Cards I have. I asked Big Life (0171-323-38-88) if they could spare any more but they "can't find them" and "have nothing else really". 'Is this their idea of promotion? Do they care? Do I care that this kind of talk will lead to them getting pissed off with me and ending the network? Who cares!! (It's a good job I altered this otherwise they would be seriously naffed off with me.)
Anyway, I will be back in a couple of months time.
If you are wondering about the 12" singles Youth gave me then let me put it this way... Anyone wanting a 12" vinyl promo of Exorcism (warped) should send me a note and I will post it to them. I have 13 of the things and there were only 750 made. So it could have been a collectors item (if it played). Just send a couple of quid to pay for a padded envelope and postage. Does something tell you I am having a bad day today?
One last thing. A very big thank you with hugs and kisses to Katrin Fritsch who sent a transcript of the Courtauld talks. I hope you all like it. I would say the same to Martin Dupras who proof read it but he might have a beard. So I guess a thank you will do.
Axl Rose Finds A Producer ... Yet Again. Axl Rose, if all goes according to the current plan -- which is not a sure bet in the world of Guns n' Roses -- will be going into the studio with Killing Joke bassist Youth, the co-producer of The Verve's Urban Hymns.
A spokesperson for Geffen would neither confirm nor deny the story, but insiders say that Youth is the flavour of the month and is expected to record the band this summer. Previous negotiations have taken place with Moby and Mike Clink.
Guns n' Roses these days (probably) are Axl Rose, lead guitarist Robin Finck (Nine Inch Nails), Axl buddy/guitarist Paul Huge, off-and-on former Gn'R keyboardist Dizzy Reed, and most likely drummer Josh Freese. There may even be a chance that Tommy Stinson will lay down some bass tracks. Stinson, formerly of The Replacements, has adamantly denied to press sources his ongoing involvement in the project but insiders confirm he's been hanging out in the studio. Youth and the band are still months away from recording; however, Rose and cohorts are reportedly still in writing mode with no completed songs at this time.
Killing Joke reformed as a trio in 1994 after a long hiatus and have released two records, Pandemonium and Democracy. But while the band is primarily known as an industrial, goth-oriented, quasi-metal band, Youth (born Martin Glover Youth) has a more diverse background. He's worked on projects with Fine Young Cannibals, James, Bananarama, Crowded House, The Orb, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave and U2.
The Geffen spokesperson says while it's possible a new Guns n' Roses album will be released this year, it's highly unlikely.
This could explain why Youth was a little surprised by Geordie turning down the offer to play on the album. Hmmm.
Killing Joke The Remix Album
Formats: 12" Vinyl BFLT45 CD BFLCD 32
1. Love Like Blood - Deedrah Remix
2. Savage Freedom - UX Remix
3. Democracy - NIN Remix
4. Four Stations Of The Sun - Hallucinogen Remix
5. Pandemonium - Man With No Name Remix
6. Jana (Hallucigenic)
7. Black Moon California Sunshine
8. Intellect - Johan Remix
9. Whiteout - Johan Remix
This is where it all started and this is where it continues today. Dubbed the Forefathers of Industrial, Killing Joke are one of rock's most influential bands, fusing a fierce, yet beautifully executed conglomeration of exotic music, tribal rhythms, heavy guitars, sampled noises and Jaz Coleman's unforgettable vocals. A primitive ritual vibe as mesmerising as it is hypnotic.
Nirvana, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden are all citing them as a heavy influence.
From their first EP, 1979's "Turn To Red" through to the international hit "Love Like Blood", Killing Joke's status was confirmed as the quintessential cult band. In 1994, after a 12-year hiatus, Youth, Jaz Coleman and Geordie reunited to record "Pandemonium" which was recorded around the world, including the King's Chamber in the Great Pyramid of Egypt and which produced their most successful US single to date, "Millennium". 1996 saw the release of "Democracy", again written and recorded with the three [sic] original members, becoming their most optimistic album to date. Throughout their careers in Killing Joke, both Youth and Jaz Coleman have been involved with alternative projects, Jaz Coleman residing in New Zealand and composing for one of the country's leading orchestras and collaborating with Youth on three huge commercial and critically acclaimed symphonic albums: "Symphonic Music Of The Rolling Stones", "Us And Them: Symphonic Music of Pink Floyd" and most recently 1979's [sic] "Cashmere [sic, sic, sic]: Symphonic Led Zeppelin", Youth meanwhile forging ahead making his name as one of the most influential producers in the world, working with The Orb, Crowded House, Seahorses, Symposium, Beth Orton and, most notably, The Verve.
And it is here that we come to Killing Joke - The Remix Album. Youth's diverse love of music led him to set up Dragonfly Records in 1994, a subsidiary of his Butterfly mothership as a label that could break new ground in the burgeoning Goa trance scene. And sure enough, four years later, Dragonfly is now regarded as one of, if not the, most pioneering and influential psy-trance labels in the world.
And now we arrive at Killing Joke Remixed, a collection of songs reworked by some of the trance scene's most talented luminaries -- Deedrah, UX, NIN, Hallucinogen, Man With No Name, and Johan -- the rhythms and Youth's love of goa-trance.
Always the innovators - always ahead of their time - this is Killing Joke Remixed.
Have you wondered what the artwork on the Kasmir sleeve is all about? Well think no further...I have the answers.
The artwork was designed by Storm Thorgerson and Finlay Cowan. Storm was the founding member of Hipgnosis, the creative team behind five Led Zeppelin covers.
The woman on the cover represents one of the children depicted on the cover of Houses Of The Holy having reached young-adulthood. She is seated atop a great pile of books, symbolising the vast amount of knowledge and wisdom she has amassed. A fantastic palace evolved from the fruits of her studies, built entirely from the huge volumes of books that she lovingly devoured.
In the "Drop City" fold out the Celtic knotwork refers to Zeppelin's Celtic influences. For example, the Celtic landscape pictured in the bottom right refers to "two paths in the woods" [sic] from the lyrics of "Stairway To Heaven".
The Giant's Causeway (from county Antrim in Ireland) pictured in the bottom right appears on the cover of Houses Of The Holy.
The violin bow is a reference to Jimmy Page's famous violin bow/Les Paul combination.
The spine is a symbol for John Bonham, seen as a metaphorical backbone of Zeppelin.
The tower block can be seen as a reference to the building on the cover of Zeppelin 4.
The tenement building (from St. Marks Place in New York City) appears on the cover of Physical Graffiti. The staircase toward the top represents the Stairway To Heaven.
The black crystals at the top centre are a reference to the "object" used on the cover of Presence.
The mountain at the very top of the image represents Kashmir.
From the Big Life website
Bassist in Killing Joke, Youth has been interested in the power and possibilities of hypnotic rhythms since the late 70's. His obsession with bass-driven funk, the mind-tweaking trickery of dub reggae (the keystones underlying Killing Joke's hugely influential sound), the elevatory energy of American dance music and relentless tribal beats came together when he formed the abortive funk/pop combo Brilliant in 1982 (with Jimmy Cauty, former Hobbit-style illustrator, who subsequently went on to hitch up with Bill Drummond in the JAMMs and later the KLF). However, this obsession is more closely realised on the many releases of his (and former Killing Joke roadie Alex Patterson's) dub/experimental label Wau Mr Modo!, which was the precursor of not only Butterfly, but also helped launch Patterson's Pink Floyd-esque super chill out band, The Orb. As an idea of the label's style, check out 'King Of Kings Parts I & II' and 'Give Thanks & Praise' by Sound Irritation (featuring Tena Stelin) and '2000 Style' by Zulu Warriors & Naph-Tali.
At the same time, Youth embraced Acid House and the free party scene as they emerged to provide the communal outlet for which many had been searching since the days of squat parties of the late '70s. But the seeds of Dragonfly were sown when Youth went to Goa a few years ago.
When Youth went to Goa, he found a scene in full bloom. The carnival atmosphere, the parties on the beach and the idyllic surroundings had long attracted party people from all over the world. DJ's would set up and play for hours, merging hard Euro tracks with the surrounding ambience of didgeridoos, drums and nature's own music. New multicoloured hybrids Trance began to emerge when participants returned to the studios. Throbbing, trippy, mesmerising and charged with an almost religious fervour. All night music which could sometimes seem like massive primeval jackhammer surging from the Earth's core itself. In short full on Goan Trance.
Dragonfly's attitude is that "Trance music is exploding into all walks of music. It has been since man could first whack a drum. It's about feeling, euphoria and spontaneous levitation of the sense through repetition and organic sounds. Now, having mated with the sleek machines of techno, it's about the future too."
With its combination of roller coaster beats and vaguely hummable tunes (check out 'Dark Magus' by Hallucinogen for hummability), Trance is the underground sound best placed to move into the mainstream over the next few months, a situation which is made abundantly clear by the success of clubs like Otherworld, Return To The Source's recent sell-out night at the Brixton Academy and Paul Oakenfold's Perfecto label's interest in all things Trancey. And with compilations on the shelves from TIP, Return To The Source and Dragonfly themselves (among others), it's a scene that's poised to move far beyond its traditional UK boundaries of London, Oxford and the South-East.
As a label, Dragonfly shares many of its artists (Man With No Name, Hallucinogen, Prana etc) with its contemporaries, there seeming to be little difference between Man With No Name's work for say, TIP, Perfecto or Dragonfly (all quality stuff).
How Dragonfly see the future is a little unclear, certainly they intend to keep pushing out top quality Trance, not least from Dragonfly supremo Youth's latest project, a collaboration with former artist and biker rock-star Zodiac Mindwarp. Given their aim is that, "all Dragonfly releases are intended to be a full-on representation of global Trance talent, which would be equally at home rocking a UK club or elevating a Goan beach," it will be an interesting record to hear.
Here are some updates for the credits I put in the last issue for Youth and Jaz:
Producer, Songwriter, Remixer and Musician
Brit Award Producer Of The Year 1998
Nominee - Producer Of The Year BPI Awards 1991, 1992, 1994
|The Verve - Urban Hymns - UK No. 1 album (tracks)||Producer|
|No. 1 UK single "The Drugs Don't Work"||Producer|
|No. 2 UK single "Bittersweet Symphony"||Producer|
|No. 7 UK single "Lucky Man"||Producer|
|Beth Orton Best Bit (recent single)||Producer|
|Seahorses You Can Talk To Me + B-sides||Producer|
|Symposium Bury You||Producer|
|Paint The Stars||Producer|
|Heather Nova three tracks for forthcoming album||Producer|
|Kashmir: Symphonic Led Zeppelin||Co-Producer|
|Mundy Jelly Legs (album)||Producer|
Currently in pre-production of his own composition Pacifica - forthcoming album. Recently completed co-producing, composing and arranging "Kashmir: Symphonic Led Zeppelin" album played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, which was released on Point Music/Phillips October 1997.
|Kashmir: Symphonic Led Zeppelin||Co-Prod/Composer|
|(recent release - was No. 1 Billboard Arranger Classics Contemporary Albums)|
Interview with Jaz and Geordie (re: Democracy)
The new album is not really dance or techno oriented. What direction are you going with this one?
Geordie: Well, it started off like that because we did it on the same trip as the last album. We set up grooves. We put loops up that we agreed on. Then we started putting the music over the top. "Medicine Wheel" started with this "fuck off" sort of Harthouse, Dutch industrial techno. Then when it came to the mix, Youth took it out and we ended up with something quite different. I'd like to do a mix getting it back in.
Are you going to be releasing remixes?
Geordie: Well, it always gets released in England, but that kind of shit isn't so big over here and you've got to really press with the record companies. We've got some "fuck off" techno mixes in the singles cause we signed them out to people on the Dragonfly label. Youth did a mix, and Alex at the Orb did a 17 minute version of the single, it's absolutely wild.
Tell me about your feelings on the coming millennium. The last album dealt with it a lot.
Jaz: I think we're still on that.
Would you say you're getting into more specifics on this one?
Jaz: Well, I could be here all fucking day. This album deals more with the alternative lifestyle, as well as the idea of democracy; with finding some of the answers instead of going up some grey cul-de-sac, like that whole X generation thing. We wrote the album in a very optimistic summer in Cornwall, England. We were exchanging a lot of ideas about how we wanted to live our lives as well as do our music. It's the most optimistic album that we've ever been a part of. The millennium, as you were talking about, is always with us. In New Zealand, we now have proportional representation. We're moving to a 15 party system, which means that we have a perpetual coalition. We'll get green and ecological agendas who will be banning the internal combustion engine in the areas where they have influence. People, if they like those ideas, will move to those areas. And so a new form of tribalism will emerge. If the Republican Party has its way in this country, it will give more power to the states, and in twenty years time, instead of having the United States of America, we'll have lots of different countries. In the end, proportional representation is the only true democratic system. This combines with the ideas we have on the album. Most bands these days like to portray that urban image, "I live in a fucked-up city." There's no visionary creativity. Nobody is tackling the future.
What new music do you enjoy? What's been coming out recently that you find worthwhile?
Jaz: Well, I look at art and music in a different way. I only subject myself to what I perceive as genius. I don't like mediocrity going to my unconscious mind. I tend to reflect upon some of Dali's work. I listen to one or two of my favourite great symphonies. Modern trance music, experimental music. I like a lot of music that's coming out in the German scene. In terms of bands, I'm quite interested in a lot of the bands that are happening in New Zealand, but nothing in the mainstream.
To what extent do you feel your influence has improved the music scene?
Geordie: If new bands had been influenced by U2, we'd be in a fucking sorry state. I'm glad they're influenced by us.
I read about an old gig of yours when everything went silent for you and you were watching your hands play the notes.
Geordie: Oh yeah, the Reading gig earlier on. It's wild like that. That's why we were never heavily into drugs, because we know that if you do the music right, it's better than any fucking drug there is, man. That's where the angle of Killing Joke was - the hypnotic side of music. I love a lot of the tones of classical music, but it hasn't got that hypnotic element which you get with rhythm. That's still an area to be explored, especially if you look at ancient religious music; it's based around that and it focuses the community spirit, the tribal spirit.
What was it like recording in the King's Chamber?
Jaz: It was absolutely incredible. It ranged from hysterical laughter, to feeling the most incredible sense of mystery. The whole thing started with myself and Youth in the Minister of Culture's office in Cairo. We'd set up this meeting so that we could get into the Pyramids. Youth just pulled out a thousand US dollars and plunked it on the table. He [the Minister of Culture] grabbed it and put it in his top pocket and said, "I'm pleased to say that you now have three days between the hours of so-and-so to have the Great Pyramids to yourselves." And so, armed with batteries and recording equipment, we set off for the Pyramids. Going into the Pyramids is an incredible experience because you climb up. The sides of them are bigger than you think. It's bloody enormous. You climb up the side of the Pyramid and you enter this little hole in the wall. And then you go along this narrow passage, and come to this other passage that you have to crouch down in and go up on a 30-degree angle, and just keep going up and up and up. Then you walk up this massive gallery and then when you reach the top, there's another small entrance, and then you get inside the King's Chamber. It's quite big, and echoey. At one end of the King's Chamber is what looks like a sarcophagus, and that's where we set up all the microphones. And we ritualised the whole thing. It was like all the years of the band sort of culminating in that moment when we were doing the vocals. You're looking back on the whole of your life and you're also looking into the future. And you're looking back on the past 10,000 years, and feeling the spirits and the presence of the mighty things that have happened in that chamber. It affected me most profoundly.
Did you feel tangible repercussions of that?
Jaz: Absolutely. With any form of ritual, a ball starts rolling. It just changed the way I think about things. The most amazing thing was actually coming out. I've got friends that live near the Pyramids. I've been going to Egypt since 1981. I studied music there at the conservatory. When we came out of the Pyramid, there were about 50 musicians all playing drums, and people singing, welcoming us when we came out of the recording on the first day. My friend, Abu Setu arranged for all these musicians to meet us when we emerged. It was dusk when we came out. The sun was just setting. It was a cool evening and there was this festival of rhythm outside the Pyramid, and everyone was cheering when I, Youth and the recording people came out. It was incredible.
Were there any interesting locations that Democracy was recorded in?
Jaz: Our vision on this album was to keep everything like a band playing live. Strip it down to the fundamentals. The same with our approach in where we wanted to do it. It was English summertime, we were in classic English countryside by the sea in Cornwall. It was a great time to reflect on what we really do believe. At the end of the day, we were forced to acknowledge the fact that we've spent the last 17 years going around city to city and we've used music as catharsis. We've used it to rid ourselves of our more violent tendencies. It got to the stage that we were all well aware that if you're not part of the answer, then you're a part of the problem. And so in the end, you're forced to see how one can beautify one's existence. You're forced to become philosophers. Anyone who's not a philosopher is an asshole. Love of wisdom, in Greek, that's what it means. There's a vibe around the band, and around the band's audience, of awareness. I remember I went to a Faith No More concert, and half the people there were kids who wore the same clothes as the people on stage. There were a lot of clichés, and there wasn't an awful lot of real content, there wasn't a level of awareness. It was a level of ignorance. A Killing Joke audience is really quite different, and the atmosphere is different. It makes you think. It's a different energy altogether.
Geordie was quoted as saying that Killing Joke are the "most artistically successful band in the last 20 years."
Jaz: I'd say that's fair. In terms of contemporary music, we're getting between three and five bands a week that people say sound like us, or citing us as a reference point. By the end of the century, we will have influenced thousands of bands, and I hope a thousand publishing houses as well.
When you first started the band, did you have any idea what it would turn into?
Jaz: Yes. A clear idea. I remember I wrote it in my diary. I imagined the band before I met the people in the band. It sounded like a generator pumping out cruel images of a primeval world. I wrote in my diary that "it sounded as if the pipes of Pan were fashioned from shiny steel."
What does the name mean?
Jaz: We're masters of ambiguity. There are so many different possible meanings. In the beginning, it was representative of a level of despair about the political system, about the music industry, and how it drains all idealism out of idealists, and in the end, they wind up as a homogenised version of what they once were. Killing Joke, in the beginning, represented that feeling of having no control over your own destiny. But then it changed into many different things. It changed into the laughter that overcomes fear. Something that we associated with a long-term victory or campaign. Not short-sightedness.
So, you settled the argument about the mystical "island at the end of the world"? You decided that it was New Zealand?
Jaz: I have. I believe firstly in an agrarian-based economy as opposed to an industrially-based one. I think countries with an agrarian-based economy will survive better in the next century, because industry's changing all the time. The work force is actually getting smaller, not larger. I believe the land is the answer. Sustainable resources are the answer. I think we're teaching kids skills which are totally irrelevant to surviving in the world that lies ahead. New Zealand, at the end of the day, will be a model where we can express such ideas as permanent agriculture, a sustainable ecosystem, self-reliance combined with proportional representation in our political system. It's one part of the world that's home to Killing Joke, like London is home to Killing Joke.
Britain's post-punk era threw up some strange groups, but few as extreme as Killing Joke. Emerging at a time of Cold War tension, their savage meltdown of punk,
heavy metal and dub was the perfect delivery system for frontman Jaz Coleman's gleeful celebrations of forthcoming Armageddon. As much a way of life as a band, they generated an astonishing intensity in live performance, studio recordings and notoriously confrontational interviews. Despite splits and personnel changes, the band are still going strong, with a more refined sound but a world-view that remains as bleak as ever .
Forged in a Notting Hill squat, the original line-up comprised Jaz (vocals/ synths), Geordie (guitar), Youth (bass) and drummer Big Paul. Their first break came supporting Joy Division at London's Lyceum, and after releasing a self-financed EP via Island, they signed to art-rock label EG for their 1980 debut album, Killing Joke. A brutalist classic, it featured their essential singles "Requiem" and "Wardance", and -like all their early record releases came with unsettling artwork that perfectly complemented the music. On stage, the band were developing a reputation for memorable, un- compromising performances. One of their legendary early gigs was at a CND rally in London's Trafalgar Square where Jaz Coleman introduced a performance of "Wardance" with the inspiring message: 'I hope you realise that your efforts today are all quite futile.'
Yet Killing Joke sounded like a mere collection of demos compared to the full-on assault of their second LP, 1981's What's This For? This was the definitive manifestation of their early spirit on a record that started off in- tense with "The Fall Of Because" and never slackened the pace. Yet de- spite the release of an enigmatic third LP, Revelations, the band's spell was breaking. Early in 1982, Jaz Coleman jumped ship for Iceland for bizarre occult reasons perhaps best left unexplained, and the band made a legendary TV appearance with a mannequin substituting for the renegade singer, before opting to follow. Amidst the to-ing and fro-ing, Youth left to pursue a new career with Brilliant and ultimately as a top-flight dance producer .
Back in London, the band decided to continue with Raven newly installed
[that's how the issue is printed - something obviously got lost]
Their most recent album, Democracy, consolidated the sound of Pandemonium, as the band moved ever closer to the mainstream, or the mainstream moved closer to them. In an age of global warming, environmental destruction and a rapidly approaching millennium, Killing Joke's apocalyptic dance music sounds more topical than ever.
EXTREMITIES, DIRT, AND VARIOUS REPRESSED EMOTIONS
By RICK ROOS
PERENNIAL ALTERNATIVE MUSIC favorites Killing Joke recently released Extremities, Dirt, and Various Repressed Emotions, their first new material in about three years. The album comes on the heels of a series of extremely successful "reunion" shows done by Killing Joke in early 1990.
In Extremities, the band manifests a sound almost 180 degrees from that of their last release 1988's commercial flop, Outside the Gate. That album was characterized by a tinny, synthesizer-enhanced sound, while this release explodes with a seething array of guitar riffs and industrial drum beats.
It is ironic that the band's new sound is remarkably similar to that of the group's eponymous 1980 debut. At that point in time, the punk sound of the late '70s was starting to die, and the European techno-pop sound was beginning to burst into the music scene. Killing Joke was the first band to interweave heavy, guitar-Iaden riffs with keyboard and percussion beats to obtain a fresh and addictive sound, a sound which led eventually to the birth of industrial music as we now know it.
Songs like "Requiem," "Complications" and "Wardance" featured vocalist Jaz Coleman's angst-ridden chants coupled with a ferocious backbeat. The band released more albums a: years passed; however, none were as commercially accepted or as musically brilliant as their first record.
In 1985, with the release of Night Time, the band was once again thrust into the spotlight of alternative underground music. This album featured a revamped sound for Killing Joke. The loud, pulsating backbeats were still present, but there also was a haunting, almost gothic flavour to the music. A single from the album Eighties became an anthem for the punk movement of the decade and was even included on Spin magazine's list of the top 100 singles of the 1980s. It seemed that the band would once again be able to entrench itself atop the heap of alternative acts.
However, a series of lukewarm subsequent releases through the mid- to late eighties caused Killing Joke to literally vanish from the music scene with little notice.
In 1990, Killing Joke acquired the services of Ministry drummer Martin Atkins. This seemed to give the band the spark it needed to start over again. First there was a series of remarkably successful reunion shows throughout America and Europe (where, incidentally the band had remained fairly prominent in spite of their us commercial collapse); then, in August, the band hit the studios to record new material for an album. The result was Extremities, an explosive album marked with a sound that resembles the current industrial stylings of Skinny Puppy, Nitzer Ebb and Ministry.
Atkins' presence is heavy on the album, as is that of guitarist Geordie and the ever-bizarre Coleman on vocals. Throughout the album, Coleman airs his views about evil and the hopelessness of modem society in stunning cuts like "Money is Not Our God," "Age of Greed" and "Intravenous." Coleman's screw-the-world attitude is evident in verses from "Money is Not Our God": "Ten percent of the land is in the hand that pulls the strings. Be the privileged few (to have, to own, to hold) power over people, yes, yes, power over people."
"North of the Border" shows a similar sentiment: "I've tried wearing bright colours to brighten my life but the truth cuts through fashion, it cuts like a knife. Just look at our faces, yes, they say more than words. We're so lost in our problems. We're so lost in our world."
Extremities is extremely difficult to listen to, and at times the songs branch into extended periods of dissonance. Still, the pure energy of the music is hard to top. The din of cuts like "Extremities" and "Solitude" bursts from speakers with an unparalleled intensity.
Needless to say, Extremities is a worthwhile purchase for fans of Killing Joke, the industrial sound, or those open- minded music lovers who are ready to free themselves from the unending drudge of house music and synth-pop.
Another view of the band:
1994 marked the rebirth of the ridiculously influential Killing Joke, whose sound paved the way for countless bands that include Ministry , Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, and Metallica (who cover "The Wait" on their Garage Days EP).
These latter folks, who have achieved more commercial success than their aural benefactors, readily admit to the indispensable influence of Killing Joke on their music. In fact, the basic riff for Nirvana's "Come As you Are" was so close to that of KJ's early MTV hit "Eighties" that they sued (nothing ever came of it, surely in part due to unforeseen circumstances that tabloids have documented ad nauseum). The original Killing Joke lineup, that included vocalist Jaz, guitarist Geordie, bassist Youth, and drummer Paul Ferguson, began in '79 and disbanded in '82. Jaz remained the singer of Killing Joke while at the same time cultivating his love for classical composition, working with orchestras from Minsk and Cairo, while in his new home, New Zealand.
Geordie remained in the band as well and also recorded in the beginning of the '90s with Murder Inc., the project of Martin Atkins and Chris Connelly of Pig face/Revolting Cocks fame, Raven (Killing Joke's second bassist who has gone on to tour with Prong) and Paul Ferguson. Martin Glover, a.k.a. Youth, the man whose re-entry for '94's Pandemonium LP was Killing Joke's rejuvenation, worked as a producer in the twelve years that he was apart from the band. He worked with techno luminaries such as the Orb and the Shamen, and did more traditional production work with the Sugarcubes, the Cult, Tom Jones (who he wrote a couple of songs for), Paul McCartney's project Fireman, Erasure, and Crowded House. It was in '92 [sic] when Geordie was recording Killing Joke's Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions, and ran into Youth who was upstairs producing Bananarama, that the two decided to get back with the original lineup. The result was Pandemonium, the band's most vital album since the early days. The last album, Democracy (Zoo) (the eleventh full-length release from Killing Joke), was released in April 1995.
Some are good, some have very valid points, some are sort of you know and one very pointed and telling it as it is. (I even got the magazine back 10 days after I sent it. Still, it is good that people speak their mind like Trevor did in his letters last time round. Power to your elbow.. .that's what I say. I also say that without any input the whole idea of the network will fade away. If there is something to say then let it out. Anyway, on with the mail.
Many thanks for the smashing new Network mag. I would just like to tell you this regarding that so called letter from Trevor Grace who gives the impression that all of us subscribers to the network mag are pissed off and believe we are being ripped off. Just who gave him permission to speak on my behalf? I must have held that belief without knowing it. But of course I don't, no bloody way. I found every issue fabulous and I mean that!!
Does he know you do all the hard work of putting the thing together voluntarily? You see, the majority of subscribers think you do a great job putting it together and that's no guess work either, (well all I personally know that write to me regularly).
His letter has made me angry Steve and I just had to express my thanks to you for "making my day" when I get my copy of the mag. I don't give a toss how long it takes either, "if a things worth having it's worth waiting for". I mean that.
Excuse me, I just can't stand unjust opinions, keep that chin up. I appreciate your efforts. Take care.
Well, thank you for the compliments. Yes, it is all voluntary but I guess Trevor did have a few points to make and such is life. As he said, it is not so much me, but I am someone who is in the firing line by having the P.O. Box included in the sleeve of the CDs. Trevor comes across as a nice enough guy and he is well and truly into the band like most other members. Mind you, it is still nice to hear from you with the fact that you like the mag. Cheers darling.
Having just received the latest Network issue may I say that yes, it does go from strength to strength. But at the same time, I have to agree with Trevor from Canada/Japan (and I thought I was a well-travelled man). Steve, you should be getting more help from the band. I Mean, after all, if Geordie and Jaz can afford to swan off all over the world and Youth is producing the likes of U2 and Crowded House (don't forget The Verve!), well they can't be exactly strapped for merchandise and promo stuff can they???
In answer to your question, once the discography is complete, maybe you could print an adverts page on any bootlegs or rare albums available for re-recording. For instance, if anyone would like a copy of Alchemy, The Courtauld Talks or even Ha! then write to me with £5 (to cover the price of the tape(s) and P+P.
Before I go may I say how mice it was to hear that Youth is a frequent visitor to Goa, India. I was there in January and its mix of ambience and vibe really is amazing. Go to Goa!!!
The invitation is there if anyone has a request.
One piece of mail I received was unusual. (I suppose 'different' would be a better term). I picked up the post to find an envelope containing a magazine - which is not unusual as we get these things from people now and again... The odd thing about this magazine is that it was in fact a returned copy of the last issue, returned in ten days with a letter which had Aleister Crowley's Onion Peelings From Brighter Than A Thousand Suns written out, with the amazing 'letter' from Karmen in Munich which read as follows:
Don't send some bullshit like this again. Cheers, Karmen
There is not a lot I can say to that, really. Well, there is, but I am just one of those nice people you meet now and again. You know, face in the crowd, average days and nights, nothing 'out of the ordinary' type guy. Well, that is, apart from ... bollocks. What a bitch, what a waste of postage. Still, at least I got the mag back.
Just thought I'd drop you a list of a few KJ audio cassettes that I've managed to unearth, complete with price and contact address. I thought Issue 4 was fantastic. I did not think it could outweigh No. 3. Nice one.
One question: is there any chance of Jaz shedding any light on his book An Irrational Domain.
If I get this issue done before I see Jaz I should have an answer near the front. If not, then I will definitely find out because he has talked about it a lot and is actually writing it when he has the urge/inspiration/time. I will see what I can do.
The list you sent me had a few of the gigs that were on the list I printed in the last issue. On the list is says that there is only one copy of each tape, they are either C60 or C90 and the quality varies.
Just a quick stop press item.
As well as the Tarot style cards, I also have (thank you Patrick) the white robe that Jaz was wearing for the promo pictures used on the Victorious City CD. If the response is good enough for the competition (when Patrick has sorted one out), then the robe will be the prize. If the response is not too good then I will try to auction the thing for charity or another good cause.
As you may know already, the Embrace CD, which is another Youth production, has gone up the charts.