Killing Joke
United Kingdom
Music group
"It's not about reclaiming our throne. Anyone who knows music knows who's who. We just know that the time is right for Killing Joke again. And we're ready."
- Jaz Coleman, 2003
Few groups have ever matched Killing Joke for sheer rock'n'roll intensity. Formed in Notting Hill in 1978 by Jaz Coleman, Geordie, Youth and Paul Ferguson, they lit up the post punk music scene in the U.K thanks to a rhythmic fury, inflammatory imagery and borderline psychotic stage performances. Often misunderstood for both their doom-laden lyrics and their black humour, Killing Joke nonetheless harbored a near uncontrollable rage at authority to match their political pretensions.

With the route to inevitable world domination signposted by classic singles 'Wardance' and ‘Eighties’ (featuring the tell-tale line: 'I'm not for sale no more') and epic second album 'What's THIS for?' The band self-combusted spectacularly prior to third album 'Revelations' when Jaz-fuelled by his occult obsessions- fled to Iceland fearing imminent Armageddon.

With the apocalypse unforthcoming the band reformed several times most notably for 1990’s 'Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions'- they never recaptured the same intensity and bowed out with Tony Blair-baiting 1996 album 'Democracy’, leaving their doom-laden legacy to those fans who'd now formed bands themselves: The Cult, Nirvana, Metallica, Faith No More, Nine Inch Nails and beyond.

Until 2003 that is. Recorded in London and L.A and produced by Andy Gill (Gang Of Four, Red Hot Chilli Peppers), Killing Joke's brand new self-titled album sees them back to their brooding best. Featuring a line-up including all of their original line up plus none other than long-term fan Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters/ Nirvana) on drums, it's the pulverizing hard rock classic Killing Joke always threatened to make.

From the rolling thunder of the opening 'The Death And Resurrection Show’, to the jackhammer blitzkrieg of 'Seeing Red' to the final 'The House That Pain Built ' it captures the band back to their apocalyptic best. Old fans be reassured: the molten dynamite guitars, explosion-in-a-bass bin rhythms and Coleman's signature death-knell vocals are all present in spades.

Anyone questioning whether Jaz 's fury has dimmed with age should be directed immediately to almighty first single 'Loose Cannon' ('I'm an urban animal/ One step from a cannibal'). The anthemic 'You'll Never Get To Me’ meanwhile, with it's glorious stadium-sized battle-cry of a chorus 'I'll never let you get to me Survival is my victory’ is, quite simply, the sort of call-to-arms classic only Jaz is capable of writing. In a world gone (newly) crazy once more, 'Killing Joke' is the perfect soundtrack.

"This time it came easy. We're lean and hungry again; we're all thinking in the same way. To me it feels like the first album again. It feels that fresh. The lyrics for this album just flowed out of me. Songs like ‘Total Invasion’ and ‘Blood On Your Hands’ are about the corruption you see going on in the world every time you switch on the TV. The world is on a knife-edge right now, and you want to hear music that reflects that. Right now, the world needs Killing Joke more than ever."

If few bands have ever matched Killing Joke's output, then fewer still have contributed so much since. Anyone whose idea of experimentalism is an album of acoustic ballads is advised to look away now. Having initially formed Brilliant with drummer Paul Ferguson, bassist Youth has since launched dance label Dragonfly and become uber-producer for everyone from the Verve to Crowded House.

Jaz, meanwhile, has charted a more esoteric course. Having returned to college to study musical composition in both Leipzig and Egypt in 1987, he became the first Western student ever to study oriental music at an Arabic Conservatoire. As a result of these studies in 1989 his 'Symphony' No.1' was reviewed by eminent classical composer Klaus Tennstedt who referred to Coleman as nothing short of 'our new Mahler'.

Having moved to New Zealand in 1992, Jaz's alternative career has accelerated at light speed, becoming resident composer at the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as recording with artists as diverse as the Prague Symphony Orchestra, Mick Jagger and, yes, Nigel Kennedy. Last year he premiered an opera for violin at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as part of a season featuring some of the greatest musicians from around the world. Not bad for someone the music press labeled as 'mad’ in the wake of Killing Joke's initial break-up.

"Having the Queen as one of my clients appealed to me, of course it did," admits Jaz devilishly. "I'm fascinated by music in all its forms and I certainly don't need the money to reform Killing Joke. I just know that we have to do this thing. For ourselves, but most of all for the thousands of fans in the States, Europe and South America who want to see us play live again. To me that's what it's all

"...Living where I do, on an Polynesian island, means I live a very isolated life. There’s a small chapel on the island where I live and most nights I sit there until three o’clock in the morning learning my piano compositions. But it also allows me to recharge my batteries. We're going to play a hundred and forty shows around the world on this tour, and every single one will be a life changing experience for whoever is there. It’s a ritual, a religious ceremony. It will be as intense as it’s ever been. I can’t wait to feel the hackles rising that old shiver down the back. When we play live, there's nothing on earth to touch it.."

The self-imposed wilderness period is over. The world is unwell and Killing Joke are back to provide the soundtrack, right on time.
Miss them at your peril.
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