Laughing Lines – Jaz Coleman Interview

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Printed in the Groove Guide, May 2013

Despite having been a resident Jaz Coleman’s seminal neu-punk-goth out fit Killing Joke have never before plated in Aotearoa. Now, finally on the back of a worldwide singles-best of tour the original, essential line-up of Coleman, Youth, Geordie and Paul Ferguson finally put their feet down on a local stage or two. It seems extraordinary that it has taken this long for Killing Joke to play here, particularly since the ever-mercurial Coleman, has lived here on and off since the mid-eighties. Youth’s recorded here; Pandemonium was recorded in York St. “Well, no one’s asked us to. Let’s be perfectly honest about this. If there’s no demand … But 25 years on finally there is. I can play in my own country. I’m looking forward to it.”
That said Killing Joke are really world citizens. Coleman in particular, who despite having land on an island in the Hauraki Gulf “sleeps from couch to couch, of no fixed abode. I like to move around. Stay with different people. I don’t want to amass of possessions and all the trappings that go with those. When on tour Youth collects hundreds of albums and ships them all back to the UK. I have three pairs of pants, and my stage clothes. That’s it!”
Most recently he was hangin” with a local broadcaster in the apartment right next to the Groove Guide offices. However, despite the close proximity I have to call half way across the world. On the line from Seattle (‘Home of grunge and Starbucks!’), where he’s not in the best of voices. “My voice went completely at one point but it came back miraculously. We had two shows to do in one day. I just mashed it with medication. You know, I’ve never missed a show in 35 years. I get by on the love and support of the audience!”
Killing joke is only one of Coleman’s many projects, who also composed classical music. The alt-heroes of the eighties have a particular brand of spiky post-punk producing hits ‘Love Like Blood’, ‘Kings and Queens’ and ‘Eighties’ plus a notoriously unnerving and in-yer-face live show. They’ve been the encouraging force behind acts like Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Faith No More, Marilyn Manson and Rammstein.
Killing Joke were in a hiatus until 2003, when they began producing some of the most vital music of their career reminding everyone what was so special about them in the first place. But it was their most recent album, MMXII that re-landed their ‘typically political and agitating’ sound – it’s a ‘loud, grinding and relentless’ take on industrial metal. “Actually, its incredibly cathartic. Like a primal scream -so different for the orchestral work. Killing Joke concerts are where everyone just meets up, like a forum. In Toronto my voice had just gone but they cheered me on. And that touches me deeply. The love for our band never ceases to amaze me. We’ve been going 35 years. Most bands get nasty (over money and creative power) by then. But we split the money equally (to avoid that). So 35 years later my band are my best friends.”
Their 2013 tour promises to be something of a ‘Singles Hits’ endeavour, but from a band whose last priority is bothering the charts. “I’m always the last person to know this because I don’t use modern forms of communication unless it’s a land line. I don’t use computers… I knew a singles collection was coming out when I came on the tour. For me, Killing Joke was never a singles band. We’re forced into a ‘singles’ market because they started by just taking one song off the album – we’ve never been radio friendly.
Currently, Killing Joke have been terrorizing crowds in the States, I asked him what he thought of the US these days. “It’s different from 30 year’s ago. There’s no rebellion left. Everyone is just a passive zombie. Food supply has something to do with its – dumbed down everyone to obese, lethargic corpses. The economic crisis … 9/11; climate change affecting more hurricanes …that terrorist bombing in Boston and unemployment, heavy debt. People are worn down. The sad thing is there is much less of a community than when we started. Part of that might be modern forms of communication. Walk down the street, everyone’s on their iPhones or in their own virtual world. It’s a fragmented society. People have access now to amazing amounts of information, but their attention spans are getting shorter, their focus is gone. Instant gratification. Instant knowledge orgasm! I think that a lot of the great thinkers couldn’t achieve what they did through a computer.”
And speaking of great thinking, Coleman is about to release a book, available online for a short time. “Letters From Cythera is a private book, it’s my personal thought process, a sort of personalized renaissance study. I’ve been studying vortexes, black holes, star gates and their trans-dimensional possibilities. I’m interested in the Earth’s energies. All of this I call ‘supersynthesis’. I’ve documented a series or perfectly timed coincidences; it’s a 30 year study of magical principals. For instance if you visualise you’re a producer and you assume it from day 1 then you are a producer. It’s a manifestation of dreams into reality. This book will raise money for my next violin concerto. Classical music does really sell very many copies so I have to raise it some how. I should spend it getting water on my Island in NZ but I put music first.”





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