It’s been along adventure for Killing Joke since their conception in 1979. Since then, the band has gone through numerous internal conflicts and line up changes, the only two constant members being Jaz Coleman (vocals, keyboards and arrangements) and Geordie Walker (guitar). Last year, all founder members were finally reunited.
Until meeting at the funeral of Paul Raven, former bassist for Killing Joke as well as Ministry and Prong, Jaz Coleman and Paul Ferguson (drums) had not spoken for nearly 20 years. Their reconciliation meant plans were hatched for a new album as well as for a worldwide tour which kicked off Tokyo in Tokyo last September. The tour saw the foursome delivering critically acclaimed performances at sold out shows to loyal fans and new devotees alike.
This year, Triple Grammy winner, Jaz Coleman, will once again take a break from his job as the Prague Symphony Orchestra’s composer in residence. A more fascinatingly diverse musical career than his cannot be found, oscillating as he has between the white heat of Killing Joke and the world’s greatest symphony orchestras. Coleman has also recorded with amongst others, the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, The Auckland Philharmonic, and the New Zealand String Quartet, topping the American crossover charts with three top fives, and two No. 1s, one of which stayed in the top spot for an incredible 103 weeks. In 2001, Coleman was commissioned by the Royal Opera House for his first large scale opera.
Last year’s tour saw bassist, Martin ‘Youth’ Glover step back into the live arena after a near 15 hiatus, having not played live with Killing Joke since 1994’s Pandemonium tour. A legend in his own right, Youth is one of the UK’s most talented producers, with the Verve’s Brit Award winning ‘Urban Hymns’, and Primal Scream’s ‘Riot City Blues’ amongst his many album credits. . He has written and produced for bands including, The Cult, Dido, Missy Higgins, Paul McCartney, Embrace and Tricky as well as having phenomenal success as one half of highly regarded duo, The Orb. In 1998, Youth won the prestigious, Producer of the Year Award.
Drummer, Paul Ferguson’s comeback saw him takeover from a long line of uniquely talented musicians.
Former Killing Joke drummers include onetime Swans and Prong member, Ted Parsons as well as Martin Atkins of Public Image Ltd and later Ministry. Nirvana/Foo Fighters’s Dave Grohl also occupied the drummer’s stool and played on 2003’s eponymous album to great acclaim. Produced by Andy Gill and released on the Zuma/Sony label, the album was greatly influenced by the political climate and features themes of war and armageddon. Sonically and intellectually powerful, it is considered one of their finest recordings.
Despite the many exciting incarnations of Killing Joke, the reunion of the original members completed by talented guitarist Geordie with his unique and driving sound, delighted existing fans and inspired new legions of followers. Geordie’s distinctive riffs and wall of sound continue to domintate Killing Joke, in past having drawn praise from fans as diverse and influential as Jimmy Page and Billy Corgan.
Once described by Ferguson as ‘the sound of the earth vomiting’, Killing Joke is anthemic and grandiose in it’s evocation of nightmare visions. Taking a sarcastic jab at authority and perceived reality to a sonically charged mixture of post punk and metal, Killing Joke’s heavy guitars and pounding tribal drums conjure a primitive atmosphere of doom, and gloom and resistance.
Notorious for their use of inflammatory imagery, a backlash against a world they perceived as ever more materialistic, unjust and conservative, Killing Joke, railed against the establishment and created a unique sound from their very conception.
Ironically, in the current musical climate with it’s obsession with rehashing eighties sounds, the 80’s saw Killing Joke really pushing music forward, incorporating danceable elements with aggressive, grinding guitars and thumping drums. With elements of proto-techno rock, their post apocalyptic vision has inspired bands as diverse and influential as Nirvana, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden and Godflesh.
Covered by Metallica, Foo Fighters and more, Killing Joke’s place in rock history was confirmed in 2005 when they won Kerrang magazine’s prestigious lifetime achievement award. Killing Joke have always been and continue to be more than just a band.
Gods of post- punk and metal, Killing Joke return with their eagerly anticipated new album to coincide with their world tour. Album release date TBC.