Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Exercise Music I: Fast Music, Slow Walky.

I recently took up daily exercise. As of last week, I have been walking twelve kilometres each day. This takes roughly two hours. In order to distract myself from the reality of walking for two hours each day somewhat, I listen to music - generally something a little different each day. I thought it could be interesting to document what I listen to each day and the effects of each excursion. I present to you Exercise Music I...

2562 Aerial (2008)

I originally reviewed this album in Time Off's now-defunct dance music section Zebra. The debut album of celebrated Dutch dubstep producer 2562, I was struck at the time by its meticulously spartan arrangements (even by the standards of its genre) and then-surprising synthesis of techno and dubstep rhythmic patterns. I distinctly remember liking it a great deal but having exceptional difficulty articulating its appeal.

Since that point, 2562's 2009 follow-up record Unbalance has positioned the producer as one of dubstep's leading lights. His pioneering techno/dubstep hybrid has gradually become one of the genre's most favoured off-shoots. Recently, I was given a pre-release copy of his eagerly anticipated third album Fever and, after enjoying it thoroughly, I thought I'd take advantage of my morning walk to revisit his debut.

In regards to exercise routine, this was something of an experiment. I've always shied away from dubstep records because spaced-out mid-tempo grooves are about as conducive to stimulating exercise as a warm glass of milk (if I may emphasise an obvious piece of advice: don't ever exercise after a warm glass of milk). I thought, however, that the more pulsing techno elements of 2562's sound might off-set the narcotic ambience typical of dubstep.

As to the experiment's success, I'm somewhat uncertain. It took me fifty-seven minutes to walk the first six kilometres of the journey as opposed to my average fifty-five (which may not sound like much of a difference - but it irks me considerably). That said, I am unsure as to the impact high-tempo music has on physical exertion. This report suggests it does help.

The following six kilometres, however, do not.

Infected Mushroom I'm The Supervisor (2004)


Dissatisfied with my first hour of work, I decided to pursue something a little more obviously energetic. Infected Mushroom are arguably the most successful psychedelic trance outfit in history. I'm The Supervisor was the Israeli duo's last straightforward psytrance album before they started indulging their rock star/breakbeat fantasies more heavily. I presumed nine tracks of uptempo psytrance (closer 'Stretched' being a slower number) would prove sufficient motivation to get me back on track.

I certainly felt
like I was travelling at a reasonable pace. So confident was I, I even forewent looking at my watch and just presumed I was making time. An alarm I forgot to turn off, however, alerted me to the fact that I was about fifteen minutes behind schedule. I nearly killed myself to make it in under sixty minutes. If it wasn't already obvious, this kind of shit me. So much so, that I've decided to try and do the whole twelve kilometres tomorrow in ninety minutes.Yes, I imagine I'll totally die in the arse.

I'll be fucked if I'm listening to Infected Mushroom again, though.   

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Australian Beats EP Reviews Pt. 1:
Blunt Instrument's Twice Baked

Over the past three months, there has been an influx of EPs from quality Australian dance producers - especially the Brisbane sector. In recognition of this fact, I have chosen to do a review series focussing on the three most interesting releases. First - Twice Baked by Brisbane breaks/glitch-hop two-piece Blunt Instrument...

Blunt Instrument have long been one of Brisbane's most promising electronic acts. Deftly unifying disparate aspects of breakbeat, hip hop and dubstep, the pair have consistently excelled in both the live and studio settings over the past five years. Twice Baked is their third official release and - as an EP consisting solely of original productions released on international label Simplify Recordings - is almost unarguably the pair's most significant artistic statement to date.

Upon listening to the record, one's ear is most immediately drawn to its unbelievably crisp production. The militant mid-tempo breaks of opener 'Impound Lot' are strikingly clear while the bass textures - so pivotal to the pair's muscular aesthetic - consistently prove both exceptionally vicious and remarkably expressive. Most impressive is the pair's ability to craft such potent bass-heavy productions without sacrificing clarity or detail. Regardless of what Blunt Instrument attempt on Twice Baked, their efforts never sound anything besides fantastic.

That said - Twice Baked's other aspects aren't quite as consistent. Specifically, Blunt Instrument's songwriting is somewhat unrefined. Aforementioned opener 'Impound Lot', for example, establishes a punishing groove but fails to develop anything beyond that promising rhythmic foundation. Follow-up number 'Olympus Egg' suffers from similar shortcomings. Matters do improve significantly with the glitch-funk of 'Hands Free' and the dub-heavy murk of closer 'Slightly More' but such cuts can't disguise Blunt Instrument's songwriting handicap - even if they do provide considerable hope for future releases.

However - while such flaws are undeniably noticeable, they are also largely negligible. In actual truth, Twice Baked arrives without anything resembling a significant flaw. Even the pair's tendency to lean a little too heavily on their influences (specifically, the work of Dave Tipper) is largely acceptable in light of the variety showcased by their work. Hardly spotless, Twice Baked is still an impressive statement of intent for Blunt Instrument and bodes well for their future.

You can hear more music from Blunt Instrument - including an incredible remix of Radiohead's 'Street Spirit' - here. Their EP can be purchased on Beatport

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My Interview With Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke: Pt 2

As promised, the second half of my interview with Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke (read Pt 1 here). To bring us up to date: Jaz had just been discussing how the band's most vital work had been delivered in their latter years.

Fair warning - things get quite emotional (perhaps cloyingly so) towards the end of this section. I made a promise to myself to transcribe the entire interview, though, so I'll just have to deal with the embarrassment.


I used to say that about Hosannas from the Basements of Hell. I think, up until this album, it was indisputably your greatest work – and it was released nearly twenty-eight years after you formed.

The trick is to keep going. It’s a cliché but the maxim that ‘a winner never quits and a quitter never wins’ holds true, I think. As you can see, looking back at the interviews we did, we were not always h – line cuts out briefly – and who gives a fuck? (laughs) You still pull out a record and you promote it and you get onto the next one and you just keep pulling out music. I can remember times in my career where it was almost impossible to do that.

When we did (1990 studio album) Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions, that was after three years of litigation and no record deal and all sorts of stuff. To survive, we were doing two hundred and fifty concerts a year, during this time – just to survive – and then, when we had the opportunity to record again, Extremities was recorded in three days – the album that we did with Atkins (former Public Image Ltd drummer Martin Atkins) and Raven – and I remember just being really, really grateful just to have the opportunity to record again. I thought it was so elusive at that time.

So, we’ve gone through all these kind of things, you pick yourself up, you throw yourself back into it and you just start punching! (laughs) It’s not been the most comfortable of rides always, Killing Joke’s thirty-one years, but it’s been one fuck of an amazing journey.

The way I perceive Killing Joke is very different to everybody else, of course, because, for me – especially with the original line-up, it really brings it home – Killing Joke’s been my entire further education. I mean, if you take into consideration that Youth left school at fourteen, I left school at fifteen, none of us have got any exams or O-levels or A-levels or anything to our names – yet here we are.

There’s three visiting professors in the band, everybody’s got multiple jobs, work, talents, you know – and everybody’s self-taught, is my point. If there is anything really valid about Killing Joke it’s, if you look at the individuals involved, look at what they’ve achieved and bear in mind that we are the people that society wrote off.

Hence the anger, I guess, as young men. The anger at being written off before we’d even started – just because we weren’t qualified et cetera et cetera. You know, we knew we were intelligent and we had talents but there was a lot of anger, when I think back – and there must be today when I see a lot of young people and academia or further education doesn’t work with them, again they’re written off by society as being economically worthless.

There’s the same anger that comes from low self-esteem that we had to sort of get through – and I think everybody’s achieved it in a very noble manner, frankly, when I think of all the things everybody’s achieved. I mean, Big Paul is a master of art, in terms of he restores some of the greatest masterpieces in the world – line cuts out again briefly – Museum of Modern Art and many other things as well – and then he does Killing Joke (laughs). I like this.

The interesting thing about the band is, when we’re together, we don’t spend a lot of time talking about music. There’s so many areas. There’s not many people in the world apart from my colleagues that I can move very easily from world politics or what’s happening in any particularly region to poetry or earth sciences or dancing or history in the way that I can move with these guys. They’re all so incredibly well-read – and yet, again, nobody finished school even!

I guess, if there is any great contribution Killing Joke has to make or has made, I think it’s to education, more than anything else. I put it down to that people come and see Killing Joke and think ‘well, if those arseholes can do that, anyone can do anything!’ (laughs) I really do think it’s that! I call it the mirror effect!

Killing Joke’s had such an incredible effect on so many people – and not just in the area of music. There was a play done two weeks ago that was using Killing Joke’s music. We have even one architect who’s influenced by Killing Joke’s music who showed us how his design in architecture is influenced by Killing Joke’s music.

In one sense, if you look at the early gigs, they were everybody kind of met – if they met before the gig, everybody used to talk. Killing Joke was like a forum of discussion, not just a gig, but lifestyle, how to survive...

I mean, God, when I moved to New Zealand, I remember talking to this young guy and he’s going ‘oh, New Zealand’s really shit. You only get twenty grand for a video!’ and I said ‘what do you mean you only get twenty grand for a video?’ He goes ‘yeah, all you have to do is prove to the government you’ve got distribution and they give you twenty grand for a video – you only get fifty grand for a recording’ and I go ‘what you talking about, fifty grand for a recording?’ He goes ‘yeah, as long as you can prove distribution to the government, they’ll pay for your recording’ (laughs) In the UK they tell you to fuck off!

I never knew these kind of things happened until I left the UK. When I think that the route that we took...God, I mean, we were squatting. That’s how we survived in the early days. We moved into squats – but that wasn’t long.

If you look at when I actually had the band complete and the time we put our first record out and were known universally throughout the UK and the best part of Europe – that was only ten weeks. From the time that we were altogether and the time that happened, that was ten weeks. It happened really quick. I think the same happened for The Clash – where it doesn’t seem to happen so much these days, you know?

I think it was our early lessons in media studies. You didn’t have to play all the small places. Getting people like John Lydon and John Peel to say ‘wow, have you heard this?’ – I mean, that was great media. Our first London gig was sold-out. We hadn’t really done the small places. We went to sort of medium-sized venues. It was a good lesson. A very good lesson. It’s been an incredible learning experience.

When I moved to Iceland in ‘82, I woke up on February 26 in Iceland and the first thought I had in my mind was ‘I want to be a composer, I want to compose for orchestra’ and then, basically, Killing Joke funded all my studies with symphony orchestra from that point – so it really has been my university.

Consider, I’d never been in a hotel room and I’d never flown on a plane until I was in Killing Joke. It’s been my everything. It’s not just a band. It’s broader.

It’s always been a network of other individuals in different parts of the world and that’s what it is. You meet somebody – and through Killing Joke I’ve met so many people that a new world was born – and now, instead of having just a fanclub, The Gathering offers itself to anyone who is interested in Killing Joke. We always thought the term ‘fan’ was derogatory, really. The Gathering and gatherers – the idea of gathering knowledge – has always been dear to us. The Gathering is sort of an extended family. That’s what it’s become.

So, while I’d consider ourselves a corner shop next to a supermarket like U2, what we’ve got is real precious. Someone said to me last week ‘you know, the greatest thing about Killing Joke is its audience’ and that’s fucking amazing when you think about it – but true. You look at all the cretins, for example, that might go to a U2 concert or an Iron Maiden concert – our audience is not like that (laughs). Our audience is very well-read, they’re very intelligent, they can think for themselves! (laughs) It might be smaller but it’s better!

Awesome. Well, I think we’ve run slightly over time but I do have two things to say. First, so I don’t lose my time, is that –

Operator: Excuse me, we –

Hang on, we’re just finishing off with one question.

Well, the thing I do have to say is that you and Killing Joke are the single greatest influence on my adult life.


Yep. As a writer, as a musician, as a theatre maker – it all comes back to Killing Joke 2008, when I bought your albums. I bought all of your albums in the space of about two weeks.

Great. Well, we’ll make a point of coming to Brisbane next year. It’s high on my list to do Australia again. The last time we went to Brisbane, it was so, so unfortunate.

What happened was – I have to tell you this – was that Ted Parsons, who was playing drums for us on the 2003 record tour, he missed the fucking flight to Australia, so we had to re-schedule Brisbane on that 2003, and we hired an Australian road crew to move all our stuff because the drummer hadn’t turned up. We wouldn’t have used this road crew. Of course, they had an accident and one of the roadies died in the accident and it’s left us feeling very sad about this. Geordie hasn’t spoken to Ted Parsons ever since – because he missed that gig. It just goes to show you that, being late for something, the repercussions that can have sometimes is just horrible.

So, we want to go to Brisbane and I want to find the family of the roadie who died and invite them to the show. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about since 2003. Sad, sad...A small footnote. We’ll make it to Australia.

It’s the people that make Killing Joke – I’m always mindful of this – it’s the people that love our music that make it happen. They, the gatherers, are almost more important than the members that make up the band. I’d consider myself a huge gatherer and aficionado of Killing Joke – but I’ve never seen the band, you know. You can look on a screen but you can’t feel it – so I’ve never seen it – but I like the feeling I’m left with when I come off stage.

I feel like it’s a divine experience in one sense. I feel like calm inside me, tired – but a good tired. I think it’s essentially a force for good. I’ve had to sort of reflect on it deeply over the years – whether it is or whether it’s not – and I think it is. When you have a Killing Joke concert, in that space you’re free to say anything, do anything. That space is a very special place and long may it continue.

My vision for the band is very simple and that is that, one by one, we’ll bury each other until there’s one man standing (laughs).

That’s it, really. It’s a life, isn’t it? It’s a life and people make it a life and wow. I have so little, I’m not interested in money, I live on subsistence money really compared to most people, but I’m certainly the richest poor man you ever did meet. I do feel like this. I do feel like this.

I feel that Killing Joke is an incredible, incredible force and I’m so proud to be part of it. I’m so proud of my colleagues that they can overcome all of the trauma of being with Killing Joke and that we can all come together to resolve our differences to keep making music for the right reasons. It sure isn’t for the money (laughs)

So, yeah. What can I say? The entertainment business has brought me nothing but happiness.

Well, it’s been an absolute honour to speak to you and I really hope to see you soon.

Hey, well, make it there! Make sure you come to the soundcheck. What’s your first name?


Matt, of course. Well, Matt from Brisbane, on any Australian gigs – or indeed any gigs worldwide – you can be at any Killing Joke for free for the rest of your mortal life.

Awesome. Thank you so much.

Just let me know. Any Australian gigs I do, I’ll put Matt from Brisbane on the door – just in case you’re out there.

Thanks, man. That’s amazing. I really, really cannot wait.

And make a point of seeing me in the flesh when we come through. God willing, we’ll take our discussions further.

Awesome. This has been one of my greatest ambitions as a journalist, to interview you.

Oh, good. Everyone’s born gifted. Everybody – we believe this in Killing Joke. Life is the location of your gift and then the selfless execution of it and that’s it. Everyone’s born innately gifted. I think that’s Killing Joke. It’s the realisation of what you can do.

Thank you so much. I’ll see you when you get here.

I’ll see you when you get here. You’re coming to Europe, I trust?

I’ll try.

Everyone should leave their homeland and go around the world regularly. It makes you stronger with every journey. Especially people stuck out in the world where you are – you have to leave, get a global perspective. Take into consideration, this: I don’t think travel’s going to get any cheaper. Do it now. Act on the impulse (laughs).

Cheers, man.

Alright mate, cheers!

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Interview With Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke: Pt 1

I have entertained very few serious ambitions in my career as a music journalist. Like many, I've always wanted to be respected but, beyond that, I haven't had many personal goals. Ever since I have started writing, however, I have dreamt of interviewing Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke.

For some context, Killing Joke are/were a legendary post-punk band of the early eighties. Combining aspects of funk, dub, punk, metal and pop, the group's work has been a pivotal influence on alternative music over the past thirty years. Nirvana's 'Come As You Are', for example, lifts its riff directly from Killing Joke's 'Eighties' while the band's music has been covered by everyone from Metallica and Fear Factory to Justin Broadrick and the Foo Fighters.

What has made the band's career particularly interesting, though, has been what's happened outside of their music.

Firstly, they're generally kind of nuts. Bassist Martin 'Youth' Glover was once arrested in his underwear for hurling burning money at strangers outside a London Bank, guitarist Kevin 'Geordie' Walker once auditioned for Faith No More in the mid-nineties only to tell the band they were 'far too suburban' and that he 'wouldn't dream of playing with any of you' and lead singer Jaz Coleman was declared a missing person in 1982 after he spontaneously relocated to Iceland (either - depending on which interview you believe - to flee the apocalypse or to study international finance).

Secondly, the majority of the band's founding members have been profoundly successful outside of the band. Drummer Big Paul Ferguson is an internationally renowned art restorer and fine artist, Martin Glover - having produced The Verve's Urban Hymns, Crowded House's Together Alone and Paul McCartney's Fireman project - is one of the most respected producers in the world (and one of the founders of the psytrance genre) while Jaz Coleman has been the composer-in-residence for the European Union, Prague Symphony Orchestra and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

It's no exaggeration to describe the band - and Jaz Coleman, specifically - as the greatest single influence on my adult life. Coleman's ruminations on the bestial and divine aspects of humanity and the band's overall synthesis of the urbane and political with the philosophical and spiritual echoed a great many of my thoughts as a younger man and gave me the confidence to believe in my own perspectives and abilities.

Jaz Coleman's transformation from raving lunatic - he once cursed the NME offices with cat's livers, maggots and black magic after a bad review - into internationally acclaimed composer convinced me that, no matter how strange I acted, I could never completely sabotage myself. I am, in all seriousness, everything I am because of Killing Joke.

So, naturally, when I was offered a chance to interview Jaz Coleman on the back of the band's 2010 release Absolute Dissent - the first time the band's original line-up had recorded together since 1982's Revelations - I leapt at it. The final article was eventually submitted to Time Off magazine but, as you will see below, there was far too much to include in one article...

(Disclaimer: I have transcribed this entirely verbatim - and there will most certainly be parts that don't make sense)


Hey Matt, how you doin’?

Tremendous, thank you, Jaz – how are you?

Yeah, yeah, good, good – let me get myself comfortable and I’ll be right with you. I’ll be twenty seconds...Okay, Matt. Let’s go.

Awesome. Beginning with the obvious, how are you feeling about the album now that it’s been out for a couple of weeks?

Well, now that it’s been out and we’ve toured it – amazing. It’s amazing because, on this tour, people already know the new music. You can see them singing along. How do I feel about it? It’s another Killing Joke album. How I feel about it now is – we’re focussing on a new album for the New Year. Increasing our workload. We want to be a little bit more prolific so we’re going to do a new album this next year. So I suppose your answer is, as soon as we’ve finished one work and we’re promoting it, I’m already thinking of the next work.

Have you engaged much with the reception it’s had? Because you’ve been getting universally good reviews.

Oh, there’s been amazing reviews. Look, once it’s done it’s done and the performance is great on it. I love going out live. The live thing is so important to me because it’s where the music becomes personified for people. It has so much more meaning than just releasing a record – so the touring side is a big factor in this. We’re unlike a lot of other bands. We have a very close relationship with our audience, The Gathering. Very, very close. Before the show and after the show, we communicate with our audience – if people are in the mood, that is.

And how are the relationships between the four of you?

The same as they were when we started (laughs). Nothing’s changed. I was reflecting on that recently. The personalities are exactly the same as when we were teenagers and we’ve all gone through a long time together. I mean, everyone puts a little too much emphasis on the original line-up reforming but all that’s really happened is Big Paul has joined the three of us – and we’ve been marching a quarter of a century together, almost, the rest of us. It’s really Big Paul coming back to the fold.

It’s better than it ever was, actually – the relationships between each other. We’re a lot more tolerant of each other’s idiosyncrasies and funny ways. Some of the roles have changed. We still have huge explosions of emotion coming from differences of opinion – and these can turn into very hot-under-the-collar exchanges. The difference being that, where it used to break into physical fights (laughs), we talk it through these days instead of engaging in full-on fisticuffs – but the relationship is good!

What can I say? You know, I hang out with Geordie and Youth and we do things together outside of Killing Joke, so I suppose it’s an unusual sociology in our band, compared to other bands.

How do you guys deal with the past? I know Youth once attributed Killing Joke’s lack of success directly to you and, on your 2005 DVD interview, you said Paul wasn’t there because he karate-chopped your girlfriend in the face...

That’s right. That’s right. These are things we’ve had to sort of address and deal with...You know, it’s kind of water under the bridge, really. Now, I don’t even twitch about it, but these are things we’ve had to address and, yeah, they’ve taken a quarter of a century in some cases, in the case of Paul.

I mean, Paul was due to play on (1994 studio album) Pandemonium when we put the backing tracks down in New Zealand. He was due to play on that record and he sent me what was, at the time, a very unpleasant letter. He simply wasn’t ready. Of course, what I later discovered was that his sister had just recently died and there was still a lot of bad feeling at that stage.

What was interesting about getting back together three years ago is, when it came to approaching stuff like ‘Pandemonium’, what Paul would have done was very different from the drums we ended up on the recording – so there’s an interesting point of discovery there.

I mean, obviously, the original line-up wouldn’t have happened without Raven (former bassist Paul Raven - whose 2007 passing and subsequent funeral initially united the band's line-up). I mean, it would have happened. We all knew that the original line-up would happen at some point, because it was the one thing we hadn’t done in quite a long time, but it came sooner than I thought.

Paul’s added so much to Killing Joke. I mean, intellectually, he added so much to this band. He’s a great singer, so we kind of do a lot of vocals together. He’s the only band-member who’s contributed on lyrics ever – ever – in the history of Killing Joke. Apart from myself, of course. We take a theme, and then we write separately, and then we synthesise our work together. That’s unusual. I don’t see that happening in many bands.

He’s added so much to the whole Killing Joke project, as it were. I feel a sense of fulfilment, dare I say, actually, regarding the original line-up being together as it is now. It’s an achievement. It’s an achievement to get through so many things together. I wouldn’t have foreseen this thirty-one years ago. I never thought it could go on as long as it could.

As for the other comment that you made, there’s an element of truth in it, simply because, when I look over the history of Killing Joke, when you look at when wars are breaking out, the popularity of Killing Joke has also increased. I’ve always, to be frank, had mixed feelings about any kind of success for Killing Joke – because what does it mean? The day that Killing Joke’s really successful, God, what does that mean? All out war? (laughs) So, there is an element of truth in it.

You know, I don’t foresee Killing Joke becoming a stadium band and I never did. I don’t even like that direction. What’s the point of doing stadiums and all of that? If our popularity ever does increase to that point, I’d simply use smaller venues and more of them. I don’t really want to go in that direction. Killing Joke’s role is more about innovation and experimenting. When we’ve had some hits in the past, it’s always been a happy accident, to be frank.

Has your attitude towards Killing Joke’s legacy changed over the years?

Yeah, sure. When we started, the whole concept of Killing Joke was built out of a scream of despair – of having no control over your destiny. We used a metaphor, if you look back at interviews in 79-80, of Gallipoli. The idea of a soldier; the whistle’s going to go and he’s just about to go and get his head shot off and he thinks of how his life has been manipulated.

It started off with this kind of expression of no control over your destiny and then it changed over the years to the Killing Joke being the laughter that overcomes all fear – because, of course, when you laugh, there’s very little fear in a man – so its meaning has changed to me over a decade and a bit. Or three decades and a bit, I should say.

And in regards to the musical influence you’ve had and the musical role you’ve played? Because a lot of people talk about you as an undervalued band or a band behind the scenes, in regards to all the changes you’ve made in culture. How do you react to that?

Influence is so important to me, in one sense. Look, if you look at it on paper, God, you can’t compare Killing Joke to monsters like U2 – but if you compare the influence Killing Joke has on genres of music, it’s bigger. The influence is bigger. So, there you go.

I mean, I’m pleasantly surprised. Frankly, I don’t spend too much time dwelling on the past. What’s done is done and I’m always thinking of the next project when one is finished. You have to have this kind of attitude when you approach the entertainment business because it’s exactly the same as farming.

You know, I won’t get the money for this release now until two years’ time – 2012, ironically – and so you have to keep putting out music. It’s like farming. It’s like crop rotation. When I finish one project, my head is just onto the next project – whether it’s classical music or another Killing Joke record.

And what is your relationship with the press? Because I’ve read over practically every interview I’ve ever found since 1978 and it’s...entertaining.

How can you read every interview since 1978? You must have read more than anyone!

There’s an archive on the net specifically designed to document your work (the now sadly-defunct An Irrational Domain). They fell a bit behind after 2008 but they’ve got nearly forty or fifty articles for each year.

Oh yeah, at least. By my counting, I did almost 200 interviews on (2006 studio album) Hosannas from the Basements of Hell. I count the interviews I do and Geordie weighs it at the end of each campaign. He weighs the press. He never reads it. He just weighs it to see how much we get from album to album...What’s your point, anyway?

There are just so many different perceptions of you and so many wild stories about Killing Joke, I’m just wondering...Do you like journalists?

Oh, you know, it’s pointless doing an interview with someone who’s not interested in what you’re doing or they don’t like your music. That was our only point in the early days. Back in 79-80, we had friends who were on the editorial meetings of the various magazines, like NME and stuff like that, and they would tip us off if the editor in question was going to send us someone who didn’t like Killing Joke – and we’d respond accordingly. You can see it’s done quite well for our career. Mythology. (laughs)

Was it always a deliberate decision to create that mythology? You have always been quite successful at branding, I think.

I don’t think we’ve ever really tried to do anything – be who we are and do things the way we do things. There’s not a lot of thought or planning that goes into Killing Joke, I must be frank. All my colleagues would testify to this. On this album, we had seven tracks prepared, but only two of them made it to the record. The rest is just jams in the studio.

Killing Joke, at its best, is a very spontaneous thing. Even before a tour. Before this tour, we had three days rehearsal and we pulled it together very fast. Everybody focuses when it’s time to focus. It’s a unique band – especially the original line-up – in as far as we can write a song at any moment of the day, pretty much. It’s a spontaneous thing. Whatever mood we’re in.

Youth goes ‘let’s just do one with two chords!’ – bang! – ‘just two chords!’ – and we start and that was ‘In Excelsis’. As you’re listening to these tracks on the new album, you’re listening to these tracks as they’re being written, as well as recorded. So, there’s not a lot of planning that goes into Killing Joke. It’s something you just go along with.

Because you’ve got four very, very different individuals who’ve got completely different ways of doing things, it represents an absolute nightmare for any manager – to sort of work in with these different personality types. To reach a consensus on anything is a huge process (laughs) – Absolute Dissent came out of this! – but we find our common ground and we eventually get there.

It’s really a band. It’s a microcosm of a democracy. If it doesn’t work...For me, it started with repercussions for democracy. We’re a microcosm as a band. Four different opinions. Like I say, to find consensus and be decisive about what you’re going to put out or what direction we go in is a huge traumatic process.

A Killing Joke year – which includes, obviously, writing, recording, concerts – is always a traumatic year. You can ask anyone who’s ever been involved with Killing Joke. I don’t know why it should be so traumatic but it is for everybody involved. I think it’s because everybody cares so much about it.

Behind the sort of gruff exterior of everybody and our disagreements, there’s a huge love for this musical tradition of ours – our band, as it were. There’s a huge love from Youth, from Geordie and Big Paul. Everybody loves being in a band this much – and it works. I don’t know any band that has reached their most vital work in the later part of their career in the same way that Killing Joke has. I can’t find any comparisons, really.

...Read on with Pt 2...