I hate this mindset of human beings as human resources. It’s dehumanzing
terminology. Because people are SO important. We believe everybody is born
gifted. The life is the location of your God gift and the selfless execution
of your gift. The idea of personal sovereignty, that each and every one of us
can be King or Queen when we exercise our true will. Spiritually,
biologically, lovingly. - Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke.
I just saw the subversive as fuck Laetitia Sadier of legendary Stereolab
deliver a powerful yet so controlled set at a venue (the wonderful BSP Kingston) in my Upstate, NY city.
Always an activist in her music over the years, demanding and getting as much
attention from an audience or out of a subtle or quiet and poetic song as some
bands do through hollering, it was truly inspiring. One thing Sadier said in
her soft spoken but deep way at the show was how one of her songs “Find Me The
Pulse Of The Universe” was about how despite how small and perhaps immaterial
we may seem compared to the vast universe sometimes, we are all unique. She
brought real conviction to her show, whether discussing wealth disparity, how
it is good to nurture a long distance relationship in healthy ways if you
really love someone or pining for “glimpses of a world of pure thought that
few will ever know.”
Noise rock and post/punk or at times industrial metal legends Killing Joke
embody the idea of the unique personal and musical quest more than many other
bands combined, these same principles of fighting for actual creative and
human value that Sadier was espousing on stage in my town tonight. “New Cold
War” on brand spanking new rager Pylon is as relevant and emblematic of their
drive and style as anything in the group’s storied career (which dates back to
the year I was fucking born, 1978). Yep, Yankees won the world series. Killing
Joke was born and so was I, hahaha. 78′ was a good vintage!
The idea of knowing it is your absolute right to protect and fight for
your art and your right to experience the world through the lens of your own
journey and creations, to not settle for having the passion stomped out of you
by a dull or draconian society, is something I have spoken of at length lately
with some of the most amazing people I value most in my life, from avant garde
noise music/female comet Yasmine Kittles of Tearist via inspired
correspondence that has blown my mind and made me feel like the luckiest
person lately to a series of amazing artists like Brooks Blackhawk from the
very dark Atriarch or my dear, hard working friend (and former DIVEST bandmate) Sean Paul
Pillsworth of pop punkers The Red Owls dishing in a recent piece called Don’t
Break The Oath that we ran on this site about never giving up your vision.
Killing Joke have always stayed at the forefront of relevant political
discourse, cutting edge post-punk squall with hypnotic, throbbing bass and the
madman from the pulpit apocalyptic lyrics and truly unique voice of Jaz
Coleman. They have refined their sound to the essence of potency and it is
very apparent on the swirling, climbing ladder of growing intensity that
weaves through Pylon.
A composer, Permaculture advocate and avid student of philosophy who is
unafraid to chase his own demons where they take him, Coleman is a towering
figure of the underground.
Read more BELOW.
The first time I interviewed Jaz a number of years ago about past lives and more, I was so fucking
nervous, which RARELY happens with me, that I got monumentally stoned, did the
interview and threw up afterwards!!! Then went to lie down in my boxers by my
then girlfriend with my nerves so fried and my head spinning… so stoned and
on edge that I spooned her but my teeth were chattering and I ended up
accidentally ejaculating on her favorite pajama pants and trying to not wake
her up completely mortified while I cleaned that up! Total TMI, but it is
funny and evident of how intense conversation with Jaz can leave you rattled
and yet feeling more nervy and alive. Like literally so rattled with lightning
“holy shit” energy that I broke out in a sweat, puked and accidentally shot
sexual fluids out of my body.
This time I was much less nervous and it was more seamless and (ahem) fluid,
but just as interesting and inspiring. Let’s visit New Jerusalem and talk to
the man himself now.
-How are you good sir?
Jaz: Hey, Morgan. How are you?
-Really good! Great to talk to you again. How’s everything?
It’s very good, actually. I’m in Prague and it’s evening here. A beautiful
day, it’s been.
-Oh. I was just talking to a brilliant synthwave artist Confrontational who said he met
you when you were working on Absolute Dissent in Prague. He wanted to ask if
one of the B-sides from that record “Industrial Suicide Tribe” was ever going
to see the light of day?
Uh, Geordie doesn’t like it. He said it sounded too gay (laughing). There you
go. You’d love it.
-I would! I’d like to hear Killing Joke write a gay club song.
He just wouldn’t budge on it.
-You have such a dissonant but hallucinatory, driving post-punk sound. Time is
a precious thing. I’ve been arguing with musician’s in my own projects lately
about the idea that…how do you decide what material you get married to for
any given album?
That’s an interesting point. On this record there are 15 tracks. No one could
agree on which ten would go on CD one because nothing felt like a “bonus
track”. They all belong with each other, frankly. So reviewers are only
reviewing 2/3rds of it and half the band are going crazy about it now. I guess
it’s not a bad thing bitching about that if you like it all. It’s been a very
creative time. A dark year for me. Death and suicide and other things. When
you are doing concerts, whether classical or Killing Joke, it’s a time of
forced austerity anyway. (laughing) That kind of affects everything.
-I lost some people close to me as well this year. Trying to be brave about
all it brings up. Was thinking about your lyric “Is it the Winter of
humankind” about relationships and the speed of things these days or what
people can accomplish in a lifetime. How R. Buckminster Fuller thought years
ago that we could end poverty through technology and vision. No need to
suffer. Then reading about you pushing “Free Energy” in Letters To Cythera and
being impressed by your brain (laughing)…I have sleep deprivation a lot but
I feel like sometimes emotion or losing my dad this year opened me up wide and
made me want to savor every moment.
What you just said is incredibly valid. I was going to interject that I
suffered like 35 years with sleep deprivation. It’s only the last year I can
do it. But when I do suffer from it I decided to just enjoy being awake! I’m
sort of actually happy in my life as a result. And keep company who make you
laugh. When your’e laughing there is no fear in you.
-True. I feel blessed to have made a new communication/connection of sorts like that with someone
recently who makes me laugh and she, Yasmine, has been deeply inspiring. I feel more alive lately than in years.
Good, man! That’s the punk spirit! When you laugh or talk to people you really love it produces so
many things in us. No fear of failure! This has been our hallmark, realy. Bear
in mind most of us left school at 14 with no exams. It’s been a huge
transition from there to writing operas for the Queen or conducting
orchestras! Lectures. Being in the band there was always self-education.
That’s what a gatherer is. We don’t refer to people just as fans. That’s
insulting. We are all here to gather knowledge. Share ritual. When we were
teenagers we’d debate lots of books or go to the old occult bookshops in
England or one in NY called Magical Child and buy loads and loads of books.
I’d go there and bump into the rest of the band there! (laughing)
-”I was trying to get some time off from you guys” (laughing)
(chuckling) It was often like that. That’s how it really happened! We were
born of ritual magic and here we all are. It’s a vibrant and wonderful thing
and all of us stop and reflect on how wonderful this all is and how much we
all mean to each other. How valuable human life is. I hate this mindset of
human beings as human resources. It’s dehumanizing terminology. Because people
are SO important. We believe everybody is born gifted. The life is the
location of your God gift and the selfless execution of your gift. The idea of
personal sovereignty, that each and every one of us can be King or Queen when
we exercise our true will. Spiritually, biologically, lovingly.
You see, when you are doing something you love it energizes you. That’s what you should really do. Do your will. That’s essentially what we believe. The science of revolution.
-I was thinking of the title of this record, Pylon. In kundalini the base of the spine is like a pillar where the energy starts to climb. Or on Wikipedia it says Pylons were often decorated with scenes of a King’s authority and was the public face of occult beings. You are talking about many layers of meaning on this record.
Well, it is. The Pylon of the eleven sephirot on the Tree of Life, referred to as Da’at. There’s contingencies about non-sephirot. Two of the band members are actively Kabbalists and these esoteric interests bleed over into the band. I write about it extensively.
-You also write about freedom and hidden forms or structures. I’m often bitching about Max Martin writing all the pop music of the last decade or so and how it fits this basic mathematical formula. Where is the soul in that? Or I thought it was interesting in Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, if you haven’t seen it, he incorporates the Fibonacci sequence into revelations about Charlotte Gainsbourg’s sex life in the film. It was well done. But it is interesting how we get codified along comfort zones.
Well, I’m sure. I’m sure. That’s why it’s our duty to go completely mad and feral, my friend (laughing).
-(laughing) Yes!!! Fuck yeah!
Again, you have to come to the Killing Joke fishing trip!
-(cracking up) Is it safe/alright to go in the water? I think I just peed a little. Can I ask you though…on that note, what did you think about the David Cameron pig scandal?
Sometimes I don’t listen to the media on some subjects at all. Was it really that big news? What do people get up to?
-Well, on Twitter (laughing). But the secret society aspect and the metaphor of the upper crust and foxhunt type culture as a way to look down on the poor is interesting, even without people putting their dicks in dead pigs.
Is that right? I never thought of it like that. There’s some of those fox hunter types I’d like to fucking hunt. Now there’s a great idea (famous Jaz madman laughing).
-The last record you had “Fema Camp” and this one has “War On Freedom”, which I assumed from the lyrics was about non-consentual spy powers? Data mining.
Yeah the whole damn train is a whole damn shame. You’ve gotta have security but it’s gone too far with no checks and balances. There’s so much of it now but it doesn’t effect me. With this fucking nose they know where I’m coming from everywhere anyway, you know? (laughing). I wouldn’t make a good spy. Especially with biometrics now, it’s just become fucking unthinkable. How the hell would I not get caught? It’s all so far gone. What do you think about it?
-I don’t know, but I just imagined you as Groucho Marx with mustache glasses trying to sneak past a guard post into an internet fucking cafe!
(both crack up laughing/howling)
On a personal level this is why I can’t care about these things.
-How was the process tracking this record? Did you worry about fitting in all the themes or just tried to find a good flow for it?
I don’t really finalize lyrics til about five minutes before I sing them. I try as capture as much of the now in it as I can. Nothing is contrived that way. We don’t work like that. It lands that way. Nothing is preconceived. You have to make a large volume of music and take the best. The problem this time is we liked all of it. But record companies rarely do double albums now. There must be a curse on them or something.
-I wanted to ask about “New Cold War”. I’m Estonian and wondered if you meant the tech stuff between the USA and China or the Baltic stuff or Russia and Ukraine and all of that?
Russia has moved into Syria and is protecting Assad. Just in Europe alone our second biggest export is produce to Russia. A lot of the farms are going down as a result and you see the effects everywhere. To add to this I’ve been working in Russia. Just to add to the security and how difficult it is getting visas or get a Russian Orchestra visas to go into the West takes so long now. We are in a kind of new cold war between the three powers. It’s a resource war, probably.
-I read a quote in a book today, The Thousandfold Thought. It said ”doubt begets understanding. Understanding begets compassion. But verily it’s conviction that kills”. Some media platforms recently I’ve been on have had great culture exchange or people from Russia wanting to know more about what I do or talk. But we are often set in convictions that pit us against one another in society and I love breaking that down. There are good people caught up in the bigger movements of powers.
There we are. There we are. This is why music is more important than any political solution. It crosses all borders and boundaries in a way that words and political gestures can fail us. It’s a sad thing, the whole thing with Russia and America. It made me think about the beggining of our career which was a cold war then. Where is it going to end? Syria is a very dangerous playground. We’ve got a proxy war happening and you wonder where it is gonna go from here. In the Cold War there was a hotline between the Soviet Union and Washington, but there’s no hotline betweem Tel-Aviv and Tehran, for example. So it’s an unstable time. Pylon captures this uncertainty of these moments, the uncertainty about the future.