“I’m never short of ideas for music. Make your life colorful. Get on a plane. Go different places. Fulfill a few dreams or whatever. Live hard.”-Jaz Coleman.
Legends Killing Joke have done it all, but Jaz Coleman and company are set on showing the downtrodden world there is still somehow always MORE to do anyway. Defying defeatism and attacking the wounds of humanity and Mother Earth in song on their latest post-punk/thinking person’s rock release MMXII (Spinefarm/Universal), the band show that they are as potent as ever. Songs like the timely “Corporate Elect” and “Rapture” find the band current, thought provoking, electric and intoxicating as anything in their storied history of classic albums. There is no one quite like them. These are records you can profoundly live with.
Coleman spoke with Metal Riot’s Morgan Y. Evans about humanity’s need to live in harmony, the fatality of apocalyptic thinking and dream emphasis, past-lives, his symphonic career, the magic chemistry of Killing Joke, psychics and more! To say it was a lot to think about is an understatement, but we’d expect nothing less from one of the most brilliant performers of modern times.
Click HERE to read the excusive interview!
Jaz Coleman: Where are you calling from?
Morgan Y. Evans: About a half hour from Woodstock, NY.
JC: Oh, I see.
MYE: A lot of people around here who have loved your records a long time. The evolution. A friend of mine was mentioning Youth’s elastic tone and how unique it is to get the sounds you make. People are curious about your vinyl bootlegs. People just love what you’ve done.
JC: Those are the people that gave me my life. I am always mindful of that. That’s what makes Killing Joke work. The great thing is our audience are amazing people. Anyone really into us is eccentric or a freethinking individual. Interesting characters, for sure. That’s what makes it. We wouldn’t be anything without people like your friend.
MYE: With yourself and fans in mind and so much history, how did you pinpoint what Killing Joke’s sound should be in 2012? It is still the band people love yet also current.
JC: The way we write is we forget all about music. Try to make parts as colorful as possible. When we get together we just create a hypnotic groove. Then the music takes care of itself. It’s not a cerebral process, writing. If you can remember that trick it’s a good one. I do the same with classical music when composing. I’m never short of ideas. Make your life colorful. Get on a plane. Go different places. Fulfill a few dreams or whatever. Live hard. The music comes from the human instrument. One human groove. The music writes itself for Killing Joke. When everyone’s smiling and nodding you’re on it. You make it sound complicated, the way you say it.
MYE: I like the optimism of the new record. Focusing on solutions and not just problems. It seems you are really living your music through what you believe.
JC: Sure. You know, I was two when the Cuban Missile Crisis happened. I was 2 years of age. I’ve lived in the heaviest parts of the Nuclear Era, if you’ve liked. We’re a generation that’s lived with the complete possibility of annihilation. It came close during our career on many occasions to total annihilation. You have to focus your mind on the value of life and also at some point you have to stop worrying and transcend your fears. But yeah, the idea of creating chaos and providing a solution, a Hegelian Dialectic, is against rational principles. People aren’t, for example, going to accept a digital chip at the moment. But threaten them with full scale nuclear war or eco side and a food shortage, people will give up their civil liberties or walk out on the Constitution tomorrow. Put a chip under their skin. Give up liberties so they can have nourishment and security, which is non-existent anyway (laughing). It’s all a paradigm. It doesn’t exist. No one’s secure. The thing about 2012 is hopefully we can collectively transcend fear so it can’t be used against us.
MYE: People are always worried about end times or time running out and really you have to just roll with it.
JC: That’s it, you see. You’re speaking to an old timer now. Times been running out since I started my career (chuckling). Life goes on. The reason I moved to New Zealand, the true reason why? It’s the only country I can see being here a hundred years into the future and to have this feeling it is there. For some reason. Because I can dream of a future, I believe there can be a future. As the quantum physicists say, we are all participants in creating our own reality, you know? Instead of thinking of death and annihilation, start thinking of the human race…visualize it surviving and refertilizing the planet. Healing the biosphere and collective mistakes. Stop the warheads pointed at each other. Schiller and Beethoven and Gandi talking about the family of man. The fraternity of a brotherhood and overcoming fear. We have to evolve to this. That’s what I believe.It’s either that or annihilation. The other path is a resource war between three or four great powers and annihilation of the planet. We’ll need a new planet in fifteen years from now. By dreaming of a new planet and visualizing it in detail, there will be.
MYE: Agree with you there. I wanted to ask you about a song on the record “On All Hallow’s Eve”, if that’s all right?
MYE: My aunt, Nancy Evans Bush, helped write a book on near death experiences called Dancing Past The Dark, about unpleasant near death experiences. I was interested in your thoughts on quantum physics, such as how ghosts could really be vibrations or trauma in a room or a memory. Do you think people who remember past lives are having actual memories or is that impossible?
JC: Oh, I do. I believe in this. Anamnesis. The loss of forgetfulness. To remember. A bit like déjà vu but personified. A person when you meet them, you never met them before but you know everything about them. You know their face. The way they think. You can almost hear each other’s thoughts. I’ve had this experience and certainly had it with ALL my band members. People into the band look like one of us or they don’t. They start to resemble it. I very much believe in past lives. In the band we are all of the opinion that Geordie must’ve done something very terrible and hadn’t been born in a very long time, because he’s been a naughty boy! (cracking up)
MYE: (laughing) I’m sure he’ll appreciate that.
JC: Absolutely. We have many karmic things to work out. All of us here in the divine comedy and mystery of that we’ve spent thirty-four years together. And that we’re not like any other band. It’s definitely a karmic thing. It draws us together. The answer is…YES. I do believe in the reality of past lives. I don’t believe that past-lives refer to lives necessarily on Planet Earth, because in the Multiverse there’s many possibilities, y’know? Transmigration and manifestations. The idea that land has memory, New Zealand is like this. Land has memory. Some areas the land remembers and contains all the spirits that died there in battle or whatever. They’re still there, absolutely still there. Land has memory and that’s connected to paranormal events in certain places. As is the Earth’s magnetic field when it contacts these places. So, I don’t really believe in death. You can tell your auntie.
MYE: She’ll appreciate that.
JC: Death is just the beginning. I’ve lived many, many lives. Tell her I keep coming back ‘cuz I keep fuckin’ up (laughing).
MYE: (chuckling) At least you are musically talented. As a composer, I love the “Force and Fire” song I heard when researching your Cairo connections…from “Songs From The Victorious City” with Anne Dudley. When you were younger, did you ever imagine your work as a composer would be so successful and you’d have such recognition and amazing experiences?
JC: No. I didn’t. When I started studying orchestration, I never though that I’d get one piece played, recorded or performed.
JC: Yeah. The honest truth. So I’m blown away. Everything is a bonus. I’m very lucky. That being said, when I was a child I was always aware I had destiny. I always felt it and that things would happen to me. Other people felt it to. There was a weird time in 1987 when I was going to first emigrate, pack in music and go to New Zealand…I didn’t end up going until ’92, but…one Sunday in ’87 I went to a psychic faire. At a hotel. There was a lecture. I’d gone halfway through and it was four dear old ladies talking about their work as clairvoyants. You could feel from the audience, ninety some odd people there, that they thought, “ Show us some proof.” Naturally. Make them believe there was something that these ladies were talking about. The last lady came and said she didn’t believe in stage demonstrations but there were two important things she had to do tonight. She went up to a woman in the audience and said,” Your name is Andrea. Your husband is blah blah blah…” She gave his full Christian name. All three names. You thought to yourself, “Is this a set up?”
JC: Everyone was really transfixed and she said her husband was there in the room and would she like to talk to him. The detail was unbelievable. Then she came to me! She said I was thinking of immigrating to New Zealand and now was not the time. She said to believe in my composition. To keep studying. It will come but now is not the time. How could she have known? I was leaving in three weeks from that time and I didn’t. I cancelled my ticket.
JC: She said my actions would reach all around the world and touch many people. There were punks in the audience who remember it. My first wife was there as well and she remembers it vividly. I’ll never forget this experience because she was bang on! I never thought these wonderful things would happen to me. I never though I’d become knighted! (laughing) Establishment recognition, for someone like me? I always remember walking on my block of land in New Zealand and thinking someone like me could never own a place like that, but they can. Most things are attainable and possible. You do have to study hard but I don’t think University is always the way. It inspired the book I’ll be putting out about a crystallized form of how the hell my band and myself didn’t have exams and have still managed to do so many things. The answer is education. It’s your duty to yourself to educate yourself. This is the legacy of Killing Joke, I believe. Self-education and the awareness that comes thereby.
MYE: You can feel it in the band’s music. The evolution over the years as you have experiences. Something like “Black Moon” which is so dark yet uplifting, it carries experience in the feeling of the beautiful, harsh yet comforting sound.
JC: You learn more from your enemies and the people who challenge you than your friends. In Killing Joke, everyone challenges everyone. It’s a process and traumatic, but incredible. Everyone challenges everyone. It’s a challenge but you always come back to it. All the recordings with Killing Joke are traumatic. So much dissent and people turning on each other, but it’s all part of it.
MYE: That can be a musician’s life. Definitely an elaborate history. You have a melodic side and coarser, post-punk side. Are they just in conversation with each other? You have “In Cythera” on this record and it is hopeful. Wistful like a memory. Melodic. Then it co-exists with “Glitch” which is like classic Killing Joke friction and power. Your sides of the band seem unified, thus they coexist.
JC: There’s no thinking involved. I like the harsh aspects of my voice but also the Sun aspects and softer character of my voice. Standing outside of myself. The dynamics and the dissonance but harmony and melody in contrast. Neo Romantic ideas of dissonance in contrast to pure harmony and melody. I’m inspired by that. Geordie always comes up with something I’ve never ever heard before. Forever surprising me. The next record we’re gonna do, from Geordie’s stuff…the next one is shockingly good! He’s banking up the riffs and has some shocking material, as a player. That’ll be 2013. We’re recording in South America next year. As long as the Mayans aren’t right we’ll be on schedule.
MYE: I can’t wait to hear it.
JC: We’ll be coming to America in May, I’m told. By ourselves or with some victim support bands (chuckling).
MYE: Thank you for your time today. I have been a fan for a long time.
JC: Thank you.
Special thanks to Nancy Evans Bush, Godfrey Damrath and Gerald Celente for pre-interview discussions when I was forming questions.