Interview with Killing Joke’s Jaz Coleman

Interview with Jaz Coleman

by Tara Rez and Bob Spitzer March 2013


Photographer Svenja Block


Bob brings in some home grown almonds for Jaz to taste and they get talking about Spain.

Bob : As we were talking about Spain I wanted to ask about your studio there.

Jaz : Youth has a studio there.

Bob : Oh, I thought that Killing Joke has the studio there.

Jaz : It’s Youth’s , we use it , it’s fantastic , it’s near Granada.


Bob: Alright, near Granada, so you don’t record the Killing Joke stuff there no?

Jaz: We have done but Geordie don’t like it.

JazSo he doesn’t turn up some times. (he laughs)

Tara: Where do you normally record?

Jaz: There is no normal, it’s like , we’re going to Buenos Aires for the next one.

Tara: Lovely.

Jaz: Because they hate the English there (laughs) , and there is no reason really.

Bob : So you are touring until June at least?

Jaz: At least yeah, until June.

Bob : Brilliant.


Tara: You’ve invested in the creation of 2 eco-villages in the South Pacific and Chile, what inspired you to do this and have you been there lately?

Jaz: Yeah I have.

Jaz: I was there two weeks ago. And I’ll be there next week and back in summer.

What inspired me? Well think of it like this, think of the Earth like an apple, where 1/300th of the earth is used for our total food production for the whole world, and the bio organisms that all life comes from are being depleted, so I wanted to concentrate on setting up permaculture , eco-villages and permaculture farms to increase in a very small way, food supply, just to try and find a better model for living really. Well you do the same by giving me this (points to the almonds) similar thing on a small scale.

Bob : That is what I’m trying to do, yeah , on a smaller scale.

Jaz: Because, in two years time in this country, it was in the headlines the other day , 50% of the children will be below the poverty level, that means someone is going to go hungry. And if you don’t have money for food you’re going to go hungry. At that point (he sighs) , I have to admit that I am a collectivist, you know, that’s like being a socialist or a communist but further left, you know?

I don’t believe in owning anything, I believe that food and water is a human right, it’s not a commodity to sell, it’s a human right and.., so , I coordinate between these places and we’re just looking for a better way.


Tara: How long have these been going? Those eco villages?

Jaz: Oh, since the 90s .

Tara: Wow, so some good time.

Jaz: Yeah, that’s right.

Tara: So they are some proper communities .

Jaz: Yeah, that’s right. Youth has some other ones as well that he’s in touch with, so we’re all kind of involved in it anyway.

Tara: You actually like caring not just talking about it, but doing it as well.

Jaz: No, all of us in the end will have to use our back gardens and our parks to increase food supply. You know, it’s a real problem there.

Tara: Yeah, you said in another interview that in seven years time , that it’s just going to be nothing left.

Jaz: Yeah, we’re almost there.

Tara : So is that why you’re doing the eco thing?

Jaz: Sure. Absolutely . Look the oceans are empty so we have to dig ponds and breed fish. We need a polyculture not one crop. Like the mono culture but lots of different variety of things and we need a different mind set.

Tara : It’s getting that in the media , isn’t it, at least we’re trying .


Jaz: Yeah, but the way to change the world is to change yourself .

Tara: Exactly, and everyday…

Jaz: Try to. (smiles)

Tara: Yeah, try to.

(all giggles)

Bob : The quicker the better.


Tara : After 34 years with Killing Joke , 15 studio albums and everything else , what is the band’s goal in music now? After everything you’ve done.

Jaz: In music, oh, we do everything back to front , our best albums are the ones at the end of our career. So the next one, the next album I want to smash the other two that we’ve just done, I want to smash them into the ground with the next album, so I aspire to …. (he pauses)

Tara: Keep doing better.

Jaz: Yeah that’s right . And you know we are the best of friends in the band. One by one we’ll bury each other .

Bob/Tara: That’s great.

Tara: What music or songs are you listening to at the moment , what sort of things are you in to right now?

Jaz: Well, most of the time my head’s so full of music and ideas, to be honest in fact it’s public knowledge , I don’t listen to music much, but when I do funny enough, I like the Gotan projects, at the moment, do you know it?

Tara: No.

Jaz: It’s Argentinians , playing their crazy kinda tango. It’s nice thing to chill out to.

Tara: Have to check it out. So to people who are new to your music, cause there are loads of kids that are just loving your sounds, where would you tell them to start if they’re new to your music? What album would you like them to start with in your mind?


Jaz: Well I would say all of them , but ‘Outside the gate’s ‘ is not a Killing Joke album, so I don’t classify that, but all of them have a place. ‘ Democracy’ is Dave Grohl’s favourite album , which I don’t understand at all, it’s not my favourite album. Erm, I don’t know the answer to this one!

Tara: What was it like to have Dave Grohl in your band, because he played for you for a little while didn’t he? Well you’ve had loads of great people in your band.

Jaz: Yeah, you know, I’m not really impressed much by celebrity culture so It’s just people to me.

Tara: It’s nice that he wanted to join your band no? It’s pretty cool isn’t it?

Jaz: Yeah. (both laugh)

Svenja : You know Killing Joke it’s a generation thing , my dad is 71 and he got me into your music.

Bob: We were just going to say that, we have 18 years old sons who also love your music.

Jaz: Awe, you’ve got a cool dad.

Jaz: I’m so glad I had daughters, you know, boys just tell their fathers to go and fuck off, and daughters it’s a close relationship. My daughters are all in their 20s and one’s opened up a rock club. They’re all into the whole thing. (He laughs)

Tara: Cool, it’s good to have a good parent… or two.

Svenja: Yeah.

Jaz: Oh I don’t know about that, whether I’m a good parent or not, that’s entirely another issue all together.

Tara: But you’ve got the basics right, of life, haven’t you? I think that makes you a good parent. There are so many bands that look up to you as well.

Jaz: Is there?

Tara: Yes, definitely. For bands that are starting out what advice would you give them?

Jaz: Never stop, never split up.

Tara: That’s certainly a good advice I’ll take.

Bob: Yeah but you’ve got it right to start with, didn’t you?

Jaz: Never stop, never stop putting records out, however bad however tough it gets, just keep going, keep going. Then, one day they’ll tell you that they loved you all along.

Tara: Yeah when you’re dead. (All roll about laughing)

Bob: Why do you say ‘Outside the gate’s’ not Killing Joke album, I have to admit that it’s one of my favourite albums.

Jaz: Which one?

Bob: Outside the Gate.

Jaz: Oh yes, really??

Bob: Yes, I just think musically it’s really interesting.

Jaz: I’d like to score it for orchestra that album

Bob: That would be interesting.

Bob: Why is it not a Killing Joke album, because it’s just you and Jordie or…

Jaz: I mean it’s just doodling’s, experiments they made us put out under the name.

Bob: Really? So it’s not one of your favourites at all. What is? Would you say you have a favourite Killing Joke album? Well you said it before it’s the last one.

Jaz: Well. No, my tastes change weekly

Bob: Yeah, ok. You have any new orchestra stuff that you’re working on?

Jaz: Yeah, actually , I’ve recorded half of it, I’m doing celebrations for Nirvana’s anniversary next year. I’m doing that with the symphony orchestra, and then I’m doing a huge work which is about the end of time with a full choir and orchestra, I’m recording that at the end of the year, it’s all written.

Bob: Look forward to hearing that, definitely.

Tara: Wow. You just constantly making music, everything I’m reading about you

Bob: You don’t stop do you?

Jaz: No

Bob: Specially since you reformed you’ve seemed to have been just constantly studio, tour, album, studio, tour, album.

Jaz: Yes. Just keep punching out.


Tara: You’re proper in love with what you do, aren’t you?

Jaz: Sure! It’s hard but yeah, I love it.

Tara: Yeah. It is wicked.

Bob: And there is a dub album coming out?

Jaz: I haven’t heard it yet, Youth’s done it, but I leave that to them. Everyone has their roles in Killing Joke. They’re great guys

Bob: Yeah, they are. A lot of respect for you guys.

Tara: You said in another interview actually that the bands that get your support slots are normally the ones where the labels do the’ buy-ons’ , and the terrible bands get the slots. Do you have to be a terrible band to support Killing Joke?

Jaz: Tell you the truth, I really don’t have anything to do with it.

Tara: Don’t you? Do you not support younger bands?

Jaz: I do yeah, but… Last thing I do is to encourage them to support Killing Joke

Tara: Ok. Because without a music industry anymore I think artist are relying even more on other artists for help, because for me, for my band, you know, we’re nobody but we get so many bands wanting and needing our help.

Jaz: All you do is sell out concert halls, get a cult following and fill out the room and keep doing it. That’s all you’ve got to do.

Tara: Yeah. (Laughs) It’s kind of hard in a recession, but yeah definitely.

Jaz: No, but if you’re really good, they’ll come.

Tara: True.

Jaz: You have to be critical, self-critical.

Tara: So you have to basically not give up and just keep on going.

Jaz: And you can’t sound like anyone else.

Tara: Absolutely, but then a lot of bands do sound alike.

Jaz: Then you need to do open workshops to find the originality.

Tara: Interesting.

Jaz: That is, make a mistake and loop it.

Tara: Yeah. (Laughs)

Jaz: You know what I mean?

Tara: Yeah

Jaz: If it sounds good. You have to try, experiments.

Tara: That’s how we’ve been, in our band. That’s why we find you an inspiration .

Jaz: Yes and I learned to live with very little money, then everything gets better. Doesn’t it?

Tara: It’s true. The more I want to do in music, I think, what else can I give up so that I can do this.

Jaz: Yeah, I mean, in the last 10 years I’ve gone hungry 3 times. I mean I’ve had nothing to eat. I’m too proud to ask people for money.

Tara: I know what you mean.


Jaz: The good thing about places like Prague is you can still live on 100 crowns a day there if you have to. And that’s what I did , I really did go hungry at times.

Tara: It’s crazy isn’t it?

Jaz: And I’ve got 3 grand in my bank account if that’s any help. (he laughs)

Tara: It’s ironic, but you are rich in other ways, aren’t you?

Jaz: Yeah, yes I am.

Tara: And that is what is important to you, and that’s what drive’s you.

Jaz: Yeah it is – Glory not Gold!

All : Yeah, exactly.


Big Thanks to Jaz for taking the time to do this interview . You Rock <3

Collectivism is any philosophic, political, religious, economic, or social outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of every human being in a society or civilization. Collectivism is a basic cultural element that exists as the reverse of individualism in human nature (in the same way high context culture exists as the reverse of low context culture). Collectivist orientations stress the importance of cohesion within social groups (such as an “in-group”, in what specific context it is defined) and in some cases, the priority of group goals over individual goals. Collectivists often focus on community, society, nation or country. It has been used as an element in many different and diverse types of government and political, economic and educational philosophies throughout history and most human societies in practice contain elements of both individualism and collectivism. Some examples of collectivist cultures include India and Japan.

Collectivism can be divided into horizontal collectivism and vertical collectivism. Horizontal collectivism stresses collective decision-making among equal individuals, and is thus usually based on decentralization and egalitarianism. Vertical collectivism is based on hierarchical structures of power and on moral and cultural conformity, and is therefore based on centralization and hierarchy. A cooperative enterprise would be an example of horizontal collectivism, whereas a military hierarchy would be an example of vertical collectivism.

Honey Roasted Almonds Recipe

2 c. whole almonds, skins on
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. honey

2 tbsp. water
2 tsp. almond or vegetable oil

Spread the almonds in a single layer in a shallow ungreased baking pan and place in a cold oven. Bake at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally, until the internal colour of nuts is tan (12 to 15 minutes). Remove from oven and set aside.

Thoroughly mix the sugar and salt. Stir together the honey, water and oil in a medium size pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the roasted almonds and continue to cook and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed by the nuts (about 5 minutes). Immediately transfer to a medium bowl and sprinkle sugar mixture over all and toss. Spread on wax paper and cool.