The Killing Joke interview - Feb. '81
- Listen, what I'm into isn't hip by your standards - my beliefs,
but I don't give a shit about that.
- Don't believe a word he says.
- I didn't know I had any standards.
- No but... when you get people doing fanzines you always get - this
is no offence right - Crass or whatever painted on their backs - I
mean those people do fanzines.
- Yeah, but these people...
- Yeah, I know him, I've talked to him, he's alright. But they do,
don't they? And they have what's cool and what's not cool
whether you like it or not, you know, being the punk Sid Vicious
etc. and all that shit. Well I've got nothing to do with all that.
We play music that reflects pressure, because that's what I feel,
I'm a very intense person. I'm no punk myself, don't get any
illusions about it.
- It depends on your definition of punk. If you think a punk is some-
one who wears a Sid t-shirt etc. That sort of punk is like the
music paper mail order person - it's all the same if you're wearing
Judas Priest or Sid Vicious. OK, so tell us what you as a group
are trying to achieve, if anything?
- Not a lot. Good times on stage.
Youth - It's not something you think about like that - you just do it.
- Individually we try to achieve different things.
- So there's no great idea behind the band, you're working as
Y - That forms the band - the four individual ideas.
- When you first started did you find it difficult to get accepted
by the people who went to your gigs?
- We found it difficult, yes. People either like you or they don't
and we play for the people who like us.
- Yeah, obviously, but if you didn't get more people liking you then
you wouldn't be able to carry on.
- More people is selling records - the more records you sell, the more
people you get at a gig.
- Do you prefer doing gigs as a live band, or making records?
- The gigs we do, which might be one in a month or four in a month,
those gigs are events. If you gig every week, it's not an event
any more, it becomes routine and you're back to square 1. So we
just have a few gigs and put all our energy into them.
Y - Even so, out of all the gigs we've done, only a few have turned out
how we wanted them to.
- Yeah, I mean you're confronted with a load of wankers half the time,
which doesn't make us feel happy so we don't play well. It's the
records that make the money.
- How did you start to be self-sufficient as a group, where did the
money come from?
- By being nasty and screwing as much money out of every bastard
we could find.
- What about Island?
- They served their purpose.
Y - We never signed to Island, all we did was sold them the 3 tracks
on the 10". We didn't even sell them the rights. They don't own
the songs, just the recordings. We sold them to make people aware
we existed. Island put ads in the paper and all that.
- That was fuck all they did what we wanted - got the name out.
- Did they think ultimately you would sign to them?
Y - They tried to put a few dirty deeds in the contract....
- But we got it checked over. They're all bastards, you've just got
to rip them off. It gave us enough money to bring out the next
Y - The money we get, we don't spend on ourselves, it goes into the
- We're here now (mixing the album), and that's in a period of about
8 months. In another 8 months we're really going to start doing
- Do you prefer having your own label as an ideal?
Y - It's not an ideal, it's just a logical assumption, you've got
complete control. It doesn't matter if you're a band that haven't
got any ideas and like people to do it for you. You've got to do it
yourself if you want it to work.
- It's an ideal in one way. We do it so we can control all our art-
work, money and everything, so we set up our own company. It's
funny if you think about it. Money talks and the only way to do it
is use it. Use the environment, 'cos they use you.
Y - The only way is to survive. If you don't you're a mug. You've got
to rip people off before they rip you off.
- Yeah, but who do you want to rip off?
- You don't want to rip off your tribe, do you? There's a distinction -
Marks & Spencers, Woolworths, you know, the norm, establishment if
you like. You don't rip off a mate, (laughs), depends what they're
like then again. Basic morals. The Killing Joke is more than just a
band. We're going to get twice as far as we have done in a short
amount of time. And yes, we want to get on Top of the Pops, the
lot. Imagine that cunt grinning and saying this is so and so by
Killing Joke. I mean we couldn't be pop stars if we wanted to.
It's religion, that's something I really want to stir up. I know
what I'm talking about there. The church is a fucking joke. I'm
into what's beyond that. The occult if you like.
- What exactly do you mean when you want to get a tribal feel to your
- We live in a tribe. We've got an alternative reaction to the whole
thing. I know Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Rotten. I know what they're
like. It's shite. I go for personalities. The way they play their
lives is just as important as the way they play their instruments.
- But the people like that are just living it out as superstars.
- Cook is alright. He's got time for you. It's Siouxsie, Severin and
Jobson who go to all the hip little parties around London.
- So you're opposed to the whole aura of the rock scene?
- Of course I'm fuckin' opposed to it. Don't you think it's funny
people like us can be in a studio like this. They hate it, the idea
that a grotty little turd like me could get anywhere near what
they're doing. I hate the music business. I like the scene you guys
are into - small bands. We went through a lot of shit getting where
now. We approach things from a different angle, it might seem a
bit unreal to you. We're playing with something completely different.
- Don't you think you're in danger of becoming a hip band?
- Well that would be just funny.
- I think it's expected. It's already happening to a certain extent.
Killing Joke are "new in thing man".
- We don't play for those cunts. We've got quite a faithful tribe of
idiots who follow us about to all our gigs. We want to make the most
of what we've got.
- But i think that already you're becoming one of the new in punk
- Well, that's just ignorance, isn't it? Because we don't play 'punk-
rock', we just reflect what's happening and endeavour to be honest
with ourselves. You can either be a shitty little band doing the
circuits week in week out, or you can go through the mangle. The
choice is yours. When you're recording you've got to capture the
atmosphere, as long as it makes you react to it. I don't mind being
in the studio, but I do like gigging.
- How did you get your name?
- You can apply the killing joke to everything. Imagine a soldier in
the trenches in WW 1. He's just been told to run over and gain,
say another 15ft of land and he knows he's going to die, and he
suddenly thinks that there's some fat cunt back in Westminster
controlling his life, and he feels a bit of a mug. That feeling is
the killing joke. You can relate that to yourselves, because that's
what's happening to you. In 3 or 4 years something is going to happen
The earth will react. You pump the earth full of shit and in the end
it's going to throw up, whether it's an atom bomb or an earthquake.
You've got to go down to your roots, You've got to know why it's
happening. You can't take any religion seriously these days. Your
instincts tell you it's all lies. It's all changing, you know
what's happening every 2000 years, the last 2000 have been the age
of Pisces, now we're moving into Aquarius. I know, because I worked
with the church believe it or not. That's my personal interest. I'm
not interested in religion, I'm interested in fact.
- It seems a good idea for why we exist.
- Exactly. Most people, they'll know how a motor car engine works, but
they don't know why their heart is ticking. What do you want to call
it, God? There's more to it than that. I call it the life force. I
don't see life represented in the body.
- Why do you think we're alive then?
- You want to go that deep?
- Why not? Instead of asking what your next single is.
- The big reason. Why should I tell you all that, all I will tell you,
when I was with the church, I saw the altar frontals and related the
colours to the times of the year, and it related to the Zodiac,
which is split up into Fire, Air, Earth and Water. I looked further
into it, and the facts come before Christianity. That's what I'm
interested in. You know the Freemasons right? They're all rich
bastards, high society. They use a form of the occult, the sun,
moon and symbols, but they're the people who originally planned
the layout of the church. What is behind it is Paganism, which is
like, my belief. That is the killing joke, to know that established
religion has all been clouded, the truth's not there.
- What exactly do you mean by the occult?
- The science of religion, the natural causes.
- What about Gemini's not getting on with Scorpio's, and that kind of
- That's a load of bollocks, you can get on with any fucker. The proof
of that is in the band. All the Zodiac is is measuring where nature
was when you were born. The sun and the moon influence the pattern.
The moon influences the water, and as we're 90% water therefore it
influences us and all the other planets must therefore influence us.
I'm on about the absolute science, that's what i believe in, and I
don't give a shit whether it's hip or not. I'm sticking by my roots,
that's Killing Joke. That's one of the aspects we're about.
- So you're going a lot deeper than just being a rock band making
- Yeah, you've got to have your roots.
- What about the other members of the band, what are their views
- That is the whole reason for the band. We're very different people.
Youth is a very earthy character, he likes getting pissed and
shagging women. I mean, we all do. The church says you mustn't.
- Don't you think you're being restrained by the fact that you're
a rock band?
- We're doing what comes naturally to us. We are using our environment.
The planet Uranus, and Pluto - uranium and plutonium which make
atom bombs. It's all related - look and find the facts.
- But they're just related names.
- But the facts of science are behind it. Look into it yourself.
That is why there's going to be mass change in the next 3 years.
It's going to affect you, so you've got to know why it's going to
happen. Forget the Sex Pistols and what they said. We're about
something completely different, which has been bugging me for a
long time. The Killing Joke is a state of mind of being aware of
what is going on about you.
UPDATED: 11 MAR 08:36 PST 2013