Killing Joke singer-keyboardist Jaz Coleman, one would think, is safely tucked away living in New Zealand’s picturesque countryside.
He can run from the music industry, but he can’t hide.
“One of our big things is personal freedom,” Coleman said recently of the influential British band’s philosophy. “If somebody said to me, ‘You’re gonna go gold, you’re gonna go platinum, you’re going on a 120-date tour,’ I say fuck right off, mate. Life’s too short and too beautiful for all that.
“I conduct symphonies when I’m not doing Killing Joke, so you’d be surprised how many industry people really do come knocking on your door when you’re in a place like New Zealand. They say, ‘There’s a business-class ticket down at the travel agency,’ and I say, ‘Go away. I’m going to the beach.’ ”
Coleman has dusted off the sand between his toes and put away the sunblock long enough to team again with guitarist Geordie Walker and bassist Youth. The industrial/thrash pioneers return Aug. 2 with their Zoo Entertainment debut album “Pandemonium” and the killer single “Millennium.”
It’s the band’s 10th album, but the first with the original lineup since 1982.
“Pandemonium” may be the album that finally breaks Killing Joke in America, 15 years after it formed. To hear Coleman tell it, the reunion was nothing more than a few friends getting together.
“To us, it was basically setting the stage in a studio, getting all our friends around us, getting into a groove and just letting it happen,” Coleman said between puffs on a cigarette. “It’s a very spontaneous thing … there’s not a real intellectual phase period. We switch it right off.”
“Pandemonium” is more elaborate than that. Produced by Youth, the 10-track album takes the quartet on a musical odyssey through the Middle East and other uncharted territory. Part of the album’s mystical texture was recorded at the King’s Chamber inside the great Pyramids of Egypt.
“We bribed our way in to the minister of culture,” Coleman said with a hearty laugh. “I’ve done a couple of LPs over in Egypt, so it wasn’t new to me. When we went there to record this LP, Youth decided he wanted to check out the Pyramids, so we got ourselves in. … I can’t even begin to describe the emotional impact of the whole thing, going into the great galleries and finally up into the King’s Chamber to set up the vocals.”
After capturing the primal sounds, the trio walked outside, Coleman said, and they were greeted by about 90 locals, who were clapping and cheering for them. Just the sort of party atmosphere American fans can expect when Killing Joke tours in September.
“We’re going to get away from the gig principle and set up a few parties around us,” Coleman said. “You know how it goes: the support bangers go on at 8 p.m. and the main bangers go on half-past nine and then you’re tucked in bed by 11.
“We want a party where there’s food and drinks and our own DJs, maybe even some acoustic playing. It’s so cliched, the rock ‘n’ roll thing … so we’re gonna try different things. We’ll have a ball. But I have no expectations of anything, other than a little bit of fishing.”
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