For over three decades KILLING JOKE have been unleashing their distinctive yet ever evolving style of rock music. Finally they have New Zealand in their sights. The band’s show in Auckland on Thursday 13 June 2013 will be their first ever show in New Zealand. NZRock caught up with frontman Jaz. Our first question will probably come as no surprise!…
NZRock: The last time I spoke to you was in 2006 and back then you said it’d take something pretty special for KILLING JOKE to play a show in New Zealand. So what changed your mind?
Well yeah it’s funny, it’s the first time we’ve been asked by a promoter so bear that in mind. But what’s changed our minds? I think it’s time, because I’m not sure whether you’re aware but Shaun Pettigrew and myself have spent the last decade doing this movie ‘The Death And Resurrection Show’ about KILLING JOKE’s career and the hidden side of it. It’s been shot all around the world and it’s just been a complete nightmare putting it all together! And yeah, we’re having the premiere in New Zealand because the whole movie ends up in New Zealand. So that’s going to be pretty special having the special. We’re having the premiere of that the day before we’re playing in Auckland. I’m kind of quite pleased about coming down and having some fun and terrifying everybody. I’ve only ever had classical concerts in New Zealand, never KILLING JOKE so it’s pretty historic you know. Bear in mind I’ve got two kiwi children who are adults now and gosh, when I think about my history with New Zealand alone it’s quite remarkable. I’ve recorded with the New Zealand Symphony orchestra and New Zealand String Quartet, and you know I opened York Street, I got a top 5 single (‘System Virtue’) with Emma Paki a girl I picked up off the street busking, and then there was SHIHAD, and then Hinewehi Mohi with ‘Oceania’ which became the biggest Maori international record I think in the world. And then there was the Rugby World Cup and this event with Hine which was just incredible, and the America’s Cup as well. So it’s been an incredible journey and a pre-European Maori world with music has been one of the great adventures in my life and part of really feeling like how much I love this place in spite of all the struggles. I do see the hardship when you consider that basically the cost of living is the same as in Geneva in Switzerland and they sweep the streets there haha!
NZRock: The latest Killing Joke album MMXII is amazing, songs like Primobile, On All Hallows Eve and FEMA Camp are favourites for me. One thing I’ve noticed about the Killing Joke records is that the last songs have such an spiritual, mystical quality to them, even more-so than the rest. On All Hallows Eve and Gratitude are two that spring to mind. where does that come from.
That’s an interesting point, we haven’t consciously planned it that way but it seems to pan out that way. That’s interesting, the whole thing with the ancestral spirit is an interesting thing. When a loved on dies we seem to refer to them in the past tense and Ray Manzarek’s family, I knew Ray Manzarek personally, I did THE DOORS Concerto and I actually did a concert with him. And of course with those great artists you always discuss philosophy because you know, our mortality is real and it’s there. We’re getting older and it makes me see how many years each one of us has left in this incarnation before we go. So a perspective on it is quite a logical thing from any artist. It allows me to be comtemplating the death of Paul Raven and Ray Manzarek, one minute we’re sitting there and the next minute our loved ones are in the next world but I never talk about them in the past tense. And that’s the funny thing about why I brought up Ray Manzarek because he always said about THE DOORS Concerto, “oh Jim really likes it” present tense. So basically starting from the song ‘Song And Dance’ on the fourth KILLING JOKE album ‘Fire Dances’ (1983). When we’d got this point we’d already had quite a lot of friends who had died early. When we remember our loved ones they come alive, you start to feel their presence, they become very real. Of course the idea that great influentials like Dr Christopher, he said that the government of the future must be in touch with it’s ancestral spirit and I believe that very much. I remember reflecting on death with Paul Raven and he used to say, “hurtling towards death at 1000 miles an hour, and then we use to sing as we were playing… “grinning as we go”, that was it. You know, the idea that one of us gets to the other side first. It’s a paradigm. Raven’s very much alike me, all the people I’ve known that have passed the other side, and it’s very much present tense. So it’s all part of the socio-religious change that I believe must come to the world as we move away from monarchies and the dark age of patriarchy.
NZRock: What you just said, and also your research and other life learnings would make for great spoken word sessions. Have you ever thought about doing more in that realm?
I normally do one or two lectures every decade. When I do them I actually get people coming from all over the world coming to them and it never ceases to amaze me when we get people from Japan and stuff like that. My book is just about to come out and the whole thing of renaissance, picking lots of different mediums to express some of the ideas all at once I’m trying to demonstrate this and celebrate the system that I use basically, shortened somewhat. So I will be wanting to do lectures and definitely in Australasia as well, for sure. But if I get too over enthused I always end up doing something else so I’m always a bit superstitious about saying too much you know.
NZRock: Your older brother Piers is a physicist working in the field of theoretical condensed matter physics. When you consider what he is researching and then compare your own interests, have they been in some ways backed up or tied in with the research that he has done?
Very much so they have. Very much so to the point that in my book Letters From Cythera I devote a whole chapter to how my brother and myself seem to personify the right and left cerebral hemispheres respectively and how we end up unbeknownst to each-other researching the same thing from very different angles. For example if you click onto Piers Coleman Rutgers University University you’ll see that he’s made a big discovery on the hidden properties or the hidden order of uranium when exposed to ridiculous temperature and the implications that will have on plasma streams, memory banks etc etc etc. Anyway you should read it. So as you say it’s very interesting from my perspective because from a kabbalistic point of view I’ve been doing a lot of work on the tree and basically there are 11 power zones in the kabbalah not 10. And so the 11 power zones are directly correlated to Uranus and Da’at or the 33rd stage of the kabbalah, the hidden state, the hidden order if you like of the kabbalah. So unbeknownst to each-other we’re studying the same thing from the right and left cerebral hemispheric perspective. So it is a fascinating incarnation in a funny way when I look at how driven we both are and our different approaches. My brother has an academic approach, I have a more creative approach or a more visual approach you could say. And it serves me well when you consider that I was born into an academic family and I left school when I was 14 and a half and got into all sorts of skulduggery you know. But it’s been self education and I’ve managed to get myself up to doctorate level with several things especially orchestration and composition, I’ve found that I can do it by taking a simplistic approach to complex ideas if you like. I reduce everything down to it’s basic components. So anyway self education is part and parcel parcel of the spirit of KILLING JOKE because between all of us that left school we have like two architects, we have one conductor, one composer, one world class producer etc. Everyone’s got so many different gifts and talents just within one band who went and got self educated. It’s got to be a message to all you know. It’s the glorious punk have-a-go attitude I’d say. I think it’s got meaning Dave, because of so many kids that leave school with no self esteem thinking or being told, you don’t have grades, you don’t go to university, you’ll be a failure and you can be a blue collar worker blah blah blah you know.
NZRock: So going back to your book, how close is it to release time?
It should be printed out and on it’s way to 300 people who ordered a copy of the first edition. It’s massive, it’ll almost take you a lifetime to decipher but I’m sure you will enjoy it, it’s got many different parts. You can read it from cover to cover or you can start anywhere.
NZRock: You’ve lived your life according to Rosicrucian principles, have you explored things like Gnosticism as well?
Pretty much the five stages ranging from shamanism, to Wicca, to Rosicrucianism, to hermetic system of kabbalah, and established freemasonry of different descriptions right the way through to chaos magic if you like, and different schools basically. I’ve had a look the whole lot, made a lifetimes study of it, and it fascinates me. It’s a language I understand and it must be innate. I had questions at different stages of my life of why, why the occult and that fascination with the mystery tradition. And since it started by the time I was four or five I had a sizable occult collection and I joined the church choir while in an atheist family, anti religion. I really had quite an extensive occult library. So it’s something that I think has been a part of me and it’s much a language of explained context ideas which is basically symbolism if you like reduced right down to it’s basic component. It’s a world of symbols.
NZRock: Some time ago I read that you’d done a sleep awake course and had experiences with astral travel. Was there plenty of symbolism to explore there?
Ah yes that’s right, absolutely. I started that quite a long time ago. But it’s really quite shocking when it actually happens to you the first time. I’ve had some difficulty getting back into my body and if you panic that can be a very disturbing experience. But I also used my passion for neuro sciences and using that part of me, and then remote viewing, I’ve done that periodically and had quite a lot of success with it. So it’s taking a different approach to familiarising yourself. Quite a lot of people experience remote viewing. Anyone and everyone can do it.
NZRock: Just before I let you go, what are your plans for the rest of the year after you’ve done the New Zealand shows?
To maintain my physical fitness and enjoy without letting myself go. That’s one of the things. Apart from that I’ve got a big classical work thing and yeah, a new KILLING JOKE album to do sometime this year, that’s enough isn’t it haha! I’m going to do some concerts, I’m a bit sheepish about saying what I’m going to do because I’m frightened if I talk about it, it won’t happen.