Track-by-track: Killing Joke's Jaz Coleman talks MMXII

If ever there was a year for a Killing Joke album, this is it. Fearless front man Jaz Coleman gives The Skinny an in-depth guide to the post-punk godfathers' second studio LP in 18 months. Fire up the kettle and strap yourself in...

Feature by Jaz Coleman | 28 Mar 2012
  • Killing Joke
Pole Shift

I think most people will be familiar with the concept of what a pole shift is, which has happened on our planet so many times. If you look at the historian Herodotus who went to Egypt and talked to the priests there, they told him that the sun had changed from rising in the east to rising in the west four times in their history; we’re due for another one.

The earth’s geomagnetic current is diminishing in power; the worry is that this is a prelude to a complete pole flip. Magnetic north, you see, is meant to be moving at a rate of two inches every ten years, right now it’s moving at 70km a year. It has left Canada and is now hurtling towards Siberia as we speak.

The outcome of a flip would mean that the earth would stop going one way, the stars would stand still, then it would move the other way – causing massive earth displacement, which is like the rocks moving underneath the carpet really fast. If you could imagine the kind of tidal waves that would probably take out most of the coastal cities, meaning that the only real safe places on the planet would be somewhere high above sea level, presumably.

The thing about a diminishing magnetic field is that, we’re at 0.005 gauss, and if it gets to 0 gauss on planet Earth – they’ve done tests on what happens to cosmonauts and astronauts under these conditions and it produces random aggression and madness basically. So if you think about places like Cairo, where the great marker peg of the pyramid is, you can see that something abnormal is happening.

Besides all this, what’s happening at the moment is you’re getting whole groups of people waking up to the reality of our economic and banking systems that we’ve had in place for hundreds of years. Like this Occupy Wall Street movement – the dissent that’s growing across the globe, you can see a polarization of values. I think that speculation on extreme life extinction is a waste of time, but what’s really happening is a major shift in our values. The things that are dear to us these days – this ‘me’ generation, everybody wanting iPhones, material things and more wages – we need a revolution of the heart.

To move away from this mode we need to activate the right side of the cerebral hemisphere. We’ve got materialist mode on at the moment, and if we continue going down this path, within seven years we’ll need a new planet that we can rape for resources. So the whole idea of economic growth – it’s a redundant concept. We should be looking at sustainability and the wellbeing of the human condition above anything. I’m absolutely not a capitalist, I’m not a Marxist either. But I am a communist when it comes down to equal opportunities, divisions of the spoils, I believe that food and water is a human right. It’s not just for the rich.

FEMA Camp

Your duty to yourself is to click onto YouTube, Google away and do everything you do these days to educate yourself on this. It’s a very disturbing trend. Basically, what’s happening in America is that 800-1000 new FEMA camps are being erected, which – let’s be very clear about this – are for civilian inmates.

Everybody in the US – and I believe in the United Kingdom – is going to be divided into three colours. ‘Red’ means that basically you hold anti-establishment views and are a threat to the State, ‘Blue’ are those who sympathise with the Red people, and ‘Yellow’ is for cretinous, drone-like workers. So I think we should all be concerned.

I never thought I’d see such disturbing trends in my lifetime. My father was passionate about being active and fighting the Nazis. I was brought up in the shadow of the last war; for me to see a whole business of concentration camps being built, and very few people speaking out about it except the odd person here and there, well mankind’s taking a dangerous direction.

If you didn’t speak out about such things I think you’d be a traitor to yourself. I don’t know whether I could live with myself without speaking out – my father instilled it into me that the biggest evil was the silence of the German people when they knew such dreadful things were happening. This is being repeated again. So, that’s the second track!     

Rapture

Rapture is the whole reason we don’t go to church and we go to Killing Joke concerts – the spiritual succor that we get from the intensity of it. Speaking for myself, this is why I go to a Killing Joke concert, even though I’m on the wrong side of the stage as it were. After a show, I feel an incredible sense of wellbeing. This gives me a greater spiritual strength than any of the options our society provides with organised religion. Rapture’s really about the ecstatic state we seek in our ceremonies at our church that some would call a rock concert.

Colony Collapse

This sounds Wagnerian to me. It’s about the direction that we’re moving in with the rise of nanotechnology and biotechnology. Basically, in a short time, human life will be inseparable from artificial life, and what we’ll have is a situation whereby elite members of human society can live to an age of 300-400 years old, but of course they’ll have no emotional faculties. You’ll have loads of people begging for death in bodies that have no sense of feeling left. Humanity is defined by our ability to have compassion – to empathise with one another.

The direction we’re taking with technology will lead us into a condition where there’s nothing about humanity that can be associated with it – downloading consciousness into reared body parts, or whatever their grisly little vision is. That’s why on each of the verses you have this line ‘Beloved mother intervene’ and I use Professor Hawking’s quote, saying that ‘a virus should count as life.’ This is really illustrative of the dreadful, dominant left of cerebral hemisphere attitude – that a virus should count as life in our modern world. What I conclude at the end of every verse is ‘cataclysm, please intervene before this gets out of hand.’ The way we’re going is wrong, and the only thing that can right it is cataclysm itself. 

Corporate Elect

I think this is self-explanatory, isn’t it? In a world where Mr Murdoch can walk in the backdoor at Number 10, and he’s just the tip of the iceberg. Consider this: There are only three countries in the world that don’t have a Rothchild bank – North Korea, Iran and Cuba…consolidation is nearly complete. So you see, we’re all at the mercy of our corporate masters. We’re looking at the end of the democratic experiment and the beginning of an authoritarian era. Worse – they’re non-elected, worse again – they can’t even come under the category of an elite, because they’re fucking bankers! The only thing that can save us is to educate people. You see unrest everywhere, but there’s no music to this movement – that’s the other interesting thing. We’ve made a dreadful mistake.

In Cythera

It’s too painful for me to listen to this track, in a funny way. For people that don’t know, there are two canvases by an artist called Antoine Watteau, one’s in Berlin and the other is in the Louvre in Paris. They both illustrate people leaving a beautiful, sensual, fertile green island, on a boat that’s taking them to grey lands in the distance. One woman’s looking back wistfully on the island of sensuality and it’s this feeling I get every time I have to leave my island, get on tour with Killing Joke and leave everybody I love on the other side of the world.

It’s not like going from London to Paris when you’re living 100 miles off the coast of New Zealand. It is quite a distance, and you do get this feeling like you never know whether you’re going to make it back and see your children or everything you love again. You just don’t know. The distance impresses this on you.

Cythera is the island that the mythical Venus or Aphrodite was born on, so all islands are, metaphorically speaking, sacred to Venus or Aphrodite.  You can see this in Watteau’s painting.  But the song itself is really addressed to the people who, when I’ve literally gone fucking hungry, they’ve put food in my stomach and given me somewhere to stay. That’s what this song’s about. When I say ‘I’ll see you in Cythera,’ they know what it means. 

Primobile

This song is about the guys in the band and our relationship with each other. Everything in the band is based on a laugh and very, very black humour – I’ve said it many times before: when you laugh, when you go through the physiology of laughing, there’s no fear in you at that moment. That’s why the act of laughing and especially black humour is so dear to Killing Joke, so that’s why the chorus goes ‘Holy is the laughter that overcomes all your fears.’ It’s a metaphor for how we’ve survived the madness really.

The second verse of that song concentrates on where we are now – we’re not dead yet – and what we must do as a band before we go into the next world. It says ‘Did you overcome the shadow, confront the rage,’ because we’ve all got this fury in us; when we were younger men, society had deemed us worthless and we were angry. There must be a lot of people out there who have left school with no exams and feel as worthless and angry as we did.

The challenge of what lies in front of us is written in the second verse. ‘Will we till the soil and plant a forest for the human race?’ It speaks in terms of human activity developing through a non-parasitic mode; that’s why cataclysm is inevitable, because mankind is in a parasitic mode. The earth is not only alive but it’s intelligent, and if you’ve got a load of fleas on you then what the fuck do you do? You want to have a look at a picture of all the space debris round earth – it looks like ticks or fleas or something, and that’s really quite symbolic of how I see human activity in its current mode.

So what I’m saying in the second verse is there’s a cut-off point, where the spirit of going on tours and supporting the entertainment industry and all that, that’s gonna change. Instead of having concert halls we’ll have temples. It’ll no longer be for entertainment, it’ll be part of a new socio-religious activity, in the way that Fela Kuti dreamed it, where he set up a temple in Nigeria and on a Friday he would do free concerts and it was all tied into his spirituality.

Looking at this dreadful situation with the food supply being in shortage, I have a farm, and so the idea of ‘digging for victory’ as Geordie calls it – that every parkland, every back garden could be used for food cultivation because we can no longer afford supermarket food and supermarket food is no longer healthy for us because it’s had all the nutrients and vitamins extracted in line with the CODEX program. So it’s this dream of increasing food production and finding another way of living – not the way I’m living now, not the way I’m touring and going on planes – not this.  This is over. This is finished. There’s a cut-off point.

Glitch

Glitch was written in anticipation of the solar storms. We’re so dependant on our computers and satellites – when the solar storms kick in they’re just fucked, like that. We can’t be so dependant on our current technological system. The song says ‘Solar storms have come and chaos rules outside, the freezer’s broke, the foods are off, the GPS has died.’ It’s about the madness and stupidity of our current mode. It’s highly temporal and we shouldn’t trust in it. I saw a thing the other day about some kid who was shown a book and was looking for the computer pad. The motherfuckers. The state of this world; we’re so far from past the tipping point. The only thing left is destruction, we can’t go on anymore like this – I don’t believe it.

We’re going to have a few shocks, and it doesn’t take much imagination to see what the first one’s going to be – with Iran and Israel. The question is: will it go nuclear or not? We’re in an incredibly fragile state, all that’s necessary is for Greece to default and send up inflation for the average person. Remember this: in China the average person spends 70% of their income on food. Now, when Greece defaults, inflation will send it up to 90%, which will create social unrest. It’s making the world a very unstable place. You won’t have long to wait for this madness to kick in.

What we know is it’s worse than the situation with the old Soviet Union and the United States, because at least they had basic communications between the two sides – there’s no hotline between Tehran and Tel Aviv. Don’t be surprised if you see a nuke going up somewhere in the Middle East this year, just don’t be surprised. The powers that be have already signed off on it, the way I see it, in the same way as in the countdown to the last Iraq war, you could see they’d made their decision and nothing’s gonna stop that. It doesn’t matter if there are weapons of mass destruction or not, the fact is a showdown’s coming. I don’t know what to say about that, except it’s quite clear we haven’t made a Class A civilisation yet, we’re still at war with each other. I think that these nasty things, like a nuke going off or another big disaster would be exactly what certain authorities would like to implement things like implants and to take away the last of our civil liberties. I think they’ll use shock and fear to accomplish this.

Trance

When I’m not doing music I’m interested in the magnetic convergence points on the planet – they have very peculiar properties. I borrow a gauss machine sometimes and research these convergence points that stone circles mark. This song is really about the idea of putting on concerts within them, or raising energy in these places.

It’s more about finding a solution than looking at our fears and horrors. It’s a cultural decision. We did one concert in a very strange place, that’s to say one of these areas, in our career. In the Killing Joke documentary you’ll see everybody talking about what happened to us individually when we played it. This initiated my interest in these magnetic grid points that crisscross the planet. I’ve studied these things with Uri Geller and all sorts of people and taken great interest in them. It’s really about trance in the fields of light, it’s about getting to a state of grace in these magnetic convergence points, period.

On All Hallow's Eve

This was written about all the people we’ve known who’ve died, and how we’re going to join them. In the same way that the Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead, it’s remembering all the people along the way. When we remember them, they come alive in us. It’s animism and ancestor worship, that’s really what this last song is about.

I love this track so much, because on All Hallow’s Eve – culturally, in this country, it’s in the Christian church they say prayers for the deceased on this day. This is the time where we would call on our ancestors to guide us through the cold winter to give us advice from the other world.

In lieu of the fact that all of our fathers are gone now and many of our friends have passed – including Raven – this is a song to remember them all. It’s a joyous song, and I find there’s much to live for. But first, one of the biggest problems we face on this planet is having 435 nuclear power stations. In my dreams every last one of them is decommissioned and dismantled. Every last one of them.

MMXII is released via Spinefarm Records on 2 April http://www.killingjoke.com