Killing Joke


Most bands grow softer with age, but Killing Joke clearly aren’t one of them. “We must be the only group in the world who has done 12 to 13 recordings or more and there is not even one f*cking love song anywhere,” declared frontman Jaz Coleman in a 2006 interview, with more than a little hint of pride.

One of the more politically controversial acts of the 1980s, they haven’t lost their power to shock. When the band performed at Fuji Rock Festival two years ago, Coleman preceded their signature song, “Wardance,” with a rambling and rather disturbing spiel about playwright Yukio Mishima, Hiroshima and the prospect of war with China — most of which, admittedly, went way over the heads of the majority of the audience.

Now approaching their 30th anniversary, they may never have enjoyed the critical stock of contemporaries such as Joy Division or The Cure, but Killing Joke’s fusion of postpunk, heavy metal and dance music has proved influential in its own right. Industrial acts Nine Inch Nails and Ministry owe them a substantial debt, though their most famous fan was Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, who allegedly pilfered the main riff of 1984 single “Eighties” to provide the basis for his band’s “Come as You Are.”

Killing Joke kick off their world tour in Tokyo this month, when the original line-up — rounded out by guitarist Kevin “Geordie” Walker, bassist Martin “Youth” Glover and drummer Paul Ferguson — will reconvene for their first show together since 1982. Don’t expect any new material at what promises to be a decidedly nostalgic affair. The first of the two dates will consist of a run-through of the band’s self-titled 1980 debut album and its followup, “What’s THIS for . . . !” (1981), while the second will focus on 1994’s “Pandemonium” and their 1979 and 1980 singles.

What Coleman plans to rant about this time, however, remains to be seen.

Killing Joke play at Duo Music Exchange in Shibuya, Tokyo on Sept. 11 and 12 (7 p.m.; ¥6,500 in advance, ¥11,000 for both nights; [03] 3462-6969)