Knock 'Em Dead

Killing Joke's ghoulish rock has the last laugh.

The way Coleman talks about it, the live Killing Joke experience sounds almost like an arcane, orgiastic ritual held around a raging bonfire in the middle of a sacred wood -- either that, or feeding time at an insane asylum where the pudding has been dosed with angel dust.

"All kinds of outrageous things have happened to us at our shows," he says. "We've been hit with gas canisters. Once, this couple even started shagging on stage. The girl started knobbing; it was full penetration. I had to pour a pint of beer over them to try to get them apart. And someone once put a baby on the stage with a note saying "It's yours" attached to it.

"Oh," he adds, almost as an afterthought, "I've been shot, too."

Creatures' features: Jaz Coleman (from left), Youth 
and Geordie of Killing Joke.
Creatures' features: Jaz Coleman (from left), Youth and Geordie of Killing Joke.

Shot...on stage?

"Yeah, three times now. Bad shots, eh? You get bloody nutcases. Now we shoot back, you fuckers."

So with the black clouds of All Hallows' Eve drawing ominously nigh, Killing Joke is returning to the New World to wreak havoc, unleash dark forces and lead everyone in the primal, eldritch liturgy that is the tribal root of rock and roll -- and, of course, Halloween.

"Oh, I love it, all that bobbing for apples and shit, the pumpkins, the atmosphere," Coleman enthuses. "And All Souls' Day, the day where we say prayers for the dear deceased. Now, in pagan times, we believed this was when our ancestors came back to give us good advice for the coming year and the hard winter ahead. So it's a night when the gateways are open and the spirits come through into the world of the living. And I believe this very much."

When asked for a clue as to how he'll celebrate Halloween on stage this year, Coleman evades the question by returning one. "What do hillbillies do for Halloween?" he asks before busting into gales of rather hair-raising howls. "Pump kin!"

After the guffaws die down and the goose bumps subside, Coleman goes on: "Seriously though, I always love wearing costumes on Halloween. But I'm not saying what we're up to; you'll have to wait and see on that. But I will tell you this: I normally go as something in between the jester and the lord high executioner."

For the impish yet bloodthirsty leader of a band called Killing Joke, what costume could be more fitting?

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