Killing Joke ~ I Am The Virus [2⊘15]

Despite the song’s eerily prescient release nearly five years prior to COVID, Jaz Coleman, frontman for Killing Joke, is an unlikely omniscient and rather perhaps simply wise. The lyrics, more likely to be interpreted as an allegory to our world’s overlords and their ever-present control over our lives – Jaz is an oft believer in several popular conspiracy theories, an occultist, an apparent cigar aficionado (see pic above), and a self-professed autodidactic (notably, just because something is labeled as a conspiracy theory does not make it auto-magically untrue).

Jaz stated to Billboard, “I don’t believe in any political ideas at all really. I consider myself a political atheist.” And Billboard itself quips of the album Pylon from which this song heralds, “The band’s cynical optimism, previously trained on industrial agriculture, financial institutions, and world-ending asteroids, here finds a new enemy: the rapid rise of technology, and the gulf it has created between dirt and the people who walk it.

Killing Joke began in Notting Hill, London, England in 1979 with Jaz (vocals, keyboards), Paul Ferguson (drums), Geordie Walker (guitar), and Youth (bass) releasing their first eponymous album in 1980. Per their biography on Spotify, playing shows throughout England at this time they gained notoriety as being controversial with concert artwork of a repulsive or inflammatory nature including one such print that appeared to feature the Pope blessing legions of Nazis thus causing the group to be banned from performing in Glasgow.

Killing Joke - Pssychosis!
This promotional tour poster featured an original photo, erroneously believed to be of Pope Pius XI. The picture was of German abbot Alban Schachleiter walking among rows of Nazi soldiers offering Hitler salutes and appearing to return the salute.

The band has seen several formations over the years. Just after releasing their third album 1982’s Revelations, Jaz decided that the Apocalypse was near and so ran away to Iceland with Geordie. While there, they worked with a number of Icelandic bands including Theyr, which later evolved into the Sugarcubes. Also interestingly, long-time fan Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters sat in on drums for their second eponymous release in 2003.

All that taken with a wet-dollop of practical-insanity, their impact on the music industry cannot be overstated. Bands listing them as influential include, but are not limited to, Metallica, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Jane’s Addiction, My Bloody Valentine, and Soundgarden (Wikipedia). A cursory review of Killing Joke’s music over the years allows for additional juice in KMFDM, Ministry, and Marilyn Manson to name but a few more.

Self-described their sound is “tension music” and also “the sound of the earth vomiting“, fan Shaun Hamilton in the YouTube comments expounds further, “All the(se) years later, and they’re still as subtle as an air raid and serious as an aneurysm!” The song itself openly seethes with brash-apocalyptic-screeching guitars and migraine-inducing rapid-fire-heart-rattling drums all before the lyrical diatribe ensues with its anti-programming-programming. “I am the furnace. Where resentment glows. I am the bias. I am the virus. I am the virus!” That all to the backdrop of overarching-industry and an idiot smile-suited mannequin embracing his busty-statuesque idols-of-contempt.

The whole album Pylon is full of these strong-headed, sharp-witted, anthems to chew-bat-heads-to and swallow, so bleed internal with beastly pleasure friends.

Killing Jokes’ music can be bought here and from Apple here, listened to on Spotify here, and followed on Facebook here

7 thoughts on “Killing Joke ~ I Am The Virus [2⊘15]

  1. Facifuckinating …. I’d forgotten about Killing Joke, they played The Warehouse, Leeds when I was there. I was always there and it just so happened that they were playing. Strange times. The Sisters of Mercy and The Dead Vanes were our local bands and Killing Joke were very much outsiders…. Leeds was sinking under Thatcherism and the only window dressing being done was by importing London to the North. Cities were plants away from one another and Scotland, well it was another country and the, then, fledgling SNP were Tarten Tories… Racism and Homophobia and Sexism were rife and very much on the streets with clear demarcation about who could go to which place. Hawthorn had been planted down the middle of the main roads as a riot management tactic and civil servants moved from London to the new siege design Batman Building were bused the half mile from the railway station to their fortress. So, while I, as a local lad, favoured The Sisters of Mercy and The Dead Vanes, Killing Joke were very much a band who’s energy was well timed.

    1. check out Test Department, Deptford, London from about the same time …they gigged for the Miners during the 84 strike and were very much industrial rock again bridging the North – South divide…for a time at least…. see the rhetoric on Levelling-Up in England today…

    2. Love that, *factfuckinating*! Crazy-lucky to have lived there during those times; consider me seriously “jelly” to use more current parlance… Sisters of Mercy are one of my favorite bands too. I tried to look up The Dead Vanes and am not finding anything. You’re rich with historical significance from these times.

      1. I am trying, like a withdrawal, to exit social media never to do so… but look-up Dave Scum Vanian on fb, he’s a total blue skin and you’ll know when you’ve found him… he is Punk… and you’ll get an introduction to The Sisters as they were his biggest fans…. they sang and played it… he and Biffa lived it and more besides, he is an, if not the northern, authority of this time and scene…

      1. ” A must read for students of the Occult.” Erm, yeah, no ta. But the music! Yeah, I’m up for that. 😃 Just listening to Lords of Chaos now. They’ve lost nothing since when I used to dance to Love Like Blood in the clubs in Sheffield in the 80s.

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