Killing Joke

Heavy and slow, Killing Joke (at least early in their career) were a quasi-metal band dancing to a tune of doom and gloom. They eventually became less heavy and more arty (the latter seems almost impossible) -- more danceable, even -- but early on they made some urgent slabs of molten dynamite that oozed with the power of thick guitars, thudding drums, and over the top singing. The origins of Killing Joke lie in the Matt Stagger Band. Paul Ferguson was drumming for the group when he met Jaz Coleman (vocals, keyboards) in the late '70s. Coleman joined the Matt Stagger Band briefly, but soon he and Ferguson split to form Killing Joke in late 1978. The duo recruited bassist Youth (born Martin Glover Youth), who had previously played with the punk group the Rage, and guitarist Geordie (born Kevin Walker) to complete the band's lineup. Killing Joke moved to Notting Hill Gate and recorded their debut EP, Almost Red, with money borrowed from Coleman's girlfriend at the time. BBC disc jockey John Peel was impressed by the EP and offered the group a session on his show, which became one of the most popular shows he broadcast in the late '70s. By the end of 1979, the group had signed with Island Records, who allowed them to set up their own label, Malicious Damage.