(From Uncut, UK pop culture magazine, February 2004.)
The truth about Jaz Coleman’s infamous liver and maggot madness
The fact he had a voice like a cement mixer and a face that nature obviously intended to accompany threats of instant physical dismemberment ensured that Killing Joke singer Jaz Coleman wasn’t the kind of bloke any sane individual would rip the living piss out of. Nevertheless back in the mid- ‘80s, the now defunct music weekly Melody Maker thought it perfectly reasonable to have a pop by printing a candid photo of Coleman in a Caribbean swimming pool, thus questioning his status as a post-punk doomlord. What happened next – the day it rained liver and maggots in the offices of Melody Maker- has since become music press folklore. Speaking to UNCUT nearly 20 years on, Jaz takes up the story (though the names of the guilty hacks involved have been changed to spare their blushes):
“It was an afternoon of much mirth. It all started because I was being interviewed by somebody in [rival music weekly] Sounds at the time, who showed me the Melody Maker piece. So I got our record company to get a car and take me to the fishing shop at the top of Ladbroke Grove. I bought a couple of pints of maggots, then a load of pigs’ livers, before driving around to the Maker offices.
“I’d rung them up beforehand and asked ‘Who wrote the article?’, making out I was very upset. They said, ‘Oh, we can’t tell you that.’ I said, ‘Well, I’m coming in with a pendulum and a cricket bat and I’m gonna batter them to death, whether I get a reason or not.’ When I got there, as soon as I walked into the building there was this ‘zzzzzzt!’, this click. Security had locked the main door to get in past reception. The girl at the desk was shouting, ‘He’s here! He’s here!’ into the phone. They were terrified!
“So I stood there and said, ‘Can I speak to Stuart Sunderland (sic)?’, because I knew it was him who did it. ‘So I said, ‘Okay, can I speak to Max Schmitt (sic) then?’ So they sent Max down, pushed him through the door then slammed it behind him and locked it. It was just him and me. ‘Max, ‘I says, pushing my collar up so I looked particularly sinister, ‘I’m very upset about this. I want you to tell me who wrote this thing. ‘Max said, ‘Jaz I can’t do it. ‘So I said, ‘Right, I’ll give Sunderland an hour and then after that I’ll start bending his mind. I’ll explain.’ And with that I got these scissors and jammed them into the desk. Then I got the pig’s liver and threw it all around the office. Then I emptied the maggots all over the place. I said, ‘Now he’s got one hour to ring me up at the Sounds office and apologise,’ then left. All you could hear was the receptionist's screams. Anyway, he rang up about 45 minutes later. We were all laughing our heads off as he made his apology. I heard afterwards that Max had to clean it all up afterwards, too. It was all very funny.
I mean, God, you’re asking me about it now still, two decades later! I think I’ve had my money’s worth out of that one.”
INTERVIEW: SIMON GODDARD
Killing Joke’s eponymous new album is out now on Zuma