By Bob Gourley | Originally published in 1991
On the surface, Murder Inc. may look like nothing more than a reformed Killing Joke with Chris Connelly replacing Jaz Coleman as lead vocalist. But while most of the line-up is the same, the members of Murder Inc. stress that it is a completely new band that happens to feature former Killing Joke members. “Rather than let what was once a really great band die, it was like ‘well, lets start a new band, start completely fresh and try to do something new and different’ and that’s exactly what we did,” says Connelly.
Murder Inc. began its evolution when, after the first Pigface tour, former Pil drummer Martin Atkins went back to England to work on a Killing Joke tour. “It was very obvious to me that I didn’t want to be around Jaz Coleman,” says Atkins. “And so I left the band. Paul Raven then decided that if I wasn’t going to be in the band he certainly didn’t want to do it either.”
But several months later, there were negotiations for a new Killing Joke recording contract and talk that Atkins would be involved. So Atkins returned and began working with Coleman on a budget to record in the most cost efficient manor. According to Atkins, Coleman was looking towards unrealistically exotic locations to record and was also trying to work out a solo deal at the same time. “It was just screwing everything up and it was insane and I’m like ‘listen I’ve already left the band,” says Atkins.
A few months after that, Atkins started working with guitarist Geordie Walker, who had also gotten into an argument with Coleman and decided that he didn’t want to work with the singer. Then Paul Ferguson and the other members came along, and Murder Inc. was born. “Some people think I fired Jaz or Chris replaced Jaz, and that’s really not the case. It’s just something that was happening over the course of a year,” says Atkins.
Connelly had previously worked with many of the former Killing Joke members on the Pigface project, but he did find it a bit odd at first working with them as Murder Inc. “Initially, it was a bit daunting, and then I realized that no one in this band wanted me to try and impersonate Jaz,” he says.
The recent release of a new compilation of old Killing Joke material has fueled rumors that Coleman may join his former bandmates. But this is completely false, according to Atkins. “I think that a Sex Pistols reunion would be sad and pathetic and I think that a Killing Joke reunion would be similarly bizarre and hopeless,” he says.
Murder Inc. has a self titled lp out on Atkin’s own Invisible Records and was scheduled to tour over the fall. But on the last date of Connelly’s solo tour, Atkins injured his knee and the band was forced to cancel the dates. Connelly is currently on the road with Ministry, but Murder Inc. hope to do some touring next year. Based on the dates the group did do before the Connelly tour, Atkins has high hopes for the group.
“In a very short period of time. Murder Inc. went from an idea to I think a great album,” he says. “The dates that we did do transformed it from a great idea that had spawned a really cool album into something that I definitely know can be a very, very dangerous, throbbing force in the market place and just completely Annihilate about 98% of what’s out there.”
By being involved with both the musical and business sided of Murder Inc., Atkins hopes to avoid the problems that led to the downfall of Killing Joke. As an example of what can happen when a band is dictated to by finances, Atkins cited Killing Joke’s “Outside the Gate.” Atkins refers to the lp as an “absolutely abysmal keyboard masturbation album.” Originally conceived as a Coleman solo lp, the recording costs far surpassed anything that a Jaz Coleman solo album could hope to recoup. According to Atkins, the group was forced by their label and management to call it a Killing Joke album in an attempt to get the money back.
“For people to say ‘I’m not interested in the business, my music come first’ is absolute crap,” says Atkins. “If their music comes first, then they should be up all night, working on spreadsheets, understanding where their money goes, how it’s spent. People that say they don’t want to dirty their hands in business are just idiots and their money is just flying out the window.”See all interviews →