[kj] Interview: Big Paul Ferguson from Killing Joke [Louder Than War]

Rob Moss rob.moss at gmx.com
Fri Oct 7 17:18:12 EDT 2016

He was a very very naughty boy!!

> On 7 Oct 2016, at 21:51, Alex Smith <vassifer at earthlink.net> wrote:
> Cheers, Rahman. You did a great job. 
> Yeah, I think Geordie's probably cool on his own terms, but doesn't like being interviewed. Which, y'know ... fair enough.
> RAVEN -- now HE was fun to talk to.
> Ale xin NYC
> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Rahman Baloch <rahman.baloch at yahoo.co.uk>
>> Sent: Oct 7, 2016 4:41 PM
>> To: "A list about all things Killing Joke (the band!)" <gathering at misera.net>, Alex Smith <vassifer at earthlink.net>
>> Subject: Re: [kj] Interview: Big Paul Ferguson from Killing Joke [Louder Than War]
>> Thanks for taking the time to respond and  funnily enough before interviewing BPF and Youth the only interraction I've ever had had with any of the band was with Geordie  in 2003.
>> After a gig in Manchester  a chap came in a quite naff and empty bar a pal and I were in post-gig and said 'do you mind if my mate sits at your table and has a chat as he's just played a gig and wants to chill out?' - well feck me it was the Guitar Genius himself and he was brilliant company for the next two hours telling us all kinds of sleazy stories about Youth, Alex Patterson (I wont divulge!) and about jamming with Jimmy Page and Mick Jones.
>> They say you should never meet your heroes but in some cases I'd say that's complete tosh!
>> By the way your description of BPFas 'measured, thoughtful and very generous' is something I wish I'd come up with because it hits dead centre bulls eye!
>> Cheers! 
>> --------------------------------------------
>> On Fri, 7/10/16, Alex Smith <vassifer at earthlink.net> wrote:
>> Subject: Re: [kj] Interview: Big Paul Ferguson from Killing Joke [Louder Than War]
>> To: "A list about all things Killing Joke (the band!)" <gathering at misera.net>, "A list about all things Killing Joke (the band!)" <gathering at misera.net>
>> Date: Friday, 7 October, 2016, 16:37
>> #yiv7593563819 #yiv7593563819 -- DIV
>> {margin:0px;}#yiv7593563819 
>> Geordie is
>> invariably the toughest nut to crack. The rest of them all
>> speak effusively when engaged, but even getting
>> Geordie's attention is a feat. I've spun this yarn
>> here before, but upon interviewing Youth, Jaz and Geordie at
>> the No-Tell Motel on Avenue A here in NYC circa PANDEMONIUM.
>> Geordie was (a) fully distract by the vintage porn being
>> shown on the monitor above the bar ("ooh, she's got
>> a nice one!") and somehow managed to surreptitiously
>> abscond with my tape-recorder between chats, rewind and
>> effectively erase most of my interview with him. That's
>> my fault, but still... boo!
>> Big Paul,
>> when I spoke with him back in 2004, was measured, thoughtful
>> and very generous as an interviewee. And a damn nice
>> gent.
>> - Ale xin NYC
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: "wessidetempest ." 
>> Sent: Oct 7, 2016 9:17 AM
>> To: "A list about all things Killing
>> Joke (the band!)" 
>> Subject: Re: [kj] Interview: Big Paul
>> Ferguson from Killing Joke [Louder Than War]
>> Thanks for sharing.  Nicely done and he seems pretty
>> open and honest when asked. I wish there was a good Geordie
>> interview. 
>> On Oct 7, 2016, at 9:11 AM, Neil Perry <65snoopy at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>> Good interview. I always wished BPF had participated
>> more in interviews. When I interviewed them
>> he was content to sit back and observe proceedings, but that
>> was a different time, different dynamic, admittedly.
>> Although I remember that when he did join in, the others
>> would shut up immediately instead of all shouting
>> over each other. 
>> On 6 October 2016 at
>> 23:13, Paul <dubecho at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>> http://louderthanwar.com/big-
>> paul-ferguson-interview/
>> Interview: Big Paul Ferguson from Killing Joke
>> Written by Rahman The
>> writer6
>> October, 2016
>> ‘Big Paul’ Ferguson is the drummer and
>> percussionist and founder member of the mighty musical force
>> of nature known as Killing Joke. Along with singer Jaz
>> Coleman,
>> another founder member, he called for a ‘New
>> Renaissance’ and over the last four decades he has been
>> responsible for some of the most distinctive and iconic
>> rhythms in music; ultimately he is quite simply one of the
>> finest and most formidable drummers in modern
>> music.
>> He has also co-authored many of the band’s most
>> insightful and intelligent lyrics with Jaz, and it is a
>> testament to the man’s generosity of spirit that he has
>> taken time out of a busy schedule to answer a few hopefully
>> pertinent and interesting questions.
>> When did the idea of playing drums first occur to
>> you, did you take formal tuition, or are you
>> self-taught?
>> I’m
>> self-taught. The first and only drum lesson I’ve had was
>> with a drummer that played with Howard Jones! He had a
>> beautiful red Premier kit & insisted that I learn the
>> double stroke roll, but in
>> my eagerness to play the whole kit this seemed fairly
>> pointless.
>> I took a book of
>> drum rudiments from him, which I still have, but the lessons
>> didn’t get me to the heart of drumming as fast as I
>> wanted. I don’t remember when I first thought of becoming
>> a drummer
>> but according to my mother, I’ve always been bashing
>> things!
>> I did become
>> obsessed by drums & drum kits during tedious geography
>> lessons in the fifth form. My first kit was made mostly from
>> wooden rubbish bins with drumheads stretched over them. I
>> bought that
>> with my pocket money when I was about 14 years old. I did a
>> brief stretch in the high school military band as a snare
>> drummer & I suppose that’s when any formal learning
>> should have occurred, but we spent most of our time at the
>> end of the school field smoking
>> cigarettes & having a laugh rather than learning how to
>> play anything.
>> You continue to be an inspiration to not only
>> drummers but to musicians in general. Who were your own
>> early influences, and by that I mean not only drummers but
>> widening that if I may, to include other musicians and
>> bands?
>> The first
>> records I owned were given to me by my eldest sister. They
>> were Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Are You
>> Experienced?’ & King Crimson’s ‘In
>> the Court of the Crimson King’. The first albums I
>> bought myself were Dave & Ansel Collin’s ‘Monkey Spanner’ & T Rex’s ‘Electric Boogie’.
>> So my tastes ran
>> from progressive rock to glam & you could also throw a
>> bit of Irish folk into the mix. My influences have been many
>> & varied throughout the years. The glitter band &
>> ELP may have
>> had a lot to do with it – ha! ha!         Also
>> Roxy Music & the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Big Youth
>> & The Stranglers set me free & put me on the road to
>> drumming.
>> At what point did you think that you had reached a
>> standard that was good enough to look for other musicians to
>> form bands with, and which styles & genres were
>> you exploring and playing before you formed Killing
>> Joke?
>> I haven’t yet
>> reached the stage where I’m confident to play with other
>> musicians, then even less so, but necessity being the mother
>> of invention nothing was going to stop me. My school friends
>> &
>> I had a progressive rock band called Beowulf and then my art school friends and I
>> had a glam punk band called Pink Parts. The band I was
>> playing with when I met Jaz was the Matt Stagger band, and
>> that was afro-rock/reggae
>> influenced.
>> You and Jaz (in)famously performed ‘a ritual’
>> after many unsuccessful attempts to find like- minded
>> musicians, allegedly after which, the next two musicians who
>> knocked on your door were Geordie & Youth. Was this
>> ‘ritual’ part of an ‘established’ esoteric and/or
>> gnostic belief system such as rosicrucianism or theosophy
>> for example, and if so; do you still subscribe to this
>> belief system?
>> Jaz & I
>> embarked upon a course together that involved Neophyte
>> rituals taken from the Order of the Golden Dawn. Although we
>> shared an interest in the occult, mine soon became
>> intellectual rather
>> than practical.
>> I’ve always had a strong interest in history &
>> mythology which persists to this day, but my beliefs have
>> evolved over the years and & I no longer subscribe to
>> any one particular belief system.
>> With regards to you and your fellow
>> ‘brother-in-rhythm’ Youth, you are in many peoples’
>> opinion demonstrably one of the finest rhythm sections in
>> music. Was that
>> unique ‘simpatico’ or ‘locked in’ feel there from
>> the earliest rehearsals, or was it something you had to work
>> at assiduously over a period of time?
>> Well I’m
>> flattered that you find us a fine rhythm section. Youth’s
>> sound is very distinctive and & I feel that when we play
>> together our styles result in a unique and surprising
>> ‘feel’. It took a
>> lot of searching to find a bass player for this band, and
>> whatever Youth’s ulterior motives were at the time for
>> coming to Cheltenham to audition with us were, he decided to
>> stay with us. Without doubt he and & I had, and have, a
>> symbiotic relationship. I
>> feel he adds to what I do, in an organic way; but my view
>> of my own playing is that I plough through
>> and take no prisoners and between the two lies the
>> magic…
>> One of the USP’s that sets Killing Joke apart
>> from the herd is that your playing is often groove
>> orientated, and makes some tracks, for want of a better
>> word, ‘danceable’. This
>> was evidenced on early tracks such as: ‘Nervous
>> System’, and ‘Change’ and continues right up to recent
>> tracks like ‘Ghosts of Ladbroke Grove’ and although
>> that’s more dub-like; there’s groove in their
>> too.
>> I think all of
>> us in KJ have an unwritten rule that if it doesn’t swing
>> it’s not worth it. I have no particular sets of rules or
>> preferences for dance music but I have an inherent need for
>> groove
>> when I play. I find it very difficult to play a straight
>> beat without putting a swing in it!
>> With regards to your individual contribution to the
>> Killing Joke ‘sound’, where often your rhythms and
>> patterns ‘lead from the front’ and help define the
>> track,
>> on such tracks as: ‘Dominator’, ‘Tension’,
>> ‘Follow The Leader’ and ‘Love Like Blood’, is this
>> something you work out in your head in rehearsal, or perhaps
>> later in the studio when you are actually recording the
>> track(s)?
>> What I do and
>> what I choose to play more often or not begins with Geordie.
>> His riffs & phrases are what give me inspiration &
>> the drum parts that are eventually recorded only become that
>> way when
>> they are married to the guitar parts. Whatever I’ve come
>> to rehearsal with, indeed whatever any of
>> us comes to rehearsal with, changes according to the
>> atmosphere in the room and the influence that we have on
>> each other.
>> After the tectonic plate rattling debut, on the
>> follow up (no ‘difficult second album’ travails with
>> KJ!) ‘What’s THIS For..!’, your tom and percussion
>> work seemed
>> to feature more noticeably. Was there a conscious decision
>> to add particular styles, textures &
>> rhythms?
>> As I mentioned
>> before, I listened to the Glitter Band. There was also a
>> track by the SAHB called ‘Booids’ which had a great influence on
>> me. I was also deeply impressed
>> by a comment from a random stranger about his aversion to
>> drummers using cymbals & for some reason those words ate
>> at me to the point that I deliberately started to leave out
>> the hi hats & cymbals. I also listened to Mongo
>> Santamaria & other Latin percussionists
>> for inspiration, but I think also it was a sign of the
>> times; drummers in particular were looking for new ways to
>> express themselves, different ways of playing outside of the
>> standard rock & roll format.
>> After Youth departed how long into your search for
>> a replacement to fill the void did you find Paul Raven, and
>> how did his style differ from Youth’s; and did you
>> and Raven ‘click’ together immediately?
>> Raven was a far
>> more aggressive bass player then Youth & he and I played
>> very well together. It was a bit of a messy period in my
>> life re-joining Killing Joke after the Iceland escapade. I
>> had been
>> playing with Youth in Brilliant & with another bass
>> player who I thought I had a future with. I’m not sure if
>> I have the story straight but I think Youth himself referred
>> us to Raven himself. There was never a dull moment with
>> Raven, I very much enjoyed the
>> band with him in it; his style was very different & I
>> miss him. I must say it’s been a privilege playing with
>> both Youth and Raven in this dysfunctional
>> brotherhood…
>> After disagreements regarding musical direction you
>> left the band in 1987.Could you elaborate on this further
>> please to ‘set the record straight’, because in
>> researching
>> for this piece, I noticed that there’s all kinds of
>> speculation across various web sites and discussion
>> forums?
>> I can tell
>> you my version of it.. As with any story
>> there are always at least two sides. In a nutshell, the Outside the Gate album
>> was Jaz’s solo project but because it cost a lot of
>> money, the record company decided it should be a Killing
>> Joke project, but that Raven & I shouldn’t be involved
>> in the writing. We were both very unhappy with this
>> arrangement. When I acquiesced and went
>> to record drum tracks with Geordie, personal grievances
>> were getting in the way & acrimony reigned in the
>> studio. I couldn’t listen to any of Jaz’s keyboards
>> when I recorded the drums & threw away the ‘click
>> track’, so I played drums to just the guitar & it
>> all made perfect sense. Unfortunately, when the keyboards
>> were brought back in the timing was all over the place. My
>> answer was: ‘do all the keyboards again’ & Jaz’s
>> answer was: ‘’get a new drummer’’.
>> Was it at this point on your ‘timeline’ that
>> you decided to become a professional restorer, and why did
>> you choose this unusual profession? (There
>> are some incredible images of Big Paul working in his
>> workshop in Mont Sherars’ stunning book of Killing Joke
>> photo portraits: ** ‘Twilight of the Mortals’ –
>> released November 2016).
>> I had been out
>> of Killing Joke for several years, I was living in New York
>> and I needed a change. Knowing that my other artistic
>> talents were being neglected & having always had a
>> powerful interest
>> in art & history, when I came across the chance to deal
>> with ancient sculpture, it was a perfect fit for me. One
>> thing that art restoration teaches other than the obvious
>> techniques & handling of materials, is that there is no
>> room for ego. It’s a very behind-the-scenes
>> enterprise.
>> What were your next musical projects, and does the
>> resultant work stand up to scrutiny all these years
>> later?
>> It may seem
>> strange not pursuing something in the vein of KJ, but at the
>> time I wanted to do anything but… I played with Warrior
>> Soul on their first album, but I felt that I didn’t fit in
>> with the
>> American rock ‘n’ roll vibe of the band. Subsequently,
>> a guitarist friend of mine John Carruthers (formerly of
>> Siouxsie & the Banshees) and I formed a band that was to
>> become Crush, which was about as far from Killing Joke as
>> one could get. Does it still stand
>> up? Hard for me to say. I think we were ahead of the times.
>> It was innovative & short lived, and to my ears at
>> least, very good.
>> Did you continue writing lyrics post-Killing Joke,
>> and have you ever thought of collating & collecting your
>> lyrics/prose for a formal book release?
>> I did continue
>> writing though perhaps not as much, and the idea of putting
>> a book together of my lyrical musings is not far from my
>> mind.
>> What were your reasons for re-joining Killing joke
>> in 2007-was there a sense of ‘unfinished business’
>> musically & lyrically?
>> I certainly felt
>> that my sense of outrage at current political events needed
>> a vehicle & of course, what more perfect place than
>> Killing Joke! Obviously, the shock & sadness of
>> Raven’s departure
>> from this life was instrumental in Jaz & I healing our
>> wounds, but I had carried Killing Joke with me all the time
>> that I wasn’t in the band (you can ask my wife!), and if I
>> had not taken this opportunity it would still be there &
>> gnawing at me.
>> The last few years have been very productive with
>> three albums in
>> 5 years, the last of which, ‘Pylon’, was
>> commercially successful, and won awards. Do you feel that
>> the new songs stand shoulder-to-shoulder when played
>> alongside ‘classics’ such as ‘Pssyche’,
>> ‘Eighties’ and ‘Pandemonium’? Do you feel  any
>> pressure
>> when  writing songs these days?
>> Well, firstly
>> I’m delighted that the records have been so well received.
>> Calling anything that Killing Joke do a commercial success
>> is a bit of a laugh because we don’t really sell the
>> numbers that
>> people imagine we do; but artistically I’m very happy
>> with what we’ve done recently. There’s always pressure
>> to write & remain relevant, but there aren’t any
>> scorecards & every song is a painting. There’s no
>> measurable ‘better’ while you’re recording. It’s
>> rather more: ‘’is it making your head nod or
>> not’’.
>> In Montster Filmworks’ powerful & visceral
>> biopic *‘Chapter Big Paul Ferguson’, Martin Atkins
>> (ex-Pil & Pigface) describes the Killing Joke drumming
>> workload thus:
>> ‘you might as well set my arms on
>> fire!’. Clearly you must have
>> been in terrific shape to do all the live work then. Now you
>> are in your 50’s and still touring regularly, what kind of
>> physical and mental toll does
>> this take on you?
>> Well I have to
>> prepare for it, I have to stay in shape, but I’d be doing
>> that anyway regardless of KJ. I’m blessed with a physique
>> that can tolerate my workload and cursed with a mindset that
>> won’t
>> let me relax! I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t got a
>> little more difficult, as along with age I’ve also
>> suffered numerous incidents & injuries. Thankfully none
>> have been serious enough to interfere with my pleasure of
>> playing with Killing joke…
>> In 2015 you launched a bespoke jewellery business
>> called ***‘Boneyard Skull Rings’, whereby you personally
>> make to order solid silver rings, necklaces and bracelets;
>> and they look fabulous!  How’s this been
>> received?
>> The pieces have
>> been received very well. I’m very excited at this new
>> project and the way it came around was trying to find
>> jewellery that I would want to wear. I’ve always loved
>> sculpture & texture
>> & these pieces are that & more. It makes me feel
>> great to hear from satisfied customers about how thrilled
>> they are with their new purchases.
>> So we’re into 2016 and in Mont Sherar’s
>> definitive, game-changing book of Killing Joke photo
>> portraits ‘Twilight of the Mortals’. What do you think
>> Mont has captured
>> here that no one else has done previously?
>> Mont has been
>> allowed access to Killing Joke in a way that few people
>> have. He is a genuine fan & an exceptionally talented
>> man. The band have trusted him in the recording studio &
>> into our lives.
>> He was almost inside my drum kit at one point! His
>> exceptional eye for composition & detail are evident in
>> every frame. We’re all looking forward to the book being
>> published.
>> In an arch and very KJ twist to the old ‘CD
>> included!’ pitch, the Special Deluxe Edition of
>> ‘Twilight of the Mortals’ has two ‘old school’
>> 7’’ vinyl records with
>> each member of Killing Joke submitting a separate, original
>> track each that genuinely will not be available elsewhere.
>> Possibly forever. Your solo track, where you are billed as
>> BPF, is: ‘The Great Motivator’ Could you talk us through
>> it please, and are you
>> planning any further ‘solo’ releases at some point in
>> the future?
>> The idea to
>> release vinyl with this book was Mont’s, and had it been a
>> CD or DVD I’m pretty sure none us would have contributed
>> as we did. The idea of having something in vinyl was what
>> clinched
>> the deal! The Great Motivator is one of
>> several musical experiments where I thread some of my poems
>> and lyrics over a percussive background. Mark Thwaite was
>> sent the tracks & has done a great job remixing them. A
>> word of
>> warning: they’re not necessarily the rock drums you might
>> be expecting! As far as any solo releases in the future, it
>> would be nice to release an EP or even an album sometime
>> soon, bit I’ve got my hands full!
>> Surprisingly there hasn’t been a definitive
>> biography chronicling Killing Jokes’ remarkable, chaotic
>> and labyrinthine career, and rumour and speculation has
>> always
>> swirled around the band. What’s the most ridiculous
>> rumour you’ve heard about yourself and also concerning the
>> band?
>> I’ve heard
>> that I got a ‘phone call from Madonna asking me to play on
>> one of her albums, and rumour has it I told her to ‘fuck
>> off, I don’t play with girls!’  As for rumours about
>> the band, well
>> you know our singer, anything’s possible!
>> If you wouldn’t mind playing the role of a seer
>> for a moment, what does the rest of 2016 and then into 2017
>> hold for Big Paul Ferguson?
>> Death and
>> destruction? Flowers and puppies?
>> ‘Big Paul’
>> Ferguson, thanks very much for your time!
>> Musicians of the
>> calibre and integrity of Big Paul are as rare as the Great
>> Man missing a beat, so rare in fact that upon reflection one
>> cannot help but come to the conclusion that he may very well
>> be the last great drummer…
>> If you would
>> like to own a one-off piece of bespoke jewellery, crafted
>> especially for you by the very same hands that still play
>> all those iconic beats and drum patterns, then head over
>> to: www.boneyardskullrings.com
>> Chapter Big Paul
>> Ferguson: Montster Filmworks www.youtube.com/
>> watch?v=HyKJ5DmHc8E
>> Twilight of the
>> Mortalsby Mont Sherar  can be ordered from here.
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