Twelve years after Nirvana borrowed heavily from Killing Joke’s “Eighties” to create “Come as You Are,” the reunited U.K. band is borrowing the defunct Seattle band’s drummer to make its first studio album in seven years.
Dave Grohl laid down drum tracks during the last week of March at Grandmaster Studios in Hollywood for Killing Joke’s The Death and Resurrection Show, due in mid-June on their Malicious Damage label, distributed by Sony. Of the 1992 Nirvana/Killing Joke controversy, Killing Joke bassist Paul Raven says, “Yeah, Dave and I had a few laughs about that over the past year or so. He mentioned it to me when I met him backstage at Pantera a couple of years back.
“Come as You Are” (1991) is fueled by a slowed-down version of the guitar riff in “Eighties” (1985). At the time, Killing Joke opted not to file a copyright infringement lawsuit for personal and financial reasons. Nirvana’s then-manager Danny Goldberg later copped to the similarity between the two songs. In the 2000 book, Eyewitness Nirvana: The Day-By-Day Chronicle, Goldberg said, “We met to discuss what [Nevermind‘s] second single would be. We couldn’t decide between ‘Come as You Are’ and ‘In Bloom.’ Kurt was nervous about ‘Come as You Are’ because it was too similar to a Killing Joke song [‘Eighties’], but we all thought it was still the better song to go with. And, he was right, Killing Joke later did complain about it.”
More than a decade later, no hard feelings remain. In fact, Killing Joke singer Jaz Coleman sang “Requiem,” from their 1980 self-titled debut album, with the Foo Fighters during their show in New Zealand in January. As for Grohl’s contribution to The Death and Resurrection Show, Raven says, “He’s done his thing and it sounds amazing. He’s on the entire record at this point. We also tracked three or four songs with John Dolmayan, the drummer from System of a Down, but since they’re just compiling it now, we’re not even sure what’s gonna end up on the final version.”
The Death and Resurrection Show, Killing Joke’s first release of new material since 1996’s Democracy, is produced and mixed by former Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill, who has also worked on albums by Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Jesus Lizard, Bis and Boss Hog. Artist Mike Coles, who’s worked on all Killing Joke releases, is creating the album cover art. And, while other reports have cited the title of the record as “Axis of Evil,” Raven says, “I believe the artwork with ‘The Death and Resurrection Show’ title is pretty much done.”
Killing Joke plan to tour this summer and hit some of the European festivals, including Reading. As for Grohl, his current band the Foo Fighters kick off a tour in support of One by One tonight in Bakersfield, California.