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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 September, 2003, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Coleman's classical punk mix
Killing Joke perform on Top Of The Pops in 1982
Coleman quit Killing Joke in 1982
Unable to decide between punk and classical music, singer and composer Jaz Coleman has ended up doing both.

The latest album by his band Killing Joke - itself named Killing Joke, as was the group's debut release in 1979 - follows barely two months after the release of violinist Nigel Kennedy's East Meets East, which Coleman produced.

The album has been top of the classical charts since its release.

"It's weird. I don't really think about it. I keep the two worlds - I call them Universe A and Universe B - completely separate from each other," Coleman told BBC World Service's The Music Biz programme.

"Nigel Kennedy is the only person who walks between my two worlds."

As if to demonstrate the huge difference between Coleman's two "universes", Killing Joke features former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl - even though Coleman once accused Nirvana of theft of one of his band's songs.

'New Mahler'

Coleman initially quit Killing Joke following a gig in 1982 - they day after he travelled to Iceland and announced his intention to become a classical composer.

Jaz Coleman
My classical music is more romantic and it's all about creating a more desirable reality, whereas Killing Joke is really catharsis
Jaz Coleman
After studying for 10 years, he worked with some of the world's leading orchestras and took up conducting. Conductor Klaus Tennstedt described him as a "new Mahler."

But he returned to Killing Joke on occasion, although the latest album is the first since 1996.

Coleman said keeping the two worlds separate was not usually very difficult.

"You do get some Killing Joke fans who come to the Royal Opera House - it's quite funny actually," he stated.

"Generally speaking people who like Killing Joke are not into classical music, and vice versa."

But Coleman added that he had been able to work in both genres successfully because they supplied completely different emotions.

"My classical music is more romantic and it's all about creating a more desirable reality, whereas Killing Joke is really catharsis," he stressed.

"They're really completely different functions.

"I love the orchestra - it's the best unplugged beast in the world.

"I listen to a lot of orchestral music - very hard to explain to a die-hard Killing Joke supporter."

'Better than drugs'

Coleman said that his first symphony had taken 10 years to write - "It's quite a long time to learn about orchestration" - although the second had been finished in under four weeks.

Dave Grohl
Dave Grohl features on Killing Joke's latest
He added that while composing was much more difficult to performing with Killing Joke, he very much enjoyed both.

"The only outlet I've ever allowed myself for the romantic impulse is the orchestra," he said.

"Then again, look what you can do with Killing Joke that you can't do with orchestra - you can't get 3,000 people jumping like lemmings at each other and the whole place exploding.

"I'd hate to deny myself either."

As well as composing, Coleman has also begun conducting. He admitted that the first time he had tried he had been "terrified."

"That was very scary, going out and conducting for the first time - because no-one had taught me, and I had no ideas apart from 'monkey see, monkey do'.

"But these people I was working with talked me into conducting a concert.

"I can tell you - I never get frightened for gigs, but I was terrified. My heart was jumping out my mouth and dancing round the room.

"It was like walking into the gates of Hell. But once I got out there and kicked in, I was brilliant.

"I got to the end and I thought, 'I enjoyed that experience - it's better than any drugs'."

My Music: Jaz Coleman
05 Dec 01  |  Entertainment
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28 Aug 02  |  Entertainment
Eastern spice appeals to Kennedy
13 Jun 03  |  Entertainment

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