Mont Sherar is a multi-platform artist who’s extraordinary timeline, through either planetary alignment or fated happenstance, has at crucial times overlapped with that of the mighty musical force of nature called Killing Joke.
Like a trusted and embedded war photographer/ filmmaker, Mont has captured many hitherto unseen sides and perspectives of this unique band. Perhaps more importantly, Killing Joke are now finally presented as they deserve to be and as they really are: four very different and uniquely gifted artists.
These photographs, most having been taken since the band’s magical reunion of 2008, have been carefully archived and are now presented in a beautifully bound and definitive work titled: ‘Twilight of the Mortals’.
This unique, genre-defying photographic book will be published by the proudly independent publishing company PC-Press in 2017.
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On the informative Facebook page for your autobiography ‘Sex, WAX n Rock n Roll,’ it says you uprooted from a farm in northern Canada to become a DJ in hi-octane 80’s Miami Florida. This seems like an unusual and unlikely change of backdrop! Can you provide us with some insights that led to this radical change of planets?
For starters, I can say that I’m just a true certified nobody from Nowheresville! I was simply the last person on earth to have done any of the things I’d eventually become known for. In fact, I still find it hard to believe that a ‘hick from the sticks’ like me could have become anything at all, let alone become a successful ‘post-punk’ DJ in a challenging city like Miami during the 80s. If you also throw in the decades long relationship I’ve had with a band like Killing Joke, which still continues to this day…well the odds are truly staggering.
I grew up on a cattle ranch during the 60s and 70s in a desolate, remote forest area of northern Canada near a First Nation (tribal) village called Hazelton, population: 250. But even tiny Hazelton was a long way away from our ranch, requiring a winding trip up and down bumpy dirt roads on the edge of several perilous cliffs to get there.
Apart from having very few people around, things like music, radio and television , were sparse to non- existent. Actually, there wasn’t much of anything at all except for cattle, bears, wolves, and insects. Lots and lots of biting insects. The nature might have been beautiful to look at, but I wasn’t noticing — just working. As for girls, the only ones I ever met were those found in the bra section of the mail order catalogues we used. In other words, I didn’t know a whole lot about mainstream culture other than how to shovel shit at 4am in the morning!
Around my mid- teens, unlikely as it seemed some crazy fool on a hunting trip wandered by with an offer to buy the ranch. Hallelujah!
This meant we could finally make a move down south near the city of Vancouver — near civilization. It was during this time that I discovered not only all the ‘normal’ amenities of life, but also just how uncool I was compared to pretty much everyone around me. The kewl new kat on the block I wasn’t.
It wouldn’t take long however before I’d experience that… drum roll please :‘life changing moment.’
I’m guessing that Killing Joke were somehow involved or connected to this life- changing moment?
How’d you possibly guess? It was the very beginning of the 80s by this time, and I’d walk into a nightclub called: ‘Luv Affair’. A certain young DJ named Steven R. Gilmore was playing what was called the ‘new wave’ of music, most of which I’d never heard before.
That track was so heavy, yet irresistibly danceable, which for me, is the perfect combination. And those manic vocals of course – I was hooked. I wanted to find out everything I could about this band, and spread the word to as many people as possible. That meant I had to become a DJ, just like Steven Gilmore. After all, the idea that one could make a living by playing Killing Joke and other cool music to people who just wanted to dance, seemed like the ultimate occupation. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
So, like the Tasmanian Devil, I went on a whirlwind record buying spree as well as purchasing every UK/import/alternative music magazine I could get my hands on. I even got rid of my 70’s porn star look: flares, mustache and all. And just like that, this hillbilly named ‘Mont’ went from past to future, almost overnight.
To cap off my good fortune I had also earned a scholarship to art school in Florida (yes, other than shovel shit, I could actually draw really well). I’d take this newfound knowledge and excitement with me. DJ Mont would soon be born, and life would begin at the hop.
Presumably it would take a while to acclimate to the new surroundings of a city like the (in)famously dynamic Miami, but you also had to learn how to DJ during a time when it was all about spinning real vinyl and, of course, there were no computers?
You got that right! Watch the movie ‘Scarface’ or ‘The Cocaine Cowboys’ and you get a good idea of what kind of alien planet I had just landed on. Miami was the homicide capital of the USA at that time, and the drug cartel business was rampant. With such a simple background like mine, making a leap to a city like that was quite a shock.
As for as my DJ ambitions, that didn’t come easy either. Firstly, the audience for alternative dance music (post-punk or whatever you want to call it) in Miami at the time was not like other big cities ie. London/New York etc. Miami culture was, and is, strong on Latino roots and culture. They like their dance music, but most of that was predominantly pop and disco, not the harder brand of underground dance music I represented — at least not at first.
Secondly, being a successful DJ in Miami required real skills in mixing and other technical abilities, not just a good playlist. ‘Auto sync’ buttons did not exist — and train wrecks were not an option. A DJ might get away with basic fades at a small venue as a fill-in between live acts, but not if the goal was to be headliner at a major club. I had my work cut out for me.
But even those hurdles were just scraping the surface, because all the techie skills in the world are for naught, if one hasn’t grasped what is the single most crucial element of all to learn: the psychology behind DJ’ing.
Motivating and ‘moving’ large crowds in large clubs with big dancefloors is not as simple as just playing ‘good songs.’ What people think they like or don’t like has more to do with your own ability to control this phenomenon, rather than what their own prejudices are before walking into the club. Understanding how that works is key to success and career longevity. Its actually the science of human behaviour from a musical standpoint. All of thse factors take time to develop then master. DJ’ing is actually a blend of both science and art. Master these details, and you make magic on the dancefloor.
Even with all these skills under your belt, it must be more difficult to be an alternative music DJ in a big club as opposed to one who just plays ‘commercial’ tracks and top 40 hits all night?
The two are not even comparable actually. One is a true art form creating things from scratch (pun intended!), whereas the other is more analogous to ‘painting by numbers.’ Without having the ‘one-click, instant access’ luxury of today at ones disposal, things were far more difficult. First of all you were completely left to your own devices because you were exploring completely new ground and style, not merely trying to emulate the charts. Plus, this was relatively new music so most people were unaware of what they were listening to (unless they made their way to the DJ booth to ask). And without online resources and dedicated forums to fall back on, one had to have a complete understanding of the bands and their history in minute detail; and how these different artists intertwined with each other and what to look for when new records came in. Without this depth of knowledge, you’d be lost, with no sense of direction. It was like a musical puzzle in that regard — figuring out how to put the pieces together.
Today we’re bombarded with new music info from multiple platforms, without even searching for it. But back then, it took an enormous amount of effort and research. And don’t forget there were no digital downloads going on, you had to physically get in your car and drive around to collect whatever it was you were searching for. Sometimes of course, you weren’t searching at all, you just stumbled over a complete gem out of the blue.
A final rule that is in complete contrast to the top 40 DJ, is learning the fine art of ‘pleasing, not pandering.’ It is crucial to give one’s audience what they want, but also important to deny them what they want. Introduce them to new tracks they’ve never heard before, and do it first.
Simply put, good alt-music DJs don’t just stimulate, they educate.
At which point then does ‘DJ Mont’ appear fully formed and confident enough to start making waves at Miami’s iconic ‘Fire and Ice’ club?
Probably never ‘fully formed’ but it would take almost 3 years of learning much of these things during time spent at various clubs and venues, before I could truthfully say that I had earned my own ‘crowd’ of loyal people. Enough to fill a decent sized venue, that is. This would be around the end of ´83.
But having one’s own crowd is never a finished chapter, because once you’ve earned them, you’ve got to work hard every night to keep them.
Fear of failure kept me on my toes to the very last day. It kept my head clear and my approach professional — a good thing for everyone.
Are there any DJ ’idols’ of yours, in the way that musicians look up to other musicians?
For sure, two of them in fact. Any credit for me having done anything good on the DJ front can be directly linked to both of these guys. They were the best ‘mentors’ I could have had: the aforementioned Steven R. Gilmore of Luv-Affair in Vancouver, and Kirk Kelsey from a small club in Fort Lauderdale Florida, called ‘The New Wave Lounge.’ Their uncanny good taste with a wide range of styles had a major effect on my approach to music – even to this very day in some respects.
After honing your DJ skills at ‘Fire and Ice’, in 1988 you took the decision to begin anew as part of the team that created the legendary Seagull Beachfront Resort Hotel aka the ‘Kitchen Club’; which was situated on Miami Beach. How exactly does one start a club from the ground up, and once you were up & running how long did it take before you decided to leave it all and move to Europe, and what prompted you to do that?
The original Kitchen Club was a relatively short lived affair. Its heyday and peak popularity barely hit the two year mark. But what an impact it made in those two short years! Live fast, die young.
Most of those who worked there from the beginning had dramatically different interests, backgrounds, experience, and agendas. Ultimately though, it would be my own experience and background that would channel the direction the club would take.
But no one has ever achieved success without the help and contributions of others, and the Kitchen Club was a shining example of that. It’s very existence was the result of the stars, the sun, and the moon, all having lined up for many people, so that everyone benefitted from each others contributions. While I certainly played a leading role in the musical direction it would ultimately become famous for, I was just a part of a complex puzzle of individuals that all fit together for the magic to take place.
For many of the people who worked there, the Kitchen Club represented the beginning of what would be their own career into the music and/or club business. But for me, it was always going to be the closing chapter. This was decided from day one. Go out with a bang kind of thing. Its hard for people to understand a decision to walk away from success, but I was approaching a 10-year career milestone and frankly, beginning to tire of sleeping all day and working all night. I had truly forgotten how the ‘real world’ even functioned at that point! I just couldn’t bear the thought of continuing to do the same thing going into my 30s. It was time for moving on to other challenges. I guess I was just waiting for that ‘magic moment’ to ding me on the head— something, anything that would tell me ‘now is the time to push the button.’
And that’s exactly what would happen later that year, after some rather thought-provoking advice from Jaz Coleman.
The Kitchen was a place that no less a personage then Al Jourgensen described as ‘sleazy’! Can you describe a typical night of full-on hedonism? Feel free to include all the bacchanalian details and name names!
With its accompanying run down hotel just an elevator away, The Kitchen Club was as you can imagine, a very decadent place. I mean, what else could one expect other than complete debauchery from such a potent cocktail right on the sandy beach and run by young, free thinking anarchists?
Most of the rooms in the hotel were simply left unmade, used condoms lay scattered about, and if you were lucky, your phone, lights, or tv, might actually work!
Brian Warner (Marilyn Manson), hung out there a lot, often interviewing bands who played there like Thrill Kill Kult. He also frequented my DJ booth on the weekends asking who did this and that. There can be no question that the Kitchen Club played a key role for his ideas of twisted norms, as well as for his musical ones. Because that’s what the entire Kitchen Club establishment was; twisted norms!
For bands who were to both stay in the hotel and perform in the club, things were a bit more orderly — in theory. I had a deal with ‘housekeeping’ to ensure that at least their rooms were prepared in tip-top shape upon arrival.
Apparently this wasn’t always the case.
According to drummer Martin Atkins of Killing Joke, his room featured a broken tv screen, dead phone, and exploding lamps! I do know that Jaz’s room was tops because it was right beside mine and I cleaned it up myself!
But did anyone in all seriousness really care about all these ‘imperfections’? Hell no. In a perverse kind of way, it just made it all that much more appealing. Sex, drugs, and awesome music 24/7, who cares what condition things are in. We were all young and living the dream, so to have our own hotel, private bar, underground nightclub and concert venue right on the sandy beach was like a wet dream come true.
What prompted your decision to start putting bands on and presumably this is when you first crossed paths with Killing Joke as well as many other soon-to-be legendary bands?
Just like Fire & Ice before it, the Kitchen Club was not a venue based on the draw of live bands, but rather that of the DJ alone. That way, it only cost one salary (mine) and the place could be packed no matter who performed there or didn’t (assuming I did my job properly of course). Bands were a kind of ‘icing on the cake.’ If a particular band was hot on those ‘tables’, I’d book them to play live for the crowd, right on the dancefloor.
The bands loved playing there as much as the crowds enjoyed the intimacy of the performances. It was a formula that spun gold.
That would happen several times over, but by the time 1989 was winding down, there was still something missing on my list: Killing Joke. It seemed too ‘larger than life’ to pull off. But we pulled it off.
It would not be the first time though, that I had had personal contact with the band, as Jaz and I had written each other going back to 1982. But it would be the first time meeting the band in person.
Finally, on Aug 1, 1989 my personal dream of dreams was fully realized. It was a legendary performance. Brutally intense, the band playing as close to an audience as could be imagined, and live torches nearly burning the place down as a result. And to top it all off, both Cevin Key and Dwayne Goettel of Skinny Puppy were staying there as well, on the same floor at opposite ends of the hallway, allowing for some very interesting collaboration talks. I even brought Dwayne and Jaz out to a radio station where they both played music together on a Steinway!
You mentioned earlier about a discussion with Jaz Coleman that might have triggered your decision to move to Europe and close the Kitchen Club at the end of 1989?
The Kitchen Club didn’t close or end on the very last days of 1989, but the ‘DJ Mont’ era of it certainly did.
I took a bold, high-risk decision to play one final weekend at the very peak of both my own career, and the Kitchen Clubs popularity, then pack it all up and move overseas to Europe the following Monday. I didn’t even announce it — I just did it as suddenly as possible. Like ripping a ‘band-aid’ off a sore.
One day I was on top of the world, the next I was starting over from scratch in a foreign country! It was an unimaginable thing to do, but my mind was clear at that point. I wanted to move on, and it wouldn’t be in North America.
The exact turning point came about when Jaz brought up a remarkable idea on how to go about franchising what I was doing on a global scale, starting with Europe, and with Killing Joke playing a live role in the concept. I was simply gobsmacked (or should I say ‘god’smacked) that someone I had idolized for all these years was now standing before me discussing how we could work together in some capacity. Besides, I’d now gone from ‘Nowhere,’ to Canada, to USA, so Europe seemed to be a natural ‘next step’ destination — that is, if I had the balls to commit to it.
When the band left Miami to continue on with their US Extremeties tour, I found a letter waiting for me by Jaz at the receptionist’s desk. The advice on this letter would seal my future. I would now push that button. It was the hardest decision I would ever make, but the best decision I ever made. Killing Joke had changed my life — again.
Once you had amassed a quantity of film and photographic material over the years did you give any thought that at some point in the future, these images/films might be released in some ‘commercial’ form?
Actually, I’d never really given any thought to such a thing until more recent times. And for that matter, I’ve never really considered myself a ‘photographer’ in the normal sense of the profession. I use a camera of course, but I’m more interested in the image as piece of art, like a painting, rather than being overly concerned with maximum megapixels and other technical issues.
It’s extremely humbling to know that people seem to like my style and approach. Thank god for those who see the good before the bad!
But to be completely honest about this, the brilliant work of others around me sometimes make me think what a load of crap my own stuff is! Real pros like Alexander Hallag and Svenja Bloc have my jaw dropping on a regular basis. It’s all good for me though. The more greatness around me, the greater the motivation to keep up. Hopefully, I get a lucky punch once in a while.
Crucially though, the band likes what I do enough to have provided me unfettered access into both professional and personal scenarios. I’m so terribly honored for that, but will never feel worthy of the privilege.
The original line up of Killing Joke reformed in 2008. Was this the time when the specific idea of a photo collection book began to take root, and did you realize just how significantly important a book like this could be for historical purposes?
There was never any specific plan for a book until long after the reunion, but I did begin taking photos for the first time since 1989 around that time. Soon after that, I began to share a few on social media to see if they were of any interest to people. The response to these photos was more than gracious so why not continue with it.
In the meantime, photographer Frank Jenkinson would release his own book appropriately titled, ‘Killing Joke Picture Book’. This historic gem focused on his own personal work from the bands earliest days. A long overdue publication that preserves a landmark period of the newly formed band.
People began to suggest if I might be able to make a similar kind of tribute publication, but for the band’s modern day, post-reunion era that could top off their legacy. I did have a few photos, and continued taking them whenever I had the opportunity, so maybe, eventually…?
That might have been the first time I considered that my own work could be used for a ‘twilight’ era phase of the band. But to consider making something in true book form would still be many years away. Something like this takes an unimaginable amount of time, money, and patience, and that’s just to accumulate enough potential material. In other words, a few cool shots from the press box, or using other people’s work, just ain’t gonna cut it.
Projects like this are much easier said than done.
From observing social media conversations, some people think that to make a book, its as simple as combing the internet for cool pictures and printing them. That might sound promising enough, but prepare for the worst copyright nightmare you could ever dream up. It has to be your own work. Then there are other issues such as having one’s own material but is there enough diversity, uniqueness, and decent quality to fill a narrative that keeps things fresh from page 1 to page 200 or more? What about design, layout, printing, binding, packaging etc. It’s not as simple as posting photos to Instagram or uploading to YouTube. Its serious business, start to finish.
In the meantime, I just continued to photograph and film the band as usual, trying to place the focus on emotional content and unique POV’s rather than perfect pixels, which I’m not good at anyway. In addition, I was provided access to never- seen- before scenarios, including the songwriting sessions of PYLON and Big Paul’s own creative world outside of music.
It soon became clear that despite me being my own worst critic, much of what I had captured had at the very least, real historical significance, and a decent swathe of diversity to match.
So, maybe a book of my collection was a good idea after all, I thought. Let’s do it!
Have the band itself provided their ‘blessings’ to the project?
200%. The support shown for this has been nothing short of astonishing. Just allowing me to be in the various scenarios and positions I’ve been in to take the pictures says it all really. But on top of this I’ve also received varied forms of personal written contributions for publication as well. And of course, the ultimate endorsement of all: 4 tracks of solo work (Jaz spoken) for a vinyl-only, double 7” release available exclusively for this book only. That must be enough indicators for a blessing, I hope!
Putting something like this together must have taken an enormous amount of time and financial investment as well?
That is an understatement if there ever was one. I literally quit my day job over two years ago to be able to commit myself to this. If I hadn’t done that, I’d have never have been able to utilize the time necessary to pull something like this off. It’s truly been what you could call a ‘starving artist’ project in every sense of the term. My wife and I have struggled through many financial hardships these past few years as a result, even coming to ‘the brink’ more than a few scary times. But believe it or not, we’ve grown closer together as a result. We both agreed that no matter what it took, this just had to be done. In that way, its been as much about Pia’s efforts as it has been my own.
How did the agreement with PC-Press as publisher come about and what is that like compared to going the self-publishing route?
Initially, I was just going along the path towards self-publishing when I was contacted by Peter Webb of PC-Press about what I’d been presenting via social media. I hadn’t heard of his label at the time, but when I checked out who they were, and the kind of products they were involved in, it seemed like the perfect match. The label’s philosophy reminded me a bit of the original Factory Records ethos where art and quality were paramount, not mass production. Pete sent me a sample of their recently published ‘Total State Machine’ book and it just blew me away.
In addition to being a bona fide Killing Joke ‘Gatherer’ himself, Pete is also a remarkably talented human being who’s philosophy regarding art and counter culture is in perfect harmony with my own. Teaming up with PC-Press for such a book was a natural fit.
In regards to the difference, well that’s an easy one. If it was a one man show ie. ‘self- publishing,’ I’d be in complete control of things like printing, release dates, payment processing, shipping, signing books etc. But in this case, I’m just ‘the author.’ It’s a bit strange when you’re so used to doing everything yourself, but its also good to spread the workload with others, especially those not of the ‘creative’ kind!
Your approach to coloration and composition is unique, yet in my opinion eminently commercial, which I would suggest is far more difficult than it sounds to achieve.
I’m just over the moon to know that people like what I do at all. That you would consider it both unique yet commercially appealing is a very high compliment to receive so thank you for that. To be honest, most of my best work is usually the result of tripping over myself through experimentation rather than anything else. A bumbling idiot who sometimes gets lucky in the process!
Compositionally, I tend to keep things off balance more often than not. I’m not big on symmetry. I think doing this adds some kind of ‘music’ to an otherwise silent photo. Other than that I’m a terrible technician, which means strong emotive qualities are essential to my images. I find that if the emotion is strong enough, it doesn’t matter whether the photo is taken with a $5 lores camera or a $1000 hires one.
One of my most favorite photos is a good example of that. It’s one of Jaz Coleman leaning against a wooden beam in front of his keyboards. The lighting was barely there, save for a dim lamp above his head. He wasn’t even aware I was taking this photo. The pose is real and natural, an emotive quality that can’t be made or bought. The image itself however, is crude and rough. But because the moment is so special, the image feels more like a classical painting rather than a lo-tech photo disaster. So really, a lot of what I do has its appeal as much from a lack of technology rather than because of it.
The majority familiar with Killing Joke’s work will already know that ‘Twilight of the Mortals’ is a Killing Joke song title, although ’mortal’ is now plural instead of singular Would I be right in assuming it now has a new meaning or indeed multiple meanings? I can imagine it chiseled in granite above the Parthenon or Circus Maximus!
Of course the title is from one of the great tracks on the album, ‘Brighter Than a Thousand Suns’ but the added ‘s’ gives it an entire new meaning that I think fits the subject of the book perfectly.
I’ve been privileged to see images that will not make TOTM due to the strictures of space and other practicalities, and they are just as incredible and powerful as the ones that ‘made the cut’! It must be heart breaking to leave some of them out considering the amount of work that went into each individual one!
Thank you so kindly! But yes, choosing which ones to include and leave out has been an agonizing process. Obviously some photos are easier than others to choose, but there are also those where the importance of the image means different things to different people. Then there are the photos that are truly terrible from a technical standpoint but possess charms of interest in other ways. That’s always a battle, because most photographers want every photo to be razor sharp, perfect lighting, and with the maximum megapixels. But the best moments are not always going to allow the time needed to obtain a so-called perfect result. Thus, we have looked at the emotional content as being the most important factor here. In that way, the book is real and swinging.
The cover image of a book is always crucially important and you must have had many dark nights of the soul searching for the one – why did you decide on the one that was finally selected?
One would think that would be the case, but the choice for the ‘Quiet Before the Storm’ photo of Geordie with his back facing the camera just prior to walking out on stage was a natural one to make. It represents the contents of the book perfectly. Behind the scenes. Fly on the wall. Alternative perspectives. Not what is, but what is coming. Another thing is the fact that although the image is of Geordie, no one’s face is actually shown in the photo, nor is it necessary. Geordies silhouette with his famous Gibson is more than enough to say, ‘Killing Joke’ without anything blatant. The bonus of the light glare (‘twilight’) doesn’t make it any less relevant either. It’s perhaps just the type of ambiguous image one would least expect to see on such a book. Perfect.
It’s just a fantastic idea having not one but two ‘old school’ promo vinyl records with the ‘Deluxe Edition’! I assume that this was your idea, and if this is indeed the case, what factors informed your decision in choosing vinyl as opposed to a download or a CD as presumably vinyl is prohibitively expensive?
Initially there was the somewhat cliché idea of including both a DVD and CD as a bonus offering for a special edition package. The DVD would contain of course, a collection of my short films made about the band since the late 80s. However, almost all of the video work I’ve created over the years is purposely available for free and online to the widest audience possible — so that the band receives the maximum exposure to both new and old fans alike. None of those films have ever been created with a commercial intention for them. The other idea was to offer a CD of one track each of the band members solo work — if they were up for that of course. It turned out that everyone was indeed warm to the general idea, but not exactly thrilled about the mention of the format, ‘CD’. After all, since such an offering should be bundled with a classy, old skewl ‘coffee-table’ style book, having a CD seemed a bit cold and sterile, not to mention just plain ordinary. And considering the subject matter of the book, nothing about it should be ordinary.
One day I sprang the idea on the guys about going pure analogue with the solo tracks — no digital anything — real vinyl wax baby— gatefold sleeve — talk about a change of enthusiasm!
Cost had nothing to do with it, we simply wanted to do something unique and off the beaten path. It also means that this record is already poised to be the rarest of its kind ever made. Collectors, start your engines!
On each of the four sides each of the band members contributes a bespoke track of solo music or spoken word. Would you agree that the very fact that they ‘offered up’ new solo material is not only a coup but an obvious stamp of approval for TOTM? Any hint about what the tracks sound like?
As mentioned, the guys have been supporting pretty much everything I’ve ever done regarding Killing Joke since as long as I can remember. Obviously, TOTM is the pinnacle of all those projects. Without their support and contributions, none of this would exist in the first place. So clearly, to offer me a track each, representing themselves as individuals, was and is the ultimate statement of approval.
A few details about the tracks…
Firstly, Jaz’s track, ‘THE HUMAN JOURNEY’ is not exactly music, but rather a ‘spoken word’ of him speaking about the band on a personal level as individuals, and still being very much together after all these years. This was a recording done during the time I photographed the Pylon jam sessions, so its completely harmonious with much of the book’s contents. Also, anyone that has ever heard Jaz speak, knows his use of the english language and delivery of it, is in fact art itself. Another thing I like about Jaz’s track being spoken word only, is that it brings to mind the pre-internet days during the 80s when one’s only possibility of hearing the band speak was to buy a vinyl record (usually a bootleg picture disc). It was exciting just to find such a record in the first place, let alone to enjoy its content. And while there was no music on it, every sentence spoke was something to cherish and enjoy just as much. In todays ‘one-click’ disposable world of digital information, the Jaz track has brought this particular art form back to the forefront again.
Geordie’s track, ‘FACTION STRASSE’ has his trademark sound all over it. An infectious, monstrous guitar groove, with a very hooky keyboard riff slithering its way throughout the feet-moving savagery. I wish that I could have played this track to my crowds back in my prime days as a DJ. Oh the rush that would have been, because nothing feels better than slamming a hardcore track that packs a dancefloor! I can only imagine what underground DJs like Dave Bats (LA), or Mark Musolf (UK), will do with this track (and the others) spinning on their tables at the right club with the right people. A timeless, epic masterpiece from GeordstheChords.
Youth’s track, ‘MIDDLE CLASS RIOT’ is the perfect offering from the Killing Joke bassist and ground breaking multi-genre producer. This beauty is one where ambience, chill and dancefloor groove all meet with a compelling result. Youth’s own vocals carry’s this hypnotic, pulsing, celestial trip-track to far reaching places of the macrocosm. You will move your feet.
Big Paul Ferguson’s track under the moniker ‘BPF’ is but one of a series of his musical experiments that Paul let me choose for his track. In particular, ‘THE GREAT MOTIVATOR’ stood out for me as a vicious dance floor stomper that was just crying to be heard on real vinyl. This track is powerful, brutal and gripping from the get-go with Paul’s unique vocal (a kind of spoken prose) weaving the theme about ‘fear’ throughout. It could have been left as is, but with my ‘dj cap’ firmly on, I imagined how if properly remixed, this could be taken to another level of awesome. And who better to do such a remix than my great friend, guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite who happens to be a huge fan of Killing Joke to boot. Mark came up with a brilliant result. While staying true to the original, Mark also added some of his own guitar and bass elements that all combined to create entirely new genre of music not heard before. BPF has arrived – and for now, it’s on ‘vinyl only baby!’
Even the sleeve designs are special, and even though you are a graphic designer you have given control to a ‘third party’ in the form of Stephen R. Gilmore – could you elaborate please?
As mentioned earlier, the way I met Gilmore in the first place was about as lucky as someone getting a royal flush in their first hand of poker. Little ol’ nobody me from nowhere, walks into a nightclub where Steven is Dj’ing, plays a single record that unknowingly changes my life from that day onwards. Thus, both Killing Joke and Steven R. Gilmore played key roles in the radical re-direction of my life. Killing Joke would become one of the most influential bands ever, and Gilmore would go on to become a world-class album designer. Of course, he was the natural choice to design this sleeve and was given complete freedom to just ‘let it rip’ as he saw fit. And what a result he came up with – just amazing! I loved the first draft he presented- no tweaking necessary! People talk about ‘coming full circle’ and I can’t think of a better example of that phenomenon.
You’ve also got the legendary musician, author & broadcaster John Robb aboard, are there any other writers contributing commentary?
Although the book is focused mainly on the imagery, I am extremely fortunate to have some of the most uniquely qualified writers out there such as John Robb, Fletcher Stewart, Peter Webb, and Rahman Baloch. Big Paul, Youth, and Jaz have all contributed as well in this regard, so it is a bit more than just eye-candy!
How does it feel now that ‘Twilight of the Mortals’ is soon a physical reality and now officially available for *pre-order?
I feel humbled, excited and a bit nervous to be honest! I’m just not the kind of person who ever thinks what I’ve done is ‘good enough.’ Hopefully, PC-Press and I have created something to be proud of and that people will enjoy. But no matter what, I believe that hard copy images, beautifully bound in book form, are a far more fitting tribute to the bands legacy than pixels on a Facebook timeline.
Not one for treading water, amongst other current projects you have also written an autobiography ‘Sex, WAX and Rock & Roll’! When will you consider ‘TOTM’ to be sufficiently ‘standing on its own’ and start Herculean Task Mk 2 and release and promote your autobiography?
My autobiography, ‘Sex, WAX, n Rock n Roll’ has been on pause while I’ve been working on TOTM so soon I’ll be able to resume writing on that one again. And clearly, the ‘making of’ TOTM is a perfect closing chapter for it. There is so much to tell.
They say ‘nothing KJ is ever easy.’ Let me tell ya, ‘they’d’ be right!
Mont, good luck with both of these mighty works and thanks for your time!
‘Twilight of the Mortals’ is a powerful and remarkable photographic repository, and just like its creator/conceptualizer and the alchemical/musical force of nature it celebrates, it is paradoxically both controlled and chaotic, brutal and beautiful, revolutionary and modern; yet ancient and timeless.
These incredible, intelligent and inspirational images clash and coalesce, connect and collide, constantly defining and redefining each other, all working together for the greater good of the whole.
So now, under the auspices, perseverance, and innovative ideas of Mont Sherar, ‘Twilight of the Mortals’ not only conclusively and correctly contextualizes Killing Joke, it now finally presents the four original members not just as they really are, but how they deserve to be remembered: as original thinkers and dignified artists. In perpetuity.
© 2017 Rahman the Writer
All images are © 2016/2017 Mont Sherar and are used with the owners kind permission
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* You can now pre-order/ reserve the ‘Analogue: Deluxe Edition’ (with double 7” vinyl & strictly limited to 350 copies worldwide), as well as both ‘Hardback or’ ‘Softback’ editions of: ‘Twilight of the Mortals’ at: