Killing Joke (bassist Youth is pictured at far left) is on its 40th anniversary tour. (Courtesy photo)

Killing Joke’s Youth a modern Renaissance man

Producer Martin Glover keeping busy with many projects

Killing Joke bassist Youth — aka British-born studio mastermind Martin Glover —recalls the 1990s when the term Renaissance man was a putdown, implying dilettantism in a person’s multiple crafts. But times have changed.

“From that moment on, that romantic notion that you can be a musician, a writer, a poet, and a painter? It’s become the avant-garde now,” he says. “And it’s created this resurgence of artists making all these multi-media works that no one expected.”

His dizzying list of simultaneous, genre-jumping projects starts with Killing Joke’s “Laugh at Your Peril” 40th anniversary tour, coming to The City this week.

With its founding lineup intact (Youth is joined by vocalist Jaz Coleman, guitarist Geordie Walker, and drummer Paul Ferguson), the band is leaning heavily on material from its first two definitive albums, 1980’s “Killing Joke” and 1981’s “What’s THIS For…!”

The records, which featured a brutal, pile-driving post-punk assault that was entirely original, earned the band a long list of devout-fan peers, which included Nirvana, Metallica, Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails.

“We were doing something that was a little different, a little ahead of the curve,” says Youth, 58. “There hooks and choruses in there, but mainly we wanted to get rid of all the extraneous parts and hone the songs down to their component parts.”

Yet by the third album “Revelations,” Coleman had nixed choruses altogether. Youth, admittedly doing LSD back then, was too physically weak to argue. He quit in 1982, only to rejoin his old chums at various points over the years, most recently in 2008.

“Killing Joke actually takes up a lot of my time, and I just put together a lyric book, recorded a three-disc Killing Joke in dub set, and we’ll be writing a new album soon,” he says.

Along with the Killing Joke project, Youth is also collaborating with Ferguson as well as working on an instrumental trance experiment and his first official solo outing, the folksy “Slaves of Venus,” which will be packaged with a 78-page book of his poetry.

There’s more: While he was becoming a go-to producer for acts like U2, The Verve and Crowded House, as well as a popular club DJ, he also started Blue Pearl, a soulful side project with U.S. singer Durga McBroom.

“There’s a new Blue Pearl record coming, and we’ll be playing some live shows this summer,” says Youth, who returned from analog sessions in Nairobi and Berlin just in time for Killing Joke rehearsals in New York.

Youth, a modern Renaissance man? Sure, why not? he says: “I’ve worked 40 years to get as busy as I am today, and it feels just great.”


Killing Joke

Where: Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Monday, May 20

Tickets: $65 to $250 VIP Package

Contact: (415) 551-5157,

Pop Music

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