Paul Raven

Killing Joke bassist


Paul Vincent Raven, bass player: born Wolverhampton, Staffordshire 16 January 1961; (five children); died Geneva, Switzerland 20 October 2007.

Paul Raven, of Killing Joke, was one of the best bass players of his generation. The outfit remains a huge influence on the contemporary rock scene, and their visceral, powerfully dark music has been covered by Metallica, Foo Fighters, Fear Factory and Helmet, as well as Nouvelle Vague and LCD Soundsystem. Perhaps their most famous fans were Nirvana, whose frontman Kurt Cobain was a big admirer, borrowing the riff from Killing Joke's "Eighties" for the Nirvana classic "Come As You Are".

Raven's bass skills had been sought out by many key industrial and noise bands of the past 20 years. At various times he played and wrote with Ministry, Godflesh, Prong, Pigface, Murder Inc and Amen.

Born in 1961 in Wolverhampton, in 1977 he joined a local punk band, the Neon Hearts, which went on to tour the UK and release a couple of singles. Later he formed a glam-rock band Kitsch, with Tyla (later of Dogs D'Amour). His big break came in 1982 when he replaced Youth (aka Martin Glover, who went on to become of the world's biggest producers) as bass player in Killing Joke.

Killing Joke had arrived at the beginning of the post-punk scene in west London. Their heavy sound, mixing the aggression of punk with dub and dark disco, was highly original – and the band cut some brilliant records. With their apocalyptic attitude, fierce intelligence and volatile personalities they acquired a "heavy" reputation, operating outside the parameters of normal groups. Raven's brutal bass lines and charismatic stage presence helped move the band into its most successful period.

He had joined the band just in time for the North American tour documented on the Ha! live release. His proper recording début was on the album Fire Dances (1983) before Killing Joke broke through in the United States, becoming one of the staples of the fast-rising industrial scene. Although Killing Joke were not strictly an industrial band, their sound, with its powerful tribal-drumming, was highly regarded by many of the upcoming bands on the scene.

The band's next album, Night Time (1985), gave them a clutch of singles, including the British hit "Love Like Blood". By 1988, however, the outfit was on the verge of collapse – the album Outside the Gate was a critical and commercial failure and Raven was sacked during its recording. The band disappeared for a couple of years, returning to the spotlight in 1990 with Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions.

Again tensions surfaced and the whole band, except for the frontman Jaz Coleman, left to form the short-lived group Murder Inc, which had the power of Killing Joke but lacked the charisma. Killing Joke regrouped in 1992 but this time without Raven. By now he was busy on several other projects, including a stint in the New York noise crew Prong on two of their albums, Cleansing (1994) and the follow-up, Rude Awakening (1996).

Raven branched out as a producer and remixer, working with Psychic TV, Spahn Ranch and Die Krupps, among others, as well as the world's biggest industrial outfit, Ministry, and at the time of his death he was preparing to record with the French industrial metal band Treponem Pal.

John Robb

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