PAUL RAVEN cut his teeth as a bassist in Killing Joke, an Alistair Crowley-obsessed band that started in the late ’70s. Though considered an important new-wave band, Killing Joke also performed punk, metal, pop, funk, dance-punk and other styles. The group found great commercial success in its native England and exerted a strong influence on groups from Nirvana to Ministry to Metallica.
Raven joined the band in 1982, replacing original bassist Youth, who has since become a noted producer. After leaving the Joke 10 years later, Raven played in the New York thrash metal group Prong and the short-lived supergroup Murder Inc. He subsequently joined industrial music titans Ministry and will be with the band as it headlines the 9:30 Club tonight (Revolting Cocks open).
Express contributor Geoff Greene spoke with Raven recently. P.R. started things off proclaiming that the band is “heading south to do what we need to do.”
EXPRESS: Considering the hot political content of your last release, “Raining Blood,” what kind of reaction do you expect?
RAVEN: I dunno, probably a few FBI agents sniffing about, but nothing out of the ordinary.
EXPRESS: Your former band, Killing Joke, is now touring in Europe. Why the jump over to Ministry?
RAVEN: Umm, I needed the money.
EXPRESS: Former gig wasn’t paying enough?
RAVEN: That’s actually … I’m sorta making light of it. But it started off as just a scheduling problem, and ended up being, like, a headache, you know. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t do both.
EXPRESS: Do you all see yourselves becoming the next Rolling Stones, the “old men of industrial rock?”
RAVEN: [laughs] The old men of industrial rock? I think we already are! Yeah, the Rolling Stones, oh, man, they suck — everyone knows it. When you look at those old [****s] up there, it makes me sick, to tell you the truth. [laughs] I was never into the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. My life started when punk rock happened, really. I try to retain my focus on the original ideal, which is to smash Pink Floyd, you know?
EXPRESS: Well, punk rock’s been around for 30 years now, and [Ministry frontman Al] Jourgensen’s been around for longer than that — is there anything to replace what the bands of the ’60s were, or those early punk bands?
RAVEN: You know, that’s a very good question, you probably have got a better perspective on it than me, cuz I kinda live in a bubble, in a way. I’m sorta getting more close-minded in my old age, to be honest.
EXPRESS: Ministry was involved in getting out the vote, basically to get President Bush out of office back in 2004. Do you think it had any impact?
RAVEN: I don’t know. Personally, I absolutely think that anybody who thinks that there is any democracy in this country is deluded.
EXPRESS: Do you call your sound anything, or can you just not give it a name?
RAVEN: Well, I’m proud of the title of it, because it does encapsulate a sorta I like the word “industrial” because it goes next to the word “revolution.”
EXPRESS: Well, so does “agricultural.”
RAVEN: Yeah, but that’s about the size of it. I don’t like pigeonholes, and — you know, people’d be amazed, but we’ve all got pretty wide-ranging tastes. Like, I like Leather Strip — you know them? — and other [stuff] that isn’t “gothic” or “industrial.”
EXPRESS: Has anyone sent you in poems signed in their own blood or anything like that?
RAVEN: No, but I had these two kids biting their wrists and spitting blood on the stage the other night. And I feel that was quite extreme. Never saw that before, and I thought I’d probably seen everything.
EXPRESS: Well, you all have been known to pull antics like that yourself; are the kids putting you to shame?
RAVEN: [laughs] I hope so. If they’re not, they should start thinking about some more interesting things to do. I loved Alice Cooper. I used to, you know, dribble beet juice down my chin, on the weekends, when I was eating salad, and pretend like they were blood capsules. I’ll have to confess to that.
EXPRESS: I understand you’ll be involved in Ministry’s next album project.
RAVEN: Yes, we’re plottin’ and schemin’ and doin’ all that.
EXPRESS: Well, after you’re done with Ministry, what do you plan on branching out to next?
RAVEN: I actually have a number of things. One thing I might be doing is Sirius — satellite radio. We’re gonna be doing a Revolting Cocks record. We’re gonna do a Bucks Taken record, which is country music. That’ll surprise a few people. With Billy Gibbons and a number of other nefarious characters.
EXPRESS: Are Ministry fans going to follow you?
RAVEN: I doubt it. You know, one thing I will guarantee you is that the country people will be more accepting than rock people. Rock people are into what they’re into, and they don’t like anything else. But country people don’t mind it when the rockers, like, tip their hats to them. It’s just a kiss on the cheek to some of our core influences.
EXPRESS: Are you saying that rock fans are scenesters?
RAVEN: I don’t know if they’re scenesters as much as they’re afraid to be seen with something that’s not cool. A lot of them, rock people, are like ducks. The one’ll run out of the pack, and the rest’ll go scurrying out after ‘em because they don’t wanna be separated from each other
»9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW; with Revolting Cocks, 7:30 p.m., $25; 703-218-6500. (U St.-Cardozo)
Photo by Paul Elledge