illing Joke was started by vocalist and keyboardist Jaz Coleman (Real Name: Jeremy Coleman) and drummer Paul Ferguson who subsequently added Geordie (Real Name: K. Walker; guitar/synth.) and Youth (Real Name: Martin Glover; ex-Rage; bass/vocals). After borrowing money to complete their debut 3-track EP (an EP that contained Turn To Red), they became an interest to BBC DJ John Peel who enjoyed their Alternative Rock sound that eventually got them a deal with 'Island' who basically re-issued the debut EP in an abbreviated 7" format and a 12" format with an added fourth track. They would then tour in support Joy Division and Ruts before resurrecting their own 'Malicious Damage' label to release several more 7"'s featuring such classic tracks as Wardance, Nervous System and Psyche before 'E.G.' took the group and the label to release their debut self-titled album in 1980 that got a 39 UK, and saw the act replace their punk leanings to a more industrialized Black Sabbath doom style. Indeed, the album would rise to become a classic in the heavy metal genre, offering influence to the likes of Soundgarden, Nirvana, Ministry and Metallica. Indeed, their 1981 follow-up What's This For...! saw them take their punk like chants and anthems to extreme new limits. Nevertheless, after the exchange of Guy Prait replacing Youth for the follow-up Revelations (1982), they maintained a sort of accessibility to get a 12 UK position, not to mention their Follow The Leaders single earlier that got them another minor UK charting, the current album advancing on the strength of another hit spin-off in the form of Empire Song.
After the subsequent tour, Youth returned home while Coleman remained in Iceland. But Youth eventually flew back to England to team up with Ferguson and newfound friend Paul Raven to form Brillient. But it wasn't long before the group set off to Iceland to search for the missing Coleman, and after finding him and with Geordie in tow they returned to the studio to record Fire Dances (1983), an album that managed to scrape its way into the UK 29 spot. The Night Time follow-up in 1985 was their most focused work to date and made it just shy of the top 10 (11 UK) but the later half of the 1980s was not such a happy time for Brighter Than A Thousand Suns (1986) made only 54 U.K, and Outside The Gate (1988) made it to only 92. Outside The Gate took a more self-indigent keyboard oriented style. The declining interest forced the band to split in 1988 then reform in 1990 with a membership change with Jaz and Geordie took on Martin Atkins (ex-Public Image Ltd; drums) replacing Ferguson, Taff replaced Andy Rourke (ex-Smiths) who had replaced Raven.
Indeed, their time away managed to shake loose at least some of the bad news for Extremities, Dirt And Various Repressed Emotions on 'Noise' ('R.C.A.' in America) got them acclaim, and after Youth returned to replace Raven, and Geoff Dugmore (ex-Art Of Noise) took over drums from Atkins, they would release their best selling album to date, Pandimonium (1994) that saw them get a 16 UK spot. But when the original group of Coleman, Jaz, Geordie and Youth got back together the act released their Democracy (1996) album to a 71 UK before Coleman would spend most of his time in New Zealand as a composer for the nation's Symphony Orchestra on his downtime.