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Mike Coles talks about Malicious Damage and his favorite books

READERSVOICE.COM aims to give people a few good reading tips. For this issue of readersvoice.com I interviewed Mike Coles, who recently relaunched the Malicious Damage music label. Through Malicious Damage, Mike Coles has released a wide range of music from British bands like Teledubgnosis, Shriekback, and Necessary Intergalactic Cooperation.I asked Mike Coles about Malicious Damage and his favorite books.Also I went to see film director Anthony Lucas talk about his short film The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello.The film uses silhouettes, with all the Victorian-era characters rendered in a sort of Indonesian shadow puppet style.First up, Mike Coles…

Malicious Damage was formed in the late 1970s, mainly to release the music of influential post-punk band Killing Joke.

Mike Coles designed covers for Killing Joke’s singles and albums, and some of these covers have been described as iconic.

He said he left Malicious Damage because the label became too focussed on Killing Joke.

Then the label disappeared in the early 1980s, but now Mike Coles has resurrected it and is releasing a wide variety of styles of music from mainly British bands.

He designs the artwork on all the Malicious Damage releases today.

The latest Malicious Damage releases include The Clock Machine Turns You On, which is a smorgasbord of 16 songs from various British bands, in all sorts of styles from electronica to rock to blues.

Token EP is a sharp and graceful album of electronica from Transit Kings.

And there is the new release from Shriekback, Cormorant, where lead singer Barry Andrews displays his trademark intensity, taste and sense of beauty.

I asked Mike Coles about Malicious Damage, the punk days in London, and his favorite books.

READERSVOICE.COM: Could you list four or five books you could recommend people read and maybe say a bit about why you liked them?

MIKE COLES: These days I read mostly crime – James Ellroy, James Hall, Carl Hiassen, James Crumley, Kinky Friedman, Chester Himes, Elmore Leonard, George Pelecanos, Christopher Brookmyer etc etc.

One I’ve just read is Dead Folk by Charlie Williams – the everyday life of a bouncer in a mythical northern town, a land of fifteen pints a night, messy kebabs and lines like “her breath stank of stale vodka and fags – which just happens to be one of my favorite smells…”.

It’s absolutely hilarious.

Outside of that genre here are a couple that really stand out.

Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban: This is about the central character’s journey through a post-holocaustal Britain that’s reverted to a tribal neolithic type of existence.

The whole book is written in a sort of non-existant pidgin English, and yet after the first chapter you can understand it.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami: a strange and surreal adventure through the teenage mind of a Japanese boy.

Totally weird, very funny, and very very moving – conversations with cats mingled with Johnnie Walker made flesh, wet dreams, murder, fun and unrequited love.

Totally mesmerizing.

And one of my favorite books ever – London: the biography by Peter Ackroyd.

I’ve been reading and re-reading this for the past four years – it’s the complete history of this incredible city told through its noises, its smells, its people, its buildings, its animals, its river – all with incredible detail and humour.

RV: You’ve created a lot of album covers for the band Killling Joke, and other bands.

How is it different designing covers for cds versus covers for singles or LPs?

MC: At first it was a bit of a shock, but now it’s better as you can put a lot more into the booklet than you ever could on a 12″ sleeve, and you can put things in little packets and boxes and tins without too much extra cost.

RV: You like to include badges, stickers, notes and bios in your cd designs, and experimented a bit with the 1979 Turn to Red EP for Killiing Joke, too.

What do you like about this approach to design?

MC: It’s all about packaging, that kiddy thrill you used to get with lucky bags full of sweets and nice things – and value for money.

RV: How did you meet the members of Killing Joke originally?

MC: In a pub.

RV: Did you share the band members’ interests in the occult and astrology and does your reading explore these topics?

MC: No, I’m ten years older than them and I’d been through all that so I could understand their fascination with it all – my interest in all things occult has waned.

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