Jesu Looks Forwards

Jesu Looks Forwards
Photo: Tina Korhonen
Letting go can be difficult for some musicians, but Justin K. Broadrick is not one of those. When he buried his influential industrial metal band Godflesh, it was forever. "I really didn’t want to be some 40-year-old still parading on stage screaming my face off, turning into the Rolling Stones of industrial metal — that’s horrible stuff,” Broadrick says from his home studio in Northern Wales. "People choose the safe option, artistically, a lot of times. They stick with the band 20-plus years because of the solid income and the glory. For me I’d feel like I’d be selling myself short. It’s dishonest.”

From the ashes of Godflesh rose Jesu, a beast as emotionally powerful yet much more beneficial to his health. "Shortly before I finished with Godflesh, I was feeling like a caricature of myself, which was not what I ever wanted to become,” he says. "Obviously it was largely heavy, fucked up music that I made, and it still is to some extent I guess, but I never wanted to be completely stuck in a mould. And a mould has been created for me. I think it’s happened ever since the creation of Jesu; people’s perception of me has been based on their perception of me in the past. I really wanted to relinquish that this time.”

Following up last year’s stunning Silver EP, Jesu’s fourth release in four years, Conqueror, attains the vision that Broadrick has pursued since 2003. Still textured with the grinding low-end chug and astral cloud of shoegazing, Broadrick has embraced his little known reverence of pop music by showering the album with rich melody. "For me it’s this whole concept of trying to do something with pop music, which is something people felt I would be the last person to approach,” he says. "But everything I’ve done has always had this huge sense of harmony throughout, even if it appears really bombastic or aggressive. Especially with Godflesh, people just looked at the surface of this crushing wall of sound or whatever, but to me there were so many layers in there. With Conqueror I really wanted to try and fully develop my own perverse notion of what I see as pop songs. This album has a lot of Teenage Fanclub in there, believe it or not.”

In order to move on and feel a sense of fulfilment, Broadrick felt the need to disappoint fans unwilling to let go of his belligerent past. "I’m most happy when people come to my music new, and there are a lot of people into Jesu that don’t really have the first clue about my career thus far, and that’s absolutely fine. I know that I’m going alienate a lot people that were into my music from the start, but to be honest I really don’t care at all. It’s just a completely selfish music.”

Broadrick isn’t completely rid of Godflesh though. There will always be traces of his past within Jesu, but he feels the progression is a weight lifted from his shoulders. "I still hear a lot of Godflesh in Conqueror, but it’s so much softer, there’s no sense of attack. I think that’s what’s been greatly removed from my music, which is an emotion I just don’t feel compelled to construe anymore. Godflesh was really defensive and always misinterpreted as an attack for me. It was never intended to be this glorious assault on people or macho based. Jesu’s obviously way past that, and making that point was my intention with this record.”