TC Lethbridge – 2000 TC (Released by Iron Man Records – 23rd November 2014)
If you spend too much time in a state of mind which prevents normal perception, behaviour, or social interaction you might end up running a record label. Living life in a completely deluded state, generating massive debt for no apparent reason can be difficult to keep going for more than 17 years at a time but, it seems by some terrible mistake I’ve made it look relatively easy. But anyway, enough of that, I want to explain something in the hope that you might understand it better than me.
I went to a meeting earlier this year, the back room of a pub, The George in Southwark actually. The pub is just a few minutes walk from The Shard in London. Gimpo worked on The Shard and if I was going to park anywhere, parking at the foot of the Shard endorsed his work. I’ve spent time, 25 hours at a time, in a van going round the M25 with Gimpo, and believe me, it’s an experience to be had. I was with Steve Fly, a writer, musician and someone who plays drums for the Detroit Poet, John Sinclair who used to manage MC5 and was a founder member of the White Panthers. Steve and John released Mohawk through Iron Man Records in March and I was interested to accompany Steve to the meeting. I wanted to listen in, and if necessary, endorse him as a potential Music Director for The Cosmic Trigger, a new stage play by Daisy Eris Campbell. Daisy is the daughter of Ken Campbell who staged the Illuminatus! in 1976. I was 5 years old when all of that was going on.
The meeting was interesting as I had never met Daisy before and had no idea what to expect. Michelle the production manager, who was opposite, seemed to be keen to find the right people to take on the task ahead and no one was thinking any of this was going to be easy. A lot of hard work was ahead. If Bill Drummond had gone out to get Araldite in 1976, never to return…I was sure that this new stage adaptation of Robert Anton Wilson’s book The Cosmic Trigger was not going to be any easier for anyone.
Robert Anton Wilson was an American author novelist, psychologist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, civil libertarian and self-described agnostic mystic. I discovered Robert Anton Wilson by way of a band called The KLF and the various aliases from The Timelords, The Jams, The Justified Ancients of MU MU, to 2K and K Foundation. Magic Temple of Discordian Promotions gave me many of Robert Anton Wilson’s books as a present which I’ve read and sometimes re-read. Magick was also a big KLF fan and seemed to know more than me so we soon became good friends. Both Robert Anton Wilson and the discussions I had about his work with Magick gave me inspiration when organising gigs for bands in Birmingham, when signing on and eating the food in my housemate’s cupboard was about all I had. The last posting that Robert Anton Wilson put on his website said: “I look forward without dogmatic optimism but without dread. I love you all and I deeply implore you to keep the lasagna flying.” The whole concept of keeping the lasagne flying made sure I didn’t get any ideas like getting a job or doing anything sensible with my time. In fact, I only stopped organising gigs because the venue I worked at, The Old Railway, was scheduled to be bulldozed. But that’s an aside, someone else was at the meeting who I knew of but had never met. Flinton Chalk was sat across from me, he was the one who sold the old car to Jimmy Cauty which ended up being used in KLF music videos and was renamed Ford Timelord. Flinton had bought the car from a film studio and spent time with friends dressing up as a nun and driving around doing donuts in muddy fields in the middle of the night. You might be wondering where on earth all this is going. You see, as John Higgs will tell you, if you happen to run a record label and read his book The Brandy Of The Damned “This is the problem with doing weird things. If you behave like a reasonable person, then the world will be reasonable back. If you step outside of the norm, however, and act in freaky ways, then the world will match you step for step. ”
And this is how I ended up talking with Flinton about the car, dressing up as a transvestite pirate nun, Jimmy Cauty, KLF, Julian Cope, Tall Hats, Stones Circles, and his time living in Avebury. I used to live in Wiltshire so I know that part of the world pretty well. Judging by the number of times I had driven through Avebury late at night in the early 1990’s its a wonder I didn’t run Flinton down. Somehow we got on to 111hz which can wait for another time, and then to a serious story about his trip to Mothers Jam on Fyfield down near Avebury. A stone tried to dematerialise Flinton and Julian Cope on one of their outings to collect photos and detail for The Modern Antiquarian. Flinton also told me about his band TC Lethbridge, named after Thomas Charles Lethbridge, who was an English archaeologist, parapsychologist, and explorer.
Having spent every last penny for the last 17 years on a record label that few people have any interest in, or understanding of, I was in no mood to consider working with another band and certainly not one that hadn’t played a gig, or had been missing for 23 years with three unreleased albums. But, I have done many things over the years, sometimes for money, sometimes for free, and sometimes because insanity is a far more rational approach to a complex situation than trying to think things through properly. And that’s how I ended up agreeing to help TC Lethbridge until they found someone more suitable.
Sat next to me, Steve Fly had just been appointed Music Director for The Cosmic Trigger so the work was done. I didn’t get out of the building until I had also agreed to do whatever I could to help The Cosmic Trigger. What had started out in my mind as a meeting to endorse Steve and “listen in and learn,” ended up as “You don’t listen and you never learn.” And so it began. TC Lethbridge had found themselves a record label.
I drove back to Birmingham wondering if I would ever learn anything ever. But that was then, so here’s to the now.
John Higgs is the Author of ‘The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned A Million Pounds’ and ‘I Have America Surrounded: The Life of Timothy Leary’. John Also writes fiction (as JMR Higgs) including The Brandy of the Damned and The First Church on the Moon.
I’ve read John’s book on Timothy Leary and also his book on the KLF and The Brandy of The Damned. All of them are well worth the read, you can make your own mind up which one to read first but, before you consider any of those, I want to tell you about his latest work.
John Higgs has written a book called 2000 TC: Standing on the Verge of Getting It On. The book is not for sale, it will be one of a private edition of 111 copies. Don’t ask. The answer will blow the right side of your brain.
2000 TC was written to mark The Cosmic Trigger play and festival performance in Liverpool. It is the story of TC Lethbridge, who will be playing their first gig after the play on Saturday – 23 years after they formed. TC Lethbridge are Doggen and Kev Bales, of Spiritualized and Julian Cope/Brain Donor, and Flinton Chalk, who you’ll find more about in John’s KLF book (pages 116-117).
2000 TC is an album recorded by TC Lethbridge in Avebury 20 years ago. It was remastered by the same person who remastered the recent Led Zeppelin reissues. Don’t ask about that either, that’s another story altogether. Flinton met me backstage at The Barbican on 31st May after John Sinclair had performed with The Founder Effect supporting Marshall Allen and The Sun Ra Arkestra. The gig was to celebrate 100 years since the birth of Sun Ra and it was a suitable venue to hand over the 2000 TC master. The album is being released on November 23rd by Iron Man Records along with an album called Moon Equipped and another called Mina. The band have been missing for 23 years and now they are back with a gig as part of The Cosmic Trigger, a book by John Higgs, and three albums on Iron Man Records.
I should mention that Thomas Charles Lethbridge was born 23rd March 1901 and passed away on 30th September 1971. You may be interested to know that 30th September 1971 is my birthday. Let me be clear: I am not the reincarnation of TC Lethbridge. If I had come up with a good reason not to work with the band of the same name, it still wouldn’t have stopped anything. It appears from birth, despite my protesting, I have been destined to know TC Lethbridge and release the records by a band of the same name. You cant make this stuff up, no one would believe it. Give the music a listen, you might like it.
The voice on the 2000 TC track Bou Saada is that of Brian Barritt. He makes an appearance in the book Cosmic Trigger, when Timothy Leary tells Robert Anton Wilson that he needs to talk to Brian if they are to both understand Aleister Crowley.
John Higgs said “Spending a few months writing a biography of a band who have yet to show their faces in public was not the most career-minded way to spend my time, but it had to be done. This is a story about people who’ve had some form of visionary or incomprehensible experience, and about how they can only move on and process what happened to them through a creative act. It is about the impact an uncompleted artistic project can have on a life. It also functions as a jigsaw piece, connecting the story in my Timothy Leary book to the one I tell in The KLF.
So, yeah, it had to be written.
No doubt it will be made more widely available at some point, in some format, in some way, should the band keep gigging and putting themselves about. But until then – more about the band here, and catch them Saturday if you can.”
All three TC Lethbridge albums – Moon Equipped, Mina, and 2000 TC will be released on 23rd November 2014 on Iron Man Records. Note: Any money generated from sales of these TC Lethbridge albums will be used to finance a vinyl and CD release of each record in future.
If you are interested in reviewing the 2000 TC book or reviewing any TC Lethbridge album get in touch
John Higgs will be speaking in Liverpool on the Sunday after Robin Ince and will then host a panel that will attempt to make sense of the preceeding days. Someone has to do it and if anyone stands a chance, it’s John. I hope the weekend is fun but unfortunately I wont be there, I just need to finish this and then pop out for a bit. I need to get some Araldite.
Find out more about the band here:
TC Lethbridge website: http://www.tclethbridge.com