Adelphi is a Greek word meaning “brothers” (a + delphi, literally “of the same womb”)
Many thoughts pass through your mind when you do enough driving, few of them make any sense. I take a lot of bands to a lot of gigs, it’s what I do for money these days. Sometimes it can be hard not to pull the van over, drag everyone out on the motorway hard shoulder and tell them to “Stop living out of the asshole of your belief system and kick out the jams motherfucker!” In other words, shut up and play the music, or stop blaming everyone else and learn to get on with it. We all need each other in order to survive in this business, even if we don’t like that idea. Write, rehearse, record, perform. Everyone you meet has a piece in the puzzle. It’s your job to work out which piece. It’s not as simple as this one or that one, and I try not to live in the “A,” “not A” world, but if you drive long enough, you have to engage it in some sense. If you are in a band you have to learn the world can be more complex than just “A, Not A” and you have to read the signs too. You can never have enough confusion. Let me explain.
It can start with a simple set of roadsigns that flash past in a moment. Turn left for the Crematorium, turn right for the A30m. I’ll take the A30 for now. If you have ever been to Munich in Germany, there’s a T-junction on the way out of town. The sign at the T-junction reads Dachau to the right, or McDonalds to the left. Which way to the gig?
Using a Sat Nav can help you avoid the endless stream of reassuring roadside bill board images that seek to distract and divert but you still have to read the signs. You may find yourself at the mercy of the cult of yellow signs that seek to subvert your journey with irrational routes to a land that time and space has forgotten. You could end up at Thurrock Services one mad March morning and find yourself driving for 25 hours round the M25 with Gimpo jumping around in the back shouting “Tim! Tim! You’ve missed the turning!” To find your way you will need to read the signs. Timothy Leary said that “Everyone has a piece of the puzzle” and once you’ve turned on, tuned in and dropped out….your next task is to “Find The Others.” What happens next is up to you.
Turning on the TV in 1992, I watched with interest as one of my favourite bands of the previous 5 years, The KLF performed a song called “3am Eternal” backed by Extreme Noise Terror. The show ended with the audience being machine gunned. As the KLF left the music business, I decided to start organising gigs in Birmingham, which is where I was living at the time.
I had no money, no idea and made a start right away. As one things ends, so another must start. If Ken Campbell taught one thing that has resonated with me, he demonstrated the importance of picking up a phone and asking the question. “If it’s not impossible, it’s not worth doing.” I may not have had money or experience, but I did have access to a phone.
1992 was as good a time as any to start a music project if you discount the impact of the end of all music genres in 1994, the arrival of the internet, the cult of amateur, mobile phones and the end of all physical product. But I digress, thats not what I’m planning on discussing here. As Bill and Jimmy of The KLF moved on to other things in their own way, they set a clear benchmark for popular music, they also nailed the coffin lid shut on it too. Get in, go all the way, get out. Don’t over think it, keep it simple and don’t stick around once you have reached the top of your game. But the game’s over. Know when it’s time to leave. Understand what you’re starting. You can learn the rules to break them properly, but be prepared to embrace the contradictions. I have to agree that “It’s what you know, not who you know…..that matters.” To others you can appear mad, but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong.
I sometimes wonder how Hunter S. Thompson knew so much about so many things ahead of so many others. His work is almost a user manual, but that is another story.
Nearly 23 years later, I found myself driving a long wheel base VW Crafter from DYC Touring across London. It was the 1st of May 2015. If you are into your numbers then that is an interesting date. In the back was an amazing singer and songwriter called Eska, and her band. I was taking them to a gig and the traffic was heavy like any day in central London. As I turned to cross a bridge that has the HQ of MI5 on one side, and The Houses of Parliament on the other, Bill Drummond passed me on the inside in his land rover. In a moment I considered the five years of KLF, the Brit award from 1992 being buried somewhere near Stonehenge, the concepts of pop bands only living 5 years with everything provided before being executed by their successors live onstage, the idea that many artists produce their greatest work early in their career then limp on for 25 years desperate to relive their former glories and so on. All of the late night discussions about art, music, politics, belief systems and nonsense seemed to pass through my head in an instant.
I followed Bill Drummond’s land rover onto the bridge and considered the idea that a lot of his work is inspired by impulse. I considered the situation I found myself in, and I had a terrible realisation: The date, timing and location of all of this appeared to me to be perfect for some sort of ritual killing, and the abrupt ending of Bill Drummond’s career. I could bulldoze his vehicle over the side of the bridge into the River Thames. I had this mad idea that the energy released by such an act would be absorbed by Eska, strapped in the back, who in turn would go on to fame and fortune with her own music. Eska would live and Bill Drummond and the rest would be forgotten or perhaps consigned to notes given to music industries skills students at a failing place of Academia somewhere.
But as I considered the whole idea in more detail I became horrified I should even think such a thing. Bill Drummond should live. It is not for me to choose someone else’s end. Perhaps Bill’s best work is yet to come, perhaps his best work has indeed been early on in his career, but more important than that, does it really matter to anyone other than me? You have to learn to let it all go. You are the master, you make the grass green in your own world, but that’s it. Stop there. As Robert Anton Wilson will tell you, “Never totally believe anyone else’s belief system, and never totally believe your own.”
I settled for entertaining myself by overtaking his landrover and forcing him to sit behind the van in a state of rage whilst Eska reclined in air conditioned comfort in the back. I took a picture as we sat at the lights. Who could have known what insane thoughts were going through my head. I had to live on from this point. No pushing landrovers off bridges. Stop living out of silly belief systems. Let Bill Drummond live. If he goes on to create his greatest work now, so what…..and if its another 25 years of clinging to the cliff of hope, trying to relive former glories, then you can blame yourself for having such stupid beliefs, sorry. It doesn’t matter. Let it go. We all have a piece of the puzzle. Work it out for yourself. We are all better alive in my short sighted view.
But don’t let everything go. In 2006 I was on tour with a band called Dufus and I found a piece in the puzzle. We went to the Adelphi in Hull. The band spent a pleasant evening at a gig organised by Paul Jackson. After sound check, Paul ordered some food from a local take away and invited the travelling group to take a seat in the back room. If you visit The Adelphi Club in Hull you must also visit the back room. There is a sign on the back wall and it reads: “Hull is Twinned with your darkest thought.” The sign is Bill Drummond’s work, not very pleasant, but still his work. To me, my darkest thought with regards to a place like The Adelphi has always been “Imagine if all music was funded by the state?” Imagine if only those with approved funding applications organised music projects in your home town? Imagine what shit they would pull to manufacture your consent for their project. Imagine what shit they would buy for themselves with the money, whilst making all the artists, creatives and volunteers they’ve recruited jump through endless hoops on their behalf. Understand, The state of music would become the music of the state.
Make no mistake, funding is for funding, not you. People get what they deserve. If you don’t seek interesting music out for yourself then your world will fill with the latest indie shit spreaders pushed by the latest batch of sales and marketing types on the payroll of some funding application. Dufus had a good gig at The Adelphi that night and no funding application was in sight, Paul was delighted and the people who bought tickets and listened to the show left with big grins on their faces. Anyone who goes to The Adelphi, or any place like it to listen to music, knows something you don’t. As Dick Lucas of Subhumans will tell you, “Life isn’t about computers, it’s about talking to people face to face.” There’s a whole world that goes on without computers or mobile phones in places like The Adelphi. But the Adelphi is in trouble and its my own suspicion that you are spending too much time online. What was that? You don’t agree? Try this: First person to check their phone pays for dinner. Paul is struggling to make ends meet, he is worn out from 30 or more years of back breaking work to support new music. The place could use a bar manager and some good bands who have already made a name for themselves to return and shine a light on the venue, its ethos and Paul who has run the place from the start. New music needs a champion and Paul has played that role for long enough. You know what has happened since John Peel passed away. Imagine a world without Paul Jackson to book your band when no one else will give you a stage? The Adelphi needs a champion now, several champions to be exact. So you know what to do. If you are in a good band or want to see some good bands, Go to the Adelphi. Time may be running out but you can reverse the situation by simply turning up. It’s not rocket science.
I’m working with John Sinclair at the moment, he’s a poet from Detroit. When asked on BBC radio what new bands he felt excited about, he replied “None.” When asked to explain why, John reasoned that most new bands these days were more interested in buying a fancy car than any form of social, political or cultural change. Think about that for a moment. Have you ever been to the Adelphi? I wonder what can be said of audiences these days? Anyone else reading this ever been to the Adelphi? John Sinclair was a former manager of MC5. I don’t need to go into the detail but if you know what MC5 are all about and what John Sinclair is all about, there are enough ideas to last any artist a lifetime. Its not about some funded project. Its not about buying fancy goods either. It’s not about the money, it’s about sending a message. You have to make the world you want to live in. You cant just hope for it or believe in it, or apply for funding to create it. You have to make it and you had better start today. MC5 are celebrating 50 years this year. Where have you been all this time? Have you learned nothing?
Which brings me back to Ken Campbell. “Don’t believe anything. Nothing which is the product of a human mind is a fitting subject for your belief. But, you can suppose anything. And you should. The act of supposing is mind expanding. Suppose flying saucers, fairies, god if you must. But, don’t believe it!” – Ken Campbell. Thats why artists are important. They give you the chance to suppose.
Sometimes I think that Artists should be left to live or die by the work they create. Creation demands destruction. But I also think that the trick is to create but not be destroyed by it. Paul Jackson and many who have frequented the Adelphi have witnessed many good people fall by the way and too many idiots seem to be telling you that they are in charge. The arts should not be funded but don’t believe that the arts can survive without you. You are in charge here, you are the master, you make the grass green. The arts do need to be supported, but not by the state, not by funding applications, not by any of that. It’s up to the artists, musicians, poets, creators and you. If the Adelphi is to survive then the Adelphi needs you. Through the works you create and the ideas you present and the friends you invite to come with you. Suppose anything. Do as you will. Create. The Adelphi needs artists, musicians, creators and an Audience, not some funding application that demands a box to be ticked or some administrative outcome. If the Adelphi is to live then we all need to “Stop living out of the asshole of our belief system and kick out the jams motherfucker!” These things don’t make themselves. Here’s the website: http://www.theadelphi.com If it’s not impossible, it’s not worth doing. Find the others. Go to The Adelphi.
If you know any good live bands, pick up a phone:
Manager/Booker/Promoter Paul Jackson
The New Adelphi Club
89 De Grey Street, Beverley Road
Hull, East Yorkshire
Kingston Upon Hull
Call +44 (0) 1482 348216