English Heretic: Gimpo’s M25 25hr Spin 18th-19th March 2017

March 31, 2017

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

I ignore the phone when I’m driving. I was on my way to meet Gimpo at the 24hr TESCO behind Thurrock Services. I was late. It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards. Who am I? What am I doing? How long is forever? Some questions never get an answer. Gimpo was probably stood on the Tarmac wondering where I was. It was cloudy and 13 degrees. No snow this year. The van had a good, working heater. Sometimes I do things I don’t fully understand.

Gimpo is best known to any KLF fan as the man who filmed the Burning of a Million Quid on the island of Jura in 1994. He drove Bill Drummond and Mark Manning to the top of the world as told in the book Bad Wisdom, and he managed to lose his boat ticket, causing chaos and panic, whilst on a trip up the Congo river in search of the Heart of Darkness. But that’s another story. Gimpo was also the ski-masked person armed with lighter fluid and matches when Rachel Whiteread turned up to claim the K Foundation art award for worst British artist on the steps of the TATE in 1993.

Gimpo’s M25 25 Hour Spin happens on the weekend closest to the vernal equinox. The Spin follows the outer lane of London’s M25 Orbital Motorway, clockwise, for 25 hours. It is not a race. The Spin has happened once a year since it started in 1997, and will cease in 2021. The spin is Gimpo’s idea.

As I descended into Lakeside Shopping area at Thurrock, I could see a figure dressed in a Hi-Vis Jacket stood in the middle of the carpark waving. That’s Gimpo. Always ready to go.

“You’re 13 minutes late” he said with a grin. I parked up. Before I knew it, we were in the supermarket picking up supplies. Bottles, packets, cables, memory cards and a lottery ticket. Gimpo may be a lot of things, but he’s never without hope.

Gimpo’s M25 25hr Spin always starts “top, dead centre” on Queen Elizabeth II bridge at Midday. As you pass between the twin towers at the top of the bridge, the view can pull your trigger if you know what to look for. Nothing seems to be what it is, because everything seems to be what it isn’t. Gimpo’s M25 odyssey begins.

Gimpo makes notes, checks the windscreen camera is working, and climbs back and forth taking pictures out of each window. “23 Mark….go to Toll 23” he shouts from the back somewhere. Anyone who has crossed the bridge in years gone by will remember the tolls. Gimpo always used Toll number 23. But now they’re gone, you have to pay the toll online. Gimpo insisted I move over to the right a bit. He wanted me to drive over the spot where Toll 23 used to be. You’ve got to have a system. Any ritual has an opening ceremony.

This year, Gimpo had acquired new technology. A good friend had furnished him with a high definition camera that could be stuck to the windscreen. The Camera could hold 3 hours footage on a memory card at a time. It was a Christmas present. Gimpo had managed to snap the back off already. It was stuck in a brutal manner, with gaffer tape, where the rear-view mirror might have been.

“Have you got my video Mark?” he shouted over the noise.
“Which video is that?” I replied.
“Concrete Enema. The one of the bloke having concrete poured up his ass.” Gimpo said.
“Not this again. No, I haven’t got your video. And No, I dont know who’s got it either. You ask me this everytime.” I said.

Once upon a time…. I went to the foundry in Shoreditch. I took my friend Richard of Discordian Promotions, the soundman from the gigs I organised at The Old Railway, Rhys, and my work experience girl Jane….. who was on her first day. We had gone to the M25 Spin recruitment evening which hoped to find additional drivers and supporters for the following year. The first year’s spin had been and gone. Gimpo was trying to “find the others” who would join him for year two. We had sat through poems by Wormlady, someone described by Gimpo as a “dangerous pyromaniac who hadn’t taken her medicine.” We sat through hours of footage of the previous years spin. We also sat through a selection of special presentations which included “Concrete Enema.” At the end of the evening, this particular video tape went missing, Gimpo has been searching for it ever since. But anyway, if you know who’s got it, please get in touch.

Back to 2017 and this year’s spin, Gimpo proudly announced “This is spin #20.”
“No it’s not” came the reply. “This is Spin #21. You did the first spin in 1987, count on your fingers, how many spin’s have you done since then?” Gimpo started counting and got lost around 15.
“Mark…..stop the van…I need to count. I get to 17, and then I get lost.”

We drove to Cobham services and stopped the van there. Two things followed. Gimpo and I put our hands flat on the dashboard and we counted from 1997 to 2017. 21. This year was Spin #21. Then Gimpo jumped from the vehicle and started putting the signs up. Gaffer tape in one hand, signage in the other, he carefully worked his way round the van. The artist worked.

“OK, we’re ready, let’s go!” He said. The laptop was plugged into the AUX on the stereo. Volume set to 23. The music started pumping. The 21st Spin was under way.

Gimpo jumped about in the back, laughing and wildly taking pictures and providing a non-stop commentary on everything that passed.  I began to consider life. Some things cannot be explained. A man in a worn out, high vis-jacket bearing his own M25 Spin logo, armed with a camera phone, pointing out palm trees, crane lifts, pylons and road signs. And all while shouting instructions to the driver, to be sure to get the best picture. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

“Mark! Let’s open both the side doors” Gimpo shouted above the music.
“No Gimpo, you’re not doing that. You’ll fall out. Theres another 24 hours to go” I said.
There was a pause. I could hear Gimpo falling about somewhere behind me. “I am the artist here” he shouted. “I’ll do what I want!”

At 6.36pm the Master Chaos van began a “Timed Lap.” Some things I do for money, Some things I do for free. Some things I cannot explain easily. In the philosophy of language and philosophy of science, nonsense is distinguished from sense or meaningfulness, and attempts have been made to come up with a coherent and consistent method of distinguishing sense from nonsense. Driving Gimpo around the M25 needs careful handling. Nonsense refers to a lack of sense or meaning. To Gimpo, his M25 25 Hour Spin has meaning. You cross the Greenwich Meridian twice on a single lap. You go back in time, before going forward in time. East to West then West to East. Gimpo travels clockwise keeping to the inside lane. He is careful to travel the outside of the M25 whilst travelling the inside lane on the motorway. There are many contradictions when you travel through the Vortex. There is method to Gimpo’s madness. The timed lap was completed at 8.39pm. One complete Orbit took 2 hours and 3 minutes. Work it out. Nothing happens by accident.

“Colin is going to flash us from the Bridge!” Gimpo shouted, as we descended from Queen Elisabeth II bridge and headed over the tarmac where Toll 23 used to be and started the next lap.

The story followed of how Gimpo knows Colin. I can’t repeat it here. After nearly 9 hours on the road, the mind starts to wander. Where is Gimpo going? Why is he doing this? What is he thinking? How did I end up as the driver? Are we alone? What’s the square root of the M25?

Looking out of the windscreen, the cars pass as they do on any day of the week. Behind me I can hear Gimpo jumping from one seat to another, a running commentary just 9 hours in, and the endless photography and documentation of the trip continues. “Mark, we are the only ones left!” Gimpo shouts. “I’ve got to send the pictures to Todd. How do you spell Todd? It’s ok I’ve found his email now. What time is it? Follow the signs. Tell me when you see the bridge. Colin is going to be there in ten minutes.”

I’m trying hard to drive and not consider any other issues. The hypnotic passing of white lines and road signs keeps me calm. I read every sign as it passes. I read every number plate. Looking for a meaning in all this. “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” I can’t help thinking about the philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and knowledge of reality. And then Colin appeared.

“There he is! That’s Colin!” Gimpo shouted as he climbed headfirst into one of the co-pilots seats, his boots in my face, the light on his mobile phone almost blinding me for a moment. Gimpo took his position in the co-pilots seat and started waving frantically. And banging the windscreen. I beeped the horn as Gimpo pointed and shouted “There’s Colin!”

A small white dot shone down from the bridge. Some people want to be lost. Gimpo and I felt alive, we existed at last, someone was waving from the bridge. Albert Einstein is reported to have asked his fellow physicist and friend Niels Bohr, one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics, whether he realistically believed that ‘the moon does not exist if nobody is looking at it.’ To this Bohr replied that however hard Einstein may try, he would not be able to prove that it does, thus giving the entire riddle the status of a kind of an infallible conjecture—one that cannot be either proved or disproved. Gimpo’s M25 Spin is not that dissimilar, until someone like Colin waves a torch from a motorway bridge.

Gimpo ordered a stop at Cobham. We took a relaxed break consisting of tea, a comfortable seat by the window and a discussion of the problems Bill Drummond was having with emissions from his land rover. It’s what you do at 11pm on the M25. We tried to blend in with the other late night service station users.

We left Cobham feeling good and ready to drive into the small hours. If only it was that easy. We found ourselves preparing for battle stations as Gimpo pointed out the signs confirming the worst: Only one lane open ahead.

The traffic ground to a complete standstill. Gimpo rolled the side-door back, jumped out and started marching down the hardshoulder. I had to put the handbrake on, and leave the engine running. I jumped out and followed him. Never get out of the van. Worried drivers behind us peered through their windscreens at the man in the high-vis jacket. “What are you doing?” I shouted. Gimpo turned and looked at me.

“There’s traffic officers ahead, they’re blocking the road. I’m going to tell them to move. They’re making us late!” he said.

“Get in the van before we both get run down” I said. By the time the words had left my mouth, Gimpo was already distracted taking photo’s of the nearby road sign. An artist never leaves their work once they are on to something. I shut the side door once Gimpo was back in his seat. The driver of the car behind gave me a look similar to that, which I imagine, anyone would give to a baboon as it prepared to tear their windscreen wipers off. Terror mixed with calm acceptance of what is about to happen. I made sure I gave them a smile and a wave. I always show courtesy to other road users, you never know what might happen. Then I climbed back into the van and considered whether I should have allowed Gimpo to talk to the traffic officers after all. We looked like we were going to be here sometime and at least Gimpo may have made some light entertainment, until the van got towed away and crushed.

I didn’t follow the signs. I found the next exit and headed into the darkness. Any route would do. After a wild safari through West London to avoid the traffic, and providing context to the M25 orbit we had been in all day, Gimpo announced he had a plan. You can’t open the vortex without causing a few ripples. Somewhere between Cobham and South Mimms, Gimpo announced he had come into posession of the keys to the vortex. It was his 21st Spin after all. “Mark, I’ve got the keys to the Vortex. I can do anything I want now…..”

“Really? That’s great. Don’t open the side doors, you might lose them.” I replied.

I could hear Gimpo rummaging around in the back in a frienzied state. “Stop at J23, we’re going for a walk.” he shouted. By now it was getting close to 4am. Strange things happen to your mind around 4am on the M25. Reality starts to melt. You are past tired, your body is in a state of confusion. You look out of the window, beyond the reach of the headlights and think to yourself “Have I been here before?” Scientific approaches reject the explanation of déjà vu as “precognition” or “prophecy” but rather explain it as an anomaly of memory, which creates a distinct impression that an experience is “being recalled”. This explanation is supported by the fact that the sense of “recollection” at the time is strong in most cases, but that the circumstances of the “previous” experience (when, where, and how the earlier experience occurred) are uncertain or believed to be impossible. This of course, is wrong. Colin has proved the Spin’s existence, and I know from the mileage, time on the dashboard and Gimpo jumping about that we have indeed been here before, probably 8 times by now, all at different times of light, darkness, position of the sun and the moon. And my mental health is past caring. We have been backwards and forwards through time as we cross the Greenwich Meridian twice on every lap. Everything looks different but strangely the same. The white lines have blurred and the street lights are starting to look like serpents streaking past the window. The road is flowing backwards. Insanity is stalking the corridors of my mind. I am not the re-incarnation of TC Lethbridge. Ritual Sacrifice. This was not my idea. Have I missed the turning? Le Mans is 24 hours, the spin is 25, it’s one louder. All the people I’ve let down. The prison without bars. Time travel. Unpaid parking tickets. Quantum mechanics. Burning money in phoneboxes. Chuck Berry has passed away. The freedom to daydream makes it easier to reconcile the servitude which is forced on us. There will be hell to pay for all this. What now? The forces of darkness have me cornered. I can’t find my way out of the maze. Let me out.

We stopped at South Mimms and left the van in the car park for a walk. There’s a pathway at the back of the Ramada Hotel. You can follow it back towards the Motorway and theres a stream and a walkway that runs underneath the M25. As we walked through the chill night air, our steps seemed to be almost calming after the long drive. “Let’s go to the dark side of the road” Gimpo said. In my mind, for no reason, I started to remember a poem called “Invictus” by the English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903). The third verse goes

“Beyond this place of wrath and tears, Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years, Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.”

Gimpo, the man who filmed the burning of a million quid in a disused boathouse on Jura, led the way.

Humans live through their myths and only endure their realities. If you know anything of the idea of the hero’s journey you will know the cycle…..walking through the tunnel I started to think about roundabouts and circles drawn on bits of paper….at the top: ordinary world. First exit: call to adventure. Put your phone away: refusal of the call. Junction 30 Thurrock: meeting the mentor, Queen Elizabeth Bridge crossing the threshold, tests, allies, enemies….it’s just a habit of mind. Junction 23 South Mimms: innermost cave. then….. ordeal. All I could think of was “Entropy requires no maintenance” – Robert Anton Wilson. Gimpo walked. People think their way of looking at reality is the only sane way of viewing the world. I followed. What did Nelson Mandela and Timothy McVeigh have in common? I can’t stop my mind considering the possibilities. Here it comes.

From the tunnel, I snapped back into reality for a moment. Gimpo led the way up a flight of steps to a pathway that ran alongside the motorway. My darkest thoughts ran like a film in reverse through my mind. I couldn’t hear the birds singing any longer. Everything bad I could imagine ran through my head in the seconds it took to walk the path. “Look at that” Gimpo said. He stood at the wooden fence. “The M25 from the dark side. You can see the island from here. The road is deserted, there’s no traffic.” All time stood still. No cars. Nothing. Silence.

Gimpo started taking pictures. The road was empty. The island stood in all it’s majesty just three lanes away. Gimpo looked. I knew what he was thinking. One day Gimpo’s going to plant an Argentinian Flag on the island. Gimpo was lost in thought. Robert Anton Wilson once said: Of course I’m crazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Gimpo considered the dark side of the road. Hell is just as bad as you imagine it to be. This place was all his.

I returned to some sort of sanity as I crossed back to the other side. I had lost 20 minutes. As I walked back across the tarmac, I felt like I had crossed to the other side and back. But I had lost all memory of it. Nothing could stop us now, the road back lay ahead. The Spin was past the tipping point. Time to get a cup of tea from the service station. Time flies.

The Mileage for one lap was 123 miles, from 212960 to 213083, I wasn’t about to try and count that on my fingers. We headed into another orbit. The M25 becomes a strange place at 11am on the Sunday of the Spin. Where has the time gone? How did we get here? We must have done another lap. My sense of time had completely broken down. I’m sure we had been here before.

People were already on their way back from the car boot sale that started at 6am. People were on their way back from holiday, others were just starting. Take a walk into Cobham services and order a cup of tea from Greggs. As you wait in the queue your mind wanders. What are you doing? Not now, not today, but generally? What are you doing? Then you remember a book you read 25 years ago:

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by yourself. It is not far. It is within reach. Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. Perhaps it is everywhere” ― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.

You order a cup of tea, and then the number 23 appears. Reading the menu reveals a reminder: Don’t answer the phone. “The hero’s journey always begins with the call. One way or another, a guide must come to say, ‘Look, you’re in Sleepy Land. Wake. Come on a trip. There is a whole aspect of your consciousness, your being, that’s not been touched……And so it starts.” ― Joseph Campbell. The mad hatter hands you your cup of tea. The doormouse offers you milk. Everwhere you look, flamingoes walk past. The queen of hearts sits in the window with a starbucks coffee. The queen of spades is queuing at Macdonalds checking her phone. Gimpo is hanging around the Krispy Creme Donuts waiting for anyone to show interest in a tray of ten. Some things cannot be explained. In the carpark the van is parked up next to an AA Recovery truck. The markings on both hide the contradictions. Then Gimpo shouts “We’re late, we’re late!” Many people have come and gone round the M25, but only some discover what it’s about.

Gimpo is trying to make the worlds longest road movie. He wants to know where the M25 goes. He already knows what it’s about. He wants to know where it goes. And he intends to document it.

The spin finished 25 hours after it began. “Stop the van, stop the van!” Gimpo shouted. We found ourselves not far from the M40 turning. The van pulled onto the hardshoulder and Gimpo found the nearest road sign. He had fashioned a sticker that read “Gimpo’s M25 25 hour spin finished here 19/3/2017” After the celebratory pictures had been taken we both jumped back in the van. Where does the time go? The pain of our subserviance is never eased. Tomorrow is just a word. Not all who wander are lost.

Gimpo Gimpo http://www.gimpogimpo.com/m25spin/

Gimpo’s M25 Spin 2017 photos https://flic.kr/s/aHskRprd5t

Iron Man Records releases to be incuded in British Library Sound Archive

March 23, 2017

Something happens while you are orbiting the Nation’s capital on the M25 for 25 hours in a van with a dangerous madman jumping around and shouting instructions from the back seat. James at British Library Sound Archive has been in touch, he wants to catalogue and archive all the releases on Iron Man Records. The music will become part of the nation’s audio & cultural heritage and it will be available (on a restricted access server) to anyone holding a British Library readers pass (writers, researchers, fans etc.). You have to go in person either to London or to the other site in Boston Spa, Yorkshire. The Library do not allow any material to go out on loan or be downloaded and they comply with current copyright legislation regarding sound recordings. When catalogued the releases will be part of the Sound & Moving Image collection.. http://sami.bl.uk

I have supplied physical copies of everything where they exist, and WAV files of all releases to ensure a good copy will be available.

James says “with world class facilities at hand we can provide the safest possible home for your releases, both for preservation and access, for many generations to come.”

Amazing. Some things cannot be explained. I will let you know when the materials supplied are available to access. James may be at work for a few weeks assembling it all at his end.

British Library Sound Archive
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB

To date, the releases supplied include:

IMB6001 I.O.D – Mundane Existence CD/WAV

IMB6002 P.A.I.N featuring Howard Marks and Larry MacDonald – Let Me Grow More Weed CD/WAV

IMB6003 P.A.I.N – Our Universe Commences Here (O.U.C.H) Vinyl/WAV

IMB6004 LESS – “And I’ll see you never work again” taunted Florence CD/WAV

IMB6005 GORGEOUS – Cursed with Being….. CD/WAV

IMB6660 LEGION OF DYNAMIC DISCHORD – Negative Entropy  WAV

DLPR2006 PIGFISH – The Reverend James CD/WAV

IMB6007 SIST – Talking Points Not Tragedies CD/WAV

IMB6008 ACADEMY MORTICIANS – What Happened? CD/WAV

IMB6009 P.A.I.N – Oh My God, We’re Doing It! CD/WAV

IMB6010 LAST UNDER THE SUN – Windfall CD/WAV

IMB6011 LAST UNDER THE SUN – All Empires Crumble CD/WAV

IMB6012 LAST UNDER THE SUN – Gone CD/WAV

IMB6013 SENSA YUMA – Up Yours! CD/WAV

IMB6015 DUFUS – Neuborns CD/WAV

IMB6016 DUFUS – The Last Classed Blast CD/WAV

IMB6017 NIGHTINGALES – Out Of True CD/WAV

IMB6018 POLICE BASTARD – It’s Good To Hate….. CD/WAV

IMB6019 LAST UNDER THE SUN – Hooligan Jihad CD/WAV

IMB6020 POLICE BASTARD – Dead To The World WAV

IMB6021 POLICE BASTARD – Confined CD/WAV

IMB6022 JOHN SINCLAIR – Mohawk CD/WAV

IMB6023 DEATH TO FANATICS – Iron Man Records 1999-2014 compilation CD/WAV

IMB6025 Steve Fly – They Came To Starburg WAV

IMB6027 T.C. Lethbridge – Moon Equipped WAV

IMB6028 T.C. Lethbridge – 2000 TC WAV

IMB6029 T.C. Lethbridge – Mina WAV

IMB6030 Police Bastard – Traumatized WAV

IMB6032 John Sinclair – Beatnik Youth WAV

IMB6033 John Sinclair – Beatnik Youth Ambient  Vinyl/WAV

IMB6034 Dr Marshmallow Cubicle – Occupy WAV

IMB6035 Robert Anton Wilson – Meets Steve “Fly Agaric” Pratt WAV

IMB6036 Police Bastard – Confined – Vinyl/WAV

A big thank you to all Iron Man Records Patrons who continue to support the work:

Suzy Tweddle, Deborah Ritchie, Scott Roe, Margaret Calleja, Thomas Rathgeber, Dan, Lee Parsfield, Chris Scales, Muir Mathewson, Michael Howe, Jonathan Harris, Dave Barnard, Bill Fadden, Mike Burgess, Jachim Palm, Lyle Bignon, Thomas Burke, Ben Cartlidge, Matt Grimes, Toby Conyers, Chris, Andy Cavendish, Steve Wyatt, Andrew Dubber, Frank Knoblich, Vaughan Roberts, Ian Robertson, Marcus H, Seth Faergolzia, Ricky Lee, Kathryn McCormack, Ade Cartwright, Sunwoo Jung….

Hotei Euro Tour 2017

March 21, 2017

Japanese superstar HOTEI returns to Europe in April 2017 with live dates scheduled in Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium, playing in many cities for the very first time.

Says Hotei:

My career started from playing in small clubs in Japan, and we built it up to the level where I was able to play in front of stadiums full of screaming fans.

And now, I’m opening the door to the world, starting again from playing small clubs in new, unfamiliar places. Back to basics, never lose your ambition even in your success―that’s my philosophy. One step at a time with your own steps, that’s the only way to achieve your dreams.

I can guarantee you that you will be up on your feet dancing once you hear me play live with my amazing band, even if you are not familiar with me. Those who are bored with experiencing live performances with no soul will be surprised at how refreshing it is to see a real ‘live’ performance!

I am really looking forward to meeting as many people as possible on this Euro tour! If you can’t connect with the soul of the audience in front of you, there’s no chance to grab the hearts of thousands!

Hotei celebrated his 35th anniversary in music in 2016 with a new “Best of” album release and an extensive touring schedule in Japan, with 57 dates across the country. The shows ranged from intimate club shows, to a free open-air concert in his hometown in front of 25,000 fans and finishing the year with his 40th performance at the Budokan in Tokyo on December 30th, where Hotei performed 35 songs to celebrate his 35 years in music.

Hotei also found time in 2016 to continue building his international profile, striking up a personal and professional relationship with Italian superstar Zucchero and performing on his latest, platinum selling, album “Black Cat”. Hotei and Zuccchero performed live together several times in 2016, including Zucchero’s first ever performance in Japan at a special event in Tokyo, and at headline shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London and Arena Di Verona in Italy.

That special relationship has continued into 2017 with Hotei joining Zucchero on stage at the prestigious San Remo Festival in Italy in February, a major TV performance viewed by millions.

Also in 2016, Hotei released singles with godfather of punk Iggy Pop and Richard Z. Kruspe (from Emigrate/Rammstein) from his critically acclaimed debut international album, “Strangers”, and performed his first-ever LA show at the legendary Troubador, returned to the Highline Ballroom in New York, and performed headline dates in Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin.

Hotei released his debut international album, Strangers, in 2015 through Spinefarm Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music. The album features an array of guests including the godfather of punk Iggy Pop singing on two songs, Emigrate/Rammstein’s Richard Z. Kruspe, Bullet For My Valentine’s Matt Tuck, Noko from UK electronic band pioneers Apollo 440, and acclaimed Texan singer Shea Seger.

Heralded by Time Out as “iconic”, and a genuine superstar in his native Japan where he has sold more than 40 million records, Hotei is best known internationally for his Kill Bill theme ‘Battle Without Honor or Humanity’ and is sought-after as a collaborator both in the studio and on stage.

http://www.hotei.com

https://www.facebook.com/HOTEI

Hotei – European Tour April 2017

March 17, 2017

I will be working with Hotei in April. For those of you interested to know, his website says “We’ve added a couple more shows to the Euro tour, which now encompasses shows in Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium. Tickets are available now for all shows. Hotei will be joined by longstanding live collaborator, Zac Alford on drums, Japanese keyboard player Okuno, and London based all rounder Noko, who will be playing bass.”

Hotei’s new album “Strangers” features collaborations with the legendary Iggy Pop, Richard Z. Kruspe from European rock gods Emigrate/Rammstein, Matt Tuck from British rock band Bullet For My Valentine, Noko from electronic music pioneers Apollo 440 and acclaimed Texas singer Shea Seger.

Hotei comments, “When I was a teenager I was going to the record shops to buy everything I could by The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zeppelin… I soon realised that almost all of it was British. With idols like David Bowie and T-Rex, I’ve always felt a strong connection to the UK and now that I am living in London, ‘Strangers’ allows me to take a step out of this new and relatively anonymous space to introduce myself. A stranger to many, remembering the days when I was young and just starting out, playing gigs to a room of only 20 people, I want to connect with people individually and let them understand me through my music.”

11th April 2017 Euro Tour: Frankfurt, Zoom
12th April 2017 Euro Tour: Cologne, Clubbahnof Ehrenfeld
14th April 2017 Euro Tour: Amsterdam, Paradiso
15th April 2017 Euro Tour: Paaspop Festival, Netherlands
17th April 2017 Euro Tour: Hamburg, Indra Club
18th April 2017 Euro Tour: Berlin, Musik + Frieden
21st April 2017 Euro Tour: Zurich, Papiersaal
22nd April 2017 Euro Tour: Brussels, Rotonde Botanique

Hope to see some of you on the road…..you can find out more on Hotei’s website. He’s a kind and decent bloke but he’s a demon on the guitar. Come and see…..

http://www.hotei.com/en/

John Sinclair – Beatnik Youth (Double CD) 8th September 2017

March 15, 2017

John Sinclair - Beatnik Youth

John Sinclair – “Beatnik Youth” on Double CD
Released 8th September 2017 by Iron Man Records.

All Press enquiries to Sean Newsham : sean@mutante.co.uk

Catalogue Number: IMB6032

Release date: 8th September 2017

Label: Iron Man Records

Distribution: Cargo

Disc 1

  1. Testify (9.10)
  2. Good Stuff (4.32)
  3. Everybody Needs Somebody (7.09)
  4. Change My Life (5.14)
  5. Ain’t Nobody’s Business (3.36)
  6. My Buddy (5.13)
  7. That Old Man (3.53)

Disc 2

  1. Brilliant Corners (11.29)
  2. Culture Cide (11.38)
  3. Red Dress (Ruby My Dear) (6.25)
  4. Sitarrtha (6.16)
  5. Do It (6.16)
  6. War On Drugs (6.18)

John Sinclair, the renegade poet, scholar and cultural revolutionary releases “Beatnik Youth” on 8th September 2017 on Iron Man Records. The double CD contains over 80 minutes of music from the restless creative mind of Youth, with some fine spoken word and poetry delivered by John Sinclair.

John, has been described as an Archetype of the 1960’s art, music and literary synthesis, and who today continues his work for cultural transformation.

Youth is one of the UK’s most influential producers and has been honoured, with an Outstanding Contribution Award by the Music Producers Guild. His career spans more than 30 years and is one of the UK’s most consistent, credible and influential producers.

John Sinclair - Beatnik Youth

You can pre-order the Double CD, Vinyl and T-shirt here: http://ironmanrecords.bigcartel.com/artist/john-sinclair

From Detroit to New Orleans and from Los Angeles to Amsterdam, John Sinclair is still the king-size, psychedelic old-gangster poet, a living legend, a veteran of the counterculture, a survivor of the Marijuana Wars, and one of the last bohemians still standing. As a co-founder of the Detroit underground newspaper The Fifth Estate, manager of MC5, and Chairman of the White Panther Party described on Wikipedia in these modern times as a far-left, anti-racist, white American political collective founded in 1968 and dedicated to cultural revolution his mark on the boho rock & roll underground has been unique.

In 1969, with Richard Nixon in the White House, Vietnam in chaos in the wake of the Viet Congs near-suicidal Tet Offensive, and American cities still scared and scarred from urban riots, even the comparatively harmless agitprop pranks of White Panther cultural revolution had those in power reaching for their metaphoric and sometimes actual revolvers. Authorities remembered how John had organized the MC5 playing outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the only band actually able to perform before Mayor Daley’s rabid police department violently derailed the massive anti-Vietnam war rally with teargas, billy clubs, and helicopter support.

John was deemed a danger to society and set up like a bowling pin. After handing a couple of joints to a hassling hippie who turned out to be an undercover narcotics agent, John found himself on the bad end of a ten year jail term. At the same time though he became a cause celebre. Free John Sinclair became one more battle cry in an embattled era. Protests, propaganda, and a giant concert in Ann Arbor headlined by John Lennon and Yoko Ono ultimately resulted in John’s release in November 1971. Lennon even wrote a song about him called ‘John Sinclair’ which he included on his ‘Sometime In New York City’ album.

In common with much that happens with John, a meeting with producer Youth (Paul McCartneys ‘Fireman’, Primal Scream, The Verve etc & Killing Joke bass player) that sowed the creative seeds was a matter of stoned synchronicity. As former Track Records boss Ian Grant tells it, Alan Clayton told me he had John Sinclair coming round tomorrow. I said “The John Sinclair?” One night Zodiac (Mindwarp) was on the bill with the Dirty Strangers and Youth was very taken with John. “I want to make a jazz album with John” he said. Since then, the two met at Youths house whenever he was home, and when John was in the country, and recorded the album.

And through the course of those recordings John, always so associated with the 1960s, took a serious step into the ways of the 21st century, with the same intoned poetry, but with melodic backing vocals, highly inventive production, even a nod to hip-hop, but still remembering his first loves of blues, be-bop, and classic rock & roll.

Beatnik Youth is one more step in the Big Chief’s long zig-zag trip that seems set to continue all the way to the far blue horizon. Summing up John Sinclair, you can only say with certainty that the beatnik goes on.

Youth

Youth has been responsible for numerous hits from artists including The Verve, Embrace, Echo and the Bunnymen, Crowded House, The Orb, Sir Paul McCartney and The Charlatans. Among his recent projects was the co-production of Pink Floyd‘s final and largely instrumental album, The Endless River. Youth also remixed David Gilmour‘s current solo album, Rattle That Lock. The Verve’s Urban Hymns brought Youth a BRIT Award for Producer of the Year after three consecutive years of nomination.

Youth says “I’m very proud of the longevity of work on Killing Joke and The Orb, how those recordings still sound fresh… and what I’ve done with The Verve and Richard Ashcroft, and Paul McCartney (The Fireman) and Pink Floyd. It’s only really working with those guys, with my insecurities, that I felt as though I could go, ‘yeah, I am a producer’.” His “university” was Killing Joke after he left school, and it “doesn’t really get more intense than that”.

As a young musician Youth, whose real name is Martin Glover, cut his teeth doing bass sessions for Adrian Sherwood productions and for artists such as Kate Bush whose phenomenally successful Hounds of Love album had Youth on bass. He was also a founder member and bassist of the band Killing Joke. After leaving Killing Joke (and a short experiment with the band Brilliant, managed by Bill Drummond and featuring June Montana, Jimmy Cauty and other key innovators of electronic and indie dance music), Youth began working with Alex Paterson and Cauty as The Orb, a collaboration that was responsible for the introduction of chill-out ambient house music.

Cauty and Drummond eventually moved on to form The KLF, leaving Youth and Paterson to experiment extensively in the post punk British dance music and Acid House scene. This led to the release of two classic albums as The Orb – U.F.Orb and Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, which incorporated Little Fluffy Clouds, a track that defined ambient house and chill-out and brought these genres firmly into the mainstream.

Youth’s skills as a producer were now being noticed by a much wider audience, not least because of his remix work with band like Siouxsie and The Banshees, Malcolm Maclaren, A Guy Called Gerald, Fine Young Cannibals, Marc Almond and U2. In 1993, he collaborated with Sir Paul McCartney who had developed an interest in remix culture. This resulted in Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest, an ambient album – and the first of three critically acclaimed albums – released under the name of The Fireman.

Over the years, Youth has notched up a staggeringly large and varied list of production and remix credits for artists such as Yazz, James, Primal Scream, Gun’s N’ Roses, Blue Pearl, Art of Noise, P.M. Dawn, Shack, De La Soul, Erasure, Beth Orton, Bananarama, Maria McKee, Suns of Arqa, The Shamen, Kool and the Gang, Texas, Pete Murphy, Tom Jones and Dido. He remains tireless in his quest for inspiration, excellence and innovation in recording great music and also finds time to paint, illustrate and publish poetry.

John Sinclair

John Sinclair the White Panther firebrand who stoked the MC5’s insurrectionary manifesto has roots that stretch back to jazz and the beats, as a writer, avant-garde champion and poet. John has travelled the world, collaborating with like-minded souls; a living embodiment of the original free spirit that fought to emancipate a generation, one of the few still flying the freak flag.

Since the early 90s, Sinclair has released albums of his poetry, but Beatnik Youth is possibly some of John Sinclair’s best work to date.

This poorly served generation needs it: that militant energy which released the bats in the 60s is crucially booted into the 21st Century in a riotous celebration of personal freedom, cultural trailblazers and marijuana.

The following Iron Man Records Patrons have made this release possible:

Suzy Tweddle, Deborah Ritchie, Scott Roe, Margaret Calleja, Thomas Rathgeber, Dan, Lee Parsfield, Chris Scales, Muir Mathewson, Michael Howe, Jonathan Harris, Dave Barnard, Bill Fadden, Mike Burgess, Jachim Palm, Lyle Bignon, Thomas Burke, Ben Cartlidge, Matt Grimes, Toby Conyers, Chris, Andy Cavendish, Steve Wyatt, Andrew Dubber, Frank Knoblich, Vaughan Roberts, Ian Robertson, Marcus H….

Become a Patron too https://www.patreon.com/ironmanrecords

John Sinclair – Beatnik Youth Ambient (500 copies on Vinyl) 28th July 2017

March 15, 2017

John Sinclair – “Beatnik Youth Ambient” on Vinyl.
by Iron Man Records.

Pre-order the Vinyl here: http://ironmanrecords.bigcartel.com/artist/john-sinclair

All Press enquiries to Sean Newsham : sean@mutante.co.uk

Catalogue Number: IMB6033

Barcode: 5060132273319

Label: Iron Man Records

Release Date: 28th July 2017

Distribution: Cargo

Side A

Do It (6:16) Recitation – John Sinclair, Music – Youth, Mix – Youth and Michael Rendall

Brilliant Corners (11.29) Recitation – John Sinclair, Produced by Youth

Side B

War On Drugs (6:18) Recitation – Howard Marks, Music – Youth, Mix – Youth and Michael Rendall

Sitarrrtha (9:19) Recitation – John Sinclair, Produced by Youth

John Sinclair, the renegade poet, scholar and cultural revolutionary will release “Beatnik Youth Ambient” on Iron Man Records. The record is over 30 minutes of ambient, chill out music from the restless creative mind of Youth with some fine spoken word and poetry delivered by John Sinclair.

John, has been described as an Archetype of the 1960’s art, music and literary synthesis, and who today continues his work for cultural transformation.

Youth is one of the UK’s most influential producers and has been honoured, this year, with an Outstanding Contribution Award by the Music Producers Guild. His career spans more than 30 years and is one of the UK’s most consistent, credible and influential producers, Youth has also hand drawn the beautiful cover artwork.

The record features 4 ambient tracks including 2 tracks completed in late 2015. Do it and War on Drugs were composed and produced by Youth with words By John Sinclair and Howard Marks. John Sinclair presents some illuminating words of wisdom on the life of the artist in the opening track Do It, while Howard Marks delivers some lost last words in War on Drugs on side B. The Mood is maintained by 2 extra ambient tracks taken from the Beatnik Youth album simultaneously released by Iron Man Records on Double CD. The free-form cinematic Brilliant Corners is a homage to Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs and the smokily atmospheric Sitarrtha reflects on the work of John Coltrane.

The record is a smoker’s dream with the 4 ambient tracks clocking in at just over 30 minutes.

LP-3.5mmSPINE_GZ.qxd

You can pre-order the Vinyl, Double CD and T-shirt here: http://ironmanrecords.bigcartel.com/artist/john-sinclair

From Detroit to New Orleans and from Los Angeles to Amsterdam, John Sinclair is still the king-size, psychedelic old-gangster poet, a living legend, a veteran of the counterculture, a survivor of the Marijuana Wars, and one of the last bohemians still standing. As a co-founder of the Detroit underground newspaper The Fifth Estate, manager of MC5, and Chairman of the White Panther Party described on Wikipedia in these modern times as a far-left, anti-racist, white American political collective founded in 1968 and dedicated to cultural revolution his mark on the boho rock & roll underground has been unique.

In 1969, with Richard Nixon in the White House, Vietnam in chaos in the wake of the Viet Congs near-suicidal Tet Offensive, and American cities still scared and scarred from urban riots, even the comparatively harmless agitprop pranks of White Panther cultural revolution had those in power reaching for their metaphoric and sometimes actual revolvers. Authorities remembered how John had organized the MC5 playing outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the only band actually able to perform before Mayor Daley’s rabid police department violently derailed the massive anti-Vietnam war rally with teargas, billy clubs, and helicopter support.

John was deemed a danger to society and set up like a bowling pin. After handing a couple of joints to a hassling hippie who turned out to be an undercover narcotics agent, John found himself on the bad end of a ten year jail term. At the same time though he became a cause celebre. Free John Sinclair became one more battle cry in an embattled era. Protests, propaganda, and a giant concert in Ann Arbor headlined by John Lennon and Yoko Ono ultimately resulted in John s release in November 1971. Lennon even wrote a song about him called ‘John Sinclair’ which he included on his ‘Sometime In New York City’ album.

In common with much that happens with John, a meeting with producer Youth (Paul McCartneys ‘Fireman’, Primal Scream, The Verve etc & Killing Joke bass player) that sowed the creative seeds was a matter of stoned synchronicity. As former Track Records boss Ian Grant tells it, Alan Clayton told me he had John Sinclair coming round tomorrow. I said “The John Sinclair?” One night Zodiac (Mindwarp) was on the bill with the Dirty Strangers and Youth was very taken with John. “I want to make a jazz album with John” he said. Since then, the two met at Youths house whenever he was home, and when John was in the country, and recorded the album.

And through the course of those recordings John, always so associated with the 1960s, took a serious step into the ways of the 21st century, with the same intoned poetry, but with melodic backing vocals, highly inventive production, even a nod to hip-hop, but still remembering his first loves of blues, be-bop, and classic rock & roll.

Beatnik Youth Ambient is one more step in the Big Chief’s long zigzag trip that seems set to continue all the way to the far blue horizon. Summing up John Sinclair, you can only say with certainty that the beatnik goes on.

Youth

Youth has been responsible for numerous hits from artists including The Verve, Embrace, Echo and the Bunnymen, Crowded House, The Orb, Sir Paul McCartney and The Charlatans. Among his recent projects was the co-production of Pink Floyd‘s final and largely instrumental album, The Endless River. Youth also remixed David Gilmour‘s current solo album, Rattle That Lock. The Verve’s Urban Hymns brought Youth a BRIT Award for Producer of the Year after three consecutive years of nomination.

Youth says “I’m very proud of the longevity of work on Killing Joke and The Orb, how those recordings still sound fresh… and what I’ve done with The Verve and Richard Ashcroft, and Paul McCartney (The Fireman) and Pink Floyd. It’s only really working with those guys, with my insecurities, that I felt as though I could go, ‘yeah, I am a producer’.” His “university” was Killing Joke after he left school, and it “doesn’t really get more intense than that”.

As a young musician Youth, whose real name is Martin Glover, cut his teeth doing bass sessions for Adrian Sherwood productions and for artists such as Kate Bush whose phenomenally successful Hounds of Love album had Youth on bass. He was also a founder member and bassist of the band Killing Joke. After leaving Killing Joke (and a short experiment with the band Brilliant, managed by Bill Drummond and featuring June Montana, Jimmy Cauty and other key innovators of electronic and indie dance music), Youth began working with Alex Paterson and Cauty as The Orb, a collaboration that was responsible for the introduction of chill-out ambient house music.

Cauty and Drummond eventually moved on to form The KLF, leaving Youth and Paterson to experiment extensively in the post punk British dance music and Acid House scene. This led to the release of two classic albums as The Orb – U.F.Orb and Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, which incorporated Little Fluffy Clouds, a track that defined ambient house and chill-out and brought these genres firmly into the mainstream.

Youth’s skills as a producer were now being noticed by a much wider audience, not least because of his remix work with band like Siouxsie and The Banshees, Malcolm Maclaren, A Guy Called Gerald, Fine Young Cannibals, Marc Almond and U2. In 1993, he collaborated with Sir Paul McCartney who had developed an interest in remix culture. This resulted in Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest, an ambient album – and the first of three critically acclaimed albums – released under the name of The Fireman.

Over the years, Youth has notched up a staggeringly large and varied list of production and remix credits for artists such as Yazz, James, Primal Scream, Gun’s N’ Roses, Blue Pearl, Art of Noise, P.M. Dawn, Shack, De La Soul, Erasure, Beth Orton, Bananarama, Maria McKee, Suns of Arqa, The Shamen, Kool and the Gang, Texas, Pete Murphy, Tom Jones and Dido. He remains tireless in his quest for inspiration, excellence and innovation in recording great music and also finds time to paint, illustrate and publish poetry. All original artwork on the sleeve was hand drawn by Youth.

John Sinclair

John Sinclair the White Panther firebrand who stoked the MC5’s insurrectionary manifesto has roots that stretch back to jazz and the beats, as a writer, avant-garde champion and poet. John has travelled the world, collaborating with like-minded souls; a living embodiment of the original free spirit that fought to emancipate a generation, one of the few still flying the freak flag.

Since the early 90s, Sinclair has released albums of his poetry, but Beatnik Youth Ambient is possibly some of John Sinclair’s best work to date.

This poorly served generation needs it: that militant energy which released the bats in the 60s is crucially booted into the 21st Century in a riotous celebration of personal freedom, cultural trailblazers and marijuana.

The following Iron Man Records Patrons have made this Vinyl release possible:

Suzy Tweddle, Deborah Ritchie, Scott Roe, Margaret Calleja, Thomas Rathgeber, Dan, Lee Parsfield, Chris Scales, Muir Mathewson, Michael Howe, Jonathan Harris, Dave Barnard, Bill Fadden, Mike Burgess, Jachim Palm, Lyle Bignon, Thomas Burke, Ben Cartlidge, Matt Grimes, Toby Conyers, Chris, Andy Cavendish, Steve Wyatt, Andrew Dubber, Frank Knoblich, Vaughan Roberts, Ian Robertson, Marcus H, Seth Faergolzia, Ricky Lee, Kathryn McCormack, Ade Cartwright, Sunwoo Jung….

Become a Patron too https://www.patreon.com/ironmanrecords

Police Bastard – Confined: Death, doom, despair and TERRIFYING NOISE… discussed.

February 23, 2017

Here’s part of an interview With 2 members of Police Bastard conducted by Robin Valk who spends his time writing about Music, Musicians, Music Business and Radio in the UK’s West Midlands.

Robin: As a bumbling young rock DJ, I covered the decline of progressive and hard rock throughout the 70s. Pub-rock rose and fell, global forces like Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac emerged, and Birmingham moved from Monsters of Metal to cross-cultural mixes, (UB40, Apache Indian, the Beat, Ruby Turner). Oh, and let’s not forget the New Romantics. On second thought, let’s.

By the end of the decade, Punk Rock emerged, to be rapidly commoditised as product and fashion trend (Generation X anyone?), and used as a career-launching platform (Police, Squeeze, Boomtown Rats). Then the mainstream lost interest, so it went underground, morphing from a bunch of snotty teenagers flipping the bird at the man, into something else altogether.

Police Bastard were punks once. Now they’re punk/metal/thrash, a set of 40 somethings with a remarkably long history, and a new album, Confined.  The dumb rebellious simplicity of the late 70s has been replaced by something more complex, more considered, even dutiful. The music? Savage as ever, of course – but now, these guys can play. John Doom and Mark Badger talk it up after the jump.

John Doom: The band started as a fun project in about 1993. Not many albums, but we’ve done lots of touring. A real mix.

Robin: Twenty years – are you still as angry?

John: When I was about 16 I formed Doom. They’re still going now. It was Crust/Punk. We were raised on Punk – and political punk as well. Anarchist Punk Rock.

Robin: OK, let’s clarify some definitions. Proper Punk has always been about being snotty and challenging the establishment. I came in for all that when the Sex Pistols went round radio stations on promo tours. But Political Punk goes a lot further – as irreverent and challenging as all Punk, but with a more layered set of things to say?

John: We were influenced by Crass and Conflict and all these bands that were political. Yeah, we were angry then… but we lived with our parents! We were at odds with a lot of things. We lived in suburbia; a lot of people there were quite racist, traditional in their values. We were singing from a slightly different hymn sheet.  So, yeah, when we formed Police Bastard in 1993, I’d left Doom, and become a bit jaded. I made a commitment to write about things that were pertinent to me and the band – fresh ideas, positive things, not spiteful and vicious things. But filtering down to where we are now, I’d still say there’s plenty to be angry about.

Robin: No argument from me on that score. The early punk bands reacted against turgid progressive rock. There’s that famous Who song, Who Are You, which tells the story of Pete Townsend having a drunken row with Johnny Rotten in a Soho pub… but all that was years before you even started Doom. So does that mean that you are bringing – gulp – an adult perspective to your punk?

John: I’ve been through many different ways of thinking about things. In some ways, time strengthens your position, because you can come at things from an adult perspective. You’re not quite so quick to judge, to let things spill out your mouth. Here’s an example. When we were growing up listening to Crass and the like, people were really, vitriolically anti-religious. If you fast forward to now, there’s all these questions about what faith is, and about respecting other people’s faith; Islam for example.  All these ideas of being blasphemous and rude and in your face – you come round to thinking maybe faith isn’t the problem, maybe it’s the organisation and the power behind it. That’s something we address on the new album.

Robin: But that early 70s/80s anti-establishment punk blasphemy was pretty much all against Christianity. Nothing else was on the radar.

John: Exactly. It’s a more complex and globalised world. You’ve got to take on ideas about the whole world, not just your own neighbourhood.  The world’s got smaller. It’s easy to see a lot more problems – Syria, Russia – different issues.

Robin: How does that play out with your audiences – from the early days to now?

John: Weird. It might be my cynical nature. Underground Punk exists as an entity, outside the mainstream. It’s always been a constant. But around acid house and rave culture, some people forgot about issues, forgot about being angry…

Robin: They were blissed out…

John: Yeah!  More hedonistic, having a good time. But those issues were still there. Things come around though. A lot of original bands came back for one last time in their fifties… Things come in cycles. Over the last five years, you’ve seen a shift back, politically and in society, to what brought people out in the seventies. People are feeling disillusioned. Feel there’s no hope, that there might not be those jobs for them. So you can see Punk growing again.

Robin: Are you saying nostalgia for Punk? That makes it a commodity!

Mark Badger: It’s like a dogma. Some people still think that if you want to be in punk band, you gotta think a certain way, look a certain way, sound a certain way, do certain things.  The idea of Police Bastard, when I joined was more attractive than the band itself. Something that had a brutal musical delivery of political ideas, with a very diverse set of individuals.  To me, that flies in the face of the dogma of what it is to be punk or metal.  And we’re still doing that.

John: Some of our goals have come true. The major labels don’t control things anymore. So the DIY ethic, at the heart of punk, hasn’t been affected by the decline of the industry. And the web has helped.
On the craft and musicianship front, the band now has some phenomenally good technical skills.  A thunderous attack, played with blistering skill and stamina. You just wouldn’t have had those skills twenty years ago – they come with time. Does stagecraft sort of get in the way?

John: I think there have been times when we’ve been in danger of disappearing up our own asses. A few pints where we became a little bit too metally, a little bit too technical. That’s because we’re absorbing ideas from all over.

Robin: But there’s nothing wrong with being a fabulous player…

John: Not at all. But you can move away from some of the areas you should be in. As Mark was saying, one of the beauties of Police Bastard is that if we want to do a dub song, a metal song, a two-minute punk song, we’ll do it. It doesn’t get in the way.

Robin: What’s the gender split with your audience?

John: Fairly good. I never like to see it get too male. There was a point with hardcore where it became too violent and too macho. Everything became blokes with their shirts off, fighting rather than enjoying the gig. My experience has been good. We’ve had loads of girls dancing, and not feeling harassed or beaten or groped. I’ve been fairly happy with it.

Mark: We manage to sell good quantities of girls and boy’s t-shirts.

Robin: So how about the album….?

John: I’m proud of this album, We’d finished the band in about 98… the rest of the band was unable to put the time in. We had jobs, I went back to university… Then the band sort of reformed, and at first I felt a little bit off about it. But what they were doing was great – exactly what Police Bastard were all about. Eventually Mark asked me to come in with the band, and it’s gone from there. Our singer lives in Spain, we’re all doing different things, and we’ve still managed to come together and create new songs. All different, dark, aggressive, touching on new material.

Mark: John and Pid (Stu-pid) have probably come up with the best lyrics on Confined they have written so far. The new album was difficult in lots of ways, especially getting everyone together. But we’ve got to hand it to Simon Reeves. He sat there with about 27 channels of guitar. John put down several tracks of noise and feedback and other horror. Simon sat there clamly with his head in his hands muttering what am I going to do with this? John simply said ‘You’re the Producer, you sort it out!’ And of course, he did. We are all really pleased with the finished record.

Robin Valk

Police Bastard – Confined

Police Bastard – Confined (VINYL) is available from Iron Man Records now

February 12, 2017

Police Bastard – Confined (VINYL) has arrived after many months of waiting.

A big Thank You to all of you who have pre-ordered the VINYL or have contributed as Iron Man Records Patrons. I would like to acknowledge the ongoing insanity of the following and their kind financial support for this madness:

Suzy Tweddle, Deborah Ritchie, Scott Roe, Margaret Calleja, Thomas Rathgeber, Dan, Lee Parsfield, Chris Scales, Muir Mathewson, Michael Howe, Jonathan Harris, Dave Barnard, Bill Fadden, Mike Burgess, Joachim Palm, Lyle Bignon, Thomas Burke, Ben Cartlidge, Matt Grimes, Toby Conyers, Chris, Andy Cavendish, Steve Wyatt, Andrew Dubber, Frank Knoblich, Vaughan Roberts, Ian Robertson, Marcus H, Seth Faergolzia, Ricky Lee, Kathryn McCormack, Ade Cartwright, Sunwoo Jung….

Almost all orders have been posted out in the last few days, and Patrons will get their copies this week.

It’s been a bit mad at this end, I have never had to post out so many records in such a short time before. It’s been a task in itself just trying to get the orders to the post office.

If you would like to buy Police Bastard – Confined on VINYL try the Iron Man Shop here

If you would like to become an Iron Man Records Patron go here

This record is possibly the best record the band have released to date and there are only 500 copies on Vinyl so get one while you can.

The work continues on new recordings and new material. The band will be back playing live later this year, hope to see you then

Cheers Mark

Iron Man Records would like you to become a Patron.

February 3, 2017

The general history of art and literature shows that the highest achievements of the human mind are, as a rule, not favourably received at first. Iron Man Records would like to invite you to consider becoming a Patron.

Iron Man Records has dedicated over 20 years to supporting, promoting, and working with, some of the most interesting artists you may never have heard of, sometimes with a budget you can stick under a glass.

February will see the release of Police Bastard – “Confined” on Vinyl.

One of CVLT Nation’s Top Crust Albums: “Thought-provoking monologues and confrontational lyrics bring you on a cold, doom-laden journey of perpetual war, psychological mind control and disillusionment.”

April will see the release of John Sinclair – “Beatnik Youth Ambient” on Vinyl.

Ambient, chill out music from the restless creative mind of Youth with spoken word and poetry delivered by John Sinclair.

John, has been described as an Archetype of the 1960’s art, music and literary synthesis, and who today continues his work for cultural transformation. A psychedelic poet, a living legend, a veteran of the counterculture, a survivor of the Marijuana Wars, and one of the last bohemians still standing. As a co-founder of the Detroit underground newspaper The Fifth Estate, manager of MC5, and Chairman of the White Panther Party described on Wikipedia in these modern times as a far-left, anti-racist, white American political collective founded in 1968 and dedicated to cultural revolution, John Sinclair’s mark on the boho rock & roll underground has been unique.

Youth is one of the UK’s most influential producers and has been honoured with an Outstanding Contribution Award by the Music Producers Guild. His career spans more than 30 years and is one of the UK’s most consistent, credible and influential producers, Youth has also hand drawn the beautiful cover artwork.

Please consider becoming a Patron to support the work. Incredible amounts of time, effort, and money has gone into making these records happen. Iron Man Records would like to invite you to give your support to the artists involved and their work.

Among the rewards, Patrons will get a copy of each release as soon as it is available and Patrons will get their names printed on the sleeve of all future releases generated with their help and support.

You have to build the world you want to live in, and while you may not want to consider running a record label yourself, you can directly influence what happens next. Patrons enable Iron Man Records to continue the work supporting struggling artists.

Please consider getting involved. If you want an alternative to what you see going on around you, you have to make it for yourself. Let’s make something happen https://www.patreon.com/ironmanrecords

The only way to support a revolution…..

December 23, 2016

Looking back on this year, Iron Man Records has had an interesting one. Three recurring themes emerged.

“The only way to support a revolution is to make your own” — Abbie Hoffman, Woodstock Nation.

“Reality is not enough; we need nonsense too. Drifting into a world of fantasy is not an escape from reality but a significant education about the nature of life.” Edmund Miller, Lewis Carroll Observed

“It’s dangerous to understand new things too quickly” — Josiah Warren, True Civilization

Make of that what you will. Some of the significant things that happened this year included:

Seth Faergolzia of Dufus brought his new band Multibird to Europe on Tour.

John Sinclair published a book called It’s All Good: A John Sinclair Reader.  Stories of tragedy and triumph that will take you on a trip through the Wonder Years with music lyrics and poetry. Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone attempted to find out how to live a psychedelic life with the poet and activist John Sinclair as BBC Music’s My Generation celebrated the 1960s.

Dr Marshmallow Cubicle – Occupy was released on Iron Man Records, 23rd April, 2016.

In the early hours of 10th April 2016, Howard Marks died peacefully in his sleep. Iron Man Records had the pleasure of meeting, working with and listening to Howard Marks. He really was exactly as you would hope: A truly decent bloke, funny, humble and just Mr Nice. His life and work will live on…..“You might control a lot of things Drugs Tsar, but you’ll never control my mind…..” Howard Marks from the song Let Me Grow More Weed he recorded with P.A.I.N

Robert Anton Wilson meets Steve “Fly Agaric” Pratt was released on Iron Man Records, 23rd June, 2016

The entire Iron Man Records music catalogue was made available on Bandcamp. To start with all releases are £5 or you can Stream the releases and listen for free. All Releases are available on most of the download and streaming platforms already but for those of you who want an alternative to Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Google, Youtube, Facebook and all the other main providers, Bandcamp seems good.

Some people wonder what on earth I do for a living. Well, I earn money working as a Tour Manager and I spend all of it keeping Iron Man Records going. I spend the rest of my time trying to stay sane, despite serious provocation from people who are totally convinced or totally stupid, and often both at the same time. Have a read and make up your own mind: Back In Five Years  and My life is a pile of receipts in a deserted restaurant on a cross channel ferry

Simon Reeves at Framework Studio spent three days recording Oliver Senton reading Cosmic Trigger 1 by Robert Anton Wilson for a forthcoming audio book. Iron Man Records somehow managed to neglect it’s responsibilities to The Cosmic Trigger play but was happy to help see Oliver Senton looked after during these recordings.

Test pressings arrived for John Sinclair – Beatnik Youth Ambient which includes a beautiful recording of Howard Marks’ last lost words called War On Drugs with an ambient soundscape masterpiece from Youth…and also Police Bastard – Confined. Both records will be released in 2017.

But these things wouldn’t have happened without the money burning antics of Iron Man Records Patrons and people like you supporting the madness and getting involved.

Iron Man Records has ambitious plans to make a big impact in 2017. And with Patrons helping out, I feel positive we can make a big change. I guarantee there will be no funding appplications, no idiotic culture bids, no creative consultants, no government, business or arts advice types involved. Just you, me, musicians, madness and music.

If you want to contribute, have a look in the shop before you go: http://ironmanrecords.bigcartel.com

Thanks again for all your support and have a fun Christmas.

Cheers Mark

Police Bastard – “Confined” VINYL limited to 500 copies. Released Jan 23rd 2017

December 4, 2016

“Thought-provoking monologues and confrontational lyrics bring you on a cold, doom-laden journey of perpetual war, psychological mind control and disillusionment.”

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Cover Art by Mark “Skinny” Orton

Pre-order your copy on VINYL now. Only 500 copies to be pressed on Double Gatefold VINYL. Released January 23rd 2017

All pre-orders will be £10 plus postage and sent out ahead of the release date.

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A big thank you to all Iron Man Records Patrons who helped make this possible.

Suzy Tweddle, Deborah Ritchie, Scott Roe, Margaret Calleja, Thomas Rathgeber, Dan, Lee Parsfield, Chris Scales, Muir Mathewson, Michael Howe, Jonathan Harris, Dave Barnard, Bill Fadden, Mike Burgess, Jachim Palm, Lyle Bignon, Thomas Burke, Ben Cartlidge, Matt Grimes, Toby Conyers, Chris, Andy Cavendish, Steve Wyatt, Andrew Dubber, Frank Knoblich, Vaughan Roberts, Ian Robertson, Marcus H….

M:CAD DrawingsKey ProductionGKA94675 CD 4pp GF Softpack 2 x P

“CVLT Nation’s Top 6 Crust Albums 2013: Police Bastard are pretty infamous at this stage, so no need for any introductions with band member links to Doom, Sore Throat, Filthkick, Sensa Yuma etc. Their new album ‘Confined’ sticks to their cynical view of the world mixed with innovative guitar textures and driving industrial intensity. Thought-provoking monologues and confrontational lyrics bring you on a cold, doom-laden journey of perpetual war, psychological mind control, disillusionment and omnipresent bullshit. For a band that has been knocking about on and off for twenty years, they could be forgiven for reverting to the formulaic. However, they rethink and deliver a furious maelstrom of complex dark hardcore, best served cold.” – CVLT Nation (Dec 19, 2013)

“The album starts with “The Curse Of The Cross”, an anti-theistic slice of brutality, which leaves the listener in no doubt that Police Bastard mean business. You even get a quote from Richard Dawkins about teaching the bible as fiction. Musically they give us huge chugging riffs on “Brought To Our Knees”, which tackles the blandness of multi-national companies infecting the high street, set against the backdrop of the widening gap between rich and poor. For those that like their anthems loud and stompy, “Sick Sick System” will no doubt win a seal of approval with its knock about Punk mayhem and catchy refrain, ‘sick sick system, same old bullshit’. Elsewhere on the album, we get subjects as diverse as being captivated by virtual reality (Word Confined) and environmental disaster from the hand of mankind (Cries From The Earth). Album closer “Fortress” sees organised religion attacked once more, and poses the question, how long before it crumbles…..” – Zak, Ryans Gig Guide (Dec 01, 2013)

“….From Mark Orton‘s cover art through the final song, “Fortress,” Police Bastard have presented an album that uses hardcore’s battering ram approach to push through a series of songs that depict how humanity has destroyed the Earth. Lines such as “We’re sealing our fate” hammer home the idea that mankind has taken the world to the edge of existence, and we’ll all soon perish, should we not change our ways. Thankfully, Confined manages to never lapse into Earth Crisis-like preaching, choosing instead to quote the likes of John Gray‘s Straw Dogs: “Long after the traces of the human animal have disappeared, many of the species it is bent on destroying will still be around, along with others that have yet to spring up. The Earth will forget mankind. The play of life will go on.” While the music is basic hardcore which occasionally aims for bigger sonic targets, the lyrics and presentation are what make Police Bastard worth checking out……” – Rock Star Journalist, Rock Star Journalist (Nov 22, 2013)

Ten songs recorded in early 2013 and released through Iron Man Records, Birmingham.

Tracklisting:

Side A
The Curse Of The Cross
Brought To Our Knees
Sick Sick System
Humanimal
Cries From The Earth

Side B
Binary Thinker
Words Confined
Bite The Hand
We Are The Dead
Fortress.

All Lyrics: Pid and John

All Music: Police Bastard

Layout: John Doom

The album was Recorded, Mixed, Produced and Mastered by Simon Reeves at Framework Recording Studios.

Label: Iron Man Records
Catalog: IMB6036
Format: VINYL Double Gatefold Limited to 500 copies
Country: England
Released: 2017
Genre: Rock
Style: Punk

This Week: Total Assault On The Culture

September 24, 2016

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Bandcamp
Work has started on uploading the Iron Man Records Catalogue on Bandcamp. To start with all releases will be available for £5 or you can Stream the releases and listen for free. All Releases are available on most of the download and streaming platforms already but for those of you who want an alternative to Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Google, Youtube, Facebook and all the other main providers, Bandcamp seems good.

Back In Five Years:
Some people wonder what on earth I do for a living. Well, I earn money working as a Tour Manager. I spend all the money I earn trying to keep Iron Man Records going. Here’s a life in a couple of weeks:

Support Insanity A6 Postcard No Marks
Become A Patron
If you want to contribute to the work of Iron Man Records, here’s How To Burn Money – Become A Patron of Iron Man Records

Cosmic Trigger
Steve Fly and Simon Reeves start work on post production this week. Simon spent three days last week recording Oliver Senton reading Cosmic Trigger 1 by Robert Anton Wilson. Here’s a picture of Simon and Oliver at Framework Studio, Birmingham, on completion of the great work.

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Framework Recording Studios, Birmingham.
Framework Studios has worked with Napalm Death, Carcass, Cathedral, Meathook Seed, P.J.Harvey, Ride, Family Cat and other acts including Piss On Authority, Police Bastard, Spirit Bomb, Drongos For Europe, Selfless, Cerebral Fix and more. Telephone Simon (UK+44) 07790 158210 or email siframework@gmail.com

Vinyl Test Pressings:
I’m waiting on test pressings of John Sinclair – Beatnik Youth Ambient to arrive and also test pressings of Police Bastard – Confined. Exciting times.

Pre-order John Sinclair – Beatnik Youth Ambient on VINYL
LP-3.5mmSPINE_GZ.qxd
You can pre-order the Vinyl, Double CD and T-shirt here:  http://ironmanrecords.bigcartel.com/artist/john-sinclair

All Press enquiries to Sean Newsham : sean@mutante-inc.demon.co.uk
Catalogue Number: IMB6033
Release date: April 2017
Label: Iron Man Records
Distribution: Cargo

Side A
Do It (6:16) Recitation – John Sinclair, Music – Youth, Mix – Youth and Michael Rendall
Brilliant Corners (11.29) Recitation – John Sinclair, Produced by Youth

Side B
War On Drugs (6:18) Recitation – Howard Marks, Music – Youth, Mix – Youth and Michael Rendall
Sitarrrtha (9:19) Recitation – John Sinclair, Produced by Youth

John Sinclair, the renegade poet, scholar and cultural revolutionary releases “Beatnik Youth Ambient” on Iron Man Records. The record is over 30 minutes of ambient, chill out music from the restless creative mind of Youth with some fine spoken word and poetry delivered by John Sinclair.

John, has been described as an Archetype of the 1960’s art, music and literary synthesis, and who today continues his work for cultural transformation.

Youth is one of the UK’s most influential producers and has been honoured, this year, with an Outstanding Contribution Award by the Music Producers Guild. His career spans more than 30 years and is one of the UK’s most consistent, credible and influential producers, Youth has also hand drawn the beautiful cover artwork.

The record features 4 ambient tracks including 2 tracks completed in late 2015. Do it and War on Drugs were composed and produced by Youth with words By John Sinclair and Howard Marks. John Sinclair presents some illuminating words of wisdom on the life of the artist in the opening track Do It, while Howard Marks delivers some lost last words in War on Drugs on side B.

The Mood is maintained by 2 extra ambient tracks taken from the Beatnik Youth album simultaneously released by Iron Man Records on Double CD. The free-form cinematic Brilliant Corners is a homage to Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs and the smokily atmospheric Sitarrtha reflects on the work of John Coltrane. The record is a smoker’s dream with the 4 ambient tracks clocking in at just over 30 minutes.

From Detroit to New Orleans and from Los Angeles to Amsterdam, John Sinclair is still the king-size, psychedelic old-gangster poet, a living legend, a veteran of the counterculture, a survivor of the Marijuana Wars, and one of the last bohemians still standing. As a co-founder of the Detroit underground newspaper The Fifth Estate, manager of MC5, and Chairman of the White Panther Party described on Wikipedia in these modern times as a far-left, anti-racist, white American political collective founded in 1968 and dedicated to cultural revolution his mark on the boho rock & roll underground has been unique.

In 1969, with Richard Nixon in the White House, Vietnam in chaos in the wake of the Viet Congs near-suicidal Tet Offensive, and American cities still scared and scarred from urban riots, even the comparatively harmless agitprop pranks of White Panther cultural revolution had those in power reaching for their metaphoric and sometimes actual revolvers. Authorities remembered how John had organized the MC5 playing outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the only band actually able to perform before Mayor Daley’s rabid police department violently derailed the massive anti-Vietnam war rally with teargas, billy clubs, and helicopter support.

John was deemed a danger to society and set up like a bowling pin. After handing a couple of joints to a hassling hippie who turned out to be an undercover narcotics agent, John found himself on the bad end of a ten year jail term. At the same time though he became a cause celebre. Free John Sinclair became one more battle cry in an embattled era. Protests, propaganda, and a giant concert in Ann Arbor headlined by John Lennon and Yoko Ono ultimately resulted in John s release in November 1971. Lennon even wrote a song about him called ‘John Sinclair’ which he included on his
‘Sometime In New York City’ album.

In common with much that happens with John, a meeting with producer Youth (Paul McCartneys ‘Fireman’, Primal Scream, The Verve etc & Killing Joke bass player) that sowed the creative seeds was a matter of stoned synchronicity. As former Track Records boss Ian Grant tells it, Alan Clayton told me he had John Sinclair coming round tomorrow. I said “The John Sinclair?” One night Zodiac (Mindwarp) was on the bill with the Dirty Strangers and Youth was very taken with John. “I want to make a jazz album with John” he said. Since then, the two met at Youths house whenever he was home, and when John was in the country, and recorded the album.

And through the course of those recordings John, always so associated with the 1960s, took a serious step into the ways of the 21st century, with the same intoned poetry, but with melodic backing vocals, highly inventive production, even a nod to hip-hop, but still remembering his first loves of blues, be-bop, and classic rock & roll.

Beatnik Youth Ambient is one more step in the Big Chief’s long zigzag trip that seems set to continue all the way to the far blue horizon. Summing up John Sinclair, you can only say with certainty that the beatnik goes on.

Free The Weed 65 by John Sinclair

July 21, 2016

Highest greetings from Amsterdam, where I’m enjoying one of the finest summers ever with lots of sunshine and not so much rain. As a Flint native, I’m accustomed to long hot summers with plenty of heat, and as a former resident of New Orleans, I know what heat and humidity are all about.

There’s nothing like that here, and it stays kind of chilly most of the time even after the sunniest days, but it’s great to have more sun than rain in one’s life here in Amsterdam, and I’ll take it!

I had a great experience the other night when I went with my friend Leslie Lopez to the Nord to visit his little recording studio. I used to spend a lot of time with Lopez in the basement of Café the Zen, where his studio used to be, and we made an album together down there several years ago. It’s called Let’s Go Get ’Em if you ever want to hear it, and you can download it at CD-Baby for a modest payment.

Speaking of payment, the economics of marijuana consumption has been a hot topic in the mainstream media and among internet commentators. Of course, those of us who came to the marijuana liberation struggle from a spiritual perspective, with a special interest in the medicinal uses of the sacrament, have always known that marijuana would turn into big business once people got a chance to use it without punishment. But it’s really booming now.

For example, A story published by the Cannabis Law Group looks forward to the “all-but-inevitable legalization for recreational use” of marijuana in California this fall and reports that “investors are preparing for the day when legalization comes.

“In fact, such explosive growth is expected in the cannabis business and so much profit is expected to be generated, the situation is being described as ‘a new California gold rush’ as new businesses open, new products come into the marketplace, and new investor money comes in.”

The story explains that “the cannabis industry is an underground industry which is tremendously profitable. It’s now becoming investible for the first time. As cannabis businesses come out of the shadows, industry revenue is expected to leap from $2.7 billion in 2014 to around $11 billion by 2019.

“New and innovative products are being developed every day, including a whole new product category consisting of the world’s first cannabis distillery, as well as new vaporizer and accessories products.“

On a smaller but not insignificant scale, the state of Louisiana is looking into growing and selling medicinal marijuana products now that the Louisiana Legislature has approved a bill that legalizes the use of marijuana for people suffering from a specific list of debilitating diseases.

“The so-called medical marijuana legislation authorizes LSU and Southern University to grow and produce cannabis to be consumed in a liquid form,” Tyler Bridges reports in The New Orleans Advocate, asking in a headline: “How Much Might LSU, Southern, Companies Profit? How Will It Be Distributed?”

And what about the private companies that are now “emerging to try to profit from the new industry by partnering with the universities”? LSU and Southern both report getting calls from representatives of companies that want to rent or sell land or provide a growing facility, while others are inquiring about financing the entire venture with the expectation of earning a profit. “It’s a money-making venture,” Bridges quotes a Southern University official.

On an even deeper level, Karen Turner writes in the Washington Post that “Microsoft Becomes The First Big Tech Company To Get Into The Legal Weed Industry” by “partnering with a cannabis industry-focused software company called Kind Financial to provide ‘seed to sale’ services for cannabis growers that allow them to track inventory, navigate laws and handle transactions—all through Kind’s software systems.“

Tunrer notes that “the partnership marks the first major tech company to attach its name to the burgeoning industry of legal marijuana,” but I’m sure it won’t be the last. Wait until the big pharmaceutical companies get their hands on cannabis!

In fact, one of my favorite sources, Wonkblog, just published a piece by Christopher Ingraham about “Why Pharma Companies Are Fighting Legal Marijuana.” They’re fighting now but, so far as I can see, it’s basically a holding action to keep down progress toward legalization of weed while they figure out how to coopt our natural medicine and bring it into their own highly profitable domain.

But there’s a lot of fascinating information in Ingraham’s story, which points to “a body of research showing that painkiller abuse and overdose are lower in states with medical marijuana laws.

“In the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law.

“In medical-marijuana states,” Ingraham reports, “the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication.” That’s a lotta missing doses!

“But most strikingly,” he concludes, “the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year.”

For many of us this is great cause for celebration. But guess what?  “These companies have long been at the forefront of opposition to marijuana reform,” Ingraham reveals, ”funding research by anti-pot academics and funneling dollars to groups, such as the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, that oppose marijuana legalization. Pharmaceutical companies have also lobbied federal agencies directly to prevent the liberalization of marijuana laws.”

Big Pharma makes a strange bedfellow for the law enforcement and prison guard unions that typically lead the charge against marijuana legalization, but when the pharmaceutical industry adjusts its chops to the taste of selling lega cannabis medication, they stand to make big profits while their allies will lose their ill-gotten powers for good.

In closing, It may be kind of a sick thing to say, but the War On Drugs, like legally-enforced racial segregation—with full recognition of their evil intent and inhuman effect—actually resulted in the creation of some beautiful lifeways and cultural constructs developed outside of and in opposition to the Americo-Puritan paradigm that in many ways were far superior to the ones we have now.

Under legal segregation black business and entertainment districts thrived, and there was a palpable sense of community among the citizens of the black ghettoes that hasn’t existed since the one-way street of integration was bulldozed through the black communities of our nation.

By the same token, the culture of interdependence, cooperative farming, underground economics and spiritual sharing that grew up in the wake of the insane marijuana laws created a life for many of us that no longer exists, even though we can buy our weed over the counter now in many locations. But the cost of freedom from imprisonment has been to surrender our identities and become mindless consumers of whatever the pot industry wants us to purchase.

On a personal note, my friend Maryjane Bunker has recently left the Grannies For Grass group to pursue a pair of initiatives of her own: Cannabis Information & Education, an on-line service she writes me “is reaching 3.8 million this a.m.,” and Puff, Puff, Paint, an organization set up to integrate puffing and painting in the process of art therapy. I had some great times when she brought me to Grannies For Grass events, she’s an accomplished and very generous grower, and I wish her every possible success in this next stage of her adventure.

P.S. I started out to say that when I visited Leslie Lopez’s studio in the Noord, it was in an abandoned police station! And we had quite a few laughs sharing a joint and listening to music where the police used to do their ugly business. FREE THE WEED!
—Amsterdam
July 21, 2016

© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

Free The Weed 64 by John Sinclair

June 24, 2016

Highest greetings from Amsterdam, where I’m spending the summer in a very interesting section of the city called the Bijlmer that used to be a terrible fear-ridden slum on the outskirts of town but has been redeveloped by the government as a sort of art-centered multi-cultural neighborhood populated by people of many descriptions, from dark-skinned immigrants to young white urban professionals with real jobs and a certain quotient of bohemians both black and white.

The interesting thing is that, unlike in the States, the immigrant population of the former ghetto was not expelled to make the renovated area  “safe’ for white people but was included in the redevelopment plans and rehoused as an integral component of the upgraded neighborhood. The oppressive 1950s-style Stalinistic eight-storey project dwellings were razed and replaced with buildings of no more than four floors and the whole thing painted in bright colors marked by diagonal stripes of orange, yellow, green, bright blue, and lots of third-world murals.

I’m staying in the spacious apartment of a new friend named Tariq Khan, a Dutch Rastafarian with big dreads who started out as a rapper called MC Lazy but now is an energetic artistic and cultural activist with his own recording studio in the building around the corner that also houses a hip-hop radio station called Hot Twenty that’s staffed by local youths. Tariq also produces and directs video shoots for many purposes and conducts youth workshops for community groups, but his day job is working for the Sensi Seeds empire at the Hash, Marijuana & Hemp Museum one day, the Cannabis College the next and the Sensi Museum Gallery on Thursdays, where he joins my old friend Joseph who mans the vaporizer and gets people high all day.

What a job! Joseph has been around for a long time and knows everybody who’s into anything in terms of the cannabis culture—he’s even regarded as a spiritual leader in some advanced quarters—so I turned to him when I was desperate to find a place to lodge for the summer after my week-long residency in the Sensi guest quarters was up at the end of May. He hooked me up with Tariq, and Tariq took me straight to his place in the Bijlmer and set me up like a champ.

Sensi Seeds is a remarkable enterprise started by a guy named Ben Dronkers in Rotterdam a long time ago, first as one of Rotterdam’s initial coffeeshops and then as a way to get marijuana growing in Holland by supplying top-quality seeds and encouraging local growers to plant and harvest them. Over the past 30 years Sensi has grown into a mammoth operation known as “the most comprehensive cannabis seed bank in the world,” dispensing millions of seeds to funky farmers all over the world and then pioneering the revitalization of the hemp industry as well.

As the Sensi Seeds website explains, Ben Dronkers started growing marijuana in 1975 and began saving the seeds he found in good quality weed, eventually collecting and categorizing all the cannabis seeds he could find. From the end of the 70s until the mid-80s Ben travelled the world from Central Asia and the Hindu Kush to the Himalayas, down through the subcontinent to Southeast Asia and around the tropics, seeking out the best genetics and focusing on regions famous for their ancient cannabis traditions.

Around 1984 Ben began several cross-breeding programs in order to develop new cannabis hybrids. He gained access to the first examples of the new stabilized hybrids from the US—including Haze and Skunk—and took the final step required for the creation of new, world-class hybrids in Europe. By 1985 he had founded the Sensi Seed Club, expanding and centralizing the process of creating hybrids and keeping meticulous records of plant genealogy and interrelations.

In 1991, Ben bought another seed company from a breeder who had also been working with the US hybrids since the 80s and merged the two companies to form the Sensi Seed Bank. In 1994 he founded HempFlax, a company dedicated to growing and processing industrial hemp, and successfully revived the once-thriving Dutch hemp industry. in 2006 Ben acquired the Flying Dutchmen seed company when his friend the owner decided to retire, and he consolidated its venerable stock with the existing Sensi Seed Bank to make an even more comprehensive collection of cannabis strains.

The great thing about Ben Dronkers and Sensi Seeds is that it isn’t just about raking in the profits like most of the people in this great industry of ours. Sensi has garnered millions of dollars in sales over the years, but—aided and abetted by his friend Ed Rosenthal, the great American cannabis activist—Ben has dedicated a significant portion of his earnings to the creation of public benefit institutions like the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum, the Sensi Museum Gallery, and the Cannabis College, which was initially a project of Flying Dutchmen. Among many other things, The Gallery displays Old Masters painted hundreds of years ago which depict ordinary men and women enjoying the smoking of cannabis.

Now these institutions are lined up on the Achterburgwhal in the Red Light District in the center of town, making up a sort of Green Light District of their own along with the Sensi Seed Bank itself and the Sensi Corner Store, formerly the Sensi coffeeshop where I used to hang out and got to know all these incredible people that make up the Sensi empire.

One of my fondest memories of the Sensi coffeeshop was the day I sat down with Ben Dronkers at a table inside and listened while he carried on an intense conversation with a South American man who turned out to be a minister in the new government of Bolivia led by the former coca famer and now head of state, Evo Morales. Evidently Ben and Evo had met and even toked down together on Morales’ visit to Amsterdam before the Bolivian election, and Ben was making a impassioned plea that the new government consider completely legalizing marijuana and establish Bolivia as the world center of cannabis enlightenment.

Dronkers promised that he would move his entire cannabis empire to Bolivia and encourage the international growing community to do likewise, bringing incredible amounts of new revenue to the small South American nation and transforming it into a haven for the worldwide cannabis community of suppliers, growers and consumers.

I listened with rapt attention as Ben’s argument unfolded, but the Bolivian minister calmly explained that there was no chance that the church and moral authorities would let them get away with it, no matter how great an idea it might be. Ben was visibly dejected, but I guessed he was accustomed to official rejection of his visionary ideas and the conversation passed on to more mundane topics.

Well, there were several other topics I’d meant to discuss in this month’s column, but I got carried away thinking about the greatness of Sensi Seeds and now I’m out of space for this time. Of course I continue to feel that one day cannabis will be granted its rightful place in our world of oppression, but it’s never going to be an easy proposition and we’ll just have to keep on fighting every way we can until that happy day. FREE THE WEED!

—Amsterdam
June 24, 2016

© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

Robert Anton Wilson meets Steve “Fly Agaric” Pratt

June 15, 2016

Robert Anton Wilson - Meets Steve "Fly Agaric" Pratt 1600 x 1600

WORDS: Robert Anton Wilson and Steve ‘Fly Agaric 23’ Pratt

MUSIC: Steve Fly, Tim Egmond, Martin ‘Youth’ Glover, Rick Rasa, Hagbard Celine, Garaj Mahal.

ARTWORK: CHU

PRODUCED BY: Mark Sampson and Steve Fly Pratt

MASTERED BY: Simon Reeves at Framework Studios, Birmingham

RELEASED on IRON MAN RECORDS June 23rd 2016.

Special thanks to: Robert Anton Wilson, Christina Pearson, Rick Rasa, Chu, Mark Sampson, Kai Eckhardt, Matt Black, Martin ‘Youth’ Glover, Paul Krassner, John Sinclair, Tim Egmond, Toby Philpott, Prop Anon, Nick Larson, Caleb Selah, Pete Maybe, Jenni Vyskocil, Faustin Bray, Bob Tesch, Lance Bauscher, Jack Sarfatti, Nigel Blunt, UB40, Robin Johnson, Tom Jackson, Raymond Wiley, Daisy Eris Campbell, Janne Svensson, Gregory James, Ben Kappel, Brien Harvey, the Maybe Logic Academy staff and students.

While getting firmly hooked on the series of Cosmic Trigger books during the mid 1990s, I literally dreamed of meeting the mysterious author, Dr Robert Anton Wilson. He was an early anarchist hero to me, a truly free man, and he remains one of the funniest scientific philosophers of all time. And yet, he, and his great works remain underground for the most part, bubbling away beneath the surface, patiently awaiting rediscovery and reenactment by brave new readers from next generations and with fresh interpretations. I hope this recording can introduce his ideas to at least one such reader. We need to act on his wisdom now!

After an auspicious solar eclipse experience in August, and a house fire in December moments before the millennium fever of 1999 went into overdrive, i had a rare moment of clarity, and decided to sell my prized turntables and scrape the money together for a ticket to go and see this guy for myself. Only six days after the sad passing of Terence Mckenna, i set off to New York where i next caught the Greyhound bus to New mexico, and my destination, the so called the ‘Prophets Conference’ only two days before my 24th birthday.

Little did i know that RAW had fallen ill that week due in part to his post polio syndrome, together with the grief of losing his lifelong companion, writer and activist Arlen Riley Wilson. The announcer at the conference informed the crowd Bob would not make it, and i went into an altered state of total shock awareness. 

 After the conference was over i straddled that Greyhound up to San Francisco and fell in awe of the San Francisco bay area. I hung out at Wired Magazine radio station, worked for Sound Photo Synthesis, jammed on turntables with jam jazz super group Garaj Mahal. Plus i met Dr John Lilly, Jack Sarfatti, Saul Paul Sirag, and some other friends and associates of RAW, all  seemingly by happy coincidence most of them were presenting at the Guilding The Lilly event at 3220 Sacremento street.

PROPHETS CON

When my visa time limit came up, unlike Columbus, I returned to the UK. One memorable summer day in 2000 i received an email from the Prophets Conference asking if i would like to be a carer for Bob during his next lecture in Palm Springs, 16-18th December 2000. I eagerly responded ‘yes’ and started to save up my dole money.

Bob’s fine lecture at Palm Springs can be viewed on youtube and you can hear him say at one point “I had a Manhattan with my lunch” which i purchased for him when sat together with Paul Krassner and his wife Nancy before his show. This may have led to him using slightly more taboo words than usual, which became part of the reason why the conference wrote him a letter explaining that they had received complaints about his language! and were unwilling to invite him to any more conferences, unless he more or less cleaned up his act. For fucks sake.

 Bob writes about this in his book T.S.O.G: The Thing That Ate The Constitution. I was sacked from the Prophets Conference a few months before Bob. My crime was much less punk rock, i failed to get Bob to the stage with adequate time to spare before he was scheduled to speak, which set a few people panicking and resulted in the boss lady of the conference screaming at me in front of Bob.

After his lecture, Bob gestured me over and invited me up to his room to conduct an interview, which i hinted at earlier. This was partly due, i think, to the fact that he saw how badly i was disgraced earlier and so took a little pity on me. I gifted Bob with a copy of the “The Stargate Conspiracy”, a pretty lame book in retrospect, but a text i figured he should take a look at as he had a few mentions in it, along with almost everybody else at the fringes of paranormal and psychic research in the 1970s.

I offered Bob some dried mushrooms picked at my local spot called Wychbury Hill. He gracefully passed on them with a kind smile and nod. They didn’t go to waste though, years later while reading an article by Richard Metzger (Dangerous Minds) who visited Bob’s room shortly after my interview–i discovered Richard ate the shrooms’ and reported that they were good and strong. Success. His friend Alex Burns, also from Disinformation, managed to get us all super high with some High Times Cannabis Cup winning weed, named William’s Wonder.

CAPITOLA

I pressed the button for the apartment number Bob had sent and waited, and waited…and after what seemed like an eternity i heard the crackle of the intercom and a familiar voice “yes”.

“It’s fly agaric, erm’, i was in touch with you by email about coming down to visit”. After another long pause he said “So…do you wanna’ come in then?” “Yeah, sure” i said, and he buzzed open the steel gate. I walked around the small inner garden area, up some steps to the front door which was already ajar. I stepped through the door.

Once through I slipped my shoes off and walked past his study on the right, and his small library area to the left. He was sitting on a couch, next to some large sliding doors, with a fresh clear view looking out over the Monterey bay. “Hi Bob, thanks for having me over.”

“Would you be so kind as to grab me a coffee, it’s in the pot” he said. “Sure”. I fetched a mug, which had a quote from Hannibal Lecter printed on it, filled it with black coffee and set it down on the table, sitting opposite Bob. “Thanks, fly. So, you’re going to make a recording right?” he asked. “yeah, if that’s cool with you.” I unpacked my minidisc recorder, and set up the microphone on the table.

The apartment reflected a humble man, with moderate furnishings, a couch, two chairs, a television set, stereo, coffee table and a dresser decorated in what looked to me like traditional Japanese artefacts. There were framed pictures hanging up and ornaments that indicated this really was Bob’s residence. On my way out I recall seeing a certificate from a UFO convention, plus I’ll never forget the cute Loch Ness monster ornament laying out on top of the cable box, which at one point during the interview he politely asked me to straighten out for him.

We had two smoke breaks out on the balcony, where i kissed the sky with a specially rolled up bomber. Bob passed my offer due to already feeling high as a mountain goat on his marijuana brownies, which he consumed for medical purposes to help relieve the pain from post polio syndrome. It would be fair to say we were both pretty high and cheerful. I went the whole nine yards and cracked open a four pack of guinness, which was probably a mistake due to the slight fogging of my memory caused by the alcohol.

Bob talked and talked, weaving his unique prose to my unrehearsed questions, turning them into delightful examples of his unique mind at play. He mixed hilarious tales with some serious facts and produced his unmistakable discordian dance of delicate metaphors. There were times when my mouth opened and nothing came out, due to my processing what he had previously said. I had to remain mindful not to interrupt or talk over him, which i’m prone to do at times. There seems nothing worse to me than an interviewer who can’t listen, and sings the eternal song of “I”.

The audio interview is regrettably only the first half of the full recording, the other half of which remains lost in an ocean of badly indexed minidiscs. Fortunately, i made a transcription of the full recording, which was published at the Maybe Logic Quarterly magazine in 2008. However during the interview my disc space ran out, but we carried on talking for at least another 45 minutes. Hence my regret at getting half drunk. Some of the subject matter i recall from that chat included Saul Paul Sirag, Jack Sarfatti, Paul Krassner, David Bohm and the Physics Consciousness Research Institute. He commented at length on 9/11 describing a friends experiences in New York, and the high weirdness that day, and the days that followed. I talked about some of my musical projects, about Garaj Mahal, graffiti art, Ninjatune and my fascination with jazz and synchronicities connected to the music John Coltrane.

Robert Anton Wilson Meets Steve Fly

I was made to feel welcome during the 3-4 hour visit, and Bob did not whinge or complain once. I only felt him get slightly agitated during the interview after i blindly asked him a series of four readymade questions from somebody else, the last of which was “how do you plan to take physical action?” which, when i said it, sounded rather inappropriate for a man suffering from post polio syndrome most his life, and who uses a wheelchair to get around. It hit a small nerve, he coughed and raised his voice a little “I don’t mean to ball you out but, it’s just that i hear that kind of question a lot.” He went on to describe how he attends protests and gatherings when he can get a ride there, and contributes to Amnesty International.

In 2015 I was digging for a minidisc of DJ Fly material for use on my Fly By Night radio shows, produced for Radio Free Amsterdam. While sifting through the discs I noticed one with writing in light pencil that read: R.A.W 10th September 2002. I popped it into the player, and to my delight it was the first half of the interview. I edited and boosted the sound files to the best of my ability, and added a selection of music from friends and past collaborators, resulting in what you hear right here.

I uploaded two short excerpts from the interview to my Soundcloud account and was planning to release the other parts when a friend, Mark Sampson of Iron Man Records, stepped up. In March 2016 Mark kindly offered to master the audio and release it on his independent record label Iron Man Records. So the circle is complete and I hope you enjoy the words and music. Long live the optimists.

– Steve Fly, June 2016

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