The Imagine Nation

January 16, 2018


“Under the present system of mass education by classes too much stress is laid on teaching and too little on active learning. The child is not encouraged to discover things on his own account. He learns to rely on outside help, not on his own powers, thus losing intellectual independence and all capacity to judge for himself. The over-taught child is the father of the newspaper – reading, advertisement – believing, propaganda – swallowing, demagogue – led man – the man who makes modern democracy the farce it is.” – Aldous Huxley, Proper Studies (1927)

Culture Industry is a term coined by Theodor Adorno (1903–69) and Max Horkheimer (1895–1973), who argued in “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,” that popular culture is akin to a factory producing standardised cultural goods – through film, radio and magazines – to manipulate the masses into passivity; the easy pleasures available through consumption of popular culture make people docile and content, no matter how difficult their economic circumstances. Culture industries may cultivate false needs; that is, needs created and satisfied by capitalism. True needs, in contrast, are freedom, creativity, or genuine happiness….Culture not only mirrors society, but also takes an important role in shaping society through the processes of standardisation and commodification, creating objects rather than subjects. By standardising the consumer’s needs, the Culture Industry is manipulating the consumer to desire what it produces. The outcome is that mass production feeds a mass market that minimises the identity and tastes of the individual consumers who are as interchangeable as the products they consume.

“…..We all learn to fear authority. They say the only way to deal with it is to gain a piece of the power structure. So be a cop, a lawyer, a soldier, a businessman. Take their power and use it against your brother. Even well intentioned seekers of power for justice are subverted and compromised. We need to be rid of these demagogues, the pompous hair shirted sooth sayers who are in the position to initiate positive change but instead repress it to perpetuate their rule.” – M.D.C. 1981

“Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!” – Moby Dick, Herman Melville.

“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

“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality” – The Cheshire Cat, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Iron Man Logo A6 Postcard No Marks

1996 was probably the high water mark for the music industry worldwide. But all things come to an end. Whoever creates, demands destruction. At the time I was living in a bedsit, and signing on. I could almost feel the high tide lapping at the window. To me, 1996 was also probably the end of all music genres, and the start of the long slow drop into the abyss. At a time when most people were yet to discover the internet, or mobile phones, and big screen TVs in pubs were starting to look like they were going to change everything, I decided to start a record label. What the fuck was I thinking?

How did Iron Man Records come about?

“A slave is one who waits for someone to come and free him.” Ezra Pound

I started buying records at an early age but soon found that record collecting was an expensive luxury and the only choice was what was stacked on the shelves or anything that hadn’t already sold out. I spent time finding good second hand shops but, the majority of records I found were old vinyl in poor condition or unwanted items. I could never find much I was interested in. I spent a lot of my time reading the music magazines for free in shops on Saturday afternoons, looking at the features and reviews, there was never much I really found any interest in. The bands all seemed the same. To me, none of them had any story or mystery to them, they seemed to me like manufactured, heavily marketed and promoted vehicles for generating money for the record labels behind them. Few of them captured my imagination or seemed to have much to inspire me in any way shape or form. For a while it seemed like the album artwork was almost more interesting or imaginative than the music on the record itself. I suppose the late 1970’s and early 1980’s did produce some good bands but I think anyone who was in their early teens at the time would agree that the 80’s were a bleak time for interesting new music.

One good thing did happen during that period, I discovered tape trading. In the back pages of many music magazines at the time there were small classified adverts listing people who lived all over the country, and all around the world, who had an interest in all sorts of bands. A typical advert would read something like “My name’s Joachim, I live in Germany and I like bands like Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, The Accused, Suicidal Tendencies. Write me with S.A.E (self addressed envelope) for live tapes, swaps at this address….”

I would read the advert, and then read it again thinking…”I know who Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax are… but who are The Accused or Suicidal Tendencies?” I would write to the person in the advert and find out. Before long, the postman was delivering parcels to me that were coming in from all around the world. A couple of my friends were doing the same, we swapped amongst ourselves and with the people we wrote to.

The packages that arrived by post, sometimes two or three a week, contained hand written letters from people the same age as me. Sometimes the tapes would contain an album or a couple of band demos or a live recording of a gig on another. I got the first demos from Heresy, Doom, Carcass, Regurgitation and numerous other bands in this way so I was already looking out for them when the band’s first album got released. I discovered bands like Oi Polloi, Stupids, Dr Know, Rhythm Pigs, Sabbat, Butthole Surfers, Sacred Reich, Nuclear Assault, Faith No More, Prong and many others in a similar way.

Sometimes i would get a fanzine through the post with a long letter listing recommendations, some of the people I wrote to also reviewed records for fanzines or wrote their own. I began to realise that the bands I was watching on top of the pops each week and the features and reviews in the music magazines were just the tip of the iceberg and that the really interesting music was everywhere, you just had to know where to look.

This was the starting point for everything I do now. I had this idea to try and find a way to let more people find out about, and enjoy, the music that I was finding for myself so easily. I wanted to get all this music out to a wider audience. I couldn’t understand why more people weren’t doing what I was doing. I had this naive idea I could somehow come up with a mechanism to provide some kind of alternative to everything I was seeing and hearing through the standard mass media channels at the time. If truth be told, I don’t think I had any idea how to do it or where to start but seeing as I had no friends around me that knew any better, I might as well make a start and make it up as i go along.

Every week I used to go through all the magazine and fanzine gig listings I could find. I would hope I’d spot a gig for a band I had heard about through tape traders and people I had been writing to. I started going to see bands play in London as my older sister had a place where I could stay. I would show up to gigs and hope I could get in without having to show any ID, I was 16 at the time. I spent a lot of my time at venues like The Sir George Robey in Finsbury Park, The Canterbury Arms in Brixton, The White Horse in Hampstead, The Fulham Greyhound, and I used to go to loads of other places too many to mention here.

I often went to gigs by myself, once I had managed to get a drink at the bar I would try and find someone who looked friendly and just start a conversation. The easiest way to do this was to ask them about the bands playing or what records they had bought recently or what other bands they were into. I started to make new friends and some of them I’m still in touch with today. Many people I spoke to mentioned various record shops they could recommend, other venues or fanzines worth checking out and many of them mentioned John Peel. I had already discovered John Peel myself through listening to the radio late at night but I hadn’t realised just how significant he was in terms of the numbers of people my age who listened to his show regularly. Sometimes John Peel would get a letter in from a band, or a mate of a band, I had heard about through tape trading, and he would read it out over the air. He would include the details of their upcoming gig, news of a forthcoming release and an address to write to if you wanted more information on the band. Quite often, if I couldn’t find anything in the gig listings worth going to see, I would take a chance on a band mentioned by John Peel.

Going to gigs, or earning enough money to go to gigs became, for many years, the complete focus of everything I did. I loved seeing bands play, meeting new people and sharing a drink with other people who liked the music I was into. But going to gigs and tape trading wasn’t enough, I wanted to take it further, I wanted to contribute in some way, help these bands reach a wider audience.

In 1990 I had the chance to decide where I wanted to live, I had an offer from several Universities to do a degree in Geography (Don’t ask) and I decided that Birmingham was the University for me. The City of Birmingham up to that time had been producing the most interesting music that I had heard. For example Napalm Death were based in Birmingham, I had been at the first Godflesh gig at the Canterbury Arms in Brixton completely by chance. Godflesh at the time were from Birmingham. I had showed up to see Dr and the Crippens (from Bristol) play but they cancelled and Godflesh and Sink played instead. Bri from Doom was there, I had been tape trading with him for a couple of years and he had told me a lot about what was going on in Birmingham. I used to trade and write to Les from Concrete Sox too and he was always talking about the Birmingham scene and how good the band Doom were. I had a load of Napalm Death live tapes that I had swapped and a lot of the talk between songs was all about other birmingham bands or records that members of Napalm Death were listening to. For a while, many of the bands I was discovering all seemed to play, or had played in Birmingham either at The Mermaid or The Barrel Organ. Birmingham also seemed to be the place where many bands I was listening to were going to record demos or their first records. For example Heresy, Doom, Carcass and others all recorded at Rich Bitch studios in Selly Oak, right next to the University. It seemed Birmingham between 1986 and 1990 had been attracting bands to a healthy alternative music scene and that was what brought me to Birmingham in 1990. However, like all things in the music world and everywhere else, change is never far away, and in Birmingham, things changed…for the worse.

The Mermaid closed down, The Barrel Organ closed down, in 1992 the Hummingbird closed down. What was left were venues like The Jug of Ale, The Hibernian, The Hare and Hounds, The Flapper and Firkin and the only real alternative venue of any size was The Foundry. There was also the Institute and Edwards Number 8. It seemed to me that the only promoters left in Birmingham were only in it to promote the bands they liked already or they would only put on bands that would appeal to the student population regardless of what might be thought interesting or new. How naive I was. Looking back on it with Hinesight, most of them were probably trying to cling on financially as the world around them was already collapsing and they would do anything if it meant better tickets sales. More ticket sales meant more beer sales. More beer sales meant the venue and the promoter had a future. There had to be a better way to attract customers. At this time, the Internet hadn’t arrived yet in any serious capacity.

Across Birmingham student bars were selling beer at £1 a pint, DJ’s were paid £50 to play records in the local pub, big screen TV’s were everywhere playing sport, computer games were encouraging people to stay at home and play, more channels were accessible on the TV, Cable, Satellite channels and changes in peoples use of their leisure time were all eroding ticket sales. You didnt have to go and see a live band anymore to have a fun night out…you could go to the pub and listen to a dj, or watch the sport, or go clubbing, or go to a sports bar and drink cheap lager. The council already had plans in action to build a new shopping centre right in the middle of town, people would be able to go shopping anytime they liked. If this wasn’t enough to sound the death of any hope for the future, do you remember how Birmingham used to have one of the best dance music scenes in the country? House of God, Crunch, a host of other dance nights were all attracting students and other young people…live music was no longer as important as it was, particularly in Birmingham. If you ran a pub, why would you pay £300 or even £500 for a live band when you could get a DJ for £50? It has always been hard enough to run a pub and make money from beer without worry about the rest. Things like marketing and promotion were expensive and complicated, a simple solution for attracting people to drink beer and spend their money was the aim of the game and its still the same today. (It’s interesting to note that these days people even DJ for free in pubs with a laptop or an ipod and think they’re achieving something, they’re just being used…they have their ego flattered and they help sell beer for someone else but, I digress.)

This is where I found myself in 1992. The venues were closing, the promoters were doing anything to stay in business, or moving on. The breweries would rather fit a big screen tv and provide food than have a fully equipped venue and regular live music. It was too expensive and there was too much risk involved. As far as the promoters were concerned, I don’t think anyone was making any money, it was a lot of hard work and a lot of stress. When the venue was packed and the beer sales were good the bands got the credit. When the venue was empty and the beer sales were poor the promoter got a talking to. Either way, if you were a music promoter it was a lose or lose situation. The situation was desperate. Then something happened that pushed me into action.

At the start of 1992 Two bands I had been a fan of for years, from opposite ends of the musical spectrum, came together and appeared on prime time TV right in front of my eyes. One band was Extreme Noise Terror, a band John Peel had introduced me to through numerous plays on his radio show, the other was KLF…a band that had first caught my attention with their antics on top of the pops and an interesting approach to releasing records.

The KLF attracted my attention for a number of reasons, you can look up what they are all about anywhere on the internet. Their most notorious performance was what finally did it. The KLF collaborated with Extreme Noise Terror at the February 1992 BRIT Awards, they played “3am Eternal” and fired machine gun blanks into the audience and dumped a dead sheep at the aftershow party. This performance announced The KLF’s departure from the music business, and in May 1992 the duo deleted their entire back catalogue. I’m sure anyone will tell you how scarcity increases value of some items, the internet has put an end to scarcity, and so the value of music and downloads has become almost nothing. You can get anything you want anytime you want it. There’s no apparent value in ownership anymore. Anyway, back to watching ENT vs KLF on the Brit awards: I watched in disbelief, laughing my head off as the two bands performed on LIVE tv. For the first time in as long as I could remember, something had made me laugh out loud and had lit the fire of enthusiasm to do something myself.

I had been playing in bands for many years by this time, I had been to hundreds of gigs, talked to lots of fanzines, labels, bands, venue promoters and gig organisers. I thought that if no one else was going to do anything to try and sort things out I would have to do it myself. This was the chance I had been waiting for, I had this stupid idea that I should start putting on gigs myself, bring to birmingham all the interesting new alternative bands and I should mix the bills up with good local support acts. All I needed was a venue going bust that would be desperate enough to let me have a go. I would need a sound engineer to look after the sound and I could make the rest up as I go along. That’s exactly what I did.

I started at the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath. My friend Tom Wiggins was a sound engineer, or at least he reckoned he could do the sound if I paid him and sorted everything else out. I went to the landlord at the Hare and Hounds and managed to persuade him to give me one night a month. I would do all the promotion, I would take all the money on the door and I would have to pay the soundman and pay the bands. I started doing one show per month and then moved on to one show a week. I never made much money, enough to pay the sound man and give the bands a donation towards their costs but there was never enough money for everyone and I certainly was not going to make anything for myself. When I graduated I had a couple of dead end jobs. I decided to sign on, to free up my time to put more effort into organising the gigs, marketing and promotion. I spent many late nights thinking about what I could do to make things better. I had done my research, I had a strategy and I was putting the strategy into action, but still there was not much money and not many people coming to the gigs.

A few years later I spotted a poster for a gig at The Ben Johnson, a pub that became Monkey Mick’s opposite the fire station in Aston. It was a poster for a band called Dogfood and on the poster it said the event promoter was sponsored by the K Foundation. I assumed and hoped that this was in some way related to the KLF and showed up to the gig with no idea what to expect. I had an interesting night out. Leaving the gig after a few drinks and making plenty of new friends, I felt I had at last found another small group of people who were also looking for an alternative. They were hell bent on making their own fun regardless. I was also pleased to discover the music promoter responsible for the gig posters. He appeared more unhinged than I was, and at best came across as a dangerous lunatic. His name was Richard Temple and we became good friends. Richard introduced me to the internet, I had no idea what it was, how to use it, or even what possibilities it presented. Richard had to admit that putting K Foundation on the posters was only an attempt to attract people to the gig, he was a fan of KLF and used the name purely to see who would show up. As he stated to me some days afterwards “as a strategy it worked quite well. For a start…you showed up.”

By 1996 Richard was organising shows in Birmingham under the name of “Discordian Promotions” and I was operating under the name of “Badger Promotions.” Both of us were trying to organise shows for interesting touring bands with support slots filled by local acts. I think we both knew that neither of us were ever going to make any money either for the bands, ourselves, or the venues we were working in. But we couldn’t stop, the phone kept ringing. I think we both continued because we were both working at it and it felt good that there was someone else as mad, doing it, too.

In 1997 I had come to the conclusion that there was really no hope for the future of local gig promotion in Birmingham. It was a disaster area and would continue to be so until someone or something came along to change everything. Anyone who knew there was no longer any money in it was moving on in the hope of better things. And when I say no money in it, i mean the costs of putting on a gig properly would always be more than the return on the door. Gigs would always operate at a loss, or at best break even. Those that remained were either too stupid or too bloody minded to stop. Or they were the type of person for whom earning money or promoting half decent new music was not the purpose. Richard and I had started using the internet and hoped that this could be the “thing” to change everything.

Richard set up the first internet based discussion group for “music in Birmingham” called “Discordian.” It started life at egroups, then became a yahoogroups list. We started putting email addresses on posters and flyers and invited people to join the discussion online. For users of twitter or facebook these days, this is where it all started for some musicians in Birmingham. It was slow to start, painfully slow. I don’t think many other people in Birmingham had any idea about the internet either and certainly no idea about what was to become “social networking.”

The basic idea behind the discordian group was to provide a platform where people who were into alternative music in Birmingham could freely discuss all things music eg: gigs they were going to, bands they had seen, records they were listening to and so on. It was also a sneaky way to promote the work of Robert Anton Wilson, the word “discordian” and all related “ideas.” After many months the list still only had about 20 users and Richard and I were the main contributors.

So, always the one with the insane ideas, Richard decided to test whether the “Discordian” discussion group for music was the problem, or the concept of the internet based discussion group itself. Richard tried to think of something that was less likely to be of interest to people in Birmingham than music. He picked the subject of “being naked in public places.” The reasoning was simple: “surely more people would be into going to local gigs than walking around naked in public?” Right? How wrong could anyone be. Richard and I were both masters at that. Richard set up a discussion group that was essentially aimed at people who “liked to walk around naked in public and network with other people who liked to do the same.” Within a month the group had over 1,000 users, within a year it had got out of control. Richard had to shut it down. At least we had the answer we were looking for, the internet is a powerful tool but you need to know how to use it and what you talked about, provided, discussed or promoted mattered. Just because we had access to the internet didn’t mean that people would show up to the gigs in any greater numbers than before.

The bands, the music, the quality, the profile of the bands were still an important part of the equation, we still had to choose the bands carefully. In fact, everything we had done offline before pretty much mattered just as much as what we were doing online now, we had just given ourselves even more work to do online and off. The internet was not a replacement for our work offline, it was an addition to our offline strategy.

I continued to think about ways to reach a wider audience, how could a local band in Birmingham reach a wider local audience, a national audience or even an international audience? Did you really need money or could you do it with strategy alone? Richard and I sat around drinking and arguing about what the internet was or wasn’t going to do for us, and how it would change the future. I had my ideas, Richard had his. We drank a lot, Richard smoked a lot. We argued about the differences and similarities of music, drugs, politics and porn. I have to admit, looking back on it neither of us knew anything, but at the time Richard was the only one who had any clear vision of what we were dealing with and what the future might be. He had invested serious time finding out how things worked online and if anyone knew anything it was more likely to be him.

At the same time, in the national press I was reading about the internet being the end of the music business. I’d heard that one before. Piracy will destroy the music business, Home taping is killing music and now digital files and downloading is killing the music business. It had to be rubbish, somebody somewhere was losing power and control and they didn’t like it. I thought about it a bit longer and read and re-read the articles about the internet and music. I thought to myself that people who knew how to use the internet effectively and use it in cooperation with everything else they did would no doubt succeed. People who didn’t know how to use the internet effectively were going to fail. The Internet appeared to me as a ten ton truck approaching. Somehow I had to get behind the wheel or face getting run down. At a time when the local live music scene was in a mess, and the music industry had announced it was starting to collapse, I decided to start a record label of my own. I wasn’t after money, I wasn’t after a quick hit, or the hope of selling the business on to a larger company when I had made a mess of things. I knew I had no future promoting local gigs, I had already been at it for 5 years in Birmingham at this point and had seen enough to put anyone else off music for life. I wanted to generate an access point, a hub, a network, an embassy for anyone with an imagination. I just wanted to help bands reach a wider audience. And I wanted an audience to be able to reach interesting bands.

In 1997 I was on the dole, I had no money in the bank, I was behind with the rent, I owed people money, I had 5 years as a local music promoter behind me, what did I have to lose? I didn’t have anything but there was one small problem. The bank was not going to lend me any more money, my credit card was full. I needed to find someone who would give me some money, enough money to release a record and test out my ideas. Someone who would not ask for it back, even if I failed completely. I also needed someone who would not ask me to push a brand, or an agenda, or some sales or marketing nonsense.

I spent my time making lists of things I thought I might need. Each list had a combination of 5 things. Money, a space to work, access to a phone, a printer, a better internet connection. I had all of the above already to some degree, but I needed to be working from somewhere other than the small piece of carpet at the top of the stairs, outside my room in a shared house. I needed a phone line that wasn’t shared or in another persons room. Mobile phones hadn’t arrived at this point in my life yet. The phone would be ringing at all hours and my housemates would probably want me to move out, or worse still, they might start answering calls. At the end of each list I had “distill an open manifesto” or “mission statement.” I needed something to “purpose” or help navigate the label’s work in the years ahead. Anything would do. Just nothing commercial. I would know it when I found it. I kept my eyes open everywhere I went. Then, by chance, I found a brand new copy of “The Manual” (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way) 1988 – a book by The Timelords (Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty), better known as The KLF, in a bookshop. It had remained unsold, hidden away on the wrong shelf. I bought it and read the book cover to cover. I thought about what I had read in some detail. This would do, I thought. I sent my receipt as proof of purchase to the PO BOX printed in the book and requested The Guarantee. This is the reply that Bill Drummond sent back on headed paper.

Iron Man Records - Your Guarantee

Something else happened by chance. I was organising a gig at The Old Railway on Curzon Street in Digbeth. I used to run shows every week on a tuesday and wednesday. I can’t remember who was playing, but the gig was not well attended and the soundman Rhys was complaining bitterly about my inability to manage my way out of a paper bag. He was probably right. I was on the door, and a local Councillor called John Hemming appeared. He introduced himself and asked me if I would be interested in setting up a record label. He wanted to lend me the money I needed to make a start. He would give me access to a phone, some office space and in return I would have to pay all the costs back and share half of any proceeds with him. I was shocked that something like this could just show up at the door of a gig. I stared in amazement. He asked me again if I would be interested. “This bloke is a lunatic, the deal sounds like nonsense” I thought. Then I thought a bit more. In only takes five seconds to realise, everything in life is nonsense. I didn’t have a better plan. I had to say yes. And so everything I thought to be true, turned upside down. I realised I would probably have to move out and find some new housemates. What I had just agreed to was probably going to take a hammer to everyone and everything around me. I was right.

You never really know how you are going to react to something, until it actually happens. A complete stranger, turning up to a gig, offering to lend me money to start a record label, that I was already trying to assemble by myself, was one of them. I had already worked out the name for the label, Iron Man Records, after the song of the same name by Black Sabbath. Iron Man resonated in my imagination. Birmingham was Ozzy’s town, a sprawling mass of industrial nightmare to some, home to the rest. And I liked the lyrics to the song. I wanted the record label to be an access point, a meeting place, a network hub, the Birmingham Embassy for the Imagine Nation. I had the “manifesto” in the Guarantee from the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, all I needed now was a logo.

The Manual outlines the importance of a logo to go with the label name at the top of your official headed notepaper. I wasn’t interested in headed notepaper at this stage, but I had to agree, the record label would need one. I reached for the tin opener as that seemed to be the most common item in my life at that time. I put it on a photocopier to see what happened. In the end I had to ask a friend to try their scanner and come up with something better as I had no idea about graphic design.

Iron Man Records officially began on 23rd November 1997. I had been working on ideas throughout 1996. I had noted 1996 as the most disappointing year of my life so far, how could anything I tried next be any worse? Birmingham can be a bleak and depressing place. Bands like Napalm Death, Godflesh, Doom and the rest, I’m sure, were all influenced by the place they spent their time. It shows in their music. I wanted to take a tin opener to peoples perceptions of the Birmingham Music Scene and to the Music Business in general, I wanted to see what it was all about for myself and offer an alternative. I wanted to find out if anyone could set up a record label. I wanted to see if I could work to help bands reach a wider audience without having to be a greedy, money motivated idiot. I didn’t just want to do it myself, anyone could do that. I wanted to do it properly, and fairly without compromise, without chasing money, or some naive notion of social acceptance.

Not long after I started work on the record label, Barney, the singer from Napalm Death, showed up at The Old Railway to write a review for Kerrang. I spoke to him briefly and asked if he could recommend a good studio in Birmingham for bands to record. I had heard so many horror stories about Rich Bitch. He laughed and said “Go and see Bag at Framework Studios, he’ll sort you out.” Barney gave me the address and a phone number.

When I found Framework Studios I found Bag aka Paul Siddens and Simon Reeves. Bag had worked with Napalm Death for the last ten years, Meathook Seed, Charger, DBH, Little Giant Drug, Cathedral, Carcass, Bjork, Admortem, Family Cat, Crowbar, Six Feet Under, Obituary, Ride, Coal Chamber, Skin Lab, At The Gates, Saxon, and PJ Harvey. Bag starting teaching me some of the most important things about touring, recording and everything else I might need to know. The rest is history, I still work with Framework Studios. Simon Reeves plays bass in Last Under The Sun which is the band I started in 2001. The first release on Iron Man Records was a local band called I.O.D and it’s still one of my favourites, a local band that had only played local gigs and with Bag’s work in the studio, they produced a great debut release.

That was then. That was the start. Where is Iron Man Records now? A lot of things go around in my head. I’m still much the same as I was, even all these years later. The reality of running the record label and working with bands for the past 21 years has tempered my optimism a little. I’ve learnt a lot. No one is free. No people on this Earth are free. Music and the creative Arts are still something meaningful to me, something of value. Understand, Entertainment may be a lot of things, but in simple terms: music and art eases the pain of our subservience. The idea of culture in the modern world, to me is almost like someone saying “ shut up, be happy, don’t be angry, have this culture, you’ll like it”

The only place left, where any of us can still hope to be free, is in our heads. The Imagination. Everything starts in the Imagination. If you are a musician, everything starts with the music of your imagination. If you want to live in a different world you have to imagine it and attempt to create it through your actions. Your world may only exist in your imagination but meaning comes from doing. Any attempt to create a different world is what I work to support. Iron Man Records is an independent record label, a network, a hub of activity, an Embassy for the Imagine Nation. Refugees of popular culture are welcome.

Iron Man Records is run by two directors, Mark Sampson and Kevan Tidy.

In 2000 I set up Birmingham Music Network with Anthony Hughes to work alongside Iron Man Records. At a time when social networking was in it’s infancy and online discussion groups were establishing themselves, Birmingham Music Network aimed to encourage a more meaningful, face to face, networking experience. BMN set out to help stimulate discussions, ideas, and growth. It aimed to inspire and share knowledge among musicians across the West Midlands region. But not to control it, filter it or funnel it. Some people got it, some people didn’t. Some people didn’t like it at all. BMN had to look a little disorganised to prevent others from taking an interest and trying to push it in the wrong direction, but at the same time, those who understood the potential for an independent networking hub quietly benefitted and the meetings continue to this day.

I work on all of this in addition to everything I do as Iron Man Records. I’ve organised more than 1000 gigs in Birmingham since 1992 under the name of Badger Promotions. I’m a musician myself, I play in a band called Last Under The Sun and also Police Bastard. I’ve played with many other bands over the years but these two are the ones I’m working with currently.

At the moment, I write and maintain several music related blogs, I’m active across social media and work hard to promote new music. It’s not as easy as you would like to think. Many people take it for granted that they can turn up at the door of a gig and pay to get in. While standing at the bar, ordering a drink and listening to the group already on stage, few people understand the work that has to go into planning, organising, managing and promoting a night of live music. Fewer still will realise how many musicians go on and off stage and don’t even get paid for their work. Many musicians pay to rehearse, pay to acquire and maintain their instruments and music equipment, pay to get themselves to and from the gig, pay for their own drinks at the bar and pay for their own food while they are away from home. Musicians are only slightly better off than poets, but even poets seem to be surviving with their craft in healthier numbers these days while many musicians are being forced to call it a day. Lets be clear, music is not an easy business, in fact, in can be brutal and many musicians mental health takes a beating. And some choose to end their lives in despair.

What does Iron Man Records do to survive?

I suppose the simple answer is Iron Man Records attempts to cheat. It doesn’t generate any money of any significance from any of the releases on the label. To date the record label has only generated a tiny fraction of the costs it has taken to operate so far. So where is the money coming from that finances the label? Aside from the crippling financial madness of Iron Man Records, I work as a Tour Manager. I use all the skills and experience I have generated organising gigs, running a record label and playing in a group myself to take bands on tour all over the UK and most of Europe. The money I earn doing Tour Management work just about generates enough for myself and the label to survive on.

Demand World Peace

Some recent clients I’ve worked with include Seasick Steve, John Paul Jones, Shalamar, The Monkees, Dua Lipa, M83, Barry Adamson, Hotei, Madness, The Stone Roses, Mika, Killing Joke, Adam Ant, Shye Ben Tzur and the Rajasthan Express, Roland Gift, Omar Puente, Fatoumata Diawara, Anthrax, Modestep, Imani Williams, Talib Kweli, Little Barrie, House of Pain, The Enemy, Friendly Fires, Curse of Lono, Crystal Castles, Bullet for my Valentine, The Orb, Vagina Monologues, Eska, Edwin Sanz, Kaiser Chiefs, Billy Ocean, Taio Cruz, Ivo Papasov, Sierra Meastra, As I lay Dying, Roisin Murphy, Ladytron, Son de la Frontera, Jeffrey Daniel, and many others…..

I sometimes assemble online strategy for bands and companies to generate a bit of extra income. I have built websites for bands, belly dancers, festival organisers, consultants and creatives of all types, and bloggers.

Kevan Tidy offers Legal Advice to musicians, writers, filmmakers, inventors and creatives.

I have lectured at Birmingham City University as part of their Music Business degree course, I’ve delivered work for the Musicians Union, projects for Birmingham City Council, Learning and Skills Council and Advantage West Midlands.

I had a thought some years ago. ”When All Music is Digital, All Independence ceases.” The major labels that defined how people perceived the world and the Music Industry, namely EMI, Warner Brothers, Sony BMG, Universal have all taken a hit from the changing way that most people consume music. Some of the labels like EMI have gone bust altogether. The process has been both good and bad, neither good nor bad, and to some degree meaningless for everyone involved. Many people listen to more music now, than at any time in their life, and it’s had nothing to do with any of the major labels. At the same time, musicians are finding it easier than ever to track their share of the revenue. Digital stats are easy to access, but many musicians are finding that their share of the revenue has also become smaller than ever. For example a band might be pleased to know they have generated 40,000 streams, but disappointed to find they have only sold 65 copies of their physical album, in ten years. A super league of perhaps the top 1% or even less, have pulled away from everyone else in the business and are generating more than 75% of all global revenues. Consumers are looking to the new major labels like Youtube, Amazon, Spotify, Google, Apple and other platforms. In my view, whoever controls the digital platform, controls the music, and the revenue streams returning to musicians and creatives. I have taken the position that the future of independent music has to be independent of these platforms, in some sense. Iron Man Records is now releasing all new records on Vinyl, as well as through digital channels. Iron Man Records has a fund raising page on and currently has 32 Patrons donating $209 a month to help raise funds for Vinyl releases. At first look the idea might appear insufficient, perhaps mad, but independence is not easy in the market place, and it won’t stop Iron Man Records from trying.

From there to here…..what does it take to survive?

The following text was posted on my first website in 1996. I had started organising gigs in 1992 with a group of others in Birmingham under the name of Badger Promotions. I tried to share all the money from the door takings with the bands who played. When there wasn’t enough money from the door, I used my own money to pay the bands.

How it all started – July 1996
I used to play in a band some years back but I found it difficult to get shows booked without National press or a demo tape. I started booking venues myself, in order to get shows for my own band. At the time, my only friends were those who were struggling with their own band projects.

None of us had any money to record demo tapes, we had all suffered at the hands of rip-off promoters, nobody seemed interested in promoting Punk / Hardcore in Birmingham unless you had a record contract, some of us were even considering giving up altogether. It was time to do it for ourselves.

Between us, we started booking and playing our own shows on a regular basis, sharing the tasks of organisation, promotion and performance. Our philosophy? To book the venue ourselves, organise promotion ourselves, operate the door, ticketing and mailing lists ourselves, and any money that we made was shared between us to cover costs of band practice and promotion for the next show.

From this small beginning Badger Promotions evolved, and today Badger has mutated to form a record label called Iron Man Records.

By far the largest sector of activity revolves around the live promotion of independent bands who since the start, have multiplied their numbers so fast, I haven’t got an accurate count as new bands are joining every week. The bands continue to work together, supporting each others shows, and at last it is looking as if the whole is becoming greater than the sum of the parts. And that is just in the West Midlands area.

Badger Promotions maintains its own database of contacts, information, promotional techniques and useful advice for new bands wishing to make a start for themselves in the West Midlands area.

Iron Man Records began on 23rd November 1997. A lot has happened since then. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep your mind on the job you set out to do all those years ago. Things change, priorities change, people change, you forget things, and you can be easily distracted. The Manual had a few really useful tips, some of which I had already discovered for myself at this point. The Manual helped formalise a simple framework of things to do, and things to avoid alongside an approach to the essentials that the work would require. I have kept The Guarantee and a list of quotes that have continued to inspire and inform what I do since the record label began all those years ago. I try not to forget where it all came from or how it all started. But, you also have to let go and keep an open mind and be prepared to update and renew your approach as the world changes around you. I like to think It’s what you know, on what basis, and how you apply yourself that matters. To me, Music isn’t just entertainment. Music has a meaning to me, and it demands a meaningful approach. My approach may be nonsense to some, but most things in life are nonsense in some sense. You have to pick a way through it, do as you will, and stick to the plan as best you can. You can read more of what motivates Iron Man Records here: One of my favourite quotes is: “Of course I’m crazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.” Robert Anton Wilson. All musicians have a place. All music represents a piece of the puzzle. It’s up to you to work it all out.

By the end of 1996 I had worked out what I wanted to do and why. As Dr. Timothy Leary said, the next task was to go out and “…..Find The Others.”

Here is a list of Bands and releases on Iron Man Records. Each group had something about them I liked: their lyrics, their ideas, their music, their attitude, their approach. Some lived and died in a very short period of time, some are still working today. Sometimes I didn’t necessarily agree with everything a band had to say. But my approach was to support them as best I could. I don’t think I set out with any specific genre in mind. I wanted to work with bands that played from the heart, had a good imagination and had something to say. If the group was good onstage, and easy to work with offstage, that was good enough for me. This list serves as a brief History of Iron Man Records to date.

IMB6001 I.O.D – Mundane Existence CD album 2000

IMB6002 P.A.I.N featuring Howard Marks and Larry MacDonald – Let Me Grow More Weed CD single 2000

IMB6003 P.A.I.N – Our Universe Commences Here (O.U.C.H) Vinyl / CD album 2001

IMB6004 LESS – “And I’ll see you never work again” taunted Florence CD album 2001

IMB6005 GORGEOUS – Cursed with Being….. CD album 2003

IMB6660 LEGION OF DYNAMIC DISCHORD – Negative Entropy CD album 2001

DLPR2006 PIGFISH – The Reverend James CD mini album 2003

IMB6007 SIST – Talking Points Not Tragedies CD EP 2004

IMB6008 ACADEMY MORTICIANS – What Happened? CD album 2004

IMB6009 P.A.I.N – Oh My God, We’re Doing It! CD album re-issue 2005

IMB6010 LAST UNDER THE SUN – Windfall CD album 2004

IMB6011 LAST UNDER THE SUN – All Empires Crumble CD EP 2005

IMB6012 LAST UNDER THE SUN – Gone CD album 2009

IMB6013 SENSA YUMA – Up Yours! CD album 2004

IMB6015 DUFUS – Neuborns CD album 2004

IMB6016 DUFUS – The Last Classed Blast CD album 2006

IMB6017 NIGHTINGALES – Out Of True CD album 2006

IMB6018 POLICE BASTARD – It’s Good To Hate….. CD / DVD 2009

IMB6019 LAST UNDER THE SUN – Hooligan Jihad CD 2010

IMB6020 POLICE BASTARD – Dead To The World – Digital Release (23rd November 2015)

IMB6021 POLICE BASTARD – Confined CD 2013

IMB6022 JOHN SINCLAIR – Mohawk CD 2014

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

IMB6024 Police Bastard – Confined – Digital Release – 2013

IMB6025 Steve Fly – They Came To Starburg – Digital Release – 2014

IMB6026 John Sinclair – Mohawk – Digital Release – 2014

IMB6027 T.C. Lethbridge – Moon Equipped – Digital Release (23rd November 2014)

IMB6028 T.C. Lethbridge – 2000 TC – Digital Release (23rd November 2014)

IMB6029 T.C. Lethbridge – Mina – Digital Release (23rd November 2014)

IMB6030 Police Bastard – Traumatized – Digital Release – (23rd November 2014)

IMB6031 John Sinclair – Beatnik Youth – Remixed and Remastered – Digital Release

IMB6032 John Sinclair – Beatnik Youth – Remixed and Remastered – CD Release

IMB6033 John Sinclair – Beatnik Youth Ambient  – LP Release on Vinyl

IMB6034 Dr Marshmallow Cubicle – Occupy – Digital Release (23rd April 2016)

IMB6035 Robert Anton Wilson – Meets Steve “Fly Agaric” Pratt – Digital Release (23rd June 2016)

IMB6036 Police Bastard – Confined – Vinyl Release

IMB6037 Rachel Mayfield – Winter Of Desire – Digital Release (12th October 2017)

IMB6038 Brassick – Appreciate Your Concern – Digital Release (15th October 2017)

There are also a few things worth keeping in mind I’d like to share with you. I’ve learnt many things since I started the record label. These are probably the most significant to me.

Few people are willing to accept the extent to which blind chance affects their lives.

Few people know how it works. Most of us spend our lives trying to discover it for ourselves while trying to look like we know what we are doing.

Few people recognise that accidental success is not luck or a one off, but rather a demonstration of how things actually work.

Success more frequently comes from maximising the opportunity that falls into your lap by chance, rather than actually making something happen by yourself.

Success is more like being able to stumble upwards without any time to prepare or get ready, than a carefully planned journey.

It’s what you know, not who you know that matters. Do your research. If you know what you’re dealing with, you’ll know who to ask for help.

Phone people, don’t email them.

Tomorrow is just a word. if you are going to do it, do it today.

The Law of Fives: The Law of Fives states simply that: All things happen in Fives, or are divisible by five, or are multiples of five, or are somehow directly or indirectly related to 5.

Imagine the numbers 2 and 3. 23. 2 divided by 3 is 0.666. the laws of synchronicity and seriality may be nonsense, but so is everything else. So do as you will.

“Don’t believe anything. Nothing which is the product of a human mind is a fitting subject for your belief…..But, you can suppose anything…..and you should because supposing is mind expanding. Suppose flying saucers, fairies, God…..if you must…..but don’t believe it” – Ken Campbell

What else does Iron Man Records do?

Iron Man Records still works with Framework Studios in Birmingham. The Recording studio these days, is based on Floodgate Street in Digbeth, easy walking distance from the City Centre. The Studio is run by Simon Reeves who used to work with Paul Siddens aka Bag, back at the start of all this. The studio handles everything from recording rehearsals, editing, track laying, to bands recording a single, EP, albums, audiobooks, singer songwriters and just about anything else you can imagine. Simon can also master recordings. In recent times, Simon at Framework Studios has worked with Police Bastard, Spirit Bomb, Selfless, John Sinclair, Robert Anton Wilson, Steve Fly, Oliver Senton and more.

Iron Man Records has also been instrumental in offering bands from all over the world, the chance to come and play in the UK. No one is illegal, and no musician should be treated as illegal either. If you are born on the planet, you should have the freedom to travel on the planet without restriction, in my view. I have worked hard to help bands get work permits and where necessary I have offered musicians the chance to audition in the UK to invited audiences without the need for work permits at all.

Iron Man Records runs an online shop selling all sorts of music from vinyl, CD, DVD to video and T-shirts and so on. It’s a tough business, but I work hard to try and keep physical products available in addition to whatever you can find as a digital download or via streaming services.

Splitter Vans

Iron Man Records offers Tour Management Services to bands and artists. The work tends to be a mixture of the following:

Tour Management – A professional solution for touring artists, providing a reliable service at a reasonable price. I organise the administration for a schedule of appearances, contacting each promoter or venue to ensure the clients technical and hospitality demands are met. I ensure the work remains within the budget. I take care of the day to day planning and management of activities on the road, and any unforeseen issues or emergencies should they occur.

Transfers – A simple and cost effective transfer service to or from the airport, the office, an exhibition, or an event.

Backline and Gear Moves – A reliable service to pick up or drop off backline, gear or trailers depending on your need. I use a suitable panel van, splitter van, or a Luton Van depending on the work involved. I also drive bands around where tour management is provided by someone else.

Vehicles: I hire vehicles according to the needs of the work involved, the available budget, and any specific client needs. I work with a number of suppliers based in London, Oxford and Cardiff. I work for you, not the hire company. I always try and source the highest quality vehicles at the most competitive prices, that are best suited to the work.

Gimpo's M25 25 hour Spin 2017.

Sometimes I do things I don’t fully understand. Iron Man Records is involved in a number of other activities. They neither generate money, nor have anything much to do with the record label. But I do them anyway.

Gimpo’s M25 Spin is one of them. 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. Gimpo is making the worlds longest road movie. He wants to know where the M25 goes. The Spin has happened once a year since it started in 1997, and will cease in 2021. The spin is Gimpo’s idea, and it goes one louder than “Le Mans.”

Money Flame for The Cockpit, London, NW8 8EH October 23rd 2017

Money Burning and Ritual Sacrifice is as much a part of what I do with Iron Man Records as releasing records. I have an interest in the nature of money, its relation to thought and knowledge, and how these are entangled in the primal psychology of sacrificial ritual and what it is to be a sovereign being. In simple terms, I burn money every now and then, usually in a phonebox. It helps to maintain some degree of sensitivity in my own thought processes. Money Burning also raises a number of questions. The idea of a cashless society is one of them. How do you destroy digital currency is another. I try to avoid any decisions for purely financial gain. Burning Money is something you cannot fully understand until you’ve done it yourself. It’s a sacred act. It’s up to you to understand what it means. I like to maintain a commitment to the artistic merit of bands, artists and creatives that I work with. Burning Money and trying to help creatives may appear to be a contradiction, but actually, you have to learn to embrace contradiction. For many years I quietly did my own money burning thing, in my own way. And then I met Jon Harris through my work outside the record label. We both ended up sharing responsibility for a number of bands, it started with Soulsavers. The band featured Kev Bales on drums, I didn’t know it at the time, but Kev was the drummer for TC Lethbridge. Later on, I had to ask Jon to step in and look after Seasick Steve. I had found myself double booked when Steve announced some new tour dates at short notice. That’s another story. Jon and I got on well. We shared an interest in Burning Money, and the increased sensitivity and awareness that money destruction generates. We also both liked The KLF and all sorts of interesting topics I probably shouldn’t discuss here. I’ve been following Jon’s “Money Wisdom” from the start, his blog makes for an interesting read.

Cosmic Trigger Play 4th – 27th May 2017

When Daisy Campbell put Cosmic Trigger on at the Cockpit this year, Jon organised the merch and volunteered me to keep an eye on it. I saw the Cosmic Trigger play twice as a result and it started the cogs turning again after a creatively bleak period in recent times. On 23rd October, Jon held his Burn Your Money – Ritual Mass Burn at The Cockpit. Alongside Daisy, and members of the cast and crew of Cosmic Trigger, I found myself dragged into proceedings. Not only did I find myself lying on my back with a balloon stuffed up my T-shirt being blamed (yet again, I might add) for all forms of Patriarchy by a Canadian artist (is this issue about Patriarchy a Canadian thing?), I also ended up on the merch stall afterwards. I like to do my bit for the cause. These things happen. I try not to understand.

I have contributed to Jon’s Burning Issue Magazine ‘The World’s first magazine EXCLUSIVELY for Money Burners and other destroyers of currency.’ I’m also trying to support Jon with finance to facilitate the SUPER DELUXE Special Edition due for publication in 2018.

The Money Burner's Manual: A Guide to Ritual Sacrifice by Jonathan Harris

Jon Harris has written a book. The Money Burner’s Manual: A Guide to Ritual Sacrifice by Jonathan Harris is now available as a limited edition hardback. If you have ever considered the issues and consequences of Burning Money, or sought to understand more about it, this book makes a fantastic read. The book contains the best of Jon’s research, thoughts and interpretations, methods, meaning and history of Money Burning. I don’t fully understand it all myself, but it gives the reader a lot to think about.

To some, Burning Money and ritual sacrifice appears immoral or insane. But, if you read The Money Burner’s Manual, you may find yourself to be a prophet of a new age and your actions may be proclaimed as righteous and sane. Work it out for yourself.

Let me talk briefly about a couple of bands of interest on the label. You may have no idea who they are, but like most bands on the label, you don’t know them, but they have an incredible story to tell.

TC Lethbridge

TC Lethbridge - 2000 TC (Iron Man Records - 23rd Nov 2014)

TC Lethbridge – “2000 TC,” “Mina” and “Moon Equipped” were released by Iron Man Records on 23rd November 2014. 23 years after the band split up. The reasons why are not simple to explain.

I went to a meeting in 2014, in the back room of a pub, The George in Southwark actually. The pub is just a few minutes walk from The Shard in London. Gimpo worked on The Shard and if I was going to park anywhere, parking at the foot of the Shard endorsed his work. I’ve spent time, 25 hours at a time, in a van going round the M25 with Gimpo, and believe me, it’s an experience to be had. I was with Steve Fly, a writer, musician and someone who plays drums for the Detroit Poet, John Sinclair. John used to manage MC5 and was a founder member of the White Panthers. Steve and John had released Mohawk through Iron Man Records and I was interested to accompany Steve to the meeting. I wanted to listen in, and if necessary, endorse him as a potential Music Director for The Cosmic Trigger, a new stage play by Daisy Eris Campbell. Daisy is the daughter of Ken Campbell who staged the Illuminatus! in 1976. I was 5 years old when all of that was going on.

The meeting was interesting as I had never met Daisy before and I had no idea what to expect. Michelle the production manager, who was opposite, seemed to be keen to find the right people to take on the task ahead and no one was thinking any of this was going to be easy. A lot of hard work was ahead. If Bill Drummond had gone out to get Araldite in 1976, never to return…I was sure that this new stage adaptation of Robert Anton Wilson’s book The Cosmic Trigger was not going to be any easier for anyone.

Robert Anton Wilson was an American author novelist, psychologist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, civil libertarian and self-described agnostic mystic. I discovered Robert Anton Wilson as a teenager and by way of a band called The KLF and their various aliases from The Timelords, The Jams, The Justified Ancients of MU MU, to 2K and K Foundation. Magic Temple of Discordian Promotions gave me many of Robert Anton Wilson’s books as a present which I’ve read and sometimes re-read. Both Robert Anton Wilson and the discussions I had about his work with Magick gave me inspiration when organising gigs for bands in Birmingham, at a time when signing on and eating the food in my housemate’s cupboard was about all I had. The last posting that Robert Anton Wilson put on his website said: “I look forward without dogmatic optimism but without dread. I love you all and I deeply implore you to keep the lasagna flying.” The whole concept of keeping the lasagne flying made sure I didn’t get any ideas like getting a job or doing anything sensible with my time. In fact, I only stopped organising gigs because the venue I worked at, The Old Railway, was scheduled to be bulldozed. But that’s an aside, someone else was at the meeting who I knew of but had never met before.

Flinton Chalk was sat across from me, he was the one who sold the old car to Jimmy Cauty which ended up being used in KLF music videos and was renamed Ford Timelord. Flinton had bought the car from a film studio and spent time with friends dressing up as a nun and driving around doing donuts in muddy fields in the middle of the night. You might be wondering where on earth all this is going. You see, as John Higgs will tell you, if you happen to run a record label and read his book The Brandy Of The Damned “This is the problem with doing weird things. If you behave like a reasonable person, then the world will be reasonable back. If you step outside of the norm, however, and act in freaky ways, then the world will match you step for step. ”

And this is how I ended up talking with Flinton about the car, dressing up as a transvestite pirate nun, Jimmy Cauty, KLF, Julian Cope, Tall Hats, Stones Circles, and his time living in Avebury. I used to live in Wiltshire so I know that part of the world pretty well. Judging by the number of times I had driven through Avebury late at night in the early 1990’s, its a wonder I hadn’t run Flinton down. Somehow we got on to 111hz which can wait for another time, and then to a serious story about his trip to Mothers Jam on Fyfield down near Avebury. A stone tried to dematerialise Flinton and Julian Cope on one of their outings to collect photos and detail for The Modern Antiquarian. Flinton also told me about his band TC Lethbridge, named after Thomas Charles Lethbridge, who was an English archaeologist, parapsychologist, and explorer.

Having spent every last penny for the last 17 years on a record label that few people have any interest in, or understanding of,  I was in no mood to consider working with another band, and certainly not one that hadn’t played a gig, or had been missing for 23 years with three unreleased albums. But, I have done many things over the years, sometimes for money, sometimes for free, and sometimes because insanity is a far more rational approach to a complex situation than trying to think things through properly. And that’s how I ended up agreeing to help TC Lethbridge until they found someone more suitable.

Sat next to me, Steve Fly had just been appointed Music Director for The Cosmic Trigger so the work was done. I didn’t get out of the building until I had also agreed to do “whatever I could” to help The Cosmic Trigger. What had started out in my mind as a meeting to endorse Steve and “listen in and learn,” ended up as “You don’t listen and you never learn.” And so it began. Flinton’s band, TC Lethbridge had found itself a record label.

John Higgs is the Author of ‘The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned A Million Pounds’ and ‘I Have America Surrounded: The Life of Timothy Leary’. John published Stranger Than We Can Imagine in 2015 and writes fiction (as JMR Higgs) including The Brandy of the Damned and The First Church on the Moon. He’s just published a new book called Watling Street.

I’ve read John’s book on Timothy Leary and also his book on the KLF and The Brandy of The Damned. All of them are well worth the read, you can make your own mind up which one to read first but, before you consider any of those, I want to tell you about another work.

John Higgs has written a book called 2000 TC: Standing on the Verge of Getting It On. The book is not for sale, it was published as a private edition of 111 copies. Don’t ask. The answer will blow the right side of your brain.

TC Lethbridge - 2000 TC book by John Higgs

2000 TC was written to mark The Cosmic Trigger play and festival performance in Liverpool. It is the story of TC Lethbridge, who played their first gig after the play on the Saturday – 23 years after they formed. TC Lethbridge are Doggen and Kev Bales, of Spiritualized and Julian Cope/Brain Donor, and Flinton Chalk, who you’ll find more about in John’s KLF book (pages 116-117).

2000 TC is an album recorded by TC Lethbridge in Avebury 20 years ago. It was remastered by the same person who remastered the recent Led Zeppelin re-issues. Don’t ask about that either. Flinton met me backstage at The Barbican, London on 31st May after John Sinclair had performed with The Founder Effect supporting Marshall Allen and The Sun Ra Arkestra. The gig was to celebrate 100 years since the birth of Sun Ra and it was a suitable venue to hand over the 2000 TC master. The album was released on November 23rd by Iron Man Records along with Moon Equipped and another album called Mina. The band have been missing for 23 years and now they are back with the intention to begin playing gigs, with a book by John Higgs, and three albums on Iron Man Records.

I should mention that Thomas Charles Lethbridge was born 23rd March 1901 and passed away on 30th September 1971. You may also be interested to know that 30th September 1971 is my birthday. Let me be clear: I am not the reincarnation of TC Lethbridge. It appears from birth, despite my protesting, I have been destined to know TC Lethbridge and release the records by a band of the same name. You cant make this stuff up.

The voice on the 2000 TC track Bou Saada is that of Brian Barritt. He makes an appearance in the book Cosmic Trigger, when Timothy Leary tells Robert Anton Wilson that he needs to talk to Brian if they are to both understand Aleister Crowley.

John  Higgs said “Spending a few months writing a biography of a band who have yet to show their faces in public was not the most career-minded way to spend my time, but it had to be done. This is a story about people who’ve had some form of visionary or incomprehensible experience, and about how they can only move on and process what happened to them through a creative act. It is about the impact an uncompleted artistic project can have on a life. It also functions as a jigsaw piece, connecting the story in my Timothy Leary book to the one I tell in The KLF.

So, yeah, it had to be written.

No doubt it will be made more widely available at some point, in some format, in some way, should the band keep gigging and putting themselves about.”

John Sinclair

JOHN SINCLAIR Beatnik Youth - Portrait Photo

John Sinclair has been described as a Cultural revolutionary, pioneer of marijuana activism, radical leader, political prisoner by the end of the 1960s, a legend of the imagine nation, the last of the Beatnik Warrior Poets, and a founding father of the U.S rock and roll constitution.

From 1966-67 Sinclair founded the Detroit Artists’ Workshop which became part of the ‘hippy revolution: Sex, drugs, rock & roll and fucking in the streets.”

In 1966, he began to manage the proto-punk/Avant Rock band MC5, simultaneously, in the summer of 1967 the Detroit Riots broke out. This event along with years of police harassment aimed at the Detroit Artists’ Workshop led Sinclair and his friends to take refuge in the college town of Ann Arbor Michigan. MC5’s first album was recorded “live” at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom in 1968 and “exploded onto the scene like a bomb though a courtroom window” and was released along with the declaration that Sinclair, MC5 and a select few others had formed the White Panther party, in opposition to the U.S. government, the war in Vietnam, the war on drugs, the culture wars and to show open support for the Black Panther Party.

The White Panther Party spearheaded the process of a “rock’n’roll revolution” during 1968 to 1969, and the writings of Sinclair for the underground press helped document and analyse the White Panther Parties “Total assault on the culture” and the mutual opposition to the Vietnam war. The White Panther Party remains the only political party ever formed by a rock’n’roll band. They preached the poetry of an immediate revolution–a sonic rainbow revolution–and carried out their radical political and cultural organising and edutainment work alongside their fellow revolutionaries on the East, and West coasts of the U.S.A. The White Panther Party was referred to by the FBI as “potentially the largest and most dangerous of revolutionary organisations in the United States.”

In November 1968, Fifth Estate published the “White Panther State/meant”. This manifesto, emulating the Black Panthers, ended with a ten-point program:

1. We want freedom. We want the power for all people to determine our own destinies.

2. We want justice. We want an immediate and total end to all cultural and political repression of the people by the vicious pig power structure and their mad dog lackies the police, courts and military. We want the end of all police and military violence against the people all over the world right now!

3. We want a free world economy based on the free exchange of energy and materials and the end of money.

4. We want free access to all information media and to all technology for all the people.

5. We want a free educational system, utilising the best procedures and machinery our modern technology can produce, that will teach each man, woman and child on earth exactly what each needs to know to survive and grow into his or her full human potential.

6. We want to free all structures from corporate rule and turn the buildings over to the people at once!

7. We want free time and space for all humans—dissolve all unnatural boundaries!

8. We want the freedom of all prisoners held in federal, state, county or city jails and prisons since the so-called legal system in Amerika makes it impossible for any man to obtain a fair and impartial trial by a jury of his peers.

9. We want the freedom of all people who are held against their will in the conscripted armies of the oppressors throughout the world.

10. We want free land, free food, free shelter, free clothing, free music, free medical care, free education, free media, EVERYTHING FREE FOR EVERYBODY!

Our program is Cultural Revolution through a total assault on the culture, which makes us use every tool, every energy and any media we can get our collective hands on. We take our program with us everywhere we go and use any means necessary to expose people to it. Our culture, our art, the music, newspapers, books, posters, our clothing, our homes, the way we walk and talk, the way our hair grows, the way we smoke dope and fuck and eat and sleep — it is all one message, and the message is FREEDOM!

We are the mother country madmen in charge of our own lives and we are taking this freedom to the people of America, in streets, in the ballrooms and teen clubs, in their front rooms watching TV, in their bedrooms reading underground newspapers, or masturbating, or smoking secret dope, in their schools where we come and talk to them or make our music, in their weird gymnasiums — they love it! We represent the only contemporary life-style in America for its kids and it should be known that THESE KIDS ARE READY! They are ready to move but they don’t know how, and all we do is show them that they can get away with it. BE FREE, goddamnit, and fuck them old dudes, is what we tell them, and they can see that we mean it.

The only influences we have, the only thing that touches them, is that we are for real. We are FREE. We are a bunch of arrogant motherfuckers and we don’t give a damn for any cop or any phony-ass authority control-addict creeps who want to put us down. For the first time in America there is a generation of visionary maniac white motherfucker country dope fiend rock and roll freaks who are ready to get down and kick out the jams — ALL THE JAMS — break everything loose and free everybody from their very real and imaginary prisons — even the chumps and punks and honkies who are always fucking with us.

We demand total freedom for everybody! And we will not be stopped until we get it. We are bad. There’s only two kinds of people on the planet: those who make up the problem and those who make up the solution. WE ARE THE SOLUTION. We have no problems. Everything is free for everybody. Money sucks. Leaders suck. School sucks. The white honkie culture that has been handed to us on a silver platter is meaningless to us! We don’t want it! Our program of rock and roll, dope and fucking in the streets is a program of total freedom for everyone. We are totally committed to carrying out our program. We breathe revolution. We are LSD driven total maniacs of the universe. We will do anything we can to drive people crazy out of their heads and into their bodies.

ROCK AND ROLL music is the spearhead of our attack because it is so effective and so much fun. We have developed organic high-energy guerrilla bands who are infiltrating the popular culture and destroying millions of minds in the process. With our music and our economic genius we plunder the unsuspecting straight world for money and the means to carry out our program, and revolutionise its children at the same time. And with our entrance into the straight media we have demonstrated to the honkies that anything they do to fuck with us will be exposed to their children. We don’t need to get rid of all the honkies, you just rob them of their replacements and let the breed atrophy and die out.

We don’t have guns yet — not all of us anyway — because we have more powerful weapons — direct access to millions of teenagers is one of our most potent, and their belief in us is another. But we will use guns if we have to — we will do anything — if we have to. We have no illusions.

Knowing the power of symbols in the abstract world of Americans, we have taken the White Panther as our mark to symbolize our strength and arrogance.

We’re bad.

— John Sinclair, MC-5 manager,
White Panther Party Minister of Information,
Trans-love Energies, 1968

Shortly after the FBI cottoned onto Sinclair and the WPP, he was sent to prison after giving an undercover police officer, two joints of Marijuana in a set-up linked by many to the secret spy operation called COINTELPRO. Sinclair received a distorted maximum penalty of 10 years.

John utilized his time in prison fruitfully to read and write, producing the incendiary books, ‘Guitar Army’: a collection of writings for the underground press, and ‘Music & politics’, co-written by Robert Levin.

The Free John campaign aided Sinclair’s release after a long 29 month campaign and reached its climax in the “John Sinclair Freedom Rally” that took place at the Chrysler arena in Ann Arbor. The now legendary benefit featured Phil Ochs, Stevie Wonder, Allen Ginsberg, Bobby Seale, Archie Shepp, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Lennon composed a song especially to help raise awareness of Sinclair’s case called “John Sinclair” which was featured on the ‘Sometime In New York City’ album. Three days after the rally was held, Sinclair was released and had his conviction overturned.

After being released Sinclair got back into music management and promotions through the Rainbow MultiMedia Corporation. He helped produce the historic Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz festivals and he also became involved in radio, hosting popular shows on WNRZ and WCBN, and founded The Peoples Ballroom, The Free Concerts in the Park Programme, The Ann Arbor Tribal Council and took on a key role in the success of the local Human Rights Party.

In 1975 the Rainbow Peoples Party disbanded and Sinclair moved back to Detroit and his poetry, Journalism, radio programming and urban cultural activism. He spent 15 years with a loving family and while working as the editor of the Detroit Sun newspaper. He was also the founder and director of the Detroit Jazz Centre, assistant professor of popular music history at Wayne State University, programme host for WDET-FM, director of the City Arts Gallery for the Detroit Council of the Arts, and editor of City Arts Quarterly.

He formed a band in 1992 called The Blues Scholars, and in 1994 he recorded his first CD and consequently set out on tour as a performance artist backed by Jazz, blues and rock groups. Several of Sinclair’s poetry collections were published along with his major work in verse, ‘Fattening Frogs for Snakes: Delta Sound Suite’. He has released more than 15 CD’s of his work with Music and Verse.

John relocated to Amsterdam in 2003. His grass roots radio show is now the flagship of the encyclopedic Radio Free Amsterdam. In 2008 Sinclair became the editor-in-Chief of Headpress, an apolitical anthology series from the London based Independent publishing house of the same name. ‘It’s all good’ a compilation to Sinclair’s music journalism and poetry was released on the 9th of April 2009. Later that year on August 14 2009, Sinclair also played at the Bonded Warehouse Stourbridge as part of a Poetry and Spoken Word event put on by Iron Man Records.

2013 saw John Sinclair sign to Iron Man Records to release a new album of poetry called “Mohawk” on CD. Beatnik Youth was released in 2017 as a double CD with 4 ambient tracks released on limited edition Vinyl as Beatnik Youth Ambient. Beatnik Youth features contributions from Howard Marks, Keith Levine, Bobby Gillespie, Brian James, Angie Brown, Zodiac, Jesse Wood, Mark Stewart, Alan Clayton, Steve Fly and bass on all tracks by Youth.

Since 1996, Iron Man Records has witnessed the music industry panic and stumble into a period of both catastrophic collapse, and rapid change. The old major labels have started to crumble, only to be propped up, or replaced, by the next generation of major labels who don’t want your money: they want more than just your money… they want your time, your work, they want to re-arrange your priorities to suit their needs, and they want your contacts and a share of any proceeds too. And while they’re at it they will do their best to stop anyone having any original ideas of their own whilst maintaining a helpful or supportive facade. They’ll keeping you engaged with an endless stream of notifications and updates to be sure you stay in their net and consume their products or services.

We may be watching the demise of Universal, Sony/BMG, EMI, Warner Brothers and so on, but they will be back in time with another face. The new major labels have already signed you up, and sold you on, without you even realising it. How many of us have signed up for Amazon, Apple, Ebay, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Spotify and so on? The so called champions of do it yourself music, the crowd funding platforms, are in on the game too. They will do nothing for you, but they won’t let go until you hand over a fixed fee, or 30% of your hard earned revenue. And with all these companies, there’s nobody there. It’s an automated system that collects your money, and makes you do all the work. They will even have you targeting your own friends and family for their benefit.

Every year the Music Industry seems to be getting meaner, tighter and more hilarious in it’s tactics to sell you it’s products, and keep it’s costs down. Automation is the name of the game. And you will end up doing all the work and they’ll have you selling everything to yourself and others. After all these years, Musicians are still starving. Perhaps its all over for music as a format. But, There is always an alternative, there are many alternatives and they are all around you all the time, just open your mind, open your eyes, and look for yourself.

Iron Man Records works hard to give music, and those who make it, value. There is always hope. The Imagine Nation is all around us. Iron Man Records is just one small part of something. Every band on the label has something interesting to offer. Every musician has a story and a piece of the puzzle.

If you like Iron Man Records and the continued work supporting musicians, artists and representatives of the Imagine Nation, You are invited to become a Patron

Tomorrow is just a word. Do it Today. Enjoy Music. Be Kind. Be Happy.

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

Gimpo’s M25 Spin 2017 photos

Gimpo Gimpo • Gimpo’s 25 Hour M25 Spin 2017

Your Insanity Will Do – Become A Patron Of Iron Man Records

February 8, 2016

I bought a copy of “The Manual” by Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond in 1996. I’d been looking for a copy for years. Some of it made sense, some of it didn’t. I liked the writing style and the advice given. I sent my receipt as proof of purchase to the PO BOX printed in the book and requested The Guarantee.

This is the reply that Bill Drummond sent back on headed paper. By reply Bill Drummond became the first Unaware Patron of Iron Man Records. Blame him for everything. A lot has happened since 1996. Your Insanity will do.

Iron Man Records - Your Guarantee

Your Insanity could help Iron Man Records to release more music on Vinyl via Patreon. There are 21 Patrons currently supporting the record label, you are invited to become a Patron too.

Iron Man Records has been running since 1996. The label has released over 30 records and continues to work hard on a daily basis. Iron Man Records wants to make all new record releases available on Vinyl. The label will continue to make everything available through digital channels. You are invited to get involved.

Why help Iron Man Records? Here’s a quote from Detroit Poet John Sinclair, who released an album called “Mohawk” through the label in recent times. This sums up the sort of thing going through my head when I started out trying to bring people together to do something under the label name of Iron Man Records at the start of it all in 1996.

“One of the most important things to young, formative artists is having a group of one’s peers that one can be a part of, can talk to, work with, work out ideas, etc and can give crucial support.

Modern society has succeeded to a frightening degree in alienating artists from one another (and of course from people in general; or at least vice versa) and atomizing what could be a vital, active community into a group of lone, defensive, hung-up people who are afraid to talk to and/or work with anyone but themselves and (maybe) three or four friends.

A community of artists means that a group of highly conscious people can help each other in very real ways. Artists working alone are cutting themselves off from sources of inspiration and influence that can help them immeasurably in their work.

The lone artists have no one to listen to their work, no one to offer criticism and ideas that would bring their work into sharper focus with itself. Hard to get as excited, as completely involved in one’s work by oneself; when you can talk about it with/to others who are trying to do the same thing as yourself and communicate it to others, you can achieve and maintain the state of consciousness Henry James called “perception at the pitch of passion.” And who better to communicate to than those few people who are operating at the same level of awareness and involvement as oneself?

We are now in a period of expanded consciousness in all the arts. NOW is the time to find out what’s wrong with your work, NOW, at least get an inkling of what other real people will think of it and how it communicates.

So: what we want is a place for artists—musicians, painters, poets, writers, film-makers—who are committed to their art and to the concept of community involvement to meet and work with one another in an open, warm, loving, supportive environment—a place for people to come together as equals in a community venture whose success depends solely upon those involved with it.”

In reality, the journey from 1996 has been back-breaking, and the record label has generated a mountain of debt. Everything I earn working as a Tour Manager goes into keeping Iron Man Records moving forward, and in doing so, I try to provide a platform and focal point for everyone involved with the label.


I manage to ensure that new records come out every year and during difficult times perhaps every two years. Without fail, Iron Man Records continues to release records by some of the most interesting and talented artists, writers, and musicians. The label seeks to share what resources it has, and provides an alternative to the onslaught of pop culture and everything that goes with it. There has to be something that opposes the nonsense that we are surrounded by every day, there has to be a meeting place and platform for those that demand an alternative. There has to be a mechanism to share contacts, resources and ideas.

I don’t expect everyone to like what the record label releases, but at least the label gives you a choice. You don’t have to buy everything from “the man” and you don’t have to work for “the man” either. As the saying goes: “We may never defeat these swine, but we don’t have to join them.” There’s always another way, and for Iron Man Records and the musicians, artists and writers it works to support “the show must go on, by any means necessary…..or until we are all eliminated”


I can handle the logistics of running Iron Man Records by myself but I could use some help in releasing more Vinyl. At a time when “ownership” of music is becoming less important, and digital services are making “access” a much easier way of listening to more music than ever before, we have been left with a problem to solve.

How can the record label continue to release physical records by artists for people to “buy,” at a time when anyone, with any money left, can “access” more music for free, or at a fraction of the price, using streaming digital services?

We all know how to google an album, or a song, and find it for free. We’ve all done it. We all know how to access music on social networks for free, and through Streaming services like Spotify. Some of us buy our music from download sites. I think its fair to say some of us listen to more music than ever before, and choose to only spend our money on music from our favourite groups.

Iron Man Records has invested a lot of time and effort into making every release available through as many digital services as possible ensuring all the artists get a chance to be heard.

You can find all releases from Iron Man Records on iTunes, Apple Music, YouTube Music Key, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Play, Deezer, Groove, Rhapsody, eMusic, Simfy Africa, iHeartRadio, MixRadio, MediaNet, VerveLife, Tidal, Gracenote, Shazam, 7Digital, Juke, JB Hi-Fi, Slacker, Guvera, KKBox, Akazoo, Anghami, Spinlet, Neurotic Media, Yandex, Target Music, ClaroMusica, Zvooq, Saavn, 8tracks, NMusic, Q.Sic and others.

From the stats, it is clear that plenty of people want to listen to the music Iron Man Records produces, but they don’t always want to pay for it. Many people want music as cheap as possible, and ideally for free. They would rather have access to music, than ownership of music. Fair enough, I can accept that, enjoy the music the way you want it. But how can the artists be supported to produce more work if people want “access” rather than “ownership?”

It makes me laugh when you hear people talking about how they won’t buy music from Amazon because Amazon doesn’t pay its workers a fair wage, and then get drawn into a discussion about what sites to use to find music for free without having to use Amazon.

People forget that starving musicians have to go to band practice, pay for their rehearsals, record their music, and work out a way to release their music. Many musicians have to plan and finance the costs of touring to promote their music by themselves. Musicians also need to eat and have a roof over their head, and I do too. Some of the more popular releases on Iron Man Records might achieve 23,000 streams over a five year period but only sell about 60 downloads. In the same period they may only sell about 150 physical copies on cd and even less on vinyl. I read recently that 1,500 streams can equal one album sale. If that statistic is correct, in order to sell 1,000 albums, you need to generate 1,500,000 streams. That sounds ridiculous to me. It’s a strange time for music if you are operating independently. There’s not much money coming in from sales here at Iron Man Records yet more people are listening to the music Iron Man Produces than at any time previously.

These days, it’s interesting to note that many musicians would probably earn more per hour, packing boxes and packages for Amazon, even on the poor wages that Amazon pays, than at most gigs they end up playing. But lets move on, you get the point. It’s a tough time for musicians and artists, and you have to be mad to carry on against such odds that are always stacked against you.

Where does Iron Man Records find itself in the digital world?

Streaming is taking off and I have always loved vinyl as a format. I want to return to making every release on Iron Man Records available on Vinyl, as well as via streaming, downloads and on CD. It’s madness in the current economic climate, but a little bit of madness is just what is required.

It is clear to me that if you can produce anything of value in terms of your music, a digital version is necessary so people can access and even download your music on their mobile devices. But if you are serious about your music, you must release it on Vinyl so the really passionate fans of your music, can get a copy to add to their collection and enjoy when they are at home.

Iron Man Records is capable of releasing records and making them available worldwide across pretty much every digital platform. Producing CDs of each release is also affordable within the context of selling physical copies, sending out to press and radio and keeping things ticking over. Vinyl however, is a little bit tricky.

Producing a record on Vinyl is about three times more expensive than producing a cd, which means you have to sell three times more records to recover the upfront costs. So something has to give.

This year has been tough for Iron Man records, income from selling physical sales has continued to decline. In fact physical sales of everything both CD, Vinyl and DVD has steadily declined year on year since 2004 when I started keeping a record. Habits are changing all the time and the market is choosing to access music rather than own music. Times are changing and either Iron Man Records changes too, or it’s game over.

Where am I going with this? I want you to sign up or subscribe to insanity.


I want to start releasing records on Vinyl again and I need help reducing the front end costs. I’m not asking anyone to pay for everything, nor am I asking anyone to pay me to run Iron Man Records, I can look after all that myself. What I want to do is invite people to contribute to reducing the costs of producing albums on Vinyl. In exchange for help and support, you will get a copy of everything the label produces, as it becomes available. Supporters will get access to digital files of everything, so you can listen on portable electronic devices, and you will get all sorts of other benefits. For example: free stuff from the Iron Man shop, stickers, email updates, free tickets, and whatever else I can think up as I go along. There is method to the madness and all you have to do is join in.

I would like to think that if you like what Iron Man Records does, if you would like to encourage the label to produce all releases on Vinyl, and if you would like to support struggling musicians who are up against it on a daily basis, then please consider offering your support to the cause.

I have put together a page on Patreon which I think is an interesting way to raise money. This will help produce Vinyl in small quantities and to the highest standards with regards to artwork and packaging. Patreon lets you make recurring monthly donations and thereby helps to reduce the upfront costs of producing music on vinyl.

Anyone who donates will get a copy of the vinyl produced and a number of other benefits. Anything from £1 a month or more is actually really helpful, and knowing a small regular sum is coming in each month allows me to plan more effectively.

Everything the label produces is accessible for free online anyway so you can have anything, anytime if you look for it. Offering a small monthly donation means that regardless of what goes on, Iron Man Records can keep releasing music on vinyl and keep helping the bands and artists to survive, and to make more music.

Let me be clear: Iron Man Records is not in the pop business. In fact it’s just not in business. The debts are what it’s worth. The label is trying hard, during a particularly tough time in the history of recorded music, to help musicians and artists develop a sustainable future. And to me, the simple way to do that, is give the bands and artists a Record to sell, at their gigs, that people would love to buy.

Iron Man Records wants to create Vinyl, something really special, something that presents music in a format that people want to keep and enjoy. That’s it really. Life isn’t just about computers, mobile phones and social networking. There has to be an alternative.

Have a look here and any comments, good or bad are invited.

Mark – Iron Man Records


John Higgs – “Stranger than we can imagine: Making Sense of The Twentieth Century” Book Launch

August 19, 2015

Friday 28th Aug 2015 - An evening with John Higgs and Guests

Friday 28th Aug 2015

An evening with John Higgs and Guests

Heavenly Social presents an evening with John Higgs and Guests

To celebrate the publication of his new book

Stranger Than We Can Imagine:

Making Sense of The Twentieth Century

Friday 28th August



The Social, 5 Little Portland Street, W1W 7JD

Nearest Tube Oxford Circus


If it’s not impossible, it’s not worth doing…..Find the others. Go to The Adelphi.

July 7, 2015


Adelphi is a Greek word meaning “brothers” (a + delphi, literally “of the same womb”)

Many thoughts pass through your mind when you do enough driving, few of them make any sense. I take a lot of bands to a lot of gigs, it’s what I do for money these days. Sometimes it can be hard not to pull the van over, drag everyone out on the motorway hard shoulder and tell them to “Stop living out of the asshole of your belief system and kick out the jams motherfucker!” In other words, shut up and play the music, or stop blaming everyone else and learn to get on with it. We all need each other in order to survive in this business, even if we don’t like that idea. Write, rehearse, record, perform. Everyone you meet has a piece in the puzzle. It’s your job to work out which piece. It’s not as simple as this one or that one, and I try not to live in the “A,” “not A” world, but if you drive long enough, you have to engage it in some sense. If you are in a band you have to learn the world can be more complex than just “A, Not A” and you have to read the signs too. You can never have enough confusion. Let me explain.

It can start with a simple set of roadsigns that flash past in a moment. Turn left for the Crematorium, turn right for the A30m. I’ll take the A30 for now. If you have ever been to Munich in Germany, there’s a T-junction on the way out of town. The sign at the T-junction reads Dachau to the right, or McDonalds to the left. Which way to the gig?

Using a Sat Nav can help you avoid the endless stream of reassuring roadside bill board images that seek to distract and divert but you still have to read the signs. You may find yourself at the mercy of the cult of yellow signs that seek to subvert your journey with irrational routes to a land that time and space has forgotten. You could end up at Thurrock Services one mad March morning and find yourself driving for 25 hours round the M25 with Gimpo jumping around in the back shouting “Tim! Tim! You’ve missed the turning!” To find your way you will need to read the signs. Timothy Leary said that “Everyone has a piece of the puzzle” and once you’ve turned on, tuned in and dropped out….your next task is to “Find The Others.” What happens next is up to you.

Turning on the TV in 1992, I watched with interest as one of my favourite bands of the previous 5 years, The KLF performed a song called “3am Eternal” backed by Extreme Noise Terror. The show ended with the audience being machine gunned. As the KLF left the music business, I decided to start organising gigs in Birmingham, which is where I was living at the time.

I had no money, no idea and made a start right away. As one things ends, so another must start. If Ken Campbell taught one thing that has resonated with me, he demonstrated the importance of picking up a phone and asking the question. “If it’s not impossible, it’s not worth doing.” I may not have had money or experience, but I did have access to a phone.

1992 was as good a time as any to start a music project if you discount the impact of the end of all music genres in 1994, the arrival of the internet, the cult of amateur, mobile phones and the end of all physical product. But I digress, thats not what I’m planning on discussing here. As Bill and Jimmy of The KLF moved on to other things in their own way, they set a clear benchmark for popular music, they also nailed the coffin lid shut on it too. Get in, go all the way, get out. Don’t over think it, keep it simple and don’t stick around once you have reached the top of your game. But the game’s over. Know when it’s time to leave. Understand what you’re starting. You can learn the rules to break them properly, but be prepared to embrace the contradictions. I have to agree that “It’s what you know, not who you know…..that matters.” To others you can appear mad, but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong.

I sometimes wonder how Hunter S. Thompson knew so much about so many things ahead of so many others. His work is almost a user manual, but that is another story.

Nearly 23 years later, I found myself driving a long wheel base VW Crafter from DYC Touring across London. It was the 1st of May 2015. If you are into your numbers then that is an interesting date. In the back was an amazing singer and songwriter called Eska, and her band. I was taking them to a gig and the traffic was heavy like any day in central London. As I turned to cross a bridge that has the HQ of MI5 on one side, and The Houses of Parliament on the other, Bill Drummond passed me on the inside in his land rover. In a moment I considered the five years of KLF, the Brit award from 1992 being buried somewhere near Stonehenge, the concepts of pop bands only living 5 years with everything provided before being executed by their successors live onstage, the idea that many artists produce their greatest work early in their career then limp on for 25 years desperate to relive their former glories and so on. All of the late night discussions about art, music, politics, belief systems and nonsense seemed to pass through my head in an instant.

I followed Bill Drummond’s land rover onto the bridge and considered the idea that a lot of his work is inspired by impulse. I considered the situation I found myself in, and I had a terrible realisation: The date, timing and location of all of this appeared to me to be perfect for some sort of ritual killing, and the abrupt ending of Bill Drummond’s career. I could bulldoze his vehicle over the side of the bridge into the River Thames. I had this mad idea that the energy released by such an act would be absorbed by Eska, strapped in the back, who in turn would go on to fame and fortune with her own music. Eska would live and Bill Drummond and the rest would be forgotten or perhaps consigned to notes given to music industries skills students at a failing place of Academia somewhere.

But as I considered the whole idea in more detail I became horrified I should even think such a thing. Bill Drummond should live. It is not for me to choose someone else’s end. Perhaps Bill’s best work is yet to come, perhaps his best work has indeed been early on in his career, but more important than that, does it really matter to anyone other than me? You have to learn to let it all go. You are the master, you make the grass green in your own world, but that’s it. Stop there. As Robert Anton Wilson will tell you, “Never totally believe anyone else’s belief system, and never totally believe your own.”

I settled for entertaining myself by overtaking his landrover and forcing him to sit behind the van in a state of rage whilst Eska reclined in air conditioned comfort in the back. I took a picture as we sat at the lights. Who could have known what insane thoughts were going through my head. I had to live on from this point. No pushing landrovers off bridges. Stop living out of silly belief systems. Let Bill Drummond live. If he goes on to create his greatest work now, so what…..and if its another 25 years of clinging to the cliff of hope, trying to relive former glories, then you can blame yourself for having such stupid beliefs, sorry. It doesn’t matter. Let it go. We all have a piece of the puzzle. Work it out for yourself. We are all better alive in my short sighted view.

But don’t let everything go. In 2006 I was on tour with a band called Dufus and I found a piece in the puzzle. We went to the Adelphi in Hull. The band spent a pleasant evening at a gig organised by Paul Jackson. After sound check, Paul ordered some food from a local take away and invited the travelling group to take a seat in the back room. If you visit The Adelphi Club in Hull you must also visit the back room. There is a sign on the back wall and it reads: “Hull is Twinned with your darkest thought.” The sign is Bill Drummond’s work, not very pleasant, but still his work. To me, my darkest thought with regards to a place like The Adelphi has always been “Imagine if all music was funded by the state?” Imagine if only those with approved funding applications organised music projects in your home town? Imagine what shit they would pull to manufacture your consent for their project. Imagine what shit they would buy for themselves with the money, whilst making all the artists, creatives and volunteers they’ve recruited jump through endless hoops on their behalf. Understand, The state of music would become the music of the state.

Make no mistake, funding is for funding, not you. People get what they deserve. If you don’t seek interesting music out for yourself then your world will fill with the latest indie shit spreaders pushed by the latest batch of sales and marketing types on the payroll of some funding application. Dufus had a good gig at The Adelphi that night and no funding application was in sight, Paul was delighted and the people who bought tickets and listened to the show left with big grins on their faces. Anyone who goes to The Adelphi, or any place like it to listen to music, knows something you don’t. As Dick Lucas of Subhumans will tell you, “Life isn’t about computers, it’s about talking to people face to face.” There’s a whole world that goes on without computers or mobile phones in places like The Adelphi. But the Adelphi is in trouble and its my own suspicion that you are spending too much time online. What was that? You don’t agree? Try this: First person to check their phone pays for dinner. Paul is struggling to make ends meet, he is worn out from 30 or more years of back breaking work to support new music. The place could use a bar manager and some good bands who have already made a name for themselves to return and shine a light on the venue, its ethos and Paul who has run the place from the start. New music needs a champion and Paul has played that role for long enough. You know what has happened since John Peel passed away. Imagine a world without Paul Jackson to book your band when no one else will give you a stage? The Adelphi needs a champion now, several champions to be exact. So you know what to do. If you are in a good band or want to see some good bands, Go to the Adelphi. Time may be running out but you can reverse the situation by simply turning up. It’s not rocket science.

I’m working with John Sinclair at the moment, he’s a poet from Detroit. When asked on BBC radio what new bands he felt excited about, he replied “None.” When asked to explain why, John reasoned that most new bands these days were more interested in buying a fancy car than any form of social, political or cultural change. Think about that for a moment. Have you ever been to the Adelphi? I wonder what can be said of audiences these days? Anyone else reading this ever been to the Adelphi? John Sinclair was a former manager of MC5. I don’t need to go into the detail but if you know what MC5 are all about and what John Sinclair is all about, there are enough ideas to last any artist a lifetime. Its not about some funded project. Its not about buying fancy goods either. It’s not about the money, it’s about sending a message. You have to make the world you want to live in. You cant just hope for it or believe in it, or apply for funding to create it. You have to make it and you had better start today. MC5 are celebrating 50 years this year. Where have you been all this time? Have you learned nothing?

Which brings me back to Ken Campbell. “Don’t believe anything. Nothing which is the product of a human mind is a fitting subject for your belief. But, you can suppose anything. And you should. The act of supposing is mind expanding. Suppose flying saucers, fairies, god if you must. But, don’t believe it!” – Ken Campbell. Thats why artists are important. They give you the chance to suppose.

Sometimes I think that Artists should be left to live or die by the work they create. Creation demands destruction. But I also think that the trick is to create but not be destroyed by it. Paul Jackson and many who have frequented the Adelphi have witnessed many good people fall by the way and too many idiots seem to be telling you that they are in charge. The arts should not be funded but don’t believe that the arts can survive without you. You are in charge here, you are the master, you make the grass green. The arts do need to be supported, but not by the state, not by funding applications, not by any of that. It’s up to the artists, musicians, poets, creators and you. If the Adelphi is to survive then the Adelphi needs you. Through the works you create and the ideas you present and the friends you invite to come with you. Suppose anything. Do as you will. Create. The Adelphi needs artists, musicians, creators and an Audience, not some funding application that demands a box to be ticked or some administrative outcome. If the Adelphi is to live then we all need to “Stop living out of the asshole of our belief system and kick out the jams motherfucker!” These things don’t make themselves. Here’s the website: If it’s not impossible, it’s not worth doing. Find the others. Go to The Adelphi.

If you know any good live bands, pick up a phone:

Manager/Booker/Promoter Paul Jackson

Paul Jackson
The New Adelphi Club
89 De Grey Street, Beverley Road
Hull, East Yorkshire
Kingston Upon Hull
Call +44 (0) 1482 348216

The square root of the M25: Gimpo’s 25 Hour M25 Spin

December 5, 2014

A witness statement from Iron Man Records 2014.
I didn’t get much sleep the night before, I had been working on the release of the new John Sinclair record “Mohawk.” By the time I climbed into the car and started the engine it was 10am. I drove to London and dropped the car in Brentford, West London. I picked up the keys. I had a 9 seater VW Splitter van on hire from DYC Touring and headed to Shepherd’s Bush. I wasn’t due to meet the band until 3pm so I had a bit of time to park up and make phone calls.

If I was applying for a job I’d probably tell you I’m a tour manager, a music manager, I can drive a splitter van and tow trailers, and I have a clean driving licence. I could tell you I’ve been running a record label called Iron Man Records for 18 years, I play in a couple of bands, I run a few websites, I work freelance and so on. In reality, I don’t apply for jobs, employers find their way to me on personal recommendation because no one else, in a right mind, will take their work on. The day was looking no different to any other. The phone was ringing.

I have to do many things on a daily basis just to keep things moving, some of it for money, some of it for free, some of it because I have no other choice and some of it for reasons of pure nonsense. Don’t ask me to explain.
Gimpo was due to start the 25 hour M25 Spin at midday, so by now he should have completed a lap and be half way round the next one. The time was 2pm and my phone was lighting up with messages from people asking if I was on the Spin this year. No, I wasn’t on the Spin, I was driving a band called “Tenterhook” to Hereford for a gig at The Jailhouse. They needed a driver and had a small budget to work with. I had no money, and on that basis I was “available” to do the work. Gimpo was planning to do the M25 Spin solo this year. You can’t reason with someone like Gimpo. He thinks things up and goes and does them. No Discussion. No Explanation.

I had decided to leave him to it for now. For various reasons Tim, who usually drives the van for the whole 25 hour M25 Spin, was unable to make it this year. Sharon, who handles Navigation and supplies while Tim is at the wheel, was stuck in Guatemala with no money for a plane ticket. Todd, who looks after the website was in New Jersey, I already had several messages from him asking “What the fuck’s going on?”
Did I know what was going on? Can anyone know what’s going on in Gimpo’s mind? I managed to speak to Tim, he had been in touch with the man himself. Gimpo had made a start, but had only got half way round. Tim was worried about progress. Gimpo hadn’t got very far and Tim had been questioning Gimpo at length. “Half a lap? What are you doing? Selling Ice Cream? Get a move on, there’s work to do” It seemed to me that Gimpo was having technical problems. Gimpo was driving his own car this year in an attempt to do the M25 Spin solo for the first time. This might all sound pretty good, but the reality was a little different.

The CD player was broken in Gimpo’s car and the radio doesn’t really do it these days. Gimpo had fixed up the video camera with cable ties, and had a stock of blank mini DV tapes at the ready. But, there were a few other issues that hadn’t been thought through. You cant drive and text can you? You cant drive and take pictures can you? You cant drive, take pictures, text, answer the phone, send emails or reply to requests can you? So what was Gimpo to do? He was already on the M25 spin. Solo. No support. And how was he going to document the event? He had stopped at Clacket Lane Services to discover this was going to be a long and complicated day. He had an iphone, with a SIM card, which gave him free internet access but the camera on his Nokia phone was better. For some reason the Nokia wouldn’t send emails so Todd wasn’t going to get any picture updates for the website.
I rang Gimpo, as time was moving on, to find out what he was up to. Gimpo would not be stopped by anyone. Gimpo was doing the M25 spin and he would do it solo with or without anyone knowing about it. I had to go, it was nearly 3pm, the band needed to be in hereford for 6pm. I told Gimpo I would come and find him when I got back after the gig. He would have to go it alone till then.

3pm arrived and I found myself collecting a band, who are being managed by one of the few capable music management companies I know. They look after Madness, so no joke, they are going to do good things with this lot. The band are actually a singer and songwriter with a great voice who plays the guitar and goes under the name of “Tenterhook,” he’s 19. He works with some other musicians who play drums, guitar, bass and keys. The van was loaded and by 3.15pm we were on the road, to Hereford. The gig was just like any other I’ve been to. Headliners took for ever getting their soundcheck done, they didn’t really speak to anyone and then vanished. The lot I was with sound checked and agreed last details like set order, start and finish time, and made a start on the limited rider provided by the venue staff.

By now there was a long list of messages and emails asking what the fuck was going on? Where was Gimpo? Was he ok? What did I know? Had I heard anything? The Spin was on, nobody needed to know. Gimpo was at the wheel and with that thought in mind, it’s probably better not to know what’s going on.
“Tenterhook” didn’t go onstage till much later than planned. The band had a good one, it was their first gig and the applause gave the band the endorsement they were hoping for.

Outside the band members gathered to load the van while people came out of the the venue to chat and find out who they were, and where they had come from. It was their first gig together.

On the way back to London the beers opened, and the talk poured over the gig and what had just gone on. The band knew how much work was ahead but it seemed like a good start to the process.

I dropped the band back at 5am and taxis were waiting to take people home from the meeting point. “Where are you going now, where are you staying?” came the inevitable question. I unloaded the gear and handed it to the exhausted band members. “Don’t ask, you don’t want know” was my reply. I could see there were a load of messages that had come in on my phone while I was driving back from Hereford. I dared not even look till the van was parked, the gear unloaded, and the band already gone.

The phone was full of madness. I called Gimpo and found him at Clacket Lane Services. He had just pulled in to try and send some pictures to Todd. No change there then. I suggested we meet at Cobham services, only 30 minutes further round, to talk through what was going on.
I arrived at Cobham around 6am having dropped the splitter van back to DYC Touring on the way. The parking at Cobham is free for 2 hours then its £25 for up to 24 hours. As I despaired at the parking situation Gimpo arrived, “Don’t worry about parking Mark, lets book a meeting room for £8 the parking is free with that” I wasn’t about to try booking a meeting room at 6am on a sunday morning. Neither of us looked in any way believable and if we booked a meeting room and then vanished it may generate suspicion. We defaulted to the only option available, a cup of tea from Greggs and a meeting in the comfy chair area to work out what sort of plan might be possible under the circumstances.

Gimpo started emptying his pockets of leads, head phones, charger cables, car keys, phones and assorted other items. He explained the problem. “Ive got this iphone but you need two hands to work the camera. This Nokia has a better camera, and you can work it one handed, but I can’t get it to work. I can’t send emails to Todd.” I looked at both and tried to have a go at getting the Nokia to work. It was full of pictures, but no, the internet wasn’t working and I couldn’t work out how to get it to send and receive.

We finished the tea and returned to the vehicles. Gimpo spoke first. “Lets drop your car off on the A3, I know a place where Bill and Jimmy took a load of Journalists in the middle of the night. Ockham Common, It’s where we showed the money nailed to a piece of wood”. Back to reality, that sounded like a great idea even if no one would even remember or believe the basis upon which the suggestion had been made. I digress. I refused to pay £25 to park my car, that’s a waste of money isn’t it? I followed Gimpo back onto the M25 and just one stop further on we turned off onto the A3 and headed south for a few minutes. On the left is Ockham woods and there’s a car park with free parking. I parked my car and took what valuables I had with me. The early morning doggers looked on as Gimpo explained at length and in detail about his previous visits with Bill and Jimmy. I listened with interest as the story poured out and I transferred my stuff to Gimpo’s car. I didn’t have to time to think about the rest.
In a few minutes Gimpo was back on the M25 and the Spin continued. Gimpo looked worn out but determined. This was his M25 spin, he was the artist here, and no one was going to stop him. This was his first solo M25 spin. The phone rang and Gimpo activated his hands free set, it was Tim. Tim sounded like he was checking in to be sure that nothing had gone wrong, Gimpo passed the phone across. “Hi Mark, is everything all right?” he asked. Tim and I chatted a while longer and I handed the phone back. Gimpo continued on with the story about the phone, versus camera, versus driving solo problem. And then Tim was gone, and the spin continued.

Next up was “Give Peas a Chance” Bridge, just north of J16 where the M25 crosses the M40. We headed North while Gimpo endlessly flipped from one radio station to the next, attempting to find anything worth listening to, whilst broadcasting his irritation at the fact the cd player was broken and he had no “modern music” to listen to.

Gimpo drove at a steady 56 miles an hour. “The price of bloody fuel these days Mark, it’s a rip off” He said. “The spin gets more and more expensive every year, the only thing I can do is drive at what the car manual says is the most economical speed. 56 miles an hour. It’s not a race.”

Gimpo turned off at J23, South Mimms, he wanted to get some fruit juice and have a driving break. He parked up and as we both walked into the services he spotted four “Beat The Street” double decker tour buses parked up. “That’ll be Elton John or some other shit I bet” he said. “Who do these people think they are?”
Once inside I got a dissertation on the pros and cons of Krispi Kreme Donuts and Gimpo’s theory on who buys them, how, and why.
Back outside Gimpo showed me how he had stuck his signs to the roof of the car with gaffer tape. Only the truck drivers or bus passengers would see. We got back in the car and Gimpo set to work labelling and loading the next tape to go in the video camera. We headed back onto the M25 and I got the full account of Spin Island, the only island on the M25. Gimpo wants to plant an Argentinian Flag on it. He says he’d like to buy it and give it to the owners of Stott Hall Farm, between J22 and J23 on the M62. The story goes they refused to sell up and move house when they built the M62 Motorway over the Pennines so by rights, they should have spin Island too. Gimpo says there’s a hot spring on Spin Island. That’s why they had to split the motorway to go around it.

Onwards through a couple of tunnels then it was up over the Queen Elisabeth Bridge. Traditionally the spin starts at midday on the Saturday, top dead centre on the Queen Elisabeth Bridge. Descending on the other side Gimpo only uses Toll booth number 23. Gimpo paid the toll and as the barrier went up it was almost exactly 9am.
Next stop was Clacket Lane Services, “Doggers Delight!” Gimpo declared. “They put a rat trap in the hedge just there but the rat dug a hole underneath it.” More fruit juice and a quick driving break before moving on to Cobham and the lap was completed. Gimpo still couldn’t find anything to listen to on the radio. He switched it off in despair. “Where’s Tim?” he shouted, “He always has the music, we need Tim here to put the music on.”
Gimpo explained he wanted to do the last lap by himself so he dropped me back to my car. A committed artist. I collected my car and followed Gimpo back onto the M25. Some things just can’t be explained. Gimpo is making the worlds longest road movie. He wants to know where the M25 goes. His plan is to drive round the M25 every year on the closest Saturday night/Sunday morning to 21 March each year for 25 years. Gimpo has 7 years left to completion.
I looked across at the other drivers as they passed by on their way to nowhere, circling the nation’s capital. Another ruin of a world city. Gimpo was ahead at a steady 56mph, unmoved in his commitment to the work. Who would know who was in the car in front? An artist alone at work. An artist without a name or a country. An artist who has nothing in common with you. An artist filming the world’s longest road movie in an attempt to find out where the M25 goes. An artist with no gods and no masters. The M25, the London Orbital Motorway, 117 miles of open road where Gimpo is the artist. One man, just getting into it for himself.
Mark – Iron Man Records. 2014

The Full Cosmic Trigger Experience – Find The Others Conferestival 22-23rd November 2014

October 11, 2014

The Full Cosmic Trigger Experience 22nd/23rd November 2014

The Full Cosmic Trigger Experience 22nd/23rd November 2014
Find The Others

Performance, Speakers, Art, Music Cinema, Rituals, Workshops, poetry, Quizzes, Stalls, Discordian Papal Ball.

Prof. Robert Temple, Robin ince, Nina Conti, Youth, Adam Gorightly, Johnny “Dolphin” Allen, C.J. Stone, John Higgs, Dr. David Luke, Greg Sams, Jeff young, Liverpool Impropriety, TC Lethbridge, DJ Kin, Michael Brunstrom, Dr. david david Bramwell, John Constable, Salena Godden, Jacqueline Genie, Adrian reynolds, Jamie Reid, Jimmy Cauty.

Camp and furnace, Liverpool L1 0BY

14:23-02:23 Sat 22nd november 2014 (Play and Ball)

11:23-23:23 Sun 23 Nov 2014 (Conferestival)

Tickets £69 (full weekend = play and ball and festival)

Phone The Everyman box office: 0151 709 4776

More info:


"The End Point Of A Circle" Trailer for the Odyssey that is GIMPO’S M25 25hr Spin

August 17, 2013

Never get out of the van…..

Since 1997, the M25 has been the subject, canvas and location of a unique and unfolding work of performance art. Gimpo, ex-roadie and factotum of Bill Drummond, has driven round the infamous London Orbital for 25 hours, once a year. He will continue to do so until 2021 on a 25 year mission of discovery.

He calls it The M25 Spin.

The End Point Of A Circle: Trailer from Rob Wickings on Vimeo.

Documentarian Dominic Wade, who has already explored the world of extended filming with his raw and revealing film 24 Hours In London, has been given unprecedented access to Gimpo and his world in order to document The Spin. Dominic will be joining Gimpo and his crew every year until 2021 as they seek to find The End Point Of A Circle.

Gimpo is an unusual and endearing character, and he’s seen a lot in his many years on the road. He was one of the few witnesses to the K Foundation’s anti-art establishment actions, which led to the burning of a million pounds on the Isle of Jura in 1994. Bill Drummond accompanied Gimpo on the first Spin. Footage of that day was captured on VHS and will be included in the film.

The M25 Spin is part performance artwork, part club venue (the references to rave culture and its restless, mobile nature are clear) and part motoring oddity (it’s still possible to buy DVDs that are exclusively footage of a circuit of the M25. It’s entirely likely that Gimpo owns one of these tapes). Featuring interviews with Bill Drummond and Iain Sinclair, The End Point Of A Circle will document, embrace and eventually become part of the whole process.

“You wanna know why the M25 Spin is 25hrs and not 24? Le Mans is 24hrs. I just want to be one louder.” – Gimpo

Whatever else happens, The Spin will make a mark on its completion. Even if it’s just skid marks somewhere near Junction 27.

The End Point Of A CircleThe 25min Trailer for the Film Odyssey of Gimpo’s M25 Spin will be shown at Portobello Film Festival on 29th August 2013

And if you can’t wait til August 29th, here’s another short film from the M25 Spin 2013 by Iron Man Records

…and if you really, really can’t wait, here is the first cut from 3 years ago:

The End Point of a Circle Gimpo’s M25 Spin from Dominic Wade on Vimeo.

How To Burn Money

August 1, 2013

Watch The K Foundation Burn a million quid

From: Iron Man Records
To: All Agents

Edited transcript of a “Friends of Positive Void Communications” update for dissidents dissemination.

An action took place on 23 August 1994, in which the K Foundation burned cash, the amount of one million pounds sterling, on the Scottish island of Jura.

The incineration was recorded on a Hi-8 video camera by Gimpo. In August 1995, the film “Watch the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid” was toured around the UK.

Thirteen short months from now will be the 20th anniversary of the burning. We have been in discussion with organisers of certain film festivals who are keen to mark this special date by showing the film next year, however the more observant amongst you will be well aware that the 23rd Anniversary year is much more significant.

So we thought we would take this time to collate a body of footage, including naturally the Burning, but also the events leading up to and surrounding that infamous act. The complete body to be shown at a number of secret underground events (Friends & Invited Guests Only) from 2014 – 2017.

Special Friends are being invited to create “Live” soundtracks to the events as their personal interpretive AAArticulations.

Free-Minded Activists, Seditious Supporters and Fellow Junior Insurgents… We Are Recruiting!

If you are interested in getting involved contact us now.


In the Spirit of Mu
Liberate & Communicate
Love Peace & Happiness

Tim & Gimpo

English Heretic: GIMPO’S M25 25 Hour Spin 23rd – 24th March 2013

March 19, 2013

English Heretic: GIMPO'S M25 25 Hour Spin 23rd - 24th March 2013

Hello Dear Friends

We so hope you can forgive us for neglecting you for so long.

Due to a combination of commitments and personal circumstances we haven’t had any opportunity to post our usual monthly updates.

Top of the shop we need to thank everyone who contacted us in the last few weeks asking about the M25 Spin and we are pleased to welcome one and all at the weekend.

Gimpo’s M25 25 Hour Spin
Starts: 12 noon Saturday 23rd March 2013
Ends: 1pm Sunday 24th March 2013
Venue: The M25 London Orbital Motorway

English Heretic: GIMPO'S M25 25 Hour Spin 23rd - 24th March 2013

If anyone would like to join us then please do come along.

If you are coming along and need our contact info then please drop us an email and we will sort that out.

The more Ancient of our friends will be aware that we promised a new t-shirt for March along with a Free CD featuring a previously unreleased track GVSCFOF13 – 3am Eternal (London By Night… All The Way Round).

We still intend to go ahead with this but it will have to be after the Spin… so keep looking forward.

In The Spirit Of MU
Liberate & Communicate

Love Peace & Happiness

Tim & Gimpo

Gimpo’s 25

: Gimpo starts to reveal his vision. He wants this thing, this Gimpo M25 spin, to become an annual event. The closest Saturday night/Sunday morning to 21 March each year, to mark the opening of the rave/festival/drug-taking/banging/techno/hippie thing that Gimpo and his weird mates know all about. He wants loads of other people to join in, come out in their cars, vans, trucks, loaded up. A non-stop 25 hour party, road to nowhere sort of thing; car stereos cranked up, people screaming, pumping horns, blowing whistles. Hundreds, thousands, pouring out of Clacky services. Not a race, but a celebration of this broken down modern world, where the M25 would get clogged up, grind to a standstill, the authorities could do nothing – and Gimpo would be king. 

From 45, by Bill Drummond

The Juniour Insurgent Transmitter Ensemble is accepting music for the Spin’s outside broadcast. Email a track (Under 25 MB) to All sounds received will be played on the 2013 M25 Spin.

‪Bill Drummond Interview‬ on Gimpo and M25 Spin

Gimpo’s M25 25-Hour Spin

JMR Higgs interviewed by Bristol filmmakers Dominic Wade and Rob Wickings

The End Point of a Circle Gimpo’s M25 Spin

Outsider Art

Gimpo’s M25 25 Hour Spin 2013 – A Film by Iron Man Records

Gimpo's M25 25 Hour Spin Ended Here 24-03-13

Gimpo’s M25 25 Hour Spin Ended Here 24-03-13 at Thurrock Services.

Gimpo's M25 25 Hour Spin Ended Here 24-03-13

Gimpo’s M25 25 Hour Spin Ended Here 24-03-13 on the wall of the Iron Man Records office…..for now… be continued.

Burn their money. Tear their world apart…

May 17, 2012

“We have been following a wild and wounded, glum and glorious, shit but shining path these past five years. The last two of which has led us up onto the commercial high ground — we are at a point where the path is about to take a sharp turn from these sunny uplands down into a netherworld of we know not what. For the foreseeable future there will be no further record releases from The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, The Timelords, The KLF & any other past, present & future name attached to our activities. As of now all our past releases are deleted….”

A Tin of Condensed Milk
A Tin of Condensed Milk

Burn their money. Tear their world apart…

How To Burn Money

Ted Chippington – Blues Fan. New 500 Limited edition 10" single on Respect Vinyl

May 5, 2012

Ted Chippington - Blues Fan. New 500 Limited edition 10" single on Respect Vinyl

Buy Ted Chippington – Blues Fan. New 500 Limited edition 10″ Vinyl here

Straight outta Fenton (Stoke On Trent) the young Eddie Chippington began annoying audiences at hippy festivals and pop concerts in the early ’80s when opening shows for long haired groups such as Here & Now, The Cardiacs and Dangerous Girls.

When maturity and baldness caused the growing Potteries lad to become Ted Chippington and a ‘Top Comedian’ he also moved in to riling up and calming down excited crowds with his act at gigs by punk rocker bands The Fall, the Nightingales, The Farm, the Higsons and many others.

During this period Ted – “The funniest man alive” according to music weekly Sounds back in the day – was to influence a new generation of stand up comedians (Stewart Lee, Richard Herring, Simon Munnery, etc, etc) with his live performances of what Stewart Lee descibes as “a mixture of surrealism and insolent provocation and uncompromising boredom”. Indeed Lee claims that Chippington was the very reason he got in to stand up, while Herring speaks in glowing terms of Ted’s “contempt for the very idea of jokes”.

Ted first came to national prominence when he opened for The Fall in Birmingham in 1984 and his performance was recorded and released by the Nightingales’ Robert Lloyd’s record label Vindaloo Records as a 7″ EP.

Entitled Non Stop Party Hits of the 50s 60s and 70s, refering to his penchant at the time for performing his own versions of classic hits, the record was played often by John Peel on his Top Gear programme – a rare occurrence for a comedian.

In 1986 he released an album on Vindaloo, Man in a Suitcase – a collection of live recordings plus more songs – which reached the Top 10 in the Indie Album Chart and his version of “She Loves You” from the album received wider exposure following repeated plays by Steve Wright on his Radio 1 show which in turn led to the track being released as a single by Warner Brothers after being picked up by Bill Drummond (KLF, etc) who was an A&R man at Warners at the time.

The 45 narrowly failed to make the Top 50 but “She Loves You” raised Chippington’s profile considerably and led to numerous media appearances, including a turn on the BBC’s lunchtime magazine show Pebble Mill at One and as a guest on That’s My Dog.

Chippington also fielded interviews with many radio shows and magazines – from New Musical Express to the colour supplement of The Mail on Sunday – and performed at the Glastonbury and Reading festivals in addition to hosting his own sell out show at Paul Raymond’s Revue Bar in Soho – ‘An Evening With Ted Chippington’ featuring guests Mark E Smith, Keith Allen, Poison Girls’ Vi Subversa and presenter of New Faces and That’s My Dog Derek Hobson.

Chippington once again came close to mainstream UK singles chart success with a recording of his theme tune “Rockin’ with Rita (Head To Toe)” which he performed with his fellow Vindaloo artists the Nightingales and teenage girl group We’ve Got A Fuzzbox And We’re Gonna Use It. Promotion of this record included a performance on kids TV pop show Razzmatazz and a promo video featuring one of Ted’s football playing mates Pat Nevin.

Ted then toured the USA completely bamboozling American audiences when supporting Fuzzbox and recorded a ‘Live In USA’ album on the tour, which remained unreleased until twenty years later when surfacing on his ‘History Of Ted Chippington’ CD box set Walking Down The Road.

A further Vindaloo single followed, with his reading of Dion’s “The Wanderer”, and was another relative hit but still Chippington’s ruthless disregard for the conventions of stand-up made him a perennial outcast from the 1980s comedy scene – albeit a popular and influential performer.

In 1990, bored by the media attention and feeling his new found popularity was the opposite of his initial aim Ted retired from show business to pursue a career truck-driving in California.

This new career ended ignominiously when his lorry shed its load on the Pacific Coast Highway and for a few years Ted worked as a cook in various restaurants in Mexico before returning to the UK born again as Reverend Ted Chippington, getting married and settling in Torquay.

In 2007 a definitive 4CD box set of Ted (& Eddie) Chippington’s earlier work, entitled Walking Down The Road, was released on Robert Lloyd’s new Big Print label.

A tribute to Chippington entitled “Tedstock”, featuring Stewart Lee, Phill Jupitus, Simon Amstell, Josie Long, Richard Herring and numerous other stand-up comedians, was held at London’s Bloomsbury Theatre in order to fund this release. This event and the box set release led to a new flurry of media appearances for Chippington, including substantial tribute articles in national newspapers (Independent, Guardian, etc) and television (including a feature on BBC’s Culture Show).

Due to demand and boredom Ted began gigging once more but found the experience tedious and has once more gone in to a semi retirement, however he still enjoys performing with his good mates the Nightingales and has done several tours with the group in the last couple of years, including his first dates in Germany and Switzerland where he completely baffled his audiences although performing his act in German.

Ted will once again be touring the UK with the Nightingales in May/June 2012 (dates below) and to coincide with these shows Respect Vinyl is proud to announce the first record of new Chippington material for over twenty five years – Blues Fan – a 10″ single of his classic live favourite coupled with a whole bunch of material on the 33rpm B-Side, including music by Ted’s all female American backing group TC & The Sushine Band.

Blues Fan is probably Ted’s best record release yet and an instant Chippington ‘greatest hit’.


Side A – 45rpm

Side B – 33rpm



29 – Shrewsbury, The Vaults
30 – Brighton, Green Door Store


1 – London, Nambucca
2 – Southampton, Talking Heads
3 – Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms
4 – York, Fibbers
5 – Manchester, Night & Day
6 – Glasgow, Nice N Sleazy
7 – Stockton On Tees – ARC Arts Centre
8 – Birmingham (Digbeth), Wagon & Horses
9 – Bristol, The Thunderbolt
10 – Kidderminster, Boar’s Head

Buy Ted Chippington – Blues Fan. New 500 Limited edition 10″ Vinyl here
Ted Chippington - Blues Fan. New 500 Limited edition 10" single on Respect Vinyl

English Heretic: GIMPO'S M25 25 Hour Spin 20th – 21st March 2010

February 23, 2010

All Agents:

GIMPO’s M25 Spin 2010.

Sat 20th to Sun 21st March 1pm.

Meet at ThurrocK Service Station, off M25 at 11am Sat 20th March.

This just in….. As many of you will recall a cache of lost and forgotten material was rediscovered during Jimmy’s house move early last year.

Some of the tracks were liberated by The Junior Insurgent Transmitter Ensemble for the soundtrack to the 2009 M25 Spin.

We have produced a single track DVD sampler and will be giving it away to all the “spinners” joining us this year.

The track featured is a unique version of the Pure Trance classic What Time Is Love and was recorded and performed by The KLF at the very first Helter Skelter illegal rave held on the 30th September 1989.

We will be meeting up at Thurrock Service Station just off the M25 at 11am on Saturday 20th March 2010 and will be on the London Orbital Motorway until 1pm on Sunday 21st March.

Every two laps we stop for fuel and pick up passengers / collaborators at Clacket Lane Services (clockwise side).

If you are unable to come along to this years Spin but would like to buy a copy of the DVD Sampler it is available at:

We look forward to seeing you all very soon.

Love Peace & Happiness

Tim & Gimpo

Podcast: Iron Man Records special presented by Paul E.D of Music World Radio

November 29, 2009

Music World Radio, November 23rd 2009

DJ Paul E.D presents an Iron Man Records Special. Paul works through the history of the label and reviews and plays a selection of songs from each of the releases to date.

Listen free Here:

Iron Man Records releases Included in the show:

IMB6001 I.O.D. : Mundane Existence CD mini lp 2000 Buy It

Fav tracks: Scene not heard, Euromisery, Jobseeker, Sign From The Gods, Filth,

play: jobseeker

IMB6002 P.A.I.N featuring Howard Marks : Let Me Grow More Weed CD single 2000 Buy It

fav tracks: Road Rage, Let me Grow More Weed

play: Let me grow more weed

IMB6003 P.A.I.N : Our Universe Commences Here Vinyl/CD LP 2001 Buy It

fav tracks: schtum, rockin cross de border, A-Z, Chickens

play: rockin cross de borda

IMB6004 LESS: “And I’ll see you never work again” taunted Florence CDLP 2001 Buy It…And+I%27ll+See+You+Never+Work+Again%22+Taunted+Florence

fav tracks: 9-5 Murder, Only Users lose drugs, the idea, Goodnight John

play: only users lose drugs

IMB6005 GORGEOUS: Cursed with Being….. CDLP 2003 Buy It…

fav tracks: greatest liar alive, bad missionaries, prodigal scum

play: prodigal scum

DLPR2006 PIGFISH: The Reverend James CD mini LP 2003 Buy It

fav tracks: getting up early, get out, shut up,

play: get out

IMB6007 SIST: Talking Points Not Tragedies CDEP 2004 Buy It

fav tracks: television led, hindsight is a wonderful thing

play television led

IMB6009 P.A.I.N: Oh My God, We’re Doing It! CDLP re-issue 2005 Buy It!+We%27re+Doing+It!

fav tracks: british justice, no leaders for the fre, oh no its the pigs

play: oh no its the pigs

IMB6010 LAST UNDER THE SUN: Windfall CDLP 2004 Buy It

fav tracks: stop the engines, days, this business

play: days

IMB6011 LAST UNDER THE SUN: All Empires Crumble CDEP 2005 Buy It

fav tracks: fuck the government, bring me their heads, open fire,

play: bring me their heads


fav tracks: time for your leaving, the shed, count to ten, captain of my soul, inside out

play: inside out

IMB6013 SENSA YUMA: Up Yours! CDLP 2004 Buy It!

fav track: war, on you, waiting, ear damage

play: war

IMB6015 DUFUS: Neuborns CDLP 2004 Buy It

fav tracks: neuborns, a having party, ploo and brof, climb, hapi bdae seth

play: ploo and brof

IMB6016 DUFUS: The Last Classed Blast CDLP 2006 Buy It

fav tracks: babylon com, balloon rocking chair, right on, lay down flat

play: babylon com

IMB6017 NIGHTINGALES: Out Of True CDLP 2006 Buy It

fav tracks: born again in birmingham, theres a new world just opening for me

play: born again in birmingham

Paul E.D Podcast Music World radio