The never ending list of things, events and projects from, around, before and after The KLF – from the never finished White Room Motion Picture to the infamous burning of a million pounds on the Isle of Jura.
Other Creative Exploits
Yes, when he was seventeen in the early seventies. It’s rather well-done in a stylistic, gothic-y-looking way. “It’s quite funny actually – the border is made up of Orcs climbing on top of each other up the sides, and crawling along the top and bottom. For the Tolkienesque out there, it features Gandalf with the Red Ring shining and Glamdring to hip, with Samwise and Frodo hobbits, and also three portraits of Legolas the Elf, Gimli the Dwarf and Gollum the gollum.” When Pete Robinson asked Cauty about it, he mentioned that ‘it was mainly student nurses who bought it’. It is signed J. Cauty at the bottom. This is one of Athena’s best-selling posters, and rumour has it that they came to pick it up in a helicopter. The publishing information from the back of the poster:
2931 Lord of the Rings/ Artist: J.Cauty. illustration based on the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien (c) George Allen & UNWIN (PUBLISHERS) LTD. 1954, 1966 (c) 1988 Wizard & Genius-Idealdecor 8618 OETWIL AM SEE/ZURICH Switzerland.
Interestingly, the Walt Disney company used an image for one of their own comic books about Donald Duck experiencing the LotT story, which is highly inspired by Jimmy’s poster.
Yet another KLF project that didn’t quite get off the ground. It was envisaged as a 10×2000 series of limited edition 12″ singles, released weekly in September-December 1988. The original schedule included the following releases:
KLF 004T/R: What Time Is Love? (17th/24th October 1988)
KLF 005T/R: 3 a.m. Eternal (31st October/7th November 1988)
KLF 006T/R: Love Trance (14th/21st November 1988)
KLF 007T/R: Turn Up The Strobe (28th October/5th December 1988)
It is not entirely clear which of the many scheduled but non-released singles was intended to be KLF 008, as there are two singles that were announced and for which sleeves and labels were printed:
KLF 008T/R: E-Train To Trancentral/The White Room (12th/possibly 19th December 1988)
KLF 008T/R: The Lovers Side/Go To Sleep (12th/19th December 1988)
All the labels and sleeves were printed up as a batch lot to save money (and still survive – they can be seen in Pete Robinson’s ‘Justified And Ancient History’, and some record dealers try to sell them for 25 pounds a time! Mad!) even though some of the tracks were unfinished.
In the end a combination of location filming in Spain for the White Room motion picture taking precedence, and a complete lack of interest from the British public, lead to the series being cancelled, although the first 4 of the 12″ singles were eventually released (unknown whether they contained the same tracks as first realised) and most of the tracks re-appeared as radio edits on the unreleased White Room soundtrack LP. The discography holds full detail about all the (some only scheduled) releases.
However in January 1990, ‘Last Train to Trancentral’ was released with the cat no. KLF 008R, first as a white label, then 2000 standard releases (of which 1000 were warped and not released). It is possible that this is the re-named remix of the original E-Train To Trancentral, but no-one knows. Another interesting note regarding KLF008R is that the label’s “Other Data” is “Go to Sleep”, not “Welcome to the Trance” as on all the other pure trance 12″s.
Many copies of KLF 008R have a sleeve similar to KLF005T (pink on black) but the pink is a more fleshy colour than on Pure Trance 2. All sleeve fronts also featured the name of the track, “THE KLF”, a small pyramid blaster in a circle and “PURE TRANCE” in the colour of the number.
It is not sure whether or not Love Trance and Turn Up The Strobe have been recorded (although there is a possible bootleg release that claims to be Love Trance; please see the bootleg section for more details), but some of Go To Sleep is on the White Room film soundtrack and it features on the bootleg demos. The chorus of Go To Sleep is also sampled on the 808Bass mix of LTTT, and parts of it also appear on the Moody Boys remix of What Time Is Love?.
According to Pete Robinsons Justified And Ancient History, there were plans to remix the above as an album called “Pure Trance”, and then further as “Live At Trancentral”, as well as having them on the White Room soundtrack. As is usual with most KLF plans, it didn’t happen.
The Partnership of “Rockman and Lx” was producing great results, not only with their own work, but elsewhere – the ´Blue Danube Orbital mix´ of the KLF´s 3 a.m. Eternal and the promo-only remixes of ´Money´ by Fischerman´s Friends, for example. But, according to Alex, some of those mixes came out in Germany credited as KLF remixes. That was done by another company which neither of us had any control over, and we didnt see the cover artwork until it was too late. I went mad, Jimmy went mad, Bill went mad – what was the KLF doing with the Orb? This type of music was meant to be Orb stuff.
It led to a lot of confusion, though the only real confusion is knowing who were the members of the Orb at the time the record was released. In fact it was a row over this very question, of linking the KLF with the Orb, that fractured the original Patterson/Cauty pairing. Alex Patterson remembers that “the Sun Electric project (Olocco) was recorded at Trancentral, and Jimmy didnt want to be known on the record as Jimmy Cauty so we called him Gavin Cauty. That was how ridiculous the whole scenario was becoming.”
Consequently, details of the Orb’s activities around this time are a little sketchy. But we do know that an Orb album was recorded by Alex and Jimmy early in 1990, and that Alex departed in April 1990, taking the group name with him. “Space” was then released on KLF Communications, attributed simply to Space, and with only Jimmy credited by name. The split was decided acrimonious. Jimmy and Bill were keen that the Orb should join them on KLF Communications, but Alex felt that it was unfair, as “I felt the Orb was myself, with Jimmy working with me”. Jimmy already had the KLF and it appeared that that he wanted the Orb as well (Alex is at pains to stress that the argument is long forgotten, as he and Jimmy have since completely made up.)
The official KLF press release accompanying “Space” claimed that it was originally intended as the Orb’s debut album, but was now simply Jimmy’s own creation, as he’d removed all of Alexs contributions. Alex accepts this: “Space was done solely by Jimmy. At the end of the day, he took out all of my ideas and replaced them, or just left them as empty spaces. Alex has got the original version of Space, but as far as he is concerned, theres no need for that to ever see the light of day. Others claimed that there has nothing been removed and that Alex simply isn’t credited at all.
Apparently the KLF disliked the constant attention they got from the dance and pop music worlds: in the form of requests for PA’s, remixes etc., and the constant questions they got asked. Indeed they even refer to the ‘four handmaidens of evil: WHO WHAT WHERE and WHY’. So as Drummond states in info sheet 13 they decided to hold the Rites of Mu to make “the questions we get asked and are unable to answer” redundant. Of course other reasons for the Rites are more probable: they wanted to hold a good party, they would get a lot of press coverage, and it would increase their enigma. Whatever the reason then, for the 1991 Summer Solstice, The KLF entertained a selection of music industry figures, journalists, etc. on Isle Of Jura in an event known as the Rites of Mu.
The invitation said ‘The KLF require your presence. You’ll be transported to the lost continent Mu. Bring your passports’. Each guest was given a copy of the following statement as they travelled to Jura, by train, plane, car, bus, and boat on Friday 21st June:
‘THE RITES OF MU.
‘SINCE THAT FATEFUL DAY WHEN MAN LEFT BY THE EASTERN GATE, FRUIT STILL FRESH IN HIS BELLY, THOSE FOUR BEAUTIFUL HANDMAIDENS OF LUCIFER _WHY_, _WHAT_, _WHERE_ AND _WHEN_ HAVE LONG TEMPTED BUT NEVER QUENCHED HIS DISASTROUS THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE. THE KLF HAVE INVITED YOU TO JOIN THEM IN CELEBRATING THE RITES OF MU THIS SUMMER SOLSTICE, DURING WHICH THE FALL OF MANKIND MAY BE REVERSED, RETURNING HIM TO THE GARDEN WHERE THE REST OF CREATION WAITS.
‘THE MOST BEAUTIFUL, YET MOST EVIL, OF THE FOUR HANDMAIDENS IS_WHY_. SHE EVEN NOW MAY BE TEMPTING YOU TO ASK QUESTIONS, WHEN ANSWERS ARE NOT ONLY NOT NEEDED BUT COULD NEVER BE GIVEN. SINCE CELEBRATING THE RITES OF MU FOUR SEASONS PAST, THE KLF’S MOMENT HAS COME; SHIMMERING AND DAZZLING LIKE THE HAUNTING BEAUTY OF AURORA’S RACE, IT IS DESTINED ONLY TO FADE. WHILE THE MOMENT LASTS THEIR STADIUM HOUSE TRILOGY REVERBERATES AROUND THE GLOBE, THE REQUESTS FOR LIVE SHOWS, INTERVIEWS, TV APPEARANCES, REMIXES, PROMOTIONAL TOURS AND COMMERCIAL ENDORSEMENTS HAVE SPEWED FORTH RELENTLESSLY FROM THEIR FAX MACHINE.
‘_WHY_, _WHAT_, _WHERE_ AND _WHEN_ HAVE BEEN VERY BUSY; THEIR SEDUCTION TECHNIQUES NEAR-PERFECT. THE KLF, WITH REGULAR FEET OF CLAY, HAVE WEAKENED AT TIMES AND HAVE PRETNEDED TO ANSWER THE UNANSWERABLE. THEY TOO HAVE TRIED TO UNDERSTAND INSTEAD OF ACCEPTING THE UNFOCUSABLE, BEAUTIFUL TRUTH OF THE MYSTERY THAT LIES AT THE HEART OF POP’S PASSING MOMENTS.
‘AS WELL AS ASKING YOU TO ACCEPT THE CONTRADICTIONS OF THE ABOVE WE HOPE THAT YOU WILL GIVE YOURSELF FULLY TO THESE THREE DAYS, ACCEPTING WHATEVER THE ELEMENTS TIP OUR WAY; WHATEVER MILD PHYSICAL STRAINS MAY BE PLACED UPON OUR BODIES AND SAVOUR THE UNDERVALUED QUALITIES OF WAITING, AND MAYBE AFTER IT IS ALL OVER WE WILL UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS FAR LESS TO UNDERSTAND THAN WE EVER KNEW.’
The guests were welcomed from the ferry by Mu passport control officer Drummond in peaked cap and shades, who checked their passports and stamped them with a pyramid blaster stamp. They then allowed themselves to be dressed in yellow ceremonial robes, and led in a chanting procession by a white robed high priest of Mu with Horned God headpiece, over the moors to a bonfire beside a huge (20m?) wicker man, arms raised with weapons poised, head looking up to the sky. The four angels of Mu, in white dresses, with flower head-bands, rose from the sea, and joined the celebrants. The high priest addressed the crowd in ‘a tongue that no longer exists, at least not in this world’. What did the KLF have in store, or was it the Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu controlling the KLF? As the ceremony reached its climax at midnight on the longest day, it was still light. The priest encouraged the guests to direct their psychic energy towards the wicker man, chanting ‘Burn Burn Burn’ and the idol burst into flames with many explosions!!! What lay ahead was ‘enlightenment … or madness’. After the ceremony was over the guests were treated to a huge party. The next day is unrecorded but judging by the statement it involved savouring the undervalued qualities of waiting. However they spent the time, by Sunday 23rd of June, the KLF had transported the guests to the Liverpool Festival of Comedy, where, hooded, they joined them on stage for an accapella rendition of Justified And Ancient as Bill and Jimmy handed out ice creams from an ice-cream van which they had borrowed. The total cost of the weekend was supposed to be around 70,000 ukpounds. But for what?
The event was filmed by Bill Butt, as were all the KLF’s public appearances, and edited for promotional use only. A Promo video of 5×2 min episodes was circulated in July 91. The soundtrack music is largely dark, sinister, and evil, often punctuated by sudden outbursts of the industrial ‘woooooo!’ sound from ‘It’s Grim Up North’. A narration by Scott Piering (their record plugger) proved that he couldn’t act. Each episode begins with the closing scene of the previous.
Part I – The Bonker (the passports to sunset)
Part II – The Construction (sunset to procession)
Part III – The Initiation (procession to angels of Mu)
Part IV – The Offering (angels to high priest chanting)
Part V – The Burning (high priest to burning)
By sacrificing the wicker idol, somehow the KLF have reversed the fall of mankind! The film ends intriguingly with ‘America 1992 – the celebration continues’. Did they intend to have a Rites Of Mu in the US in 1992? Or is this just a reference to the America promotional campaign.
A new 1×7 min version appeared on ‘The Work’ promo video at the end of 1991, with the opening credits removed from each episode. There were rumours that it was to be screened on Channel 4 in the UK, or on MTV Europe, at some point that winter, but it wasn’t screened until after the retiral, on the shortest day 1992, on MTV Europe, with a re-recorded soundtrack and new narration as the 1×7 min version. On the 26th of August 94 another (new?) version was shown at the NME film season in a triple bill with the Beatles ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ and Echo and the Bunnymen’s ‘Shine So Hard’ perhaps this version makes more of the mystery tour aspect. It also features as a bonus track on the ‘Work’ DVD.
It’s a 50 minute ambient road movie with footage of Drummond and Cauty setting off from Trancentral on a quest to find the White Room, driving through London and Spain, to a soundtrack of pop-trance. It has been shown in public only once.
As mentioned before, the KLF received weird mail from Illuminatus! fans after calling themselves the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu. Much of the mail was from obvious cranks and crackpots, but then in mid 1988, they received a very weird letter: a legal contract. The contract was with an organisation or individual calling themselves “Eternity”. The wording of this contract was that of standard music business legal speak, but the terms discussed and the rights required and granted were of a far stranger kind. Whether The Contract was a very clever and intricate prank by a legal minded JAMS fan was of little concern to Drummond and Cauty. For them it was as good a marker as anything as to what direction their free style career should take next.
Their solicitor (David Franks, played by himself in the film) advised that they should not put their names to legally binding agreements without first understanding all of the implications of doing so. He advised them not to sign the Contract. The KLF of course ignored him and signed the contract.
In the first term of The Contract they, Drummond and Cauty, were required to make an artistic representation of themselves on a journey to a place called THE WHITE ROOM. The medium they chose to make this representation was up to them. Where or what THE WHITE ROOM was, was never clearly defined. Interpretation was left to their own creativity. The remuneration they are to receive on completion of this work of art was supposed to be access to THE “real” WHITE ROOM. Your guess is as good as anybody’s. Initially Drummond and Cauty planned to stage a art exhibition where the journey and arrival at THE WHITE ROOM would be represented on canvas and exhibited; but driving down the Marylebone Road on a wet September afternoon in 1988 in their infamous U.S. Cop car, Cauty suggested, instead of doing the art exhibition they should make a film. The making of a “Road Movie” had always figured in their vague plans for the future. With money coming in from all over the place for their Timelords record maybe now was the time. Or at least they thought so.
They contacted their friend and associate, the film director, Bill Butt and made plans. Six weeks later they were filming in the Sierra Nevada region of Spain, with a top class international crew (who had just finished working on an Indiana Jones film). But things started to go wrong immediately. The weather, guaranteed to be blue skies of epic proportions until well after Christmas, was low and drizzly. Some business deals crashed, losing the money that was earmarked to complete the film. When they viewed all of the uncut rushes that had been shot, they knew that they had just thrown away the best part of 250,000 ukpounds: Most of the footage was out-of-focus, or badly filmed. Of course if you talk to anybody who tries to make a film they will tell you of the catalogue of disasters that came between them and their reported triumphant premier. Drummond and Cauty had no experience of this. They just felt that the Gods were against them and got seriously depressed. They had meetings with their accountants to assess what the damage would be if they were to cut their losses and pull out then. Bill Butt persuaded them to see it through.
By February 1989 when they had enough funds together for them to shoot the interior scenes and the London location shots, David Franks had become steadily more intrigued by all the implications of the various clauses of The Contract. Although The Contract was between The JAMS and Eternity, Eternity gave no address, Eternity left no room for negotiation. [Note in ‘Justified and Ancient’: “At 3am Eternity rang, said she knew What Time Is Love?”]. David Franks believed he had found a get out clause. Something that Drummond and Cauty would later call the LIBERATION LOOPHOLE. It was decided by Bill Butt and the other two that the signing of the contract and Franks’ discovery of the LIBERATION LOOPHOLE should be dramatically reconstructed, filmed and respectively used at the beginning and the end of the film.
The rest of the film was then shot, Drummond and Cauty recorded the soundtrack. Bill Butt and editor Rob Wright edited the film. It was only 52 minutes’ long but it was BIG SCREEN and looked good. They planned either a proper cinema release or a club tour, with the KLF playing the soundtrack live for the second half of 1989. The White Room soundtrack LP was to be preceded by the release of ‘Kylie Said To Jason’, the video for which included scenes from the film. Additionally many of the scenes were included in a short promo for the film, with a soundtrack of Madrugana Eterna (club mix), which was shown on TV. Drummond and Cauty are shown leaving Trancentral, and driving through London, then driving through mainly desert country. Some memorable scenes include the JAMs-mobile covered in white dustwash, with the windscreen wipers clearing a space, Drummond combing his hair before sauntering down the road as if he was a traffic cop, and the dead eagle scene: Drummond had come across a beautiful but decomposing eagle at the side of the road, which nobody else would go near, as it stank. Drummond insisted on being filmed with it as he strode down a one track rail line, the significance of this at the time could not be argued. Finally the wheels of the JAMs-mobile stop in a snow drift, and the KLF climb upwards through the snow towards a huge radar dish, wherein they find the White Room.
‘Kylie Said To Jason’ was planned to be a big pop hit to promote the LP. It wasn’t. The release of the LP was pulled. The What Time Is Love Story LP became JAMS LP 4 instead. A video for the pure trance ‘What Time Is Love?’ is sometimes shown on MTV. It consists of unedited footage from Sierra Nevada. Two shots of sheep in a field bookended a 3 minute shot of the JAMs-mobile gradually driving a couple of miles towards the camera across a barren plain. It’s extremely tedious, and getting MTV to show this can be viewed as a prank, despite the fact they often do! A slightly different version is also available on a compilation tape of Indie promos, but it is VERY rare.
A combination of worries about the dramatic qualities of the film, and lack of commercial success caused huge doubts in Drummond and Cauty’s minds. However the rapidly emerging rave and club success of their pure trance songs took their minds off the doubts. They played their premier live performance at the London Club HEAVEN on Monday the 31st of July. Later that evening they met a young down and out, claiming to be called Mickey McElwee. For the price of a meal he told them the most shit scary story the both of them had ever heard. Later they related the story to Bill Butt. It was agreed that it could make the basis of a plot for the film.
The finished film “should” contain both an Inner and Outer film. The Inner film is the original one shot in late 1988 and early 1989. The Outer film contains the dramatically reconstructed events that according to Mickey McElwee, took place, unbeknown to Drummond and Cauty while The Inner film was being shot. There will also be, what we will call, a Third Strand which will consist of scenes plotting the tensions and predicaments that Drummond, Cauty and Butt experienced while attempting to make The Inner film. All three plots will intertwine with each other telling the one simple story. The story of Men out of their Depth. In The Inner film Drummond and Cauty play their alter egos KINGBOY D and ROCKMAN ROCK. In the outer film they play themselves. Bill Butt reckoned it would cost a further $1,000,000 to finish the film. They showed the Inner film to German investors and some sheep in Munich, (its one and only showing!), to try and persuade them to finance the film’s completion. It appears they never raised the cash as the script was too weird. But when their pop career took off and they did make some money, it seems as though they dropped their plans to finish the film.
A complete script is available in the ftp archive, containing the Outer, Inner and Third strands, as well as sets/locations/stage directions and lots of other really interesting info.
An advert appeared in the NME in 1994, claiming to be copies of the whole film, but investigation has revealed this only to be the inner film. Thus several bootlegged copies and a DVD of the inner film are around, and available from generous list members. The quality of all known copies is pretty good, considering they’re 4th or 5th generation. Sound and visuals are quite clear and noise and interference don’t detract from the film’s content too much. There is no dialogue in this Inner Film, only the music. It is possible to hear much of the original White Room soundtrack, for example the original “Build a Fire” and “Go to Sleep”. It is not known what happened to the original film.
The whole story is better told in the NME article ‘The KLF vs. The BRITs’ which is available in the Articles section. Some more theories are expressed in the Select article ‘Who Killed the KLF?’ which is also there.
The story perhaps begins the previous year when the KLF were invited to perform at a concert celebrating new British music which was to be filmed to show as clips during the ’91 BRITs. The KLF’s suggestions for the nature of their performance were so outrageous (involving live elephant sacrifices), that the invitation was cancelled. Then at the end of ’91 they were approached to appear on the Christmas edition of Top of the Pops; they planned to perform the thrash-metal version of ‘3 a.m. Eternal’ with Extreme Noise Terror. The BBC however refused, and they performed a straight version of Justified and Ancient. So you’d think that the organisers of the annual music industry back-slapping self-congratulatory show, would have been tipped off that the KLF would try to do something shocking. “It had to be done,” said Drummond, his tone as always, somewhere between deadly earnest and total mischief. It soon becomes obvious that there’s a devil stuck in this man. “You only get so many opportunities… When they asked us to do it, we wondered if the BRITs people had done their research…”
Somehow the KLF persuaded the organisers to let them perform with Extreme Noise Terror, and they began to plan their performance. “The plans kept changing. They varied from me going onstage and literally cutting my age, Manics style into my chest with a knife, to me snogging Jimmy onstage, to Jimmy simulating sex with his girlfriend. Then we were going to cut up a dead sheep on stage and throw blood over the front rows of the audience. The idea was that two thirds of the way through the song this altar would appear with the sheep on… we’d bought the meat cleavers, the knives, the tablecloth, got everything.” Drummond explains how such ideas come to them: “we don’t always think things through beforehand…we just do them. Jimmy really had me going, he suggested that I use the cleaver to cut my own hand off!”
On the morning of the show (12th February ’92) Drummond drove to an abattoir in Northampton and bought a whole dead sheep and eight gallons of blood. Rumours began to circulate of the plan, and first the BBC lawyers and then hardcore vegetarians Extreme Noise Terror made it blatantly known that they were totally against the idea.” So the sheep plan was scrapped, and instead *just* the thrash performance, and Bill spraying the audience with blanks from a machine gun took place. There’s no doubt however that this performance did annoy, shock and disgust many of the ‘pigtails in suits’ present in the audience and presumably many of the live TV audience in their living rooms. Trevor Horn (producer of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax”) seemed to be in a state of shock. “They were horrible! Shooting with machine guns! Disgraceful!”. Eminent Hungarian classical composer Sir George Solti tried to leave the auditorium during the performance and had to be persuaded to return to his seat.
As Scott Piering’s voice announced “The KLF have now left the music business” the two bands hurried off the stage and straight into their van and back to Trancentral. Later in the show The KLF (jointly with Simply Red) were awarded the title Best British Band. Since they had now left the building they sent along sidekick Hector, resplendent in motor cycle messenger gear, to pick up the statuette. Having been told there was no way he was being allowed access, Hector dashed onstage, grabbed the trophy from startled Martika and escaped into the labyrinth of corridors behind the glittering stage. This of course was cut from the TV coverage. Later, he was cornered by security, who wrestled ‘the BRIT’ back off him.
Back at Trancentral Jimi and Bill decided to do… more… stuff… They left Trancentral “on a mission”. Over at the posh Lancaster Gate hotel where the post-BRITS party is being held, blue and yellow flashing lights are splitting the darkness. A police car prowls around as a rubbish lorry disposes of the carcass of a dead sheep which has been left on the forecourt. Around it is tied a sign; ‘I DIED FOR YOU – BON APPETIT’. Bill explains why they did it: “There was a lot of symbolism about the sheep thing. It said to those people at the BRITs, ‘If you can’t take the contradictions and the shit within pop music, tough; you’re all willing to go into this big hotel and eat whatever but you don’t wanna look at a dead sheep’. I was brought up in the country and I’ve seen dead bodies and dead animals and I worked on a trawler and saw millions of dead fish. Anyway, the next plan was to take the sheep down to the hotel and leave it there on the stairs, dead, and pour the eight gallons of blood over the entrance. They might’ve been able to ignore the sheep, but wading through blood? That’s symbolic too. It’s like the industry wants your blood. And then, when you’ve given them everything, they want to make you a part of the ‘rich tapestry of rock’. When you’re dead, when you’re gone, it’s all nice, all Sid? Wasn’t he great!?”
It does seem that the KLF somehow wanted to purge themselves of the music industry. The fact that they wanted to ritually disembowel a sheep which are deeply embedded in the KLF mythology was perhaps “a bit like suicide”. It seems that they wanted to do something so deliberately offensive that their careers would have been ruined. Drummond said “there’s a twisted part to Jimmy and me that wants to be hated. Really hated…” This was probably the first KLF action that would’ve really alienated tons of people who normally applaud their every move. Right thinking people probably view the use of animals for some madcap pop/art caper as disgusting. Drummond explained “we’d gone through agonies about this, spent sleepless nights knowing that it was a terrible thing to do. But the sheep didn’t die just for us. It was going to die anyway.” Then he admits that his wife was “horrified… disgusted, completely disgusted. But y’know, we just can’t be the safe little pop group.”
Next morning, the backlash began. From the KLF’s point of view, they had subverted and disrupted the BRITs and made some sort of point. The editorial in dusty trade mag Music Week was appalled. The tabloid coverage was ridiculous in its inaccuracy and down-right lies. Note the following two stories needed multiple writers:
“The KLF almost brought chaos to the awards by firing a machine-gun into the celebrity- packed crowd. Frightened members of the audience were calmed after organisers said the gun, carried by band leader Bill Drummond, was loaded only with blanks. Then the band were barred from collecting their award. The group ordered a courier company to collect their trophy as a joke. But the organisers of the glitzy show, which went out on TV last night, refused to allow the leather-clad biker into the Odeon. The group’s Press officer said after the show: ‘It looks like their joke backfired.'” -Linda Duff/Julia Kuttner from ‘The Daily Star’ 13th February ’92
“KLF’s SICK GUN STUNT FAILS TO HIT THE TARGET
The KLF proved to be pop’s biggest wallies by “firing” a realistic machine gun at the star-studded audience. Singer Bill Drummond left the stage as the band performed their No 1 hit 3am Eternal. Drummond, 36, who was using a crutch after damaging his knee in a fall, then reappeared and pointed the gun at the crowd. But his antics were met with apathy by guests who carried on chatting. KLF did manage to cause a stir eventually by trashing their instruments at the end of their song. They hurled guitars across the stage, smashed microphone stands against scenery and threw buckets. Sadly, they won best group award jointly with Simply Red.” -Piers Morgan/Peter Willis/Dan Collins from ‘The Sun’
One does wonder why these so-called newspapers bother to distort reality to make the KLF look bad.
The morning after the BRITs Drummond was driving to the studio for Black Room sessions: “I’ve still got eight gallons of blood in the back of the van. Simon Bates is on the radio, giving out the ‘truth’ about the awards. He’s saying how he and his producer foiled the dastardly KLF plot to throw fake blood on the audience. And I’m thinking ‘Oh Simon is that the ‘truth’?’. I’m driving along with eight gallons of real blood not fake, in the van. Maybe I’ll go over to Radio 1 right now and dump it on him… But I haven’t got the guts.”
But in the end the KLF’s art-terrorist outrages didn’t really have the desired affect. The music industry’s reaction was more apathy than horror. Or it became part of the KLF’s ‘scam’ mythology. As the NME said: “He does seem to have himself nicely skewered on the horns of an almighty dilemma. He has taken over pop music and it has been a piece of piss to do so. And he hates that. He wants to be separate from a music industry that clasps him ever closer to its bosom. He loves being in the very belly of the beast, yet he wishes he was something that’d cause it to throw up too. He wants not only to bite the hand that feeds but to shove it into an industrial mincer and stomp the resultant pulp into the dirt, yet pop, as long as you continue to make it money, would let you sexually abuse its grandmother.” After the BRITs there was only one way out. To really leave the music industry.
The BRIT award statuette was later unearthed in a field near Stonehenge by a local farmer. From Q Magazine: “The yeoperson’s shovel-wielding presence remains as unexplained as The KLF’s wish to bury it there in the first place.” Jimmy has been vague when questioned on this.
In June 1993 an organisation called the K-Foundation began taking out full page mainstream national press ad’s. At first they were full of Drummond-esques about time running in, and “Kick out the Klocks”, and five year journeys which included pop success and deep space travel. A ‘further information address’ was included. Then a fourth ad appeared, on August 14th, reading: “ABANDON ALL ART NOW. Major rethink in progress. Await further announcements.” The next ad (28th Aug) read: “It has come to our attention that you did not abandon all art now. Further direct action is thus necessary. The K Foundation announce the ‘mutha of all awards’, the 1994 K Foundation award for the worst artist of the year’. It then went on to detail how a shortlist of four artists had been chosen, and that they would be exhibited in the Tate Gallery. The first newspaper piece about the K-F appeared the following Monday, correctly pointing out that the shortlist of named artists and the exhibition were actually both for the 1993 Turner Prize, the controversial annual award given by the UK art establishment to the best young modern artist, which came with a prize of 20000 pounds, but incorrectly assuming that the K-F prize was a hoax. Note the date that the award was to be announced – 23rd November, and note the fact that it is the 1994 K-F award as opposed to the 1993 Turner award. Obviously this signifies that the K-F are more forward-looking than the Turner, but also try adding 1+9+9+4 together. If you think I’m being pedantic, adding the individual numbers in years together is a standard Discordian thing to do. My [Stuart] theory is that Bill and Jimi were happy with their deliberately weird ads, when they heard that the Turner would be announced on the 23rd of November, decided that that was an opportunity too good to miss, cancelled their previous plans and never sent out any of the further information packs. Bill says he still has all the SAEs which they received, and they may be replied to at some time in the future.
The next ad invited the general public to vote for the worst artist, either by going to the exhibition and using their critical faculties or by letting their inherent prejudices come to the fore. The final ad summarised the whole campaign, asked some questions back to the people that had written to them, and explained that the winner of the K-F award would be announced in a TV advert during the live Turner prize coverage on Channel 4. All the press ad’s are available in the ftp archive, as are loads of newspaper and magazine articles about the events of the 23rd of November.
Briefly however: Rachel Whiteread was contacted by the K-Foundation and informed that she had won the 40000 pound prize. She refused to allow her name to be used in the TV advert. 25 witnesses (art critics, journalists, music industry figures, artists etc., there were 15 more people present: I presume they were photographers and video crews) were invited to participate and driven in a convoy of white limos (lead by a gold limo) to a service station where they were handed a press release and 1650 pounds in crisp new 50 pound notes. The accompanying press release stated that 25 x 1600 collectively made up the 40000 K-Foundation prize, and that the extra 50 was for the witness to verify its authenticity by spending it. The witnesses were dressed in fluorescent orange hard hats and safety jackets, and large quantities of champagne were drunk.
Eventually the convoy reached a field patrolled by two orange-painted K-F Saracen armoured cars, driven by Drummond and Cauty, broadcasting ‘K Sera Sera’ and Abba’s ‘Money Money Money’. Silver bearded Mr Ball, the compere with a megaphone directed the witnesses to nail their wad of money to a board inside a gilt frame, to assemble the K- F’s prize. Unfortunately some of the witnesses pocketed all or some of their wad, and the prize money was 8600 short, which the K-F had to make up. Mr Ball also directed the witnesses to “view the art”: A Million pounds in 50 pound note wads, nailed to a large framed board. The K-F’s first art work, ‘Nailed To A Wall’.
All the witnesses were visibly impressed by this sight. When an artist complained that it wasn’t a work of art, as it wasn’t signed, Mr Ball deadpanned “I think you’ll find that every note is signed sir”. The witnesses were made to hand over a 10 pound note as payment for an art catalogue. Half of each note was returned to the witness. The reserve price of the works has been set at half the face value of the cash involved. Nailed To The Wall – face value a cool million – is up for sale at 500,000 pounds. The catalogue states: “Over the years the face value will be eroded by inflation, while the artistic value will rise and rise. The precise point at which the artistic value will overtake the face value is unknown. Deconstruct the work now and you double your money. Hang it on a wall and watch the face value erode, the market value fluctuate, and the artistic value soar. The choice is yours.” The point is simple: art as a speculative currency, and vice-versa. To put it more bluntly: Art equals Money, and Money equals Art.
Meanwhile three TV adverts costing exactly 20,000 pounds were being shown on Channel 4 in between the live coverage of the real award ceremony. Since Channel 4 funded the Turner prize, the K-Foundation were in effect paying for both awards. These ad’s explain that the K-F are currently amending the history of art at a secret location. Rachel Whiteread won the Turner prize too, and absolutely no mention of the alternative award was made in the Turner studio discussion, an act of crass cowardice and stupidity by the Channel 4 programme makers which confirmed all the points about the modern art establishment that the K-F were trying to make.
The motorcade left the site of the amending of art-history and headed back to London, where on the steps of the Tate, Rachel Whiteread was due to be handed the prize money. When she refused to accept the money, the K-F explained that it would be burnt. With the crowd of now very drunk witnesses looking on hoping the money would be burnt, a masked K-F operative (Gimpo) fumbled with matches and lighter fluid. At the last moment Rachel Whiteread emerged from the Tate and accepted the money, stating that she would give it as grants to needy artists.
A huge amount of press publicity ensued, with all the major newspapers and press organisations reporting that Whiteread had won both awards. The K-F’s publicist, Mick Houghton, revealed that the voting for the K-F’s award was supposed to produce a tie, to illustrate the hypocrisy of the Turner award committee, but that strangely the result had been a huge margin of victory for Whiteread. He speculated that the few thousand voters had just liked or rather disliked the sound of her name.
In the week that followed the K Foundation returned the million to the Bank of England, but pierced with nail-holes, the money was unusable and the Bank fined the K- Foundation 9000 pounds for damaging money and charged them 500 quid to print a new million!! (if they had burnt the money they would have faced criminal charges!). Very many people quoted in the huge amount of publicity that followed expressed the opinion that the K-F had ‘wasted’ the money by spending it on advertising. Or that the joke was on the K-Foundation as they had lost all this money. Imagine the outrage if they had burnt the money…
In March 1997, Bill explained thusly: “Most of the people who wrote about what we did, and the TV programme that was made about it, made a mistake. I was only able to articulate it to myself afterwards with hindsight they thought we were using our money to make a statement about art, and really what we were doing was using our art to make a statement about money. Having arrived at that formula, I’m probably manipulating everything we did to fit into the theory, but we were just getting up in the morning and getting on the phone with each other and saying, fucking hell! So at some points we thought we were attacking the art establishment then we were saying, no that’s not what this is about.”
Yes. They burnt a million pounds in an abandoned boathouse on Jura, (near the village of Ardfin if you want to make a pilgrimage) in the middle of the night of the 23rd of August 1994. It took just over an hour for Cauty and Drummond to pile the wads onto the flames, while Gimpo filmed it, and freelance journalist Jim Reid witnessed it. The whole story is told by Reid in an article called ‘Money To Burn’ from GQ magazine, available in the ftp archive. Reid admits to feeling at first guilt, then boredom while watching the money burn. In the Omnibus documentary, the K-F’s bank confirmed that a million pounds in cash had been withdrawn (intriguingly, the pictured statement also shows a credit transfer of ukp1,300,000 going into the Foundation’s account just a few days later!!!), and picked up by a private security firm who also confirmed the amount. Some of the notes remained unburned, were washed out to sea when the tide came in, and were later found by a Jura resident on a beach. He handed 1500 pounds into the police who traced the serial numbers and confirmed with Drummond that they were his and that he didn’t want them back. Some ashes (valued in the Omnibus documentary at between ukp 800 to 81,000!) were brought back from Jura, and kept in a suitcase, until Bill and Jimmy asked Chesham brickmaker James Matthews (age 23) to make them into a brick. Bill said the reason for the request would be revealed in 23 years.
The film “Watch the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid” was shown to nearly half the population of Jura on the 23rd of August 1995. Unfortunately it was very badly filmed (on Super 8) and all the dialogue is almost intelligible.
The next question is why on earth did they do it?
For the first six months of 1994 the K-F tried to get their art exhibition (which consisted of over a million pounds in actual bank notes) staged. The most likely gallery was the Tate in Liverpool, where Jayne Casey from Big In Japan now works (shown here with Bill and Jimmy). Unfortunately it didn’t come off so they had to consider other options. They thought about taking the exhibition across Russia by train, but the cost of insuring a million pounds against robbery by the armed gangs that roam across the Steppes, was too high. They decided that the money was a millstone around their necks, that depressed them. They decided they would have to really burn the money.
They couldn’t decide whether to make the burning public or not. They thought of putting a picture of ‘Nailed to the Wall’ with a flame-thrower beside it, on a billboard in London. A week later the picture would have changed to ashes. Eventually Drummond decided that ‘the shock value will spoil it really. Because it doesn’t want to be a shocking thing; it just wants to be a fire’. However they still took a journalist along to witness it. They thought it was important that the public had faith that they did do it, so they (said they had) destroyed the video evidence.
All through their career the concept of burning a million pounds comes up. When they deleted their back catalogue it was described as being the equivalent of burning millions of pounds. They threatened to burn the K-F art award prize money (Gimpo was fumbling with matches and lighter fluid when at the last moment Rachel Whiteread accepted the prize). And in the 7th K-F press advert they stated “What would you do with a million pounds? Burn it?”
Also they had made the decision that the money was not theirs, it was the K-F’s. It had to be used for a K-F project, and couldn’t be given to anyone else. The money burning is in effect a massive, and very expensive, publicity stunt so that Drummond and Cauty can go down in history as the men who burnt a million pounds. It is supposed to make you think about money, and its relationship with art. Really what is the difference between spending money on useless objects or publicity, and making the actual loss of the money the publicity. No one castigates Cher for spending her millions on 12 mansions world-wide and not giving them to charity. Why attack the K-F for spending their million and not giving it to charity. Bill once said in a letter to Nick: “…we could have gone and put the money to some publicly acceptable good use (The starving millions, cancer research, Greenpeace; take your pick), but no, we chose to burn it. Why?… What is the appeal?”
If they have introduced an important debate about the nature of money, art and fame, then the money might have been used wisely. It’s not even true that they are fools who have lost their money, as by having “he burnt a million pounds” on their CV’s they will be interesting to the media for the rest of their lives, and able to make it back easily. Just like the first line in every biography and obituary of Divine was “he once ate dog shit on film” the names of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty will always be followed by “the men who burnt a million pounds”. Bill also said, in 1996, that someone once told him, (after seeing the video for Earth Song), that the reason the K Foundation burned it is because they knew they would never be as good as Michael Jackson.
In March 1997, after some years consideration, Bill explained: “One night an audience was asked: is there anyone here that would’ve liked to do this or thought about this? And people put up their hands. That became a regular thing and it would be about ten per cent [of the audience], so ten per cent of the population …or ten per cent of the people who came to see this film! [Drummond laughs uproariously] Or maybe they were just trying to endear themselves to us- but it was a real thing. We realised that it wasn’t like we were so different or so special or so far-out or so fucking fucked-up; we just happened to have a million lying around…”
As we all know Bill and Jimmy burnt a million pounds. They gave Gimpo a camcorder to film (in Super 8) the burning as it happened. This resulting film was first transferred to two 8 mm projector film spools with a soundtrack, and first shown to bemused villagers on Jura. The film is in colour, good quality and “quite boring”. Quite literally it is 55 minutes of Bill and Jimmy burning the million pounds, feeding the flames with bundles of 50-pound notes. Jim Reid appears, and occasionally Gimpo is seen, mainly whilst he’s fiddling with the camera.
Later it was edited down in order to fit it onto one spool because “when the first spool ran out everyone thought it was the end and seemed disappointed that they had to sit through even more…” (Gimpo). However, Jimmy claimed that it was because everyone talked through it anyway so they thought they’d have the “audience providing the soundtrack”, but this may be a cover, as according to some reports, the soundtrack tape was ‘lent’ to the BBC for the Omnibus programme and never returned despite Gimpo’s best attempts. It is quite likely they just thought “why bother hooking up the sound?”. Jimi said that the video was to be destroyed two days after the event, because they wanted people to have faith and not have to have proof. But he was obviously lying!
The highlight for most list members is when Gimpo walks outside of the boathouse, and we can see the glowing embers rising out of the chimney, and floating off into the darkness. Somewhere in the film (perhaps its the bit where he goes outside) Gimpo decides to pocket a bundle of notes – a few minutes later he starts to feel guilty and puts the money back. Bill (in a letter to Nick) commented on the problem of the film’s name, against it really being Bill and Jimmy’s money: “Calling the film ‘Watch The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid’ is a creative compromise.”
On the 4th September 1995, and on some further occasions, newspaper adverts appeared advertising the film to local audiences. They announced a showing of the film, to be followed by a debate centring around a question e.g. Why did the K Foundation burn a million quid? Was it Art?, Was it Madness?, Was it Rock and Roll? etc. The 5th September saw Bill and Jimmy at the In The City convention in Manchester, showing the film, followed by a discussion in front of a 100-plus music-industry audience, where they asked for people’s opinions, not on whether it was ethical to burn the money, but on whether it was Rock and Roll? Then they were interviewed on Radio 1’s Evening Session. Bill said: “And we’re very proud of this film, this is the biggest kinda visual thing we’ve done.”.
The film was toured around the country, usually gracing cultural centres in major towns and cities, and some more obscure venues like film festivals, builders yards, Glastonbury Tor, an inner-city comprehensive and then Eton on the same day, and MIND drop-in centres. In Glasgow they planned to show it at various venues over a weekend of ‘art- terrorism’ eg, Barlinnie prison, (but they were refused permission and asked to leave!) (see the relevant archived articles from the Sunday Times, Blah Blah Blah and the Scotsman for more on this eventful weekend). Bill and Jimmy also took the film to Belgrade, in Serbia. The Independent on Sunday reported that it was very well received because 1) they showed to this very artistic community and 2) Serbia experienced 36 million % inflation so they could relate to burning money. Each showing was followed by a discussion, where Bill and Jimmy wanted to get the audience to voice what they thought was the reason B&J; burnt the money. Many reviews of the showings from local newspapers and transcripts of various local and national radio interviews are available online.
Following the Cape Wrath contract Bill and Jimmy would no longer comment on the burning at post-film discussions, preferring to leave an associate, Chris Brooke or Gimpo to lead them. Bill and Jimmy’s self-imposed silence was usually broken after around five minutes.
An Info-sheet was distributed in the later stages of the tour. Attached to this were a series of quotes of audience observations from the various screenings. Bill and Jimmy invited audiences to write to the address given (The K FOUNDATION, PO Box 91, HP22 4RS, The UK), with their own reactions. Some people even got replies from Bill. Other list members gained other memorabilia at the screenings, such as soggy newspapers adverts, signed vodka bottles, and in one case a signed ukp 50 note!
As well as discussing the film, Bill occasionally opened up on other matters. At the Manchester showing in November 1995 he is quoted as saying “We would do it [release records] again, if we thought people would like it”. At the same showing he refused to sign a copy of Pete Robinson’s Justified and Ancient History, saying “That’s a load of bollocks… It’s all lies.” Pete Robinson has yet to reply to Nick on these allegations. Bill is also notorious for refusing to be held to quotes.
The film was due to be shown for the final time in a car-park in Brick Lane in London, 8th December 1995. Several list members turned up to witness the event turn into something of a fiasco. The car-park idea was abandoned on the night, but a basement room was hired in the Seven Stars pub nearby. Around 400 people turned up for the showing, and most somehow managed to crowd into the small room. Bill and Jimmy hung around, but were evidently nervous, and hid for most of the evening in the toilets with their minders. Gimpo showed some of the film but the cramped conditions proved too much and the showing was abandoned. Some reports indicate the police called it off, but although the police did turn up, it is understood that they had no part in the decision.
The film was due to be cut up and sold off for ukp 1 per frame after the Brick Lane showing, but this never happened. At the end of the show, when everyone tried to grab frames, Gimpo protested “no, it’s not this film that’s being cut up, it’s the other [two- spool] copy”, going on to point out that he didn’t even want to do it, it was all Club Disobey’s idea. A subsequent advert in the NME gave the ansaphone number of London’s Club Disobey (0181-960 9529), but to the best knowledge of the list members, no frames were ever gleaned from this. The only frames list-members obtained were blank ones from the film header.
At several screenings people with professional cameras, camcorders and dictaphones recorded the film and subsequent discussions but bootleg copies have yet to surface. Gimpo also made videos/recordings saying “maybe a video sometime next year”. He is also quoted (from the Omnibus documentary) as saying “I’ve never been a film director before.” A proper DVD release was once planned if there was enough demand, but this has yet to happen.
The Cape Wrath contract was conceived in a Little Chef diner at Newtonmore (just outside Aviemore in the Highlands), the morning after Friday’s Glasgow showings of WTKFBAMQ and the Pissing in the Wind episode. Bill and Jimmy appeared to be fed up with the reactions they were receiving to the film, which were mainly questions to them, rather than answers. They wanted to use a van Gimpo had borrowed to write the contract on, but he got scared and drove it straight back to London. Thus abandoned Bill and Jimmy (and two witnesses both called Mark!) phoned Craig McLean, journo, now editor of Blah Blah Blah, in Edinburgh and offered him an exclusive story if he would drive them! By the time he got up to Cape Wrath (about 6hrs drive from Edinburgh), they’d hired a G-reg. Nissan Bluebird from Aviemore; and on the morning of the Sunday (5th Nov 1995) they drove it onto a helipad on a MoD live bombing range called Faraid Head, 10 miles down the road from Cape Wrath itself., painted the contract on the side and pushed it over the edge. Jimmy took off the radiator cap so “it smokes more as it goes over”. Photos of the painted (and falling) car later appeared in Blah Blah Blah (see the archive) and the book.
To quote the info-sheet, handed out during the latter stages of the film tour:
For the sake of our souls we the trustees of the K Foundation agree unconditionally, totally, and without hesitation to a binding contract with the rest of the world, the contract is as follows.
Bill Drummond + Jimmy Cauty agree to never speak, write or use any other form of media to mention the burning of one million pounds of their own money which occurred on the Island of Jura on 23 August 1994 for a period of 23 years after the date of signature.
Bill Drummond + Jimmy Cauty are free to end the K Foundation in all respects for a period of 23 years after the date of signature.
Bill Drummond + Jimmy Cauty agree to store all assets of the K Foundation, including the ash of the one million pounds burnt on Jura, for a period of 23 years from the date of signature. This is to be completed within 14 days of signature.
Bill Drummond + J Cauty agree to allow Alan Goodrick use, for whatever purpose, the film “Watch The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid” and all film rushes.
Bill Drummond + Jimmy Cauty agree to publish this contract as a one page advert in a broadsheet of their choice within 14 days of signature and to cover costs.
It is agreed that in signing this contract, the postponing the K Foundation for the said period of 23 years, provides opportunity of sufficient length for an accurate and appropriately executed response to their burning of a million quid.
(signed in Gold pen on the windscreen: J Cauty, B Drummond, (Mark 1), Mark J Hawker (Mark 2), 5 Nov 1995)
This developed later into:
On the 5th November 1995, Cauty and Drummond signed a contract agreeing to end The K Foundation for a period of 23 years. This postponement ‘provides opportunity of sufficient length for an accurate and appropriately executed response to their burning of a million quid’. Cauty and Drummond have rescued themselves from the burden of an impossible explanation. Their fate now lies irrevocably sealed in the imploded remains of a Nissan Bluebird nestling among the rocks 120 feet below Cape Wrath.
This was repeated in two newspaper adverts, one of which appeared in the Times on the 8th of December, the same day the film was due to be shown for the final time in Brick Lane, London.
When the WTKFBAMQ film tour reached Glasgow on the Friday 3rd November 1995, Bill and Jimmy enacted a piece of performance art entitled “Pissing in the Wind whilst thinking of Bob Dylan”.
Occurring early afternoon, the ‘performance’ featured Bill, Jimmy and Marc J Hawker, a Glasgow resident and friend of the K-F. It took place in Kelvingrove Park (medium: artists, park, security cameras, urine). Apparently, there was to be a live cc-TV link-up with the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University which would have shown the boys in action to an audience of 200 luminaries, but this didn’t happen (the CC camera missed them), although a video of the urination was eventually shown there in the early evening. Bill is quoted as saying that it was probably a good thing it wasn’t live.
Wearing cammo jackets, they quite literally pissed into the wind, behind a shed. A photo in Scotland on Sunday only managed to catch a stream of urine coming from Drummond. Cauty and Mark Hawker were either just finished or about to start. You can’t see their willies by the way.
In November 1992, Drummond and friend Mark Manning (also known as failed rock star Zodiac Mindwarp, furthermore known as Zed or Z) decided to save the world by planting a photo of Elvis at the North Pole, with the idea that his soul would seep down across the world on the ley lines and bring about world peace. The two were also hoping to find Baby Jesus within themselves. So they and Gimpo to drive to the North Pole. They got all the way up to Lapland, almost freezing to death, before realising that the road runs out and the unfrozen Arctic Sea starts. However they did meet the keeper of the ‘most northerly lighthouse in the world’ so they presented the photo to him and then came home.
Drummond and Manning decided to write a book about their trip called initially ‘Bill and Zed’s Excellent Adventure’ or ‘The Lighthouse At The Top Of The World’. They decided that it would be a limited edition of one, hand-transcribed and illustrated by them (they were both artists after all) and bound in 18th century reindeer leather which had been recovered from a shipwreck (!!) and which Drummond bought from an auction for some outrageous price. The idea being that before the invention of the printing press books were so rare and special that an interested reader would make a pilgrimage across Europe to see a book. In this age of information technology, they wanted to re-capture some of that magic. So the book was to be displayed in the specially purchased Curfew Tower, which was built as a prison for 19th century dissidents, in Cushendall on the East coast of Northern Ireland. Unfortunately they hadn’t considered just how long it would take to hand-write and illustrate, and the project was put on hold. Then, in October 1996, it was somewhat surprisingly published in paperback by Penguin and is now widely available as ‘Bad Wisdom’.
The style of the book somewhat reflects that of Hunter S. Thompson (author of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’). The sleeve reviews are by Jarvis Cocker from Pulp: “The truth, no matter how uncomfortable, cannot help but be beautiful – this is a very beautiful book” and subversive writer/artist Stewart Home: “This is a brilliant anti-novel with a pedigree running from Swift and de Sade to Dada and Burroughs. Blunt, shocking, uncomfortable. A future underground classic.”
There is no dedication, and it all begins on Monday 2 November 1992 the day Bill’n’Z’n’Gimpo set off for Helsinki. The text alternates between Drummond and Manning. Drummond just recounts the detail of the events, presumably truthfully, and describes people in his own often wonderful way. He also writes relfectively about life, his past (and the KLF and it’s demise) and various things that irk him about the world, eg. MTV. In the meantime Manning is writing wild Hunter S Thompson fiction, wild horrific trips of fancy based around the real life characters, but presumably with some basis in truth, like he’s tripping all the time and he sees everything exaggerated. The interplay between the two accounts is very interesting and works very well most of the time. You start to recognise the events or objects or people in real life (i.e. Bill’s account) that Z bases his fantasy’s around. Bill even writes about Z writing which sheds further light … one page he’s bored and not writing anything … the next he’s scribbling away furiously in the back of the car chuckling demonically … the next he’s acting out the characters he’s created, entertaining Gimpo and Bill.
To publicise the book Bill and Mark (and ‘tour manager-cum-support act’ Chris Brook; Gimpo also went along, but played no part in the actual performances) undertook a series of public performances (and book signings) initially starting off with a date in New York then at various venues in towns and cities across the UK. From the event flyer:
“This performance is adapted form the novel Bad Wisdom which is based on Drummond and Manning’s journey to the North Pole in the winter of 1992. The performance reflects the double narrative of the book with Manning and Drummond relating their separate but intertwining versions of the story.”
They react a rehearsed performance, with Zed standing behind an ornate brass lectern which Bill picked up from a church salvage yard for 300 quid, and Bill using “Stig of the Dump’s bird table – a crazed scaffold of fence posts and sycamore stumps”.
Mark Radcliffe’s (late) late-night show on Radio One featured Bill and Mark reading from their book, and sound-clips of these quotes can be found as hidden tracks on ‘Lost Sounds Of Mu 2’.
They also made an appearance on MTV’s Hanging Out, which is pretty surprising considering Bill’s anti-MTV stance in the book. This may be related to the following anecdote from one well-connected list member: “Okay. This is gospel – it came from a friend who works there and saw it happen. A guy who works in transmission at MTV in London found a black bag in the street last week. He took it to work, and from the contents (which I only know to include several sheafs of A4 and six copies of Bad Wisdom) deduced that the bag belonged to none other than…Bill Drummond! So a contact number was found, and Bill had to turn up at MTV to reclaim the bag!!!! According to my friend, he was scowling something horrid, and was rather terse with whoever it was he talked to (so same as ever there then!).”
In May 1996 Bill and Mark went to the Congo to write the next chapter in the search for the Lost Chord. Bill said the next chapter will probably be out around 1998, but it took them seven more years to get their second book finished and published. Wild Highway got released in August 2005, incorporating the same writing style as Bad Wisdom before.
They say that for the final chapter, they will voyage to the moon. But as will many creative exploits of the KLF, these things are yet to happen…
A Bible of Dreams is a book of images by Mark Manning (Zodiac Mindwarp), largely photomontages, with text by Bill Drummond. It is described as “a visual poem composed by MS Manning”, with Drummond giving “a personal interpretation of the poem” in a commentary, along with a biographical background piece. The colour plates are reproductions of a picture collage pieced together by Manning in a scrapbook during a 1992 Scandinavian tour, and sent to Drummond shortly after tour ended. Drummond found himself repeatedly drawn to its contents, each perusal revealing more, “like a collection of good verse”. Manning was horrified when he suggested publishing it.
The book is published by The Curfew Press, the two men’s publishing company based in The Curfew Tower. It’s available only in a limited edition of 200 numbered copies, signed by Drummond and Manning, costing UKP500. It is bound in blue Nigerian goatskin, each page hand-printed and stitched into a calf-leather spine, and comes in a blue moire silk slipcase. It’s not so much an expensive book as an average work of art. They have sold a few to “universities and the like” If you want one and have a “large amount of money” to spare, contact the Curfew Press.
Zed’s art in The Curfew Press’ A Bible Of Dreams looks like it’s deliberately fallen. The collected trash of a rock’n’roll degenerate, the collages entangle images from heavy metal, pornography, Nazi Germany and Disney. Drummond’s text suggests they represent an archetypal rock’n’roll headspace: a place where sleaze, ambition, rebellion and religion meet. Zed reckons that just by sampling these images he’s raising them from the base to the divine. And there are points in his commentary where Bill finds a postitivity in porn. Maybe Zed and Drummond are examining cultural inequality. Wondering why some kinds of art are raised over others. Which is no great surprise from two men who work in rock or pop, an area of culture that is often ignored by art critics.
Drummond and Manning undertook a series of interviews to promote the book, in i-D, Vox and GQ magazines. In one interview Manning said that the text of the book was available on the Internet, then laughed. List members have looked far and wide and have found no trace of it. It is most likely that this statement was a deliberate wide-up for us and people like us, and an Internet-hype backlash joke. We don’t think it is online.
To replace the dilapidated Ford Timelord Jimmy purchased two Saracen armoured vehicles at a scrap yard for ukp 4,000 and found equipment in them which he thought could have been used for sonic warfare. He has tried to assemble the acoustic gun from information he found on the Internet. Installing huge amplifiers and special speakers to cope with the very low frequencies cost him “tens of thousands of pounds”.
The 25,000-watt sonic gun can project sound for around 7 miles, and Jimmy annoyed his Devon neighbours by testing it on Midsummer’s Day, 1996. Jimmy said: “I moved to Devon six months ago for a bit of a rest and this is a project I am taking an interest in. I do not see it as music or art.” He said that he aimed the gun away from homes and it seemed to have no effect on sheep.
He was testing his two Audio Weapon Systems in a field near his new home. ‘He alerted people to the fact that he was doing this by setting off some military flares. Then he tested his Audio Weapons System for an hour for a very select group of scientists and friends. The Audio Weapons System is not designed to kill people.[Melody Maker]
Cauty first tested it at a Wire gig on Hungerford Bridge in May. In January, Panasonic [the “Finnish conceptual techno nutters”-NME] borrowed one of the Audio Weapons Systems for tests on how sonic waves affect the human body at Brick Lane in London. A fax from ‘Mr. Smith, the Head Of Commercial Exploitation at Advanced Acoustic Armaments’, was sent to The Maker. It read: “The test took place to establish the parameters of the new vehicle solo and in tandem with its sister model, SS 9000K+L. The test featured new software generated for our latest commercial client, EXP LTD, and is described by Mr. Cauty as featuring ‘the ultimate battle between sound and commerce ending in the death of all musicians and their ascension to rock-n-roll heaven or hell as befits them.’ Yesterday we received communication with ex- Government employees who, in the Sixties, worked on audio weapon development with an offer of help and some ex-classified equipment. We regret any such death or damage that has resulted from our tests, but there are casualties in every war. The Triple A Formation Attack Ensemble will perform ‘Foghorns Of The Northern Hemisphere’ as part of an educational programme supporting our research shortly.
Most of this is probably scam, but Cauty has (very allegedly) recorded an album of sonic waves for Paul Smith’s Blast First label under the name AAA. The album is in the hands of lawyers who are trying to clear some of the samples used on it, and remains unreleased until now. It appears to be a Cauty solo project.
More recently, Jimmy teamed up with new Asian-techno group, Black Star Liner for a happening in a field on Dartmoor [this is the EXP reference above]. Jimmy chartered a ‘chopper to take BSL and assorted journos out to Dartmoor, where he intended to remix the Halaal Rock track in his tank. Apparently, BSL bumped into Cauty on London’s South Bank, while he was driving about in his tank, he got hold of their album, and said that he wanted to work with them. Anyway, the chopper was grounded by severe fog, so everyone was put on a convey of buses. All the journos were given orange jackets to wear. They eventually arrived at a field full of military vehicles, and people in yellow jackets, wearing goggles and ears protectors, doing some form of formation dancing. The journos were lead to their seats, and had large floodlights shone into their eyes, while the yellow jackets let of flares all around them. There were a load of goats skulls on sticks around the field, and a whole pile of fireworks let of towards the end of the mix, when Cauty was mixing in some Jimi Hendrix. However, this didn’t really go down well with BSL. For the record, Choque (leader of BSL) said in the NME “Cauty’s truck is a bag of complete shite. And he’s a f—ing misery guts”
Then in November 1996, Jimmy turned up at the A30 road protests in Honiton, Devon, to lend his support. The A30 Action press release read:
“A30 Action and A.A.A.(Formerly the K Foundation, formerly the K.L.F.)
As of 2300 hrs 19.10.96 the armoured division of the A.A.A. Formation Attack Ensemble established a front line defensive position at the Trollheim Hill Fort, Fairmile, Devon, in collaboration with A30 Action in defence of the threatened trees, badgers and some insects. At dawn on 21.10.96, the Triple A will activate their S.Q.U.A.W.K. 9000 sonic device in response to any offensive action taken on behalf of the Connect consortium. The @utonomous communities of Fairmile, Trollheim and Allercombe have resisted the soul destroying consumer nightmare of the private profit A30 through a 2 year campaign of Non-Violent Direct Action. Now armed with the 2 Saracen armoured personnel carriers both loaded with 15 Kilowatt Soundsystems and weighing over 10 tons they intend to dance in the face of the legions of destruction.”
Shortly after Jimmy began blasting local Devon residents with Puff the Magic Dragon at the protest against the A30 road-building, an article appeared in the Big Issue (mag by and for the UK homeless), by self-styled “art terrorist” Stuart Home describing how he was kidnapped and shown an arsenal of weapons at Jimmy’s house.
The article was a spoof, but the UK security services took it seriously and put Jimmmy’s house under surveillance for several days before finally 30 police with sniffer dogs turned up and searched the place from top to bottom. They found nothing, except the two Saracens which were both properly taxed and insured. Jimmy was released without charge. He said “I suppose if you take two tanks to a road protest you’ve got to expect the authorities to get involved.” Finally, the two Saracens were towed from the road protest with Jimmy’s consent, (but not cooperation). A few weeks later he took them back.