Q&A - Bill Drummond

Q&A - Bill Drummond

When we attempted to interview the KLF's Bill Drummond for our Q&A series, he declined, stating: "As you may know I have a strict regime about interviews. What I am conducting here is a forty minute interview with you - thus I am unable to answer your questions."

Here is the interview in full.

BD: When you were six years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

PB: At six, I was into Tranmere away kits and Brenda Lee soundtracked Christmas'. Blue Monday had just come out. But I wasn't in that demograhic, I was being marketed to by Kylie and Rick Astley and happy to oblige. I thought they were very talented people.

BD: An interest in Tranmere Rovers away kits implies an early childhood on the Wirral. If that is the case, if traveling to Liverpool for a day out in the big city would you prefer the tunnel or the ferry. Feel free to go into detail about the comparative emotional merits of each of these two ways of traversing the Mersey.

PB: Yes, my parents moved up and down the leisure peninsula when I was a kid. We were like middle class gypsies, always bloody moving. Unlike most of my peers in these coastal coves, my extended family lived over the water in Vauxhall and Halewood. We’d visit most weekends by train. In his book ‘Chronicles’, Dylan describes a train as an ‘...iron horse with steam for blood’ It’s great that isn’t it? But our trains had shit for blood, always chucking us of at Birkenhead North due to some track defect. I remember the ferry being whipped out occasionally for Canadian cousins, East Anglian uncles etc. 

BD: When you were 16 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

PB: Back in ’98, the only acceptable use of a computer for menacing youths such as me and my mate Laggy was the occasional blast on Football Manger. Socialising on computers was for Pennsylvanian retirees. We were the dying denizens of park drinking, landlines and meeting your mates at 12 o'clock outside HMV. It wasn’t like now where 99.9% of 16 year olds could enter a design agency and perform industry miracles on photoshop using only their mind. We weren’t prepared for the tech revolution. We didn’t think about careers. We certainly weren’t honing our marketing skills via the management of our Instagram personas, or editing short films on our Iphones.  

I left school at 16 with some decent writing skills courtesy of Mr Fraine but with no ambition. Fraine was a literary genius with huge bulbous eyes and a worn watch passed down from nine generations of other literary geniuses. Entering the room for our first lesson, I remember him chanting “Come in, come in, enter the eyeball zone!” It was funny and disempowered us from the inevitable skitting we’d have done.

BD: So between the ages of 16 and 21:

What would you do on Thursday nights?

PB: Thursday nights at 16 and 21 were very different. 16 was a little debauched. Picture Jimmy from Quadrophenia, minus the cool mod music and well tailored clothes. Instead, I was wearing shoes with tracksuit bottoms and making pilgrimages to Happy Hardcore raves in dangerous Welsh suburbs. We had a lot to thank Oasis for, they lifted my generation from a cultural abyss. There was nothing worth clinging to before Definitely Maybe. By 21, things had settled a bit, I was living with a girl and embracing prime time TV, retail parks - all that stuff.

BD: What was the furthest place that you went?

PB: I used to go on the Tranmere Rovers forum. I named myself BOBBY CONN after the bizarre avant-garde pop-rocker. BOBBY was easily offended, getting into heated debates about why Jamaican left back Ian Goodison was misunderstood. In fairness, bar a betting scandal blip, once reverted to centre back, Goodison became a great. Alongside the likes of Dixie Dean who pummeled 27 goals in 30 games for the whites.

BD: Where did you sign on?

PB: Before starting University, I had stints on both sides of the counter. Working in a Job Centre for a while, before ending up on a New Deal music course. I was given a £500 grant to buy a guitar. But this was negated by the moody metal enthusiasts I was paired up with. I was obsessed with Neil Young and the Smiths but had cropped hair and no cool, I was too enthusiastic to be cool. I confused the metal heads. It was a bad match.  

BD: What book did you not read?

PB: Catcher in the Rye. Is it good? I feel I should read it.

BD: Did you have an idea for a novel?

PB: A bildungsroman in the style of 'The Buddha of Suburbia' by Hanif Kureishi or 'On the Road' crossed my mind. This interview has got me thinking about that actually, so nice one Bill. I’m also being inspired to write more fictional stuff by authors including Austin Collings, Nick Power, David Sedaris and Matt Barton.  

BD: Did you ever go to Helsinki? And if not, why not?

PB: No, it sounds like hell. Hell sinki.  

BD: So at the age of 26, what did do you want to be when you grow up?

PB: At 26, I qualified as a journalist - landing one seventh of a journalism job reporting on Sunday League junior football. I’d get picked up by the newspaper's photographer - a red headed rocker named Geoff. Geoff sported an ill-fitting Mazda with seats so low you could almost feel your arse scraping the road. Between slapping the bass for Wirral pub rockers Insanity Beach and his photography, Geoff seemed to have it all boxed off. 

We were the odd couple for a bit, Starsky and Hutch, screeching to these far flung footy pitches, the 40 year old axe wielder and his gangly young assistant. The hardest part of the job was prizing the identities from the young players. “Name?” “Bob Marley” etc. Kids say the funniest things and all that. But not in Bootle at 11am on a Sunday. So I suppose at that time, I wanted to be a journalist.

BD: If you woke up tomorrow and the internet had crashed, never to be un-crashed again, what would you invent to replace it?

PB: I’m not sure it’s replaceable. But I’ve an amazing idea for a portable coat hook, attachable to any table, anywhere, anytime. Just whip it out, stick your coat on there. No worries at all.

BD: If you had to move to another city in the world where would that be and why?

PB: Probably Tokyo. I wasted a week there in 2005, so would like to re-trace my steps and do some better stuff than I did.

BD: What art form needs to be invented?

PB: Using your stiff flat hand to dry yourself off before towelling. Or that weird no mans land between art and design. 

Image - Tracey Moberly


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