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By Will Hodgkinson (26 July, 2002, Guardian (G2))Who else but Bill Drummond would attempt to plant a statue of Elvis on the south pole in the name of world peace? Who else would make £1m through his collaborations with Jimmy Cauty (the Justified Ancients of Mu-Mu, the KLF, the Timelords), then burn the lot? Who else would invite us up to his Buckinghamshire farmhouse, then insist that we interview him in his Land Rover?
"This is where I listen to music," shouts Drummond as his battered tank of a car rumbles past the village green of an otherwise silent hamlet. "The children like pop - they have Smash Hits albums - and Sally [his girlfriend], if she's left alone, will listen to Moby, Zero 7... dance music for thirtysomethings. I like neither of those things, so I listen to most of my music in the Land Rover. Here I can get away from questions like 'Daddy, what's a Bob Dylan?'"
On the top of a pile of CDs on the dashboard is Gris-Gris, the first album by Dr John, the funkiest export from New Orleans. "I come up with the same philosophy every two years: everything in the past is shit and it has to be dumped. I say that you should only ever listen to debut albums released this year. Of course, I can't possibly live up to that, which is why I'm playing this."
Drummond recently drove to Glasgow and back in a day, and listened to Gris-Gris the whole way. "Old music encourages nostalgia and you fall victim to the idea that what has gone before is great, and as you get older you are aware of how prejudiced you have become. But I first heard this when I was 15; it fired my imagination back then and it still sounds great now. I can trace a lot of what Jimmy and I were doing to the otherworldly element of this record."
Drummond also falls short of his futurist manifesto by admitting a sneaking fondness for Creedence Clearwater Revival, and their album Green River. "It's certainly a comfort thing, listening to Creedence," he admits. "Strangely, at the time it was my best friend who was really into them, while I was into Van Der Graaf Generator, the thinking man's prog band."
Drummond's self-imposed dictates keep him in touch with modern music. "I will read reviews and buy the records, and I'll invariably be disappointed. I bought the Strokes' first album, and I will almost certainly get the Coral's album. Occasionally something comes along that I really like. The Be Good Tanyas are three feisty Canadian girls playing bluegrass and they're great - they're taking an old style and doing it with feeling. But I accept that the Strokes are not meant for me, and at this stage in my life, I know what I really like."
And this is Arvo Part, the Estonian composer of sparse, religious pieces. "There's nothing in his music that has been touched by American culture," explains Drummond of Part's appeal. "There's nothing postmodern about it. I like a lot of eastern European modern classical, but I couldn't tell you who because I can't pronounce their names. When the family's gone to bed, I'll listen to it in the house by myself, as they can't stand it."
Drummond says he does not know the reference points of modern classical. "For that reason, it's totally exciting and stimulating. For my generation, 1966 was the greatest year in pop music. I was 13 then, and the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations and the Beatles' Strawberry Fields Forever came out. Now when I hear modern bands, I can hear those songs as references which can't be lived up to, but with modern classical I can't do that."
This comes after a lifetime of opposition to classical music in all its forms. "Now as soon as I climb into the Land Rover, I go straight to Radio 3," says Drummond. "I listen to late-20th-century classical on programmes like Late Junction, and I even find myself enjoying Bach. At first I found that frightening, but I've accepted it now. When I stopped making pop music, I knew that I never wanted to listen to it again because all I heard were the parts; I could deconstruct every single song and I couldn't enjoy it."
As well as hearing new music through his two teenage children (he took his son to see Korn as a birthday treat), Drummond gets sent a lot of CDs. "Here's one," he says, picking up a home-made compilation CD called We Live in a World of Shit. "Actually I haven't listened to it before, but it's got Boards of Canada, King Biscuit Time and Autechre on it. I may only listen to these things once but I like getting them because I have no idea what they're going to be like, so there's no disappointment. This is just one I've picked from a pile and I don't know who sent it to me... Let's have a look."
Drummond opens up the CD box, and out falls a cheque for £1m, signed by one David Ramage. "Ah! There you go, and it's real. Of course if I ever tried to cash it, it would bounce, but David Ramage - whoever you are - thank you for the cheque and the music."
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