MODERN pop stars are insufferable careerist bores. You certainly wouldn’t get Michael Bublé building a pyramid out of dead people. Or saccharine fleabag Harry Styles touring the Outer Hebrides simply because the islands, joined dot-to-dot on a map, make a vague outline resembling bunny ears.

Yet, it wasn’t fate or the stars aligning when cosmic Scousers Echo & the Bunnymen embarked upon a somewhat unglamorous tour around those Western Isles in 1981. This symbolic "bunny ear" jaunt had been the idea of Scotsman Bill Drummond – the band’s visionary manager, who was soon to become a chart-topping star himself with anarchic pop experimentalists The KLF.

Much to the chagrin of the somewhat cynical Bunnymen, Drummond viewed the band’s buttock-freezing, hair-do destroying winter dates as essential to their success. In his mind, the Bunnymen were simply paying homage to the great rabbit god “Echo” – who would reciprocate the gesture by imparting many great blessings upon the Liverpudlians.

The fact it was U2 who became the biggest band in the world perhaps says everything about this somewhat outlandish theory. Drummond's mercurial muse was unaffected, however – he was only just beginning a lifelong quest to knock holes through the walls of conventional wisdom and puncture preconceived notions of reality. And with his latest and perhaps greatest venture, "The People's Pyramid", he may just have achieved that.

Ley down the line

Now we’ll pop down the rabbit hole ourselves. Drummond once confessed a belief that the Bunnymen’s music had a unique power – namely, charging up the power of ancient underground ley lines.

These, for folk unaware, are hypothetical “energy channels” criss-crossing the Earth which link ancient monuments and sacred sites, creating a network of “free pure energy” that humans can tap into. Renewables enthusiasts should perhaps take note before building any more windmills.

Drummond was also obsessed with the idea that a burst of energy from outer space was continually hitting Earth – pinging off Iceland and ripping down the planet’s ley lines, eventually culminating in a mighty cosmic charge down Liverpool’s famous Mathew Street – home of The Cavern and birthplace of The Beatles. And the Bunnymen themselves.

This empyrean blast of universal love, according to Drummond, peaked at the site of a non-descript manhole cover in the city centre. And if no-one was standing on top of said manhole to charge up their chi as the energy passed through, it apparently then redirected underground – ripping though the planet’s crust and exiting back into space via Papua New Guinea. Oh yes.

Admirably, Drummond once tested his rather outré theory by convincing the Bunnymen to play in Reykjavik as he stood on top of the cosmic manhole in order to gain “True Knowledge”.

Nothing happened. Or did it? Perhaps Bill truly did learn something cosmic, which could certainly explain what inspired the macabre concept behind what he’s calling “The People’s Pyramid”.

Special K

DRUMMOND soon realised the day-to-day grind of managing a band was quite incompatible with his quasi-mystical questing for universal truths. In the late 80s, he emerged from his music industry suit crystalysis to fully spread his wings.

He had reinvented himself as a high concept art terrorist, operating under myriad guises such as the Timelords, The KLF, Justified Ancients of Mu-Mu (JAMMS) and the K Foundation to – astonishingly – great commercial success. He then burned the £1 million profit pop fame had afforded him during a ceremony on Jura – but that’s another story.

Having “retired” 23 years ago, Drummond has now resurfaced as K2 Plant Hire Ltd – calling himself an “undertaker”. For good reason. His latest high-concept wheeze – The People’s Pyramid – envisions a 23ft tall structure being built in the Merseyside inner city area of Toxteth made out of exactly 34,592 bricks – each containing 23 grams of ashes from a dead person. Drummond dubs this peculiar form of immortality, in true KLF style, “MuMufication”.

The first brick has already been laid at the site – containing 23 grams of ashes belonging to KLF musician Jimmy Cauty’s brother. A somewhat surreal laying ceremony took place at the Drummond-conceived “Toxteth Day of the Dead” last month, an event which attracted a few hundred fans, who seem to be just as baffled about the true meaning of the pyramid as anyone else.

K2 Plant Hire Ltd also recently took advantage of Black Friday with some deals on the bricks. Some 3000 were sold. Toxteth residents who were 80 years or older could buy theirs for just 99p. For locals under 23, £9.99. The regular price for non-Toxteth folk remains £99.

As foolhardy as The People’s Pyramid concept seems – even as a wonderfully macabre urban art installation – you’d be foolish to dismiss Drummond's vision.

Newton Stewart’s most famous son has dragged countless 3am half-thoughts kicking and screaming into reality, not least when he convinced country superstar Tammy Wynette to sing the lyrics: “They’re justified and ancient/And drive an ice cream van/They called me up in Tennessee/And said ‘Tammy, stand by the JAMMs’. It hit number one. Of course it did.

Indeed, it seems the instincts for finding commercial success in surrealism remain with Drummond – more than 3000 pyramid bricks have apparently already been sold, which is almost 10 per cent of the total number required to complete the structure. It's happening.

With bricks available now on the mumufication website at just £99, it does seems a small price to pay for immortality – for that is what it seems Drummond is indeed selling. Not just to live on as part of an art installation – but quite literally enjoying eternal life.

This is, however, only on offer if we share Drummond's sincere convictions that there exists a number that is actually very special indeed to the universe – endowed with deeply mysterious, mystic properties that contradict late author Douglas Adams' assertions that the answer to everything is 42. Seems it's actually 23.

You, me and 23

A KEEN numerologist, Drummond’s obsession with 23 is eternally tattooed through his art like Blackpool rock. KLF moniker “The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu” has 23 letters, with the term first originating in the novels of 60s counter-culturalist author Robert Anton Wilson, another 23 obsessive.

You’ll have already noted the many 23 references in The People’s Pyramid project but the obsession is historic. For example, a police car in the video for KLF hit Doctorin’ The Tardis had 23 painted on the roof and the final KLF performance lasted just 23 minutes.

As devout a follower of 23 as Drummond is, however, few hold the number in more esteem than the followers of Discordanism – a “religion” based on the premise that chaos is the building block of life. And this where the reasoning behind The People’s Pyramid can perhaps be found. Discordants believe 23 is the “Holy Number” of perfect symmetry, ruling over this chaotic realm and assumedly responsible for things like social media, Brexit and Trump.

Discordianists have a rather occultist chant they use as a mantra to worship 23: “Invert the pyramid.” When chanting this phrase, zealots invert the sentence one letter at a time – saying “dinvert the pyrami” then “idinvert the pyram” and so on. Thus, it takes 23 chants to get back to “The pyramid inverts”. This final, 23rd chant is called “the final energy releaser”.

So it’s likely Drummond, keenly aware of Discordianist rituals, has created not a tomb – but a gun. A 23ft tall turret aimed at the stars, awaiting its cosmic trigger being pulled by the powerful ley line running underneath Merseyside.

This, in effect, means Drummond’s “pyramid inverts” the pointlessness of being buried underground, with the 34,592 souls sealed within the pyramid assumedly fired directly into the infinte universe by a cosmic Scouse energy beam.

As finite creatures with nothing to lose, it’s mibbie worth a punt for £99. A nice Christmas present for your old mum.

And why 34,592 bricks? Add the five numbers up. With Drummond, nothing is random and everything counts. Now, look at today's date.

And finally ...

IF you want to truly get lost down the rabbit hole, the internet is awash with dubious mythology concerning the number 23. Much of this involves mathematics, patterns, synchronicity and coincidence, such as babies getting 23 chromosomes from each parent, the arm having 23 bones and it taking 23 seconds for blood to circulate through the human body.

The idea was brought to cultural prominence by author William Burroughs and friend Robert Anton Wilson, who adopted the “23 Enigma” as the main theme of his hit Illuminatus! trilogy. Yet even Wilson once said: "When you start looking for something, you tend to find it.”

We should then perhaps ignore that w is the 23rd letter of the alphabet. That would mean the world wide web – www – could represent 23 + 23 + 23 = 69. If 69 is divided by three again, it makes, of course, 23.

And taking this questionable calculation to its natural conclusion, 2 divided by 3 is, wait for it – .666. So a very happy Antichristmas to all this column’s online readers.

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