Speaking in a 2008 interview Thomas Bullock muses, “disco is not like,“good or bad, it’s just whether you disco. Do you or don’t you disco?”
In answer to his own question Thomas Bullock’s freewheeling, nomadic, overwhelmingly creative and sometimes overtly hedonistic existence has been very much a case of doing disco; its ethos of acceptance and exploration firmly ingrained in him.
Without needlessly re-treading old ground, its simply worth pointing out that whether amongst the yellow bass bins of Tonka, delivering debauched dance sermons to the sweating masses of NYC via early Rub N Tug, or tweaking out with his mate Harvey as Map of Africa, Thomas Bullock is well travelled, spiritually as well as geographically.
His boundless creative exploration has taken him into pastures (or should we say canyons) new, within the past few years. Thomas has found himself falling head over heels for the distilled sap of the agave plant commonly known as the Mexican produced spirit Mezcal. So much is his love for the liquor that he has set up his very own import company named the Spirit Bear Mezcal Company and has embarked on a quest to spread the word on the wonders of the drink.
The latest instalment takes place this weekend in Bristol with Dirtytalk bringing Thomas to the Looking Glass on Saturday 23rd November for a unique tasting and dancing session. Dirtytalk are long term fans of Thomas’s output and burgeoning Mezcal aficionados, so this party promises to be a first for Bristol in many ways.
In anticipation of the night the Pool took the opportunity to peel themselves away from work for a wee while and direct some questions to Thomas.
Read on for some chat that takes in Berlin oblivion through to Thomas’s new experimental music group… and a sneak shot of the new Tom of England record that drops this Friday…
As a man that has travelled a lot and lived in many places, how do you find living in London in the year 2013?
It took a minute to switch gears from NYC but I have it now, locked in 5th and I wouldn’t want to go back. It’s a mysterious place London, I find. Far more private and subtle. I feel I’m learning a lot from it.
Have you been back to Cambridge since you have been living in London?
Yeah, for a minute. Felt good. It’s so easy. Like a good dream.
Did you ever try and visit Syd Barrett in Cambridge? Was his work an early influence?
He used to visit the town some days. He’d appear, fairly regularly, in the Market Square, long black hair matted, a vest and no shoes yelling wildly in the streets. Really. He was a fixture as I grew up. Just another one of the maniacs we were familiar with in the town. Wasn’t till I was a teen someone pointed out who he was. Didn’t change the way I felt about him. I still liked him.
Do you have a pre-existing relationship with Bristol as a city? In terms of your musical direction, or are we talking uncharted waters? Any Bristol memories..
I played here 3 times in the 80’s. Twice in the Thekla? is that right ? And once, a Tonka do that ended up in a blues that got a bit hot when it was understood we’d all just played and been paid so we chipped smartish.
Is it true Bristol resident… Mr Tim Goldsworthy is involved on the long awaited Rub N Tug LP? How did you guys originally connect what is his role in the project?
Indeed, TG is now at the helm and we’re delighted. I met him in 2000 over a meeting with DFA to sign my band ARE. I was into it but the other two said no. It was the beginning of the end to be honest.
You and Eric were from memory very early to play what is now the legendary Ostgut/Berghain club in Berlin. Do you have any memories from that time when you first brought the Rub N Tug invasion to Berlin / Europe that you would like to share?
Ha ! Just kidding. Sure, but they’re all straight forward memories of you know, being wasted in Berlin. It was cool. Nothing special. Rub n Tug. People liked what we were doing. I think it was new there. Our sound and style.
Is there any chance map of Africa LP 2 will ever see the light of day?
As to Map Of Africa II, I think so. The songs are recorded and really quite good. I’ll have a word with Harv . .
Has a Map of Africa live show ever happened?
In the barn, many a time. Harv and I, floppy boot stompin’ around in the woods. Some of it we recorded and made the record from.
I saw you getting some nice praise in an RA ‘favourite DJ’ feature last week, anyone you’re keen to big up that you’ve come across recently?
Really ? How nice. I swear, I exist creatively in a bubble. Never any idea what’s being received or how. DJ’s/music for me : The Melbourne/Bamboo Crew. Georgia, a genius duo out of Manhattan. EYE from the Boredoms. I would never miss a set of his if I had the chance to go. Theo Parrish too.
The Spirit Bear Mezcal Ensemble came out with a remarkable record this year. Are there any plans for further releases or was that just a single instance live happening never to be repeated?
Oh, we’ve done another with a few extra players joining the core group. We had Dave and Steph from Soulwax sit in, literally, on the ground, for 5 hours. And Susumu from Zongamin too. All recorded. Nice session.
What is the Spirit Bear and can it only be summoned upon consuming the correct amount of mescal?
Si. Soy el espíritu oso and you’ve got to drink the good hooch to tune in. Seriously. Not that every one must drink it. But if one does, it does put you in a great and unique place.
Have you always been a fan of spirits or has it been something that has come through your maturation as a person?
Ha. No, I’ve never been into spirits at all. Just the Mezcal. It’s got it’s own thing which is the thing I like.
The venerable Morgan Geist is effectively at number one in the UK right now, any designs to be on TOTP from your end? (Mezcal + Bears, what could go wrong)
Number one what ? DJ ? I had no idea. Well that’s cool. I’ve always preferred the B sides, so to speak, so mainstream action is something I’ve never understood as attractive at all.
Do you have an Mexican disco records we need to know about?
Good question ! I might come to think of it . . Or a least a coupla western themed bad boys. I’ll try dig em out for Saturday