James Palumbo is one of the founders of Ministry of Sound, but he’s not all about music. He’s also just written his second book – the critically acclaimed Tancredi. You’ve probably seen adverts for it all over the Tube. Josh Jones caught up with him to see what it’s all about, what gets on his nerves and how to deal with idiots reproducing
How did you get from owning Ministry of Sound, to writing a funny, apocalyptic future book?
Music and writing are very connected – the cadence, flow, drama of both mediums is the same. I’ve always loved words as well as music, I had an amazing English teacher at school who was inspirational, as clichéd as this sounds. So my next move was fairly obvious – why not give writing a go? It’s also one of the best means of self-expression and imposing discipline on your thoughts.
Where did your ideas for Tancredi (the book and the character) come from?
I don’t care so much about characters and plot development in writing as the actual ideas I’m trying to express. Tancredi is about the short term thinking that so pervades our society – in culture, media, politics, even really important areas like healthcare. We all seem powerless in the face of the relentless demand for immediate gain and gratification whatever the cost, even the destruction of our planet. Having a character travelling the universe, landing on different worlds, each one representing a different aspect of short-term thinking, was the best (and I hope funniest) way of getting my point across.
My friend who’s a doctor has a plan to sprinkle powder on all fast food so if you eat it more than twice a week, you can’t reproduce. I think that’s an awesome idea. What do you think? (You become fertile again when you stop eating it.)
Brilliant, of course. But it should be you can’t come, not reproduce. People are so venal and lazy they’d just sacrifice having children for food. If they can’t come, then that’s another matter. The question then becomes sex or food? That’s a difficult one.
Out of all the planets Tancredi visits, which would you like to go to most?
Good question. Maybe another way of putting it would be if you had to go to one, which one would it be? I guess Correctomondo. Nothing gets me so angry as political correctness. It’s so pointless. Surely the purpose of politics is to be bold and drive change according to what you believe. But this isn’t possible because to stray too far from the centre results in the immediate incineration of a politician’s career. Politics today is stuck in a sort of ground hog day loop of mediocrity and mendacity. What’s the point? To be able to say ‘once I was the leader’? I’d like to attack the leader of Correctomondo head on.
What’s next on the horizon for you? Will you be doing readings at Ministry?
Another good question. I’m not sure. My life has been odd, privileged but tough at the same time. If there’s a unifying theme it’s that I’ve kept moving on to different things, not always with success. Perhaps I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.
Photo: Tom Medwell