Complete, unedited email transcript sent in to Fallnet by Julia Nagle following the publication of Dave Simpson's Guardian article, "Excuse Me, Weren't You In The Fall?" (5 January 2006)
> ok, a few questions for you!
> 1) Did you really "offer your services" to the Fall
> (and if so, had you any idea what you were letting yourself in for?!
Yes, I sent a CV into Cog Sinister. I was looking for work. I knew The Fall paid wages, and as they were one of my favourite groups, I thought I'd give it a shot. My CV included that I had been a sound engineer (at Strawberry/Yellow
And could play bass, guitar and keyboards, and program computers (for songs). I also mentioned that I liked performing live and writing songs.
I was quite surprised when I actually got a call. I'd been told Mark could be difficult, but was of the opinion that highly creative people were always difficult to work with. And had experience of this from working at the studio with many artists.
Now I'm a little wiser though and think this is bullshit, if people are difficult, it's usually due to some other cause.
> 2) How does being in the Fall compare to other bands you've been in? I
> heard you were sick after the first gig?!!
The first gig was in London, with a crowd of over 2,000. I'd played with What?Noise supporting the Inspiral Carpets with crowds that size, but not as the main band. I revised my book of Fall material that I'd compiled, from bootleg live tapes of the songs the group had been playing in their set over the previous year, which amounted to over 50. The set list wasn't decided until the last minute, as is normal with The Fall. I'd worked out parts for each song, and programmed synth settings. The song arrangements were like modern jazz, all done through what seemed to me like an indecipherable yet beautiful telepathy, that I was determined to learn, but knew there was no way I would crack it in a first performance plus I was sooo nervous, Mark actually in his very professional stage manner, did take the sting out of it for me, and apparently I didn't do so bad. Brix said to me, that if Mark hadn't pulled me up about anything, then I was doing fine. Other groups I've been in were all good in their own way, all very different, representing different peoples opinions of art at different points in time, I think I've been fairly consistent in my writing, I can hear my style of melodies in each of the groups I've been in.
The Fall was a much more experienced set up when working on the stage, than any group I'd previously encountered. Working with the original line up was a complete and unparalleled thrill. And, yes, I was sick on the bus on the way home!
> 3) Did you experience much of the fabled MES amp fiddling/equipment
> dismantling onstage?
Yes,and it made me laugh most of the time. Although, apart from when he drops
instruments on the floor, then I'd just walk off, which I did a couple
(with the instruments). Mark has a good ear, and much of the time the
are playing a little too loud, or without spaces/gaps, if someone is
particularly well, he'll turn them up, and turn someone else down.
Brix told me
she loved it when Mark put a microphone to her amp. It would mean that
was mega-amplified for her solo or whatever, and she is a fabulous
> 4) What was the most extreme experience you went through onstage -
> maybe seeing MES carried offstage in Worhting??
I don't actually remember seeing that, I was probably concentrating on making a bad gig, musically, at least, good.
Extreme, would have to be returning to play a London concert, at Dingwalls after the split in America, with no band. What no-one knew was that we had been left high and dry, as the group had taken all the earnings from the American tour. We needed to earn some money, and above all, as far as I was concerned keep the the group going, (what would the world be like without The Fall), it had become a humongus challenge to me to help to rectify The Fall, because I simply loved the group so much.
The concert we were defiant about, and I was insanely trying to come up with the best melody/part to fit as a solo bloody part! sometimes I'd mimic the bass, on the synth, and other times I just play what I thought to be most appropriate. During Hip Priest though I launched into something completely new, and did like a dub-trance thing, that
'worked' ,that was when I felt we had won the audience, a poignant song. Along with Michael Clark doing 'anything' to help too, and the great Kate Themen playing drums at a moments notice, and not allowing herself to be phased by any of it. It was I felt a 50/50 thing, I think we came very close to being bottled off, and worst of all people demanding their money back, which means we wouldn't have been paid (I think there were about 11 refunds out of over 450). After that concert it was work as usual.
> 5) You had a big input into Light User Syndrome... is Mark quite happy to
> give people free reign if he thinks it's working?
I did some on Light User, much more on Levitate, The Marshall Suite, and The Unutterable. I collected quite a few song writing credits during my time with The Fall, which was a key ambition, I have to say. Free reign, no I wouldn't call it that. The Fall are continuously writing material, and trying out new songs in the live set, I just contributed to that, with song idea's, and I had, and still have many. (Although learning Macromedia is a whole heap of new fun at present).
> 6) Mark seems to have a refined approach to the psychology of
> musicians. He recently told me that tricks to keep musicians on their
> toes included sending them to foreign bars armed with bogus foreign
> phrases and fining drummers for hitting tom toms. One musician told
> me he was told to play a tom tom "like a snake!"... did you
> encounter much of this stuff?!!
I recall he''s good at keeping people occupied. I remember him making Simon Wolstencroft play drums standing on his drum stool on Oxymoron. I really didn't know what to make of it, as I was new. And I knew I wouldn't be able to put up those kind of shenanigans, that sort of thing doesn't make me 'perform', it just upsets me.
Mark tried to show me how to play guitar once in my early days, he kept grabbing my guitar an pulling it aggressively, I just unbuckled the strap, and let him keep it. He hates low slung guitars, because he thinks it looks like your playing with your sex organs, and when I thought about it, he's absolutely right, and have always since strapped the guitar at hip height.
> 7) What was the best thing about being in the Fall?
Working with Mark, it was an honour (the research and writing we did). And the travelling. But overall it has to be the songs, and performing them live, oh, I don't know take your pick.
> 8) A lot of Mark's girlfriends/wives over the years have ended up in
> the band... do you think this makes it easier or more difficult for
> the members concerned/for Mark?
That's sometimes part of the show with the Fall. As for the other half, Brix/Olga/Una/Whoever I suppose everyone reacts differently, you have to admit they're all quite different characters. I have since leaving the group become more aware of that aspect of things when talking to Fall fans, and notice that fascination. To me it was always just about the music, and to be quite honest still is at the end of the day. I was in a group with my ex-husband, and always thought of it as work and being very much about music, I think many groups have similar circumstances, and if musicians have a relationship and love each other, hooray! I suppose it's the celeb thing, people are fascinated with, why I don't know. The real hero's to me are the unsung people, the volunteers, carers, police and fire brigade, soldiers, and lifeboat people, ambulance crews, teachers, many, many hero's.
> 9) What was the main problem on the infamous 1998 US
> tour in your opinion (MES recently told me he'd been depressed,
> was skint, and "losing it a bit)?
The group had a big VAT bill, incurred before I joined. They were on the verge of having their houses repossessed, both Mark
and Steve. They were quite desperate, and it was sad to witness.
> 10) Are Fall members well treated with stuff like nice hotel rooms
> and good wages etc, or does too much luxury go against the idea of
> the Fall?
Depends if you have a half decent tour agent, hotels are fun in the main, been in some crap ones, and some beautiful ones. Fee's for concerts do tend to be sorted on the whole, although this was not always the case, especially if there were certain people on the tour. I refused to do one tour because of a particular minder/manager. I think too much luxury is against my personal protocol, I don't like greed.
I think The Falls idea is possibly of a similar opinion, I don't quite recall, as we did go through some very skint times. Dealing with that was like a crisis, that went on for quite a long time, I think when I left, the situation had barely rectified, so I'm not the person to ask about luxury, as there was none! But having a bed sorted is important, food second after that. Invoices were usually paid by record companies, apart from Artful, who still owe me over £12,000, accumulated from programming fee's for recording, over two albums, and fee's collected for festivals, against our consent.
But I'm not the only person to have issues with Artful, former PR companies have similar stories, as well as managers for at least three groups. Artful should be on that 'Watchdog' program.
> 11) It's often reported how - after the infamous New
> York incident - you played on with a restraining order against MES,
> but I've read yourself describing it all as 'something and nothing.' Was the hotel
> incident massively exaggerated?
eeerrroow, not that again! Mark was a bit mental during that time, as Im sure he'd confirm, he was under a tremendous amount of strain, as was Steve. The incident was distorted, and made out to be about Mark and myself. The hotel called the police to have Mark removed, as he'd been acting the goat all night. I was in the room when they arrived, they said did he hit you, I said yes, (I was one of many). They said you should charge him then, I said ok! and voila. He could easily have belted the policeman, they'd then have had a different charge to remove him from the building.
The district attorney advised that a restraining order was appropriate, and meant as a warning to him, from which I'm sure he learned. It certainly cost enough to sort that problem out, the bail and everything, something which I did alone. With no help from the record company as usual. I had to have over £4,000 wired across from the UK, from my personal account and use an agreed over-draught facility.
And another fact is that I wasn't his girlfriend, we were colleagues only. (I did date him for a short while in 1996 or was it 1997, I can't remember, for a period of about 8 weeks, I do remember being quite poorly after it though). The song Cyber Insekt, is about that time in New York in 1998. We (our lawyer. Mark and myself) said the whole incident had been incredulous, and we should write a book about it. And being in America, we then laughed about making the 'film of the book, of the film' etc, which in turn became the lyrics, if that makes any sense.
<various-p.-collection065.jpg> (photo not included with transcript)
Here's a pic from my personal collection, outside the court house, when we finalised going back to the UK, Steve Saporitto, our lawyer, and Mark with new haircut and suit and tie. I have quite a lot of unseen pics, that I plan to include on my web-site, in an archive section.
> 12) After the band split and Steve and Karl left, is it true you
> envisaged putting together an all female Fall (apart from MES,
Yes, quite. I think the music industry is too male dominated, why is that? I don't like the way women are represented, today more than ever. I still think Patti Smith to name but one, are under represented or encouraged.
I was in a female line up group just before I joined The Fall, as I'd been in male dominated groups for years and was sick of that, so if I had a say, it was to encourage a female line up. Mark wasn't too comfortable with it though. (I am contributing to a mainly female artists release in near future btw).
> 13) Why did you finally leave? It's often said that the only
> certainty in football management is that one day you
> will be sacked - is it similar with the Fall, that all members will
> one day be sacked or leave? (S. Hanley lasted 18 years!)
I think I wanted to, I out-priced myself on purpose, I needed a break from it, as I was getting a bad feeling about spending too little time with my son, I wanted to put back some time into that, which I feel I've accomplished. He was eighteen in August, an is now officially 'grown-up', well at least a little more independent. As far as Fall members being sacked, it is a job that can be difficult, and I think working with the same musicians can become boring, I like to work with various musicians all the time, maybe the Fall is similar to that. Music is always changing, I think if there's compatibility with certain musicians, then that can be a winning formula, and an attempt to maintain it should be encouraged, but artists are fickle things, I think The Rolling Stones are the only group who have managed it well.
> 14) What have you done since the Fall and what are
> you doing now? Have the experiences and working methods you
> encountered in the band affected you personally and professionally in what
> you've done since? How do you look back on it all now, with
> pride/regret/both/neither/ what?!
All of those things I imagine. Yes, I learned a lot , it was a fab experience and I loved the travelling, and encountering new cultures, the Fall is a huge roller-coaster of an experience. I already had/have quite a bit of experience in music, and am really just continuing along with that. The working methods that Mark achieves are admirable. I don't think the methods have altered my approach too much, we're quite different people. I have since exiting The Fall, got to grips with a macintosh G5, caught up on much software I needed to learn. Have set up a publishing company, initially for my material, (over 100 published songs, which was news to even me), and am considering signing a couple of things. I'm presently designing a web-site for my company, 'Invisible Girl Music' ( www.invisiblegirl.co.uk ).
I hope to release some material through that soon, as I've quite a few songs in the bag already, and have been working, co-writing with some great artists. One of the new songs, is due to be released in January 2006, under the name of, Invisible Girl. (of course), on a mainly female writers/artists compilation on Switchficker Records. ( www.switchflicker.co.uk ).
> thanks :)
Hope thats not too much waffle for you Dave.