Cool (fanzine), Issue 2, February 1980
Cool: I want to know who Muzorewi is.
MES : Bishop Muzorewa, but I can't pronounce it; Bishop Muzorewi is mancunians.
Cool: Why'd you call it Dragnet?
MES: To, like, catch people, get rid of the pretentious element who follow us. 'Cos we were getting into a bad circuit with what we were doing. Dragnet is to take in people. The sound's changed, right, so the people are obviously going to change .... I think so. It's just off the wall like ..... it's also part of the song Flat of Angles as well. Dragnet: when the police look for people they call it a dragnet.
MIKE LEIGH: ...... say a murderer or something, they throw a dragnet out and that will cover a circle, a big wide circle and they'll gradually close in until they pin him. It's a net grabbing people in.
MES: It's like anti-trend really, like before we were pushed as an intellectual band, which we're not. But also, I've noticed with the Fall that we're getting a lot of very young and very old people, and not just the "new wave" audience which I'm not very interested in because they're just trends, d'you get me. I've started getting letters from 12 year-olds and 13 year-olds and that is really ..... that is what the dragnet is for.
Cool: Yeah, when I've been to gigs I've seen young kids.
MES: Yeah, but obviously the kids can't get in anyway but there's a big undercurrent there. Like I get people coming up to me and saying, people about my age, like 21-22, saying oh I hate you, I hate the music you do, I'm into Thin Lizzy but my 13 year-old brother...... there's loads of people there. Cos people are very ageist, they're prejudiced against various age groups certain people.
Cool: There was a lot of people up the front tonight doing a Knees Up Mother Brown kind of thing, do you think you're getting through to them?
MES: .... I mean, they're not simpletons..... I was like that when I was 15 and it's like a gradual process and that's the DraGNET ha ha (wicked laugh) get the name in .... It upsets me sometimes but I wouldn't like it to be so .... that they treat the music as just a joke because the music bit is very important. I mean, I'm not a bloody writer! I am one of the FALL, one of the Fall sound. The music should always represent what the singer is saying. Which is on Dragnet .... which wasn't on Witch Trials.
Cool: Are you pretty keen on having keyboards back into the band ... the LP sounds good without keyboards?
STEVE HANLEY: Well we didn't have time to find them 'cos Yvonne left a week before we were going to make it. We're really just experimenting now.
Cool: You were using echo on the vocal and things like this (tonight at the gig). Personally I didn't think that was very successful tonight.
MES: It didn't come across?
ML: Well that's the way it is with having it really, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
MES: Well you see the mixer, the guy who produced the album (Grant Showbiz), we told him to avoid the album sound .... it's not pre-planned, if Grant feels like it he just does it.
Cool: Would you say there's a cynical element in Fall music?
MES: Oh yeah, all the way through .... I mean I don't think we're odd, I think it's the rest of the people who are odd. I think the other people are living a lie .... the other bands ..... it's just mainly how I feel and even then it's a compromise; I mean, if you just did what you felt it would be, like, boring.
Cool: Do you feel that you can ever really make much impact as a pop group .... I mean, you may make an impact on only .... a real impact on only a handful of people.
MES: Yeah, but that's always been the way, really.
Cool : Do you think there's any real chance of the Fall becoming commercial?
MES: I think we'd have to change our desire a lot to become commercial. I get very suspicious when we are accepted. It's a bit of a drag tonight .... I know we could become commercial but I want to question people's attitude over what is commercial. I don't think people really know.
Cool: A friend of mine was saying he really liked the Fall but the one thing that really worried him was the drugs angle. He was told that the Fall never went on stage unless they were stoned. It doesn't seem that way tonight but....
MES: Yeah, it's not true, but we do and we don't, sometimes we do and sometimes we don't. He (Mike Leigh) doesn't drink or anything.
ML: I don't drink, I don't smoke, or take drugs.
MES: He doesn't need it; he's high from life itself.
Cool: So there's no kind of drugs thing with the Fall?
MES: There's drugs in the songs, like anything else .... I don't like the palaver around drugs... I also, this is the great thing ..... people write to us, like 12 year-olds and say 'what are you talking about in this song' and I write back and say I'm talking about a certain type of drug .... take it or leave it ..... it's really for education. I meant found out stuff like that.... I didn't find out from school or from friends a lot, a lot of stuff I found out from records, that is a really good alternative.
Cool: How do you see the future .... do you worry about the future?
MES: I worry about bread and stuff but.... you've got to weigh it up; when I started a group I didn't treat it like that, it was something I liked doing. I mean, I know what I could do could make a lot of money. I mean I know, and I DO KNOW what to do to make money, I could, the songs, the er anything, but I wouldn't do it because I wouldn't be happy 'cos the reason I was in a band was because of what you're getting over .... as opposed to like, work. This is what I mean about the bands I see now, they look to me like workers. I don't understand why they're in bands a lot of them, apart from the pure ego sense of it which I can get anyway really.
Cool: Ego is a big part of it then?
MES: Yeah yeah it is. Like we get support bands who play cover versions of Anarchy in the UK, I really can't understand WHAT ARE THEY DOING? 'Cos the money's shit, I mean everything is shit. The only thing that makes it worthwhile is what you are actually doing and that you enjoy it yourself. I really can't understand it; you get bands in the charts; they go into the studio, they cut it and that's the last they see of it until it's in the charts. The record comes out and somebody else's produced it, somebody else tampered with the sound virtually, somebody's put on a cover and given it an image. But these guys are getting only about 20-40 quid a week, they must be stupid.... some of them make loads of money yeah ... but a lot of them, you'd be surprised don't make a lot of money and I can't understand that attitude. If I was a bloke who did cover versions .... you might as well work somewhere, because you get your freedom in a band, you've got lots of nasty little pressures and you've got the insecurity and all the fuckin' rest of it.
Cool: Can you understand why you've got so many young kids following the Fall?
MES: I can't understand it really, when I think what I was into when I was about 13 .... I was just grasping with the basics of pop music. The first record that I ever bought was Paranoid by Black Sabbath because it sounded weird, like WEIRD and it set me on a course. I think it's really good that kids that age are into stuff like this , I think it's better than .... it's one reason I think the Buzzcocks are good; people knock them, and I hate them, but they are getting kids, a lot of 11 and 12 year-olds, they're getting puberty songs that aren't too condescending; they're pretty condescending but not TOO condescending.
Cool: Someone said to me that they tried to line up a gig with Throbbing Gristle and you weren't too happy about it.
MES: I know Throbbing Gristle won't play with us, they hate us.
Cool: Well that's that then.
MES: I think they just thought we were a new wave group as they'd call it.
Cool: Spectre Versus Rector sounds like there's a TG element there.
MES: I don't like that stuff, I don't listen to it really.
Cool: How did you record that?
MES: Craig'll tell you.
SH: Well it was recorded in an old warehouse and that's the way it came out on the cassette. Then the vocal was overdubbed, but with the original vocals in the background .... sounds like an echo.
Cool: Have you done any RAR gigs?
MES: Yeah we've chucked them in definitely. I used to dabble in left
wing politics myself y'know ..... RAR, they take on groups who will make
loads of people go and see. They'd like to sell more RAR badges, that's
what I found, I thought, rock against racism, I'm sort of for that, but
it's a revolution, right, so if you're going to have a revolution against
racism, you want a revolutionary music, which did'NT HAPPEN. It didn't matter
what the entertainment was, as long as the proletariat was there. Which
is not what our fuckin' attitude is.