Ben Grimes, "Learning to Fall"
THE OOZ BOOK OF THE DEAD, 1985
"No one can get used to the Henry Cooper!' It's true. Sat in semi-darkness, under a sub-Claus Castenskiold portrait of the famous boxing duffer sits Mark Smith, fagged right out after a hard day at the drawing board. Another Fall career span in prospect, he insists that I attempt one last drink by slipping past the knuckleheads who guard the adjoining disco bar: "Where's your Lancastrian pride? Get me a scotch".
Lancastrian Pride is what we talk about. Pride based on the achievements of his group. Think about what they do. Think about electric ballroom nights, five or more characters, hard at it, furious, pummelling shadows up black tiled ceilings and walls. What about that sound, cheek, timing. The Lot. Back when all the world recollected a north-soul kindergarten root, who told cautionary tales about the boy next door who grew up with a bump? When television overflowed with the bad group, some received 'Solicitor in Studio' with sighs of relief.
Upside-Down Yorkshire to Australia
What I know is that The Fall have never done one thing that didn't contain at least one scrap of sheer brilliance. Ask the wife: 'Well he's certainly above everyone else intelligence-wise..." Earlier an exhausted Brix had patiently done the guided tour of the neighbouring studio. Explaining the intricacies of the Adult Net and being oddly furtive about the membership: 'It's a secret. Ottersley Kipling -- the Golum of Aomford -- he's my partner I won't tell you who he is. Instead she opens his ancient guitar case to reveal an incriminating box of 'Players' Nails".
The reception given to 'Incense and Peppermints" came as a pleasing surprise, the next record a tribute to Edie Sedgewick, described as a cross between the Shangri-Las and Bohemian Rhapsody is said to be the real ear bender. Why did you record 'Rebellious Jukebox"?
"Well it is one of the best songs ever written. I knew the song from way back and didn't associate it with The Fall. Then one day Mark was playing old records and I went mad..." You, wrote this!"
Some of his other stuff is pretty good as well. As a writer of songs he's usually filed: Crackpot/ Unintelligable. Reactions point to national illiteracy and giddyness when throwaway remarks are heralded like gospels. Brix tells us about his beautiful dancer's legs and the queues that form. 'Last night I met Martin Gough from the Depeche Brothers -- he's a really sweet boy -- who said I'd love to meet your husband. They all vomit when they meet him, apologising for what they've done."
Such incidents are documented on lots of records and elsewhere --they are after all the facts of his life. Talking about the burial of words and the sound taking over from the material, I asked whether he could do a spoken word record.
'I've never heard a good one. It could be good of it was disjointed with the music crashing all over the place. Captain Beefheart was good at that. In his middle period. That's how I'd do it".
What about your narrative song? New Face In Hell, 'Marquis Cha-Cha', etcetera, are outstanding as prose alone.
'To be honest I find structured things harder to do. Now I tend to scribble and work the stuff in."
Playing live, you don't chop the stuff around as much...
'Oh I do. I just disguise it better. As the band improves the words don't suffer from being hidden.
"Is George Giving You Money For This?"
Fresh from the van-park in former Rochdale Horent jersey, George had been subjected to hard stares the previous afternoon. Brix thought Mark would make a good Dr Who, but he couldn't get over George. Back in the vid. days, stout men would race up the stairs, shouting: 'Wait till you see this one' Drillers, Killers and old J McVicar tossing everyone into the indoor pool.
'Is Eno the Enemy ?"
Definitely. 'People who write about music treat it as a science. As least I know the history.' Try getting him to explain about Organic Music. There is a lot of 'Action' on the new record. And a lot of old favourites have bitten dust: Pilsner Trail, Head Wrangler, Bo Marc Riley and many more. Just learn that the new record is a part return to earlier tactics, looser songs and the eternal and thorough exploration of riff. Some of this will be previewed at the Michael Clark show. Perhaps in 1986 the group will accompany the dancers in a week long season at Saddlers Wells.
"It's incredible. You wouldn't get a brick-layerworking on a house for two weeks and giving his wages away. Why does Springsteen have to play for five hours? It's madness. People ask us to do benefits all the time, playing for nothing... musicians should have more dignity. There's an anti-heroin concert due in Heaton Park, I don't these people around my house. We'll be changing the posters, scrubbing out the ANTI.
"I've got a book at home that explains this sort of thing.., why the Scots eat more chocolate than anyone else... tooth decay and why pubs in Central London are filled with forty year old alcoholics.., it's interesting stuff!"
Out and About
At a recent birthday party while half-naked blonds children looked aghast, a large Australian male, with slims green, red polka-dot face, kept touching Robert. The sink being full of empty spirity bottles, the other guests naturally viewed our civilian gear as weird. This Lee Bowery character is only the star of the new Fall video in progress. Brix claims that it is about office parties: I refuse to be the secretary. One of my friends, a girl who usually walks around naked, is just right for the part.
"I'd Appreciate it if you would get on with it."
What did you ask him? Not much as it turns out. Still, as a famous man says, 'Aren't all those records enough?' Folk are still curious: in a laboratory in Central London, Professor B.R. Rabin is staring at the poster on the wall: "Alan, just who is the King Shag Corpse.
1 The Adult Net: single: "Eddie/ 'He's Been Around"/ 'Phantom Power."
2 The Fall: LP: This Nations Saving Grace.
3 The Fall: single: 'Cruisers Creek."/ "'Vixen"/ "L.A."