Ted Kessler, "Mark E Smith: Heroes & Villains"

NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, December 11, 1993, p. 11




HE WAS a real workhorse for his time. I thought he was great, especially what he did and how he managed to do it for that period of history. He wrote 'Jerusalem' and all his other stuff out himself but the thing is, he used to paint stuff behind the writing and then print it out on copper, totally the reverse of what he was meant to be doing. He'd do paintings with, like, a verse over it and then print it up himself. Amazing, really, when you think about it. I suppose my favourite work by him is 'Ghost Of A Flea'. Ha ha ha ha! What a title! What I like about it is that it's just like a really, really grotesque painting. I like something grotesque in an artist.


HE'S MY grandad, deceased. He took on the Waffen SS with his bare hands in 1940 at Dunkirk because his rifle jammed, which was a pretty brave thing to do, but then the infantry had no choice, they had to stand and fight. All the officers had scarpered, so my grandad and his lot had to stick around to enable those buggers to get away. Dirty work, but he was dead modest about it, a dead nice bloke. And dead little too. That's the funny thing because he was only four foot eleven! That's tiny, isn't it! Far too small to be taking on the whole of Nazi Germany, but he did alright. He never got any medals or anything but his house was covered with daggers and iron crosses, which I suppose were all the decorations he needed.


HE'S A painter and he does all our covers. He started just after 'White Lightning' with 'Shiftwork'. He's just like a sublime genius, all his work looks well ahead of its time. I don't have that much contact with the fella though, because he's from Normandy and he lives in Paris and I can hardly understand a word he's saying, but he's great. He never moans about me messing about with his stuff. Of course I mess about with things, change the angle and things like that. But I'm just his editor or something. I started using him after he called me up out of the blue -- don't know how he got my number -- and said, "Can I do some Fall covers!" So I gave him the usual stuff about sending some paintings in, and he did and it was great. But he's a proper artist, you know, his work's in the Louvre in Paris and that. I get a lot of stuff sent in to me from people wanting to do our covers because a lot of artists are into The Fall, you know. Oh yeah, a lot of artists. But half of it's crap, of course.


THESE ARE my North Manchester friends and they're quite important to me because they're always there for me when I'm depressed or under the weather or pissed off. They come round and cheer me up, not always the easiest of tasks. Heh heh heh! I haven't got many friends but these are good lads. They're only in their mid-20s and they're not really into The Fall that much. They like grunge and speed metal and all that, but they look out for me, y'know. They always pop around and check I'm alright. I don't socialise that much though, I spend most of my time avoiding people if I can and avoiding the music industry above all, cos I hate all that rubbish. The bit. I think I met these lads when the wife bought a car off one of them.




WHAT I hate about British television at the moment is the fact that British public are always bloody on it. Heh heh heh! It's crap, isn't it! It's just cheap rubbish. I would like some shows every now and then, as opposed to people who've got afflictions and things, I wouldn't mind a comedy show that's actually funny, y'know. I don't watch that much telly but when I do I'd like to see something other than sport, sport, sport, and people talking about their sex and skin problems. It's just run by dickheads, it's all cheap and easy TV. I first noticed it about two years ago and I suppose most of it must have come from the States. Drives me up the bloody wall.


I HATE them all because of their wrongful encouragement. There's no big hang-up here, I've just seen some perfectly normal people go around the twist reading them. Heh heh heh! You must know the sort of stuff I'm on about, those articles that go on about how to tell if your old man's having an affair and how to subsequently screw him up. Heh heh heh! Can't say any more than that, I really can't. Sorry.


IT'S JUST the rate of their proliferation that scares me. Have you seen how many people have gone back to school now? Dead weird, innit? It just keeps the unemployment figures down and produces millions of half-educated old coots. I've got nothing against students as such, it's just when you get old mates using words like 'constructively' and 'comprehensively'... It's all a fiddle to make us think they've cracked unemployment, the stupid bastards. There's nothing worse than a half-educated man. Never forget that.


WHICH ONES! Well, all of them, obviously. Except Vic Reeves, he's alright. I haven't seen his show in ages but he's quite funny. But basically I don't like the other ones because they don't know any jokes, to quote Jerry Sadowitz. I've been to these shows and I'm like, is that a joke! Was I meant to laugh at that bit! Where's the bloody punchline! Heh heh heh! Some of the Yanks are good though. Who? Oh, in general really ...


YEAH, ACTORS and the lousy records they bring out. Oooh, I don't want to step on too many toes but you know who I mean. The only actor I like is Richard Hawley, he's brilliant, but the others are all phonies. The British have always been guilty of turning out too many bloody actors but lately they've been really demeaning themselves. Speaking of actors, someone sent me a copy of Damon Albarn's heroes and villains he did for your paper, so, like, if you want my real list just reverse his choices. Heh heh heh! Except for the National Front, don't you dare put that down, you buggers. But yeah, the Shopping Channel -- fucking marvellous, innit? And the USA soccer team, they're ace...