Fall News

Some excellent pics of the MES spoken word thing in Dublin. He came, he swore, he..er..went:


Paul Saxton:

From: Editor@Q4music.com
Subject: When Mark E Smith Met Enoch Powell

Brothers and Sisters!

I give you... a testimonial! Or rather, another not-quite-earth-shattering instalment of the Q4music editor's mail. Last week I asked if you'd care to share your rum music person sightings and you responded in your gezillions. Thanks to Tom Gregory of London NW1 we can no longer shake the image of Finley Quaye dressed only in tracksuit bottoms and carrying a kind of "Rastafarian terrier" buying pistachio nuts and Jagermeister in a Primrose Hill grocery. Most exciting of all, Heather Tonks of Nuneaton vividly recalls sitting in a carriage of the inaptly name 'Sprinter' that links Birmingham with Cambridge. "Two booths away sat Mark E. Smith," she marvels. "Opposite was shrivelled 'Rivers Of Blood' orator and Constitutional scholar Enoch Powell; and over the way, recently deselected old Labour agitator Dave Nellist. Beat that for an unlikely pop/political juxtaposition!" she challenges. Chew on that while half-concentrating on what's new on the Q4music site...

Andy Long:

I went to the Norwich gig and i cant believe that Paul S was at the same gig. The band that i saw were absolutley outstanding, the best line up that i have seen yet (and ive seen a few). They were tight, professional and full of energy and even more important MES was on top form.
I fail to understand the importance of whether or not the new guitrist could play "stairway to heaven". Irrelevant. At the end of the day the new "kids" provided MES with the backdrop he needs to perform, they werent showing off or trying to out do mark as i have seen Nev do many times they just got on with it....brilliant..... i think that Paul S must have stayed in and watched Phil Collins instead because he wasnt at the fall gig that myself and three hundred others were at.

Ta to Richard Galleon for scanning in this and another few bits:

Q interview February 2001

Words: David Cavanagh
Photographs: Jason Bell

Cash for Questions

Amazingly, he was in delightful humour. And he didn't mind talking about porn. But there were harsh words for bank managers, "touchy-feely" drugs and sarky old Anne Robinson. Face the fans, Mark E. Smith of The Fall.

The Columbia hotel in Bayswater is surrounded by scaffolding. Mark E. Smith, who has been residing here on his visits to London since around 1978 (except for one period in the early ' 90s when they banned him) enters the lobby at noon precisely and leads the way to a quiet pub nearby. "They should tear that bloody place down," he says of the Columbia. "This whole area's too fucking trendy." What a relief: he's in a good mood.

Recent interviews with Smith -- he's currently promoting a new and very satisfying Fall album, The Unutterable -- have varied between the difficult and the awful. Some journalists have found almost every subject to be out of bounds: the internet (Smith is bored by it), the high turnover of Fall musicians (Smith hates thinking about it), the punching of girlfriend and keyboard player Julia Nagle in New York in 1998 (Smith nearly went to prison and doesn't like to be reminded of it). Will the Q readers fare any better?

Surprisingly, yes. Over the next hour or so, a captive Smith fields even the most impertinent questions with amusement, showing more tolerance and fondness for his fans than he has done in years. His final analysis is: "They're lovely, aren't they?" But this doesn't mean he has lost his capacity for menace. Later, when a Hyde Park official approaches the Q photographer to tell him he can't take pictures in the park without a permit, Smith intervenes with a ferocious glare. Suddenly, no permit is required…

Will you be writing any songs about the American presidential election - or was it too surreal for words? Susan Howlett, Oxon
[Laughs] Fucking hell. Are they all going to be like this? I didn't watch it, so the answer is no. But their system of voting is still what it was after they kicked the British out. That's the problem.

If The Unutterable were to be nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, would you be secretly pleased? David Rogers, London E1
No, I'd be grossly insulted. Have you seen the people who've won it? It's like the kiss of death.

The Factory Records story is being made into a film with Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson. Do you think you'll get a cameo as one of Manchester's leading artistes? Jane Purvis, Great Baddow
I was already offered it and I've turned it down. I said I was too busy.

Which newspaper do you currently take - and do you trust it? Robert Stanley, London NW6
I get the Manchester Evening News, obviously because it's local and has a big circulation. And I read the Daily Mail because my mother takes it. The Daily Mail prints rubbish, but they always spell correctly. It's good to read things that are spelt properly. I find it very helpful.

Do The Fall hate pop groups like Westlife, or see them as a necessary evil? James Worthington, London N4
I've nothing against pop groups per se [mouths the words "Who are Westlife?"]. Oh, the Irish ones? My gardener claims to be related to one of them. But he also claims to be related to a lot of people. He's from Roscommon.

I have a friend in marketing that says that all you have to do to be more successful is to split up for five years and then reform. You would then be welcomed back in a blaze of publicity and good feeling. Ever thought about it? Adam Brown, London EC1
[Laughs] Get new friends. No, he's probably right. But the thing I've got to continually do is make it quite clear that we haven't stopped. That's very important. We've got a lot more young fans now, so it's like getting rid of baggage, really. A lot of old fans come up and they actually think you've reformed, when really you've never been away. Some fellow was telling me that he'd read in The Guardian that I'd pay £50,000 to see The Fall reform. Somebody had to write to him and say, Well I saw them in Ashton-under-Lyme last week for £10.

If you were a teenager now, would you be a Radiohead fan? John Oakey, Shoreditch
No, I'd read books. I don't think I'd be much into music at the moment.

Is it true that you left your false teeth in Damon Gough's glove compartment when you got a lift off him in the early days of his career? Ian Baxter, via e-mail
More than that. I also left a bloody very expensive leather jacket which he has not returned. A Lakeland leather jacket, about a hundred and 10 quid. I haven't had that back. He can keep the teeth, though, the fat little get.

With hindsight, would you recommend being in a band with your wife? Leah Cartington, via e-mail
Yeah, sure. All I would say is don't bring her back [Brix Smith returned briefly to The Fall in 1994] after you've been divorced.

Do you have fond memories of your late-80's ecstasy period? Melissa Geldart, Headingley
I didn't have a late-80's ecstasy period, I just hung around with a lot of people who were doing it. I'd packed it in before it actually reached Britain. I tried it in Austria and America. I don't like it, to be honest. It turns everybody into a "love" person, doesn't it, but I don't like all that touchy-feely stuff. I think it's silly stuff. It's the only thing I get a hangover off, actually.

You once said you thought John Lennon was "the biggest spaz ever". Why did you say that? Bridget Howe, Leith
Well, that was probably because I was never a big Beatles fan. I never saw any attraction. It's a matter of taste, isn't it? But that was a long time ago when I said that.

Did The Fall's name come from the Nazi word for "operation"? I read this in William L Shirer's Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich, a known favourite Smith text. Adam Johnson, Swindon
[Looks incredulous, asks for the question to be repeated] The Fall's name? What the fuck is he talking about? He's been reading the internet, hasn't he? No, he's thinking of the [1995 Fall live album] The 27 Points. The 27 points are what the Nazis brought in to take away everybody's freedom in Germany. And they're all contradictory points as well. Very similar to our government now. You can drive, but you can't own a car. Things like that. You can read books, but we're going to burn them all.

How much do you drink in an average day? Fiona Poole, Leicester
What, me? Nothing more than what a man should drink. I come from a labouring family.

How much money do you have in the bank? Andy Rankine, Catford
I haven't got a bank account. I don't trust them.

What does Mark E Smith do all day long? Angela Keating, Bradford
Work. I work about 18 hours a day believe it or not. I spend about 70 per cent of my time being a clerk. The other 30 per cent of it is writing. Am I The Fall's manager? Well, I have helpers, put it that way.

Have you ever flown first class on an aeroplane? Sean Bastie, London SW1
Once or twice, yeah. It's comfortable but the people get on your nerves. They're even more irritating than the people in economy.

I once read that you used to watch the movie Zulu once a week. Do you still do this?
Martin Hyde, Nottingham

I did used to watch it once a week -- it was the only video I had at one point. And also I had a relation at Rourke's Drift [where the British conquered the Zulus) so I used to watch it for a laugh. He's the one who never got out of the hospital. The actor who played him does bear an uncanny resemblance to the photographs.

Have you seen The Weakest Link? Anne Robinson's almost as sarcastic as you. Paul Murray, Birmingham
It's like a sort of state-of-the-nation programme, isn't it? People want to be told off nowadays. It's like a reaction against the liberalism of the '70's and '80's. What I think's funny about that programme is the way she tries to be dead tough. It gives me the willies actually.

Has there ever been a politician that you felt was worthy of your vote? Keith Bond, London SE23
I always vote for the stupidest name on the ballot. No, I haven't voted Raving Loony - you don't fucking get Raving Loony candidates in Salford. You get things like Orthodox Jews For More Pavements In The Area. They always get my vote.

Of all the ex-Fall members, who were you most sorry to see leave? Lee Angus. Carlisle
Craig Scanlon. It was a bad decision [to sack him]. And he hasn't picked up a guitar since. I still see him actually, knocking about in Manchester. I do miss him. But one thing I don't do is have people back. I've done it before and it's a real mistake.

Your lyrics used to be a lot funnier. Are you losing your sense of humour? James Cartwright, via e-mail
The lyrics are supposed to reflect what's going on. And I think a lot of people have lost their sense of humour in society nowadays. So the lyrics I write are supposed to reflect that, if that doesn't sound too pretentious.

Do you ever stay up late watching the soft porn on Channel 5? Andy James. Birmingham
One thing I've never done is watch pornography I don't see the appeal of it -- I've never read those magazines or anything like that. I think it's a waste of a television channel actually. It's all very new to the English, of course. They've had that shit in Europe for fucking years. But who wants to watch people, you know... in bed? It's like watching bloody paint dry. I'm not being hypocritical or moralist -- I mean we get hot, don't we? But there are certain lines you draw. Have a glass of water and a run round the back yard, as my father used to say.

Are you on speaking terms with John Peel these days? Apparently you tore a strip off him last time he said hello to you. Tim McDonald, Plymouth
I saw him at the Festival Hall and he seemed all right. We both have the same attitude to each other, I think. We don't really want to get to know each other too much. He's said he admires me rather than likes me -- and the feeling's mutual.

When Pavement ripped off The Fall you were furious. How come it's all right for Elastica to do it? Ben Gerard, London 5E7
First off, I don't think Elastica do rip off The Fall. I think they've got their own sound. The thing about Pavement was it was calculated. I was furious because it was chord for chord. And you know that cunt's driving around in a BMW and I'm fucking trying to pay my lads. It's the old story, isn't it?

When Bonehead left Oasis, did you think of inviting him to join the mighty Fall? Liam Silver, Lincs
[Nearly -falls off his chair laughing] Awwww. I actually know Bonehead - I've met him a few times -and he's a very nice fellow. But I don't think he'd like to join The Fall. Their music is a different kettle of fish altogether, but I like them as people.

Did you watch Big Brother? Ian Mackie, London NW3
Only once, in my local Catholic club. Have you heard that the Church stepped in? I'm not a Catholic but it impressed me very much. They said, You've got to have two hours a day where you're not filming them. And they actually did do that. Not in England -- in Europe, where Big Brother started. It was the Church actually doing something positive for a change. I'm very against programmes like that myself. They encourage people to be nosey parkers.

Have you ever regretted not having kids? If only to fill Future line-ups of The Fall. Doug Smith, Clifton
You are my children. You are all my children.

Were you scared that you might go to prison after the New York incident? Giles Perry, Woking
[Grabs question and reads it] Giles Perry... It's internet shit, this, isn't it? [Considers the question] For about 10 minutes, yes.

Over the past five years there has been a vast number of pointless Fall compilations and live material released. I know Fall albums don't sell in Oasis-style proportions, but are you really that hard up? Reuben Willmott, lpswich
Well, firstly, I don't get any money for them. It's just daft deals I signed when I shouldn't have done. And I do apologize to my fans for that. But I make a point of trying to show which records are genuine product as opposed to cash-in stuff. Unless I'm going to spend 50 per cent of my day doing legal stuff, I've got to make a choice in life. I could pursue it legally, but I also look at it the Elvis Presley way: if people can't differentiate between the real stuff and the cash-ins, that's their lookout.

Whatever happened to those wonderful shirts you used to wear in the Cruisers Creek period? Paul Grant, Swansea
Badly Drawn Boy's got them all.

Do you think The Fall have had unusually bad luck? Or has it been swings and roundabouts? Mark Thompson. via e-mail
Aw, that's nice. It deserves a proper reply, that one, doesn't it? [Long pause during which Smith looks quite touched] I like that question very much. Are you going to print this one? Yeah, give him his money. And tell him that I don't think there's any such thing as bad luck, really. You make your own luck, I think. I've no complaints. I wouldn't swap my position in any shape or form.

Smith, your fans are concerned about you. Are you in a never-ending depression or should we mind our own business? Daniel Wilson, via e-mail
[Even more moved this time] I appreciate your concern. But don't worry about me, I'm fine. I'm on the way back, anyway.

Thank you very much.


added a few things to the Fall gigography....

1) some b&w photos of the RPM, Toronto, Sept. 13 1994 gig.


many thanks to Sandeep Atwal for sending me these.

2) two vintage flyers from the May 26, 1979 Cambridge Corn Exchange gig, recently excavated from my spare room.



I also have a great poster for this gig and will upload a photo soon.

3) a more recent flyer from the Sept 24 1994 San Francisco Fillmore gig, which Jim Hildreth sent me almost seven years ago!


A plea:

There must be loads of Fall flyers, posters, photos, ticket stubs, set lists, and assorted ephemera in the Fallnet collective -- please consider sending me photocopies or scans to add to the gigography.

David Humphries:



I've uploaded some pics from the above gig in the Photo's are of the Otalgia Yahoo club.



Just a brief pub service announcement that two sites have congealed most of the viscous slime of Lovecraft Net references into pulsating & foul-smelling but very handy archives:


(contains a ref to Spectre vs. Rector as an example of Lovecraft in "popular culture")


(provides annoying popup windows, but also contains all stories & some other reading materials; one contributor is editor S.T. Joshi)

Etan: (from NME):

<< NEW ORDER's PETER HOOK, The BUZZCOCKS' HOWARD DEVOTO and THE FALL's MARK E SMITH are among the names set to feature in a forthcoming television documentary charting the SEX PISTOLS' legendary 1976 Manchester show - a gig that is said to kicked off the whole MANCHESTER scene.

The performance, at Manchester Free Trade Hall on June 4, was attended by own a clutch of people, amongst them Morrissey and Factory Records boss Tony Wilson, but subsequently thousands have claimed to have been in attendance.

The documentary, 'I Swear I Was There', to be broadcast in the UK on May 31, is said to be the definitive account of the seminal show. It features previously unseen footage and a recreation of the gig.

"It was absolutely bizarre, the most shocking thing I have ever seen in my life," recalls Peter Hook. "They looked like they were having such a fantastic time, I just thought we could do that. Literally, the next day I went and bought a bass guitar for £35. I got home and thought 'What the bloody hell am I going to do with this?!"

The show was promoted by The Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto after reading the Pistols' first ever review in the NME.

The gig had such an impact that a month later they played Manchester again, this time to a full house. They were supported by The Buzzcocks and Slaughter And The Dogs. "If the first gig was the detonation, the second was the cloud and noise everyone knew something was going off," Devoto says.

However, one person not impressed by the Pistols was Mark E Smith. "They were alright, but I remember thinking we can do better than that," he says.

A book, also called 'I Swear I Was There', is being published to accompany the programme. >>

From the Guardian:

18 May 2001: The Guardian - Page 22 - (863 words)

Friday review: trainspotting:


He has kept the Fall going in one form or another since 1977, when he launched their gloriously awkward career by performing songs like Bingo Master's Breakout and Psychomafia at an office party for the staff of a Salford supermarket, but Mark E Smith is still as unintelligible, inspiring and infuriating as ever.

He still lives in his native Manchester, has a tendency to talk out of the side of his mouth, make mumbling sounds and, most testing of all, stare in silence in front of a bottle of beer.

"I was a clerk for two years, and a docker for about a year," he finally says, of his life before the band. "Clerk's life was OK. One thing I would say is that when we got into rock music, we didn't realise that the music business is a lot more conservative than clerical life. I think there are better people in the clerical world. Everybody wants to be somebody else in rock."

Smith says he formed the Fall as a reaction to the kind of music he was expected to listen to and his record collection is mostly made up of obscure American music from the 1960s - garage punk from the white teenagers, and northern soul from the black singers.

"There was no music when I was 15 or 16," he explains, sort of. "It was all crap. What I listened to was Nuggets, 60s bands. That was the only stuff around that was tolerable. I'm not talking about 70s punk, which was awful, I'm talking about mid-60s American garage punk. Do you understand?" I assure him that I do. Smith's favourite band from the 1960s garage days is the Seeds, the acid-punks led by Sky Saxon, who once had hits with songs like Lose Your Mind, something which, by all accounts, Saxon has now succeeded in doing.

The Seeds had one style - snarling vocals, tinny organ, two chords at the most - which was used for every song they ever recorded, and they had a hit with Pushing Too Hard, one of the greatest complaint records in rock.

"The Seeds are my group. The Seeds are great. What me and my friends used to do, when we were unemployed, on the docks, blah blah blah, was order records by the Seeds from America. You would go into a Virgin Records shop in 1972 and they would say: 'You can't have this, what you need is Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield. Go on, it's only pounds 1.50.' It's mind control. They used to boast about how they could get any LP, and they couldn't.

"To wind 'em up we would go there and say, 'Can you get us that record of the MC5 live in bloody Los Angeles?' They'd say, 'Don't you want the Grateful Dead?' 'Nope.' 'How about Pink Floyd Live?' 'Nope. I want MC5 and the Stooges and the Seeds.'"

Smith wavers between citing his favourite garage-punk tracks - Liar, Liar by the Castaways, You're Gonna Miss Me by the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, I'm Gonna Make You Mine by the Shadows Of Knight - and continuing his tirade against the workings of Virgin. "The Australian series of compilations called Pebbles are the best. There's a band on one called the Drive-In Stupid, which is a great name. They only did two songs.

"But Virgin are against that kind of music. The surreal thing is that when you try and get a train ticket off Virgin in Manchester, you go through the same bloody palaver as you did in 1972 when you tried to get a record by mail order from their record shop. Bet you haven't got Mr Pharmacist by the Other Half. That's a good one. The Fall did a version of that."

Most of the garage bands only got round to recording a couple of songs before getting drafted or going off to college, but a few recorded entire albums. "I've got an album by the Barbarians," is Smith's proud boast. "They had a drummer called Moulty who only had one hand. It's rare, that album. I've got it. Ah-huh."

It's hard to imagine him looking up to other singers for inspiration, but he will admit to a fondness for Johnny Cash.

"He's all right, Johnny Cash. But it's the same old thing every song. Captain Beefheart was good, though. Back end of Trout Mask Replica is his best stuff. Clear Spot is all right, that was the one after, but Trout Mask Replica was the one that was the real test - to a lot of people."

The story goes that Captain Beefheart himself, Don van Vliet, made his band practise out in the desert for months on end under a no drink and no drugs policy, until they were so good that they could record the entire double-album in one take - and what they recorded is one of the most famously inaccessible albums ever made.

It has been suggested that Smith has taken a few leaves out of Beefheart's dictatorial approach to work, and the man himself isn't about to deny it. "I sometimes give the group the wrong address for the studio. Because by the time they find it, they're really annoyed. They play better that way."



John Howard:

http://www.furious.com/perfect/thinkingfellows.html PSF: Do you mix up hi-fi and lo-fi stuff on the same song?

BH: Yeah, that's a favorite thing. I was talking to someone recently about "Sports Car" from Tangle [1989] and how it has this horrible recording of my voice. We were talking about the beauty of ghetto blasters--they don't make these any more, ghetto blasters with built-in mics--they have this really killer automatic compression. And if you had to get a band playing and it's a really dynamic thing, just sort of crashing great improv, but it's a real song, these compressors can give you the most intense sound. Because every new little thing that comes along just squashes everything else. Violence is captured in there. It gives you the feeling that a lot is being squeezed through a small hole. And it energizes me to hear that. So we did this vocal that was recorded on the worst old reel-to-reel out on the front steps, while it was raining, while somebody inside kept hitting different distortion boxes.

That was so early for us in California that we were still having people come to us and telling us who we sounded like or who we should listen to if we didn't know. A lot of people were making really good assumptions about where we were getting stuff. They just weren't right. We hadn't heard the Swell Maps, and none of us had ever really listened to Captain Beefheart and the Fall. And the Fall had this one really beautiful song where it's going along with this really relaxed, sort of Velvet Underground feel, and suddenly you hear a tape machine and it sounds like somebody's recording of the song is in the background.

PSF: Yeah, "Paint Work."

BH: Yeah! It's beautiful. There's something about that that fills me with.... It's so much more of a story or something. It suddenly just expands the whole song into something that makes it more real.

Tree Falls on Disneyland Visitors

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010504/us/disneyland_accident_3.html "The accident is the latest in a series of mishaps that have brought scrutiny to the park.

"Three people were injured on rides from September to January, and a 6-year-old girl had part of her left finger pulled off when it caught in a toy rifle in January. The toy guns since have been removed.

"In 1998, a Washington state tourist was killed and his wife and an employee were seriously injured when a cleat used to moor the Columbia sailing ship ride ripped loose."

The Record and Tape Exchange in Notting Hill have original type written lyrics to It's The New Thing for sale for a mere £350...

Northern Soul - The Lizard, Issue 4, May 1995

The Fall are back with their - get this - 21st LP (27 if you count compilations) and a new seven-piece, two-drummer line-up including, of all people, Mark E. Smith's former wife Brix, who left the band in 1989 following the break-up of their marriage. Lucy Nation talks drugs, dance crazes and Dr. Kiss Kiss with the great man. White Lightening: Peter Morris.

It's a hard fact to grasp - me, I'm 28 and as such arguably too old even to consider trying-but, for some of the younger people reading this (those born since November 1977, when the group recorded their debut single, 'Repetition') The Fall have literally been around for ever, like Princess Di and pound coins and people who live in cardboard boxes under railway stations. The only comparable group from my own experience would be somebody like The Rolling Stones, and this parallel is (with the obvious proviso that the Stones have been utter catshit since 1969, if not always) an instructive one, for the British pop Media's reaction to new product from either is roughly the same: like, here's another Fall/Stones LP, its the same as the last 25 but, what the hell, respect is (grudgefully) due 'cos they're an Institution.

Now I don't know about The Stones, but The Fall are by no means standing stiIl. Their new Cerebral Caustic LP marks a definite departure from the group's heavily technology-based sound of recent years with rough-edged guitars and live-sounding drums dominating most of the mixes, and Mark E. Smith's characteristically reverb-free vocals buried in the noise of the group. Sure, I'd have to say there's realty nothing on it that approximates to the greatness of a 'Middle-Mass', a 'Smile', a 'Gut of The Quantifier', even a 'Paranoia Man In Cheap Sh*t Room" (except maybe 'Bonkers At Phoenix', more of which later), but it's a good record for all that, especially at high volumes where you can hear the detail.

Using less technology was very conscious," says an unstereotypically genial and good-humoured Smith, 'cos it was getting a bit sludgy, with the process we were using and that. As you probably know, it's all computers in studios now, and they're always losing the plot really. You can't get to people like Craig and Steve and myself to play to drum machines, so... if I hadn't got Brix and Karl (Burns - genius drummer/gui-tarist whoas h~ been in and out of The Fall since its inception) back, I think it probably would have ground to a halt. I said this to the group, y'know: We don't need fucking drum machines to lead the way. I've got two of the best drummers in the world, in my estimation, and one of the best bass players, so what's the point? Just use it for effects..."

Was this a quick record to make?
"It was quick, but it was intense. It was, like, three weeks cooped up in this very small disco studio in London... and the producer, Mike Bennett he's really good 'cos he sort of used to do The Sweet when he was about 17, y'know, so he knew what I wanted, he could get the drum sounds. I think the drums on this LP are absolutely great."

Are you familiar with the working of a studio yourself? "I just stand behind the engineer and shout."

For me, the undoubted high point of Cerebral Caustic is 'Bonkers At Phoenix', wherein a fragile and beautiful Brix-sung pop tune is buried under a thick blanket of aural slurry: fairground noises, rasp-ing synths, Smith shouting through a loudhailer. At first, I tell him, I was cursing you, thinking 'Bah! Only decent tune on the record and they've done this to it..." but then the realisation dawned that what I was listening to was a direct sonic representation of the off-your-head-at-a-festival experience: the sound of a Rock band thinned to vapour and blown away on the wind, with a cornucopia of unrelat-ed noise passing closer by. It's an audacious mix, even by The Fall's standards.

"That's my experience of festivals, I'm afraid," smiles Smith. "People shouting at you with megaphones."
I thought it still somehow came out quite affectionate towards them. "It's objective, really. The mix grew on me, 'cos I was worried that it wouldn't work, but I think it's better having it like that than just straight. There's this a cappella folk group from Salford, and they wanna do an a cappella version, can you believe that? They usually do, like, Seventeenth Century songs, but they wanna do 'Bonkers At Phoenix' (sings, hey-nonny-no style, I was bonkers/At Phoenix/In the morning'. I said, yeah - do it Who's gonna do the sound effects?" I ask whether 'The Aphid', a simple but effective beat combo-type tune with Smith intoning "Take six steps back / Scratch around On the carpet/' Put the aphid in the jar'; was inspired by the character in Philip K. Dick's still-ahead-of-its-time drug saga A Scanner Darkly who believes himself to be covered in aphids. Smith creases up... "Know-all! Do you like his stuff'?" My favourite writer, I reckon. "It's a fuckin' marvelous book, that. I tried to do it in, like, a '61 -'62 dance style. The great thing about this studio was, the fellers who run it did, like, Dr. Kiss Kiss and all this Donna Summer stuff', and I got 'em in the pub and said, People of your age must know all these dances-like, in the interim between Rock 'n' Roll and the Beatles there was all this crazy dance stuff', a bit like The Twist but alot more surreal - so I was asking them and they were going 'Take a bar six, take a bar six'... What the fuck's a bar six, y'know?!"

So The Aphid is like a dance step where you get the aphids and put them in the jar?
"Yeah," he laughs, "that's right. It's what Philip K. Dick people who were on drugs would do in 1962, if that makes sense?"

Totally. You like his stuff, obviously.
"Yeah, very much. I saw that Schwarzenegger... what's it called... Total Recall. that was a travesty, that."

I thought Blade Runner was similarly point-missing.
"What they do in the film is what he was trying to say was going to happen anyway, and to point out what a heap of shit it was; but they just get on it and exaggerate it to make out it's a good thing. It's probably best that he died before those films came out, y'know? There's definitely a good film to be made out of Philip K. Dick's stuff."

Ever thought of going into screenplay writing? He hasn't

Have you thought of putting out a book of prose?
I think a tine will come for that. Book publishers ask me for material, and they can't really cope with it to be honest; y'know, they either want a book on the history of The Fall or the history of your life-there's a guaranteed seller there; or they want you to write a novel, and I'm just, like, 191 give you a book of prose, stuff I'm frustrated that I can't use. People want me to write for magazines - y'know What's the LP that changed your life? I don't wanna do that. It's retrospective, it should be filled up with something that's relevant at the time. Do you agree?"

Absolutely. Not only that, I immediately offer him a page in The Lizard on the subject of his choice.
"I like the idea of doing a page. I don't mind doing journalism, but I'm still a bit funny about it, a bit old-fashioned. It's other people's jobs. You wouldn't think I was like that, would you? I do like The Lizard, it's different."

With any luck, this will come to fruition. We don't get paid for this anyway, Mark-we do it for love and free CDs-so you'd hardly be stealing our bread and butter.

All this talk of Philip K. Dick emboldens me to climb aboard the bus to Pub Boresville and venture my comparison of The Fall's position relative to the Rock Mainstream as being similar to that of Science Fiction to mainstream literature: enduringly popular, though seldom in the best-sellers league; looked down upon by snobs as somehow not 'proper'; more concerned with a high turnover of raw ideas than with shite like technique and finesse, often with an almost unfinished quality. Oh, and the covers are usually terrible. He's immediately oft at a tangent.
"Yeah... timeshifting and all that, which is what all these groups are doing, trying to be The Who and The Kinks, so it's good to have somebody to comment on it. There's still a lot of parody within music, and I don't mean, like, The Grumbleweeds... it seems like nobody's brave enough to take the piss a lot of the time."
I don't know. I mean, you could look at Blur or someone and say they were taking the piss all the time.
"Well... they are, but... they can't play their way out of a wet paper bag, y'know? I do actually think that Oasis are pretty good, because they actually sound good and they've got a bit of imagina-tion, they use what they nick well. And, talking to them, it's all very planned out, and they're very upfront about it. There's still a bit of, sort of flatness over it, y'know, like 'I've heard that bit before.' Still, the Beatles were like that, weren't they? They've obviously read all these Rock books. I find that a bit frightening, for lads that age." The saddest thing I thought was Elastica having to give their royal-ties to Wire and The Stranglers.
"Elastica seem to me like something off Rough Trade in 1982. I couldn't grasp it at all. I mean, why do groups wanna be like other groups? It's beyond me. I can hear our bits in it." Do you hear your bits everywhere?
Now and again. It doesn't bother me actually. I used to get upset about it. When rave came out, there would be some song, the bass riff was exactly the bloody same as 'Big New Prinz', and it would be number ten in the charts and you'd be skint, y'know? I'd take it up with my publisher, and you just can't patent a bass riff, y'know?"

How do you think E culture has changed the face of Pop music?
"I've given up on it, to be honest. I was quite into all that stuff. Now it seems to be being infiltrated by... the sort of people who were into Heavy Rock, like old hippies, Megadog and all that. At the start it was good 'cos it was all white labels, you didn't know what the record was, and they were doing some very distorted things. Very Fall-like in a lot of ways."

What do you think of E as a drug?
"Er.., I don't know, really. I think its time's past, y'know? Why, do you like it?"

No, it's overpriced and the quality isn't reliable.
"Very overpriced. I don't want to be clever here, but I took E, like, years ago: the a scene to me was, like, Kurious Oranj '89 or 50; it's just that people weren't into it then, y'know? I don't like it 'cos it turns me into a sex maniac. I don't like all this loving feelings bit, y'know?"

He's laughing here. What's your favourite drug?
"Beer. Want some?"

It seems to me, Mark, that the standard of both Rock music and musicianship has been higher in the US for years.
"At the moment it is, yeah, I definitely agree. What makes me laugh is all these things about 'The Yanks Tell Britain To Fuck Off, and stuff, and I don't think that's the case at all. When we played Texas, kids hitch-hiked, like 80 or 90 miles, like sixteen year old kids from farms, y'know? Imagine they go all that way, and they get to the gig and pay half a week's wages, and they get in and they just see Suede for twenty min-utes and the guy throwing flowers at them. They can't relate to it. The Fall is respected in America, even though we're not that big. There's a lot of Americans coming round to us. I think it's a lot to do with... Pavement and that, quoting us, y'know... you can mock it or not."

It's funny, because I like Pavement, but one thing that always mys-tifies me is journalists claiming they have a Krautrock influence. I mean, I can hear Can in The Fall's music, but not in Pavement's.
"It's 'cos it's second-hand Fall, innit, really? I mean, some Krautrock was totally unbearable... Amon Duul... and some of Faust's stuff was really dire-it does sound like Pavement. An acoustic guitar and some bloke warbling rubbish, y'know?"

Talking of which, I remind Smith that in the Fall lyric book (1984 or so) he claimed that he saw his only artistic rival as Prince..,
"That was off the top of my head. In retrospect, I know what I was saying, though. I didn't know at the time. I was saying this to my girl-friend - one thing I noticed about Prince is that when he goes up for an award he mumbles and acts awkwardly, and people take the piss out of him for that but he's always working. And that's why we're similar. He's a workaholic, but people crack on that he's some kind of space cadet when in fact it's the diametric opposite. I'm like that - I wouldn't go to the Brat Pack awards for NME, it's a waste of time and money."

You wouldn't even go it they gave you an award?
"They can send it through the fucking post can't they?

We've probably had this, but:

Dragnet press-release, late 1979:

"The Fall are from Manchester. So what. You're right. But this is not the spineless usual. It's Original Article. Not romantic, not sub-intellectual not "tough"" re-cycled cabaret glam three chord big boots like the Dog Kennel label. "Dragnet" is white crap let loose in a studio but still in control. Sung in natural accents in front of unAFFECTed music. "Dragnet" isn't a mass of confusion covered by reverb and a control board. This sound could catch on. So what. Get Caught."
- R. Totale XVII

" The Fall; influential, arrogant, accurately hypercritical of rock apathy"
NME, September '79


The songs on ""Dragnet" are about psychics, showbiz, chances, criminals, prisons, results of the Boer War, pop, cruel jokes, paranoia and stimulants of all kinds, demons and more. The follow-up to 1stLP " Live At The Witch Trials" (Much OK'd and acclaimed), that's as much "Dragnet" has in common with that record. This is band and fate's policy. Change equals growth. 'We're better because all our songs are different' - M. Leigh

This record celebrates The Fall's 3rd year of existence against all odds. Thanx to all who helped make it possible (YOU'LL STILL HAVE TO BUY IT)

Overleaf you can meet the people who wrote and recorded it, if you go for that sort of thing.

"I must create a new regime/Or live by another mans I could use some pure criminals/ to get my hands on some royalties"
-'Before The Moon Falls" (The Fall)

Tracks on "Dragnet" are:

by and for the fall:
"They say music should be fun like reading a story of love/ But I wanna read a horror story"
-"Dice Man" (The Fall)

CRAIG SCANLAN (18) e.guitar
Craig's a Cack(left) Hander. His outgoing personality and immediate charm make him the obvious spokesman for the group, which he isn't. Interests: ballroom dancing, gardening and Captain Beefheart. Mancunian.

STEVE HANLEY (19) bass guitar
Latest arrival to The Fall along with Craig. Eire citizen and chef. Not many have heard him talk. Interests: Beer and beer money.

MARC RILEY(55) guitars, vocals
Marc is the veteran of the group. Formerly on bass guitar, and can be heard on 1st l p 'Witch Trials'. Although the baby of The Fall age-wise, often takes the paternal role. Likes: Public Image, Lou Reed.

MIKE LEIGH(24) drums
Ex rock n roll revival group. He got tired of playing 'It's Now or Never' every night with inadequate musicians scared of their own hands. Part Romany. Ex-bouncer serving penance with The Fall.

MARK E. SMITH (13) ld vocals etc.
Founder of The Fall and cause of all the trouble, but paid back via. dry cleaners: 'How did you get so dirty Mr. Smith? - what do you do for a living?' Answer: 'I hang around old buildings for hours and got very dirty in one of those hours'. Lyric writer.

In winter they like pullovers and thick coats, while in summer they go more for cotton garments. 80% of them are Mancunians in fact, and all members like the Residents - even those who haven't heard them.

31 May 2001

This is the latest news and gossip off FallNet for those with weak stomachs.

Click to receive email
when this page changes
Powered by NetMind

If you have anything to say, you can mail Stefan, but you can't mail the FallNet mailing list direct anymore. To subscribe to FallNet, send mail to fallnet-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. The Freedonia list is out of action.

ta to biv for this

Recent news....

010429 IR, UK gig reviews
010409 NL gig reviews
010303 Dublin gig, Invisible Jukebox
010128 World Bewitched details
010101 some ace Castlefield pics
001219 more reviews
001201 tour reviews, crap interviews
001110 Unutterable reviews
001021 Stanza festival, HighSmith Teeth, comedy dogs
001011 RFH reviews, new Cog Sinister releases
000912 DOSE interview, Fall calendar
000822 Portugal, Manchester gigs 
000809 bits & pieces
000723 Psykick Dance Hall, Pure As Oranj details, Triple Gang reviews
000709 few bits
000620 Ashton, Hull, Middlesbrough, Glasgow, Edinburgh reviews, old Volume piece
000530 LA2 reviews
000522 few old LP reviews
000502 bits & pieces
000424 TBLY #19 details, Prop details
000408 more Leeds reviews. WSC interview, other interview snippets
000326 Doncaster, York, Leeds reviews, BravEar interview (plus others)
000314 various reviews, old Liz Kershaw i/view
000224 Past Gone Mad details
000213 few bits & pieces
000130 tour details, Tommy Blake stuff
000120 TBLY #18 details, Hanley in Mojo
000110 Dragnet doylum, New Year message, etc

Old stuff: Nov 1997 - Dec 1999