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The Fall / MES schedule

Wed 10 Jun HMV Forum, Kentish Town, London. Mojo Honours show with Buzzcocks (headlining) and John Cooper Clarke. (All three played Vortex on 4 July 1977). Ticket-text or ticketmaster (£17.50)
Sun 14 Jun MES Q&A at the Lawrence Batley Theater, Huddersfield.
Sat 18 Jul Academy 1, Manchester. Tickets (£20 + fees) on sale from Ticketline (01618321111) and the usual outlets. Alan Wise is selling tickets for face value to people who have ordered from him before, or you can also get tickets at cost from the Students' Union. Also wegottickets. There will be two other acts: Optional Wallace and Ed Blaney.
Sat 29 Aug Beachdown Festival, Devil's Dyke, Brighton. Festival cancelled by promoter
Fri 18 Sep Jelen Pivo Live Festival, Belgrade, Serbia
Thu 1 Oct Theatre Royal, Windsor, Berkshire, according to their site. Support: Open Sore and Eliot to Hong Kong
Fri 2 Oct O2 Academy, Leeds. Support: The Nightingales!
Thu 5 Nov Uebel und Gefährlich, Hamburg, according to their site. Coincides with Paintwork#3 at Galerie Borchardt, Hamburg, 31 October - 21 November.
Tue 10 Nov Moho Live, Tib Street, Manchester, according to seetickets
Wed 11 Nov Moho Live, Tib Street, Manchester, according to seetickets
Fri 13 Nov Renfrew Ferry, Glasgow. Tickets with or without early dinner available on their site.
Sat 14 Nov Renfrew Ferry, Glasgow. Tickets with or without early dinner available on their site.
Sun 15 Nov O2 Academy, Oxford. Tickets
Tue 17 Nov Koko, London. Support: Darker My Love(!) and Orphans and Vandals. Hosted by the Guardian.
Thu 19 Nov Mr. Kyps, Poole.
Fri 20 Nov Phoenix, Exeter. seetickets
Sun 22 Nov The Masque, Liverpool. seetickets
Mon 23 Nov Metropolis, Bristol. seetickets
Thu 26 Nov The Assembly, Leamington Spa. seetickets



added 29 September

From this moth's Mojo, thanks to Ocelot. Contradicts what MES said in recent interview about album coming out in January.



added 29 September

Aftergig party in Leeds:



added 19 September; updated 22 September

Friday, 18 September    Jelen Pivo Live, Belgrade, Serbia

set photo photo photo

Chino Splashback / Wolf Kidult Man / Hot Cake / I've Been Duped / Sloppy Floor / 50 Year Old Man / Bury // Theme from Sparta F.C. / Mr. Pharmachist / Cowboy George

Setlist TBD. Thanks to Micha & Son for setlist and photos. Reviews on the message board.

In this interview (in Serbian), MES says new album will be out in January. A rough translation of the interview courtesy Google.


added 18 September

Factory Star in Anglesey TONIGHT! Sorry for the late notice.


  • Friday, 25 Sept: King's Arms, Salford
  • Friday, 9 Oct: Cumberland Arms, Newcastle
  • Saturday, 24 October: Hope and Anchor, London



added 18 September

Michael Stewart has youtubed a photo slideshow of the MES Q&A at the Huddersfield Literature Festival last June. He's also selling 10 copies of a DVD of the event @ £9.99. Email him at michael@darkanddirty.co.uk if you want a copy.


added 16 September

Another Smith & Blaney album -- The Train Part 3 -- out soon on Voiceprint. And another in a string of remarkable press releases from the label:

Mark E Smith has been called a Maverick over the last thirty plus years he has led the Fall. Many people have tried to bend Mark E Smith to their will and failed time and time again. If making music under your own terms and whenever and with whomever you want then Mark E Smith is a maverick. Plainly speaking Mark E Smith does what he wants and you are either with him or against him. If you are against him then the relationship is usually terminated as many former members of the Fall can attest. Mark E Smith has a clear idea of what he wants and an even clearer idea of what he doesn't want.

Ed Blaney was a member of the Fall during late 2000-2001 playing on the album Are You Are Missing Winner released in late 2001.

In 2008 Smith and Blaney embarked on what seemed like a spontaneous project recording and releasing a number of limited edition singles. These singles were then collected together and released on an album entitled The Fall's Mark E Smith and Ed Blaney.

Train is the second album recorded by the duo outside of the Fall activities.

Mark E Smith and Ed Blaney's latest collaboration carries the title The Train part 3 and is described as an Open Street Recordings of the past present and future.

Recorded in October Nov3ember and December 2008 these are field recordings that have been edited in the studio. The recordings were made in Blackpool, Salford, York and shire, the midnight train from Sophia-Karnobat (Bulgaria) and finally edited in Blueprint Studios Salford by Gary Hadfield under the production supervision of both Mark E Smith and Ed Blaney.

The collaboration will no doubt appeal to the large and dedicated Fall fan base and also lovers of audio-verite.


added 11 August; updated 26 August

Excellent photos of the 20 August 1982 Mainstreet, Auckland gig on Jonathan Ganley's blog.

And now there're more, this time of a record store signing on the 21st. Really wonderful photos, thanks Jonathan.


added 19 August; updated 22 August

Here's a treat for you. Bob unearthed a tape he made of a show Mark E. Smith did for the tiny Greenwich Sound radio station sometime in 1983. Mark plays some records (inc. trucker songs, Spandau Ballet(!), live Fall stuff), reads a few poems, and chats with the DJ. Here's my tentative running order:

Mark E. Smith
"Creatures What You Never Knew About"
Greenwich Sound radio station - http://www.cliffosbourne.co.uk/1673/25401.html
Greenwich, London
prob. Feb or March 1983

54min 30sec

- The Fall - Words of Expectation (live: Arena, Rotterdam, 12 Feb. 1983)
- Mark E. Smith's Guide to Writing Guide & London (both printed in "vII")
- M.E.S. poem - Manchester (bit of this spliced into Garden on PBL)
- Spandau Ballet - Communication
- Greenwich Sound promo
- The Fall - Fantastic Life (studio)
- chat with Greenwich Sound, part 1
- Slim Jacobs - That's Truck Drivin'
- M.E.S. poem - first line: "The rouge smeared on the aged profile of the local THF Cologne branch chairman"
- M.E.S. poem - Village Bug
- M.E.S. poem - Amsterdam
- The Fall - Totally Wired (studio)
- chat, part 2
- Bobby Sykes - Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves
- Greenwich Sound radio promo
- Willie Nelson & Dolly Parton - Everything's Beautiful
- Smith reads "a piece I found in an international newspaper on the floor"
- The Fall - Hexen Definitive/Strife Knot (Live: Rotterdam 12 Feb 83)
- crickets

If someone wants to ID the live Fall stuff, please do.

Link to the original 99mb mp3: http://www.sendspace.com/file/1v8jwv

Link to remastered 99mb mp3: http://www.sendspace.com/file/zg7vjd


added 31 July; updated 6 August

Dave Simpson of The Fallen book will be interviewing Steve & Paul Hanley and Mike Leigh live on Twitter next week. Latest word is 8pm GMT on Wednesday, 5 August. If you want to ask them anything you'll need a Twitter account; the interview will be at @davesimps0n (that's a zero for the "o") and/or @thefallenbook.

Well, the Twitter "interview" was fun, but chaotic to say the very least. Twitter is not the best place for a multi-person Q&A. Fortunately the mighty Conway has sorted out a transcript that makes sense of it all.

It was a bit tricky on Twitter. I only came in at the very end and even in real time it was hard to follow. So, I've been through everyone's individual pages and put together this edited transcript. Introductions, technical discussion and reposting of questions/answers have been edited out, and some tweets have been re-ordered to keep answers with the relevant questions.

"The Fallen" Twitter interview

Convened by Dave Simpson and Canongate Books.
Ex-Fall members present: Paul Hanley, Steve Hanley, Mike Leigh, Kay Carroll, Jonny Brown.

Dave Simpson: This is a world first... I feel like closing the curtains and asking 'is there anybody there?'

Steve Hanley: I don't think we have ever all been together have we?

Dave Simpson: Good point.... Paul and Mike were in different line-ups. Did you know Paul back then tho' Mike?

Mike Leigh: I knew him slightly, as Steve's baby brother doing his O Levels, but I'm proud to call him a friend now (albeit belatedly)

Dave Simpson: I'll ask one of Paul and Steve Hanley - how is playing with Martin Bramah (as you currently are in Factory Star?)

Steve Hanley: Going really well - seems to have come together really easily - we'll see when we start working on new material though!

@PrestwichEnnui: Any plans for Factory Star to make a record? [This seems to have gone unanswered.]

@scottmliddell: What Fall album would you all take to desert island?

Paul Hanley: Hex Enduction Hour - the vinyl was really thick so it would do as a paddle

Dave Simpson: Grotesque for me (although I'd trade it for a boat)

Canongate Books: Are there any Fall albums you'd like to _leave_ on a desert island, never to be seen again?

Dave Simpson: I could live without the dodgy bootleggy live albums. Studio albums... I don't know if i could lose one, forever.

Dave Simpson: I haven't played room to live or seminal live in a very long time.

Dave Simpson: Steve, are you still also working with Tommy Crooks in another band?

Steve Hanley: I am, but with my son Paul rather than my brother Paul (bit difficult though with Tommy in Scotland and me in MCR!)

Paul Hanley: Earlier question - me and Mike both played drums at a Fall rehearsal once (just before he p**sed off!)

Mike Leigh: I don't remember that!!!

Mike Leigh: I must have been getting him ready to take on the mantle!! I was probably scared that the kid would outclass me, so went before the sack!!!

Dave Simpson: Shit man, a Hanley-Leigh two drummers Fall line-up would have been A CLASSIC. Mike, what were you thinking?

Dave Simpson: Kay, as manager would you have approved of a Leigh-Hanley two drummer line-up?


@caacrinolaas: Why were the drums of Mike Leigh always recorded so that they sounded tinny? (cf "Dragnet", "Fiery Jack")

Mike Leigh: The drum sounds came partly from inexperience of the producer and my old rock'n'roll sounds.

Dave Simpson: Kay, as drummers, how did Mike and Paul compare with Karl?

Kay Carroll: Unfair Q. The Fall were incredibly lucky having all of 'em in the band. You are asking me which was my favourite child.

Paul Hanley: Aaaw! Thanks Kay. Difference between me & Mike and Karl - soap and water.

@stuartamdouglas: How annoyed was Mark about the leaking of Country on the Click onto the 'net? And how different was the original to the release?

Dave Simpson: I don't know if any Fallen present here can answer that as it was before their time. Very, I would have thought. [he means after, not before]

@caacrinolaas: There's a tale of a gig where the keyboards broke down so MES told Marc Riley to *sing* the bits instead. Did it actually happen? [This question seems to have gone unanswered.]

Kay Carroll: Hi Jonny how the L are you...K [Jonny Brown had just signed in.]

Jonny Brown: Still playin' bass and a bit of singing whilst training to be a drug worker. It's about time I say.

@undeleted: One for Kay, Steve and Paul - would Slates have been different without Kay Carroll's input?

Paul Hanley: Fit and Working Again's BVs [backing vocals]!! Classic!

Kay Carroll: I love fit and working. Cheers Paul.

Paul Hanley: I feel like Alan Minter - I just ate 8 sheets of blotting paper... which would explain why I'm not going for a curry. [Mike Leigh had made a comment to Paul directly about going out for a curry.]

Dave Simpson: Fit And Working Again is one of my fave Fall songs ever.

Dave Simpson: [Referring to Kay & Jonny's exchange] If anyone didn't know, Jonny lasted a few weeks in the Fall in 1978 and is one of the great "long lost". Until Mike Leigh (29 years missing in action) came along to join him.

@caacrinolaas: I'd like to apologise to Paul Hanley for arriving at the Islington Lovers gig venue 5 minutes before the end of the show last year.

Paul Hanley: I should bloody think so - doubled the audience!

@PrestwichEnnui: Great picture of Jonny with the band in that ZigZag article by D Baker....I assume that was Mark's flat ?

Jonny Brown: The ZigZag picture - yes it must 'ave been in Mark's flat 1978.

@MarcDavidJacobs: In all honesty, do you think that The Fall ever went to crap? If so, when? And did it recover? Present company INcluded....

Kay Carroll: Gotta admit I didn't like much of the their stuff til about the mid 90s even then… The recent stuff with Mrs Smith A+.

Dave Simpson: Kay, what didn't you like about the mid 90s stuff?

Kay Carroll: All the rehashes and me getting madder and madder at not getting royalties or even a wink.

Paul Hanley: Royalties? What are they?

@PrestwichEnnui: Question for all re. The Hacienda as a venue/place to play - good or crap?

Paul Hanley: Great place to play, lousy place to watch a band.

Dave Simpson: The Hac wasn't the best place to see bands, that's for sure. Dodgy sound and views. A certain atmosphere though.

@caacrinolaas: Related question: best / worst venues you've played?

Paul Hanley: Best - Hammersmith Palais, worst - cattle shed in the Shetlands (good gig though).

@caacrinolaas: Blimey! Do you recall where the "cattle shed" gig was? Is it listed in the gigography?

@PrestwichEnnui: The Shetlands? That's not in the gigography... you'll have grown men weeping now!! smile.gif

Paul Hanley: It was a Lovers gig. It was an actual cattle shed, that wasn't a feeble euphimism. We played with The Undertones.

@PrestwichEnnui: phew....smile.gif

@scottmliddell Which member of the 80's/90's Manchester music scene would you most like to punch?

Paul Hanley: Don't punch people (I'm a Lover not a fighter). Might make an exception for Mick Hucknall.

Dave Simpson: Can I ask each of you when was the last time you had contact with Mark?

Paul Hanley: Not spoke to him since the last MCR gig before Steve left.

@scottmliddell: What did you all think of the Von Sudenfed album?

Paul Hanley: Never heard it.

Dave Simpson: The Von Sudenfed album put Mark's voice to new use. He could have made a fortune with that voice (ads etc) in another life.

@scottmliddell: Agree, funny that the most mainstream use on ads (Touch Sensitive) doesn't feature much vocal.

@WeekendWizard: All: know from the book you're all so very modest...but so little seems to come through of what you did that made the band great.

Mike Leigh: Leaving the band is my only regret in life. Not bad for nearly 54 years on earth I suppose!!!!!

Paul Hanley: Er..OK

@WeekendWizard: So, question is: What do you consider to be the sort of thing that you brought to the band that wasn't there before/after you?

Dave Simpson: That's the enigma. Even the Fallen don't know what makes the band great. Does MES even know? I think the tension between members and the character of those members plays a big part.

@WeekendWizard: Well, it does seem to be the singular band to seem to imply that they are great ONLY as collective...such an anomaly in this age of the cult of the individual 'rockstar'. But mustn't a member still feel they are themselves contributing?

Dave Simpson: Like Clough's forest, the collective is everything. There is no place for flashy guitarists or silky midfielders

@WeekendWizard: But a non-showy player who is good must still know what/how s/he contributes to each goal. They must still know THEIR positions.

Dave Simpson: Anyone know anything about fall drummer for one day Chris Evans? [This question seems to have gone unanswered.]

Canongate Books: Have you any final words for the fans who came to Twitter to chat?

Paul Hanley: Bye everyone - Look after yourself K - great to hear from you!

Mike Leigh: Me too. I'm away for your kid now mate. See you soon. Factory Star Rule!!!

Dave Simpson: Thanks everyone for joining in/watching... I know it's been chaotic. The paperback is out Monday. Look at www.thefallenbook.co.uk

Dave Simpson: Oh yeah, and the paperback has the answer to the question no one asked, surprisingly… where is Karl Burns?!! tweet tweet.

@ComputersWTF: Karl Burns works in a burger bar in Auckland. He shares the night shift with Elvis & that guy from the Manics...

@ComputersWTF: Didn't Brix join the interview? I wanted to ask why Gok always won? My wife & daughters think she was stitched up (ha ha)!

Canongate Books: She was at the Proms...

Dave Simpson: Thanks to Paul and Steve Hanley, Kay Carroll, Jonny Brown and Mike Leigh for Tweeting. You are The Fallen. Goodnight all.

(Mark H has subsequently tweeted an answer to Simpo, as follows):

Yeah, he was the drummer for the support band "Rag Week". I was at that gig and got asked by Jim to play drums. I declined.


added 21 July

Beggars Banquet's Archive page says:

As many fans are aware from The Fall site, Beggars Banquet will be releasing Omnibus Editions of two of their finest albums – The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall (1984) and This Nation’s Saving Grace (1985).

Master tapes were sent to Loud Mastering – our studio of choice – back in January but with the log jam caused by our Gary Numan / The Cult / Bauhaus packages (not to mention Franz Ferdinand) we’re still awaiting for the digital transfers to be done. The virtues of patience.

However, our friends at Vinyl 180 have jumped the gun and used the new masters to release This Nation’s Saving Grace on – you guessed it – 180 gram vinyl.

And a very handsome package it is too – sounding wonderful (and a little frightening). I’m really looking forward to working on these two albums…

Beggars' omnibus editions look quite comprehensive. For example, their edition of Bauhaus's Mask LP is a 4xCD affair with 48-page booklet. The release date has been pushed back though -- now they're saying "late spring 2010."


added 20 July

Alan sent along the following:


At long last the impertinent "impressario" of the Fall , an obvious Fraud, has been seen through by his friend Mark Smith and for the good of the Fall fired for the last time. In no sense will he any more represent the Band, or promote them, or fix up deals for them. It seems Mark was most unhappy after the Manchester show, when the fat fiend aka "Dr" Alan Wise squirreled away 90% of the income.

Said Fall friend "Ed Blaney" I could tell all along he was a bad un . I dont think he ever listened to the Band play..

Said a crestfallen Alan. "I deserved it " I have often been rude to Mark and Mrs Smith who have shown me nothing but kindness for many years and supported me in my puerile efforts and pretence at helping to manage things. "I really have had Simon Taylor... tour manager... do all the work for years whilst I just eat the rider in the dressing room whilst the Band are on.! I cant help it.. its in my blood !"

Rumour has it that regretfully Mark has told him, not to attend a show again, but has been very generous in terms of a severance pay arrangement..

"I wont be with him but I wish them all well, especially Mark. Hes proved to be a Gent.. Now I can take that room in Blackley old peoples home for the confused, just near the crematorium.."


added 20 July

Saturday, 18 July    Academy 1, Manchester


Hot Cake / Strange Town / My Door Is Never / Wolf Kidult Man / Cowboy George / 50 Year Old Man / Fall Sound / I've Been Duped / Psykick Dancehall / Bury / Funnel of Love / Sloppy Floor / Reformation

Reviews on the message board. Thanks to Bad Seed for the setlist.


added 9 July

More Factory Star news: they have a session on Marc Riley's show on BBC Radio6 next Wednesday, 15 July. A reminder that they're playing at the Studio in Manchester tonight.

And Spencer Birtwistle has a new band - Spencer Cloud and the Range Brothers - with two gigs lined up for next week:

  • Friday, 17 July @ Salutation Pub, Hulme, Manchester (10pm)
  • Saturday, 18 July @ Hulme Garden Centre, Manchester (daytime gig)


added 21 June

factory star

Martin Bramah's Factory Star (w/ Steve and Paul Hanley) have a gig at The Studio (formerly the Late Room), 23 Peter Street, Manchester on Thursday, 9th July. They will be performing songs by the Fall and the Blue Orchids as well as new material. Support comes from former Factory Records' band Red Turns To. Tickets are £6 in advance from Piccadilly Records, Manchester or £8 on the door. Doors open 7.30pm.


added 17 June

Steve & Paul Hanley's band -- Electric Circus -- will play a benefit gig for Didsbury Road Primary School in Stockport on Saturday 20th June. For ticket details and further info contact: electriccircusgig@yahoo.com


palaisadded 16 June

The long-delayed Hammersmith Palais DVD/CD set is scheduled for release on 3 August, according to Sanctuary/Universal. In case you've forgotten, it's the final night at the Palais, recorded 1 April 2007. I've had a copy of the DVD for a while and it's well worth getting. Multi-camera and 5.1 sound.

Senior Twilight Stock Replacer / Pacifying Joint / Fall Sound / Over! Over! / Theme from Sparta F.C. / Hungry Freaks, Daddy / Wrong Place, Right Time / My Door Is Never / The Wright Stuff / White Lightning / Blindness / Reformation

MES, Elena, Presley, Barbato, McCord, Greenway, Spurr.

The DVD also contains a bonus: the Reformation promo clip.


added 16 June

Sad news about Chris Knox (Toy Love, Tall Dwarfs, Flying Nun Records, "Fall in a Hole"). He suffered a stroke last week and is in hospital in Auckland. His friends and family have a blog to keep people updated on his progress.


added 15 June

Sunday, 14 June    MES Q&A at the Lawrence Batley Theater, Huddersfield

Reviews near the end of this thread on the forum, and Palszanti's posted a few photos on flickr and a short video clip on youtube.


added 11 June; updated 15 June

Wednesday, 10 June   HMV Forum, Kentish Town, London


Hot Cake / Wolf Kidult Man / 50 Year Old Man / Funnel of Love / Psykick Dancehall / A Figure Walks / Rebellious Jukebox / Bury // Reformation

Glowing reviews on the forum, and many thanks to Mark for the setlist and Psykick Dancehall:


added 9 June

An excellent interview with Jeffrey Lewis; thanks to interviewer Odran Smith for sending it in. Lots of Fall con.

Jeffrey Lewis (born November 20, 1975 in New York City) is an American anti-folk singer/songwriter and comic book artist. Jarvis Cocker has called him "the best lyricist working in US today". He's the product of loving beatnik parents who raised him in the Lower East Side in a tenement apartment with no television.

(Jeffrey Lewis has previously recorded five parts to his 'History of Communism.'

Part 1.


Part 2.The Paris Commune

Part 3.Russia

Part 4.China

Part 5.Korea).

O.S.:Will Cuba be 'The History of Communism part 6'?

J.L.:I guess so. I was going to do Vietnam next but I thought I might be concentrating to much on South East Asia. I can always go back and do Vietnam as part 7.

O.S. It's seriously educational...I had no idea about any of that stuff especially Korea.

J.L. Well I knew nothing about it either before I started my research.

O.S.:You're wearing an Aran jumper/cardigan.

J.L.:Yeah my brother Jack bought it for me a while back but it's full of holes.

O.S.:I think it's funny that Bob Dylan brought the Clancy Brothers over to New York. They'd perform in their Aran jumpers and change back into their snazzy suits once the show was over. And now here you are a New Yorker of jewish descent wearing an Aran jumper and selling anti-folk to the Irish.

J.L.:I didn't realise this jumper was an Irish thing.

O.S. You've toured Ireland a few times. What strikes you about this country when you visit?

J.L. Well if you were driving between two cities in America you'd be on a motorway and you would see very little scenery. The journey up from Dublin was really nice.

O.S. Do you like Irish music?

J.L. I like Stiff Little Fingers and The Undertones. I like The Strangely Strange...are they Irish? I'm not a musicologist...I must confess I don't know that much about Irish folk music.

(Kind of wanted to be a bit more Joe Mc Carthy with this next question).

O.S.:Are you a communist?

J.L.:I think there's a lot of good ideas there. I suppose my personal philosophy is summed up by Jack London's words...

I would rather be ashes than dust!

I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it be stifled by dry-rot

I would rathr be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.

The function of man is to live, not to exist.

I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.

I shall use my time.

(The interviewer is simultaneously reminded of two things... 1.the sad sight of Oasis playing to a packed Odyssey arena with a backdrop that said simply 'EXIST' 2.the previous quote ain't a million miles from Neil Young/Kurt Cobain 'it's better to burn out than fade away').

(Jeffrey's college thesis was on the comic book Watchmen he has also lectured on the topic).

O.S.:What did you think of the Watchmen movie?

J.L.:I think they did as good a job as was possible in the time permitted. However because it's so plot heavy you don't really emote as much as you should. What did you think?

O.S.:I liked it but I never read the comic.

J.L.:Yeah I'm really interested in how someone who never read the comic would experience it.

O.S.:My friend was rather taken with the female super hero.

J.L.:I was amazed how much the characters on screen resembled their graphic representations.

O.S.So the first thing I heard by you was 'The Legend Of The Fall' on Youtube. I'm a big Fall fan and so that's how I got into your stuff.

J.L.We should have a full Fall conversation. Best album. Best shows. Favorite line up. In fact you have to help me because tomorrow I'm interviewing Mark E. Smith at the Hinterland festival. I've no idea what I'm going to talk to him about. I've been racking my brain for a topic that won't be met with disdain. I was going to ask him what he's been reading lately.

O.S.He talks a lot about Wyndham Lewis...artist...writer...bit of a fascist.

J.L. He certainly likes to be controversial. I think he (Mark) just likes to wind people up. Because it's such a rare thing to find a literate intelligent counter culture figure who espouses right wing views. I think he just does it to be interesting and controversial. He does it to poke a little at the general consensus.

O.S. So you've toured with The Fall?

J.L. We did one show together in London in February 2004. Which was a tremendous thrill for me.

O.S. You were asked to become a member of The Fall?

J.L. He doesn't let Fall fans in the band.I think I'd bring a lot of interesting musical stuff to the band. I'm not much of a musician either which might be a good thing. I feel like I have a lot of the same influences musically as Mark...The Groundhogs for example. There's a guy called Nervous Norvous that I always suspected Mark was a fan of and I just found confirmation of it in the book The Fallen. There's a bit in the book where a journalist visits his house and he's forced to listen to a Nervous Norvous record. The Pebbles compilations in particular Volume 3...which was a life changing album for me. I just found an NME article from the 1980's in which Mark lists his favourite album as Pebbles Volume 3.

O.S. There's a perception you might have got into The Fall through Pavement.

J.L. Oh no not at all. I never liked Pavement. Now I do. I used to hate that stuff but it took me years. All through college I could not understand why people liked that band. I had to try REALLY hard. I used to listen to those albums really hard. I used to think - I don't get it. The lyrics mean nothing and the songs don't go anywhere. All I could think was the songs don't mean anything. But now I'll put it them on and I love it. I love the recent stuff. I love the Stephen Malkmus solo album. I love 'Real Emotional Trash'. But it took me years. And I don't actually see any Fall connection at all. Which is ironic because the only Pavement song that I liked when I listened to them years ago was 'Two States'. And I didn't realise that was the Fall rip-off song. It was only years later that I discovered where it came from. And when I returned to Pavement I thought'no wonder I liked that song it sounds just like The Fall'. But really to this day I don't really see the connection between the two bands.

O.S. I suppose it was 'Slanted and Enchanted' and 'Westing By Musket...' albums and the artwork.

J.L. But I mean with Pavement the songs don't mean anything with The Fall the songs actually mean something even if it takes you a while to work out what they might mean.

O.S. I've never been able to work many of them out.

J.L. Malkmus is just gibberish. I've learned to love it. Because I've learned to love the joy that he brings to that nonsense. But The Fall to me is not nonsense. It's bizarre and it's esoteric and it's dense and sometimes it's difficult to figure out. But I LOVE puzzling it out. I love it when five years later when I'm reading a book and I come across a passage. And suddenly I understand what he was talking about in a particular song.

O.S. I used to write for the Fall fanzine 'The Biggest library Yet' and the only contact the editor Graham Coleman had with the band was a one off postcard with the words 'Don't go round explaining yourself' written on the back. Now I didn't understand what it meant at the time but now it's become a kind of personal philosophy.

J.L. It makes everything better. It's a terrible mistake everytime I explain what a particular song means. Everytime I read a songwriter or author explaining what they've done...it's alost always a mistake. It's so much better to let art just be art. But of course everyone has an ego and everyone has a burning desire to talk about themselves. Here I am being interviewed. I just finished an interview. I got five interviews tomorrow. It's a tremendous ego boost. You want to go on and on proving how clever you are. But it's almost always to detriment of the art.

O.S. But I used to get so much fun reading an interview with Mark E. Smith in the eighties and nineties. It got to a point where I worried that I liked the interviews better than the music.

J.L. When I got into them I didn't know anything about them or him apart from the music. I didn't know his persona. I had no preconceived notions at all. And in fact I liked them a bit less when I discovered they were just this one guy and they had all these different line-ups.

O.S. So what is your favorite Fall album?

J.L. Dragnet.

O.S. And the first Fall album you heard?

J.L. Dragnet.

O.S. That's quite common for someone to say-that the first Fall album they heard was the one they liked the best. I heard Seminal Live first but Extricate and Shiftwork are still my favourites and I heard them before most of the other records.

J.L. Extricate is another of my favourites. My favourite three are Dragnet, Extricate and Perverted By Language.

O.S. How many times have you seen the band?

J.L. Not that many times...maybe six.

O.S. Have you performed with Daniel Johnston?

J.L. Three times.

O.S. How is he these days?

J.L. I think he's doped up on a lot medication. He's been on a lot of medication for the past fifteen years. He's really a shadow of the Daniel Johnston of the 1980's. His creative output has disappeared and his voice is shot from cigarettes. His last good album was entitled Fun from around 1994. His thinking is clouded by the drugs...his songs used to have so many little jokes.

O.S. Critics have been saying recently that when you go to see him nowadays Jad Fair is the talent. They've also questioned whether it's ethically right to use someone who is now so mentally disadvantaged to sell concert tickets.

J.L. Jad Fair is a genius in his own right. The album they did together from around 1989 is amongst the best work either of them have recorded. That album is life changing...amazing.

O.S. All this stuff is quite lo-fi but you're wearing a Scritti Politti T-shirt. I'm surprised you're a fan...they're pretty polished.

J.L. I went on tour with them and got the shirt for free. I'm not that immersed in their stuff. I got to like them whilst touring with them.

O.S. He is a fellow communist...

J.L. I didn't have any political discussions with him. He's (Simon Gartside) just a really nice guy. Really friendly...down to earth. He comes to see us when we play in London. I feel like I've had a priveleged experience with him because I know he's a legendary character but I got to know him as a person before I heard any of his stuff. I wasn't revering him and now I'm very much in awe of some of the work that he's done. It was nice to get to know him before there was any fear or fame.

O.S. Have you seen the Rough Trade BBC4 documentary?

J.L. No but I'd love to. I gather it's up on Youtube.

O.S. Your songs refer to Belfast twice.

J.L. Probably through the Crass songs.

O.S. And you sing Van Morrison's 'Gloria' in the 'Brief History Of Punk Rock'.

J.L. I hadn't thought of that.

O.S. So you write a lot of political songs. You're in Belfast - a political place - do you have any opinion on the situation here.

J.L. In a certain way I feel it's not my place to voice a strong opinion on a place that I personally don't have a stake in. But I feel...everybody feels...the implications of imperialism in one way or another. I felt it growing up in the Lower East Side of New York. In that nobody that I grew up with...and it was a real neighbourhood...everybody was pushed out by the huge influx of money. People with money decided..WE like this area. We're going to build university dorms here. We're going to build chain stores here. We're going to live here. We want your homes we find your buildings charming. We're going to pay more money than you can afford to pay. So everyone I grew up with has moved out of New York or to the boondocks of Brooklyn. And that's just a continuation of what happened to the native Americans who lived in Manhattan who were pushed out by the Dutch. Who were in turn pushed out by the English. Whoever has more money, more guns and more power pushes out the weaker. And that's imperialism. Whether it's a neighbourhood getting gentrified and the original residents not being able to live there. Or whether it's England deciding to colonize India. It's basically being a bully and the justifications that are brought to bear on it. Whether they be religious ior scientific. That's part of the brilliance of Conrad's 'Heart Of Darkness'.

(There follows a long discussion about Joseph Conrad and Roger Casement wherein the interviewer makes a bit of a foo of himself).

O.S. I read that you have a nemesis on the internet who spread rumours that you were married.

J.L. It's no big deal but we have multiple nemesis's now.

O.S. Did you ever meet John Peel?

J.L. We met him briefly in 2002 when we did a Peel session.

O.S. Still missed.

J.L. I've only ever encountered people who love John Peel. Just recently was the first time I ever saw a dissenting opinion. In he book 'The Story Of Crass' the guy who originally put Crass's albums out on the Small Wonder record label said something interesting. He reckons that the first interest in punk was dampened down because Peel was given such prominence. For a brief time it was such a creative free for all but somehow it turned into one guys opinion of what was cool. Because what happened was whatever Peel thought was cool got exposure and what Peel thought was uncool didn't. And power became so centralized that this happened. Bands thought it was better to have one album than none at all.

O.S. John Peel was always aware of his priveleged position but it was in a sense a poisoned chalice. When Mark E. Smith refused to be aligned be to John Peel because it meant they were ghettoised he felt their pain..and acknowledged it. Peel realised that he was in affect a tool in a media war...he wasn't just playing a Bhundu Boys record...he was making sure that no one at the BBC ever had to feel uncomfortable when asked why the didn't play african/reggae/hip-hop... music. In effect he was the BBC's get out clause regarding public service broadcasting and the licence fee for what was essentially a commercial station. He didn't ask to be put in the position of being the only person playing this stuff. I remember him speaking warmly and excitedly about Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley doing the Breakfast show for two weeks whilst Chris Evans was on holiday. When Andy Kershaw bemoans the fact that the BBC hastened an ill though diabetes old man to his death by forcing him to drive long distances in the middle of the night to record his show...he's right.

(Interview cut short because of sound check. Interview continued by email).

O.S. People you get compared to...Jonathan Richman, Lou Reed, Woody Allen amongst others...do any of these comparisons irk?

J.L.Usually just shows the frame of reference of the person making the comparison, more than it shows anything about me...

(He has witten a song about art/fame entitled 'Williamsburg Will Oldham Disaster' that has a very ending in which he is sexually attacked by the indie rock icon).
O.S.Has Will Oldham heard your song?

J.L.Yes, from what i'm told.

O.S.Is it difficult touring with your brother? Do your parents expect you to shield him things as you're the older sibling. Any fisticuffs?

J.L.We disagree a lot but he adds a lot of good ideas to things.

O.S.Mark E. Smith is friends with Irvine Welsh but he has said that his financial situation would be totally different if he had been included on the Trainspotting soundtrack. Do you wish you'd been on the Juno OST?

J.L.I guess the money would be nice but wishing i'd been on the soundtrack is not something that's ever crossed my mind.

O.S. Donovan has T.M. Beck has scientology. What helps Jeffrey Lewis?


O.S. I interviewed Martin Bramah (Blue Orchids/The Fall) once and he said that both himself and Roddy Frame (Aztec Camera) really resented the fact that Geoff Travis/Rough Trade promoted The Smiths much more than them. Do you ever worry about being sidelined by RT's higher profile artists.

J.L.It's not a worry. It's been a basic fact since the get go but that's been fine. Multiple times there's been Rough Trade festivals with every band on the label invited to play except us! But I kind of like being the black sheep. We've traditionally been pretty independent of them and have never signed a multi-album deal or anything binding like that...and Rough Trade have been very kind.

O.S. I gather you didn't have a television for much of your youth. When did you first get one? What was it like when you did get one? Do you feel like you missed out on anything?

O.S. First got one in the house when I was about twelve and i caught up as much as possible by watching T.V. all day and all night for a while. Now I never watch at all for years. Seems like a total waste of time. Though i do take too much of my time up in catching up on email stuff all the time, so it probably amounts to the same thing.

O.S. Why are The Fall like The Grateful Dead?

J.L. Incredibly long productive careers, unpredictable musical directions, unpredictable covers included in sets, dedicated cult fan base, lyrically similar in a certain way with one foot firmly in the flavor of their homeland (USA for the Dead, Manchester for the Fall) and the other foot in the mystical/philosophical, and the mix of that specificity with the other dimensional is powerful for both bands.


Random thoughts on Jeffrey Lewis...

1. His comics are really good...first adult comics I've ever read though...the stories relating to his european travels are entertaining but he really seems to enjoy hardship.

2. His comics would also lead one to believe that he really looks up to his father.

3. His work most resembles Jonathan Richman...it's because of his honesty...he admitted to me that Richman's honesty in his songwriting is what he likes the most. He said he aimed for Richman's sense of enthusiasm. Does this tack ensure longevity but mean that it's unlikely he will crossover to mainstream success? 'Em Are I' his most recent album his very different from his earlier work which is very underproduced...at times the sound is atrocious.

4. I'm also impressed that rates Lou Reed's later work.

5. I spend a lot of time wondering if his humour is very like a jewish comedian and then I worry if this is anti-semite. He has been compared to Woody Allen and whilst nerdy characters are common enough in comic books it's still fairly rare in rock. Some of the stuff he deals with is frighteningly honest.

6. The early part of the interview was kind of inaudible because it was recorded in the Black Box cafe during an art exhibition opening. He spoke warmly of Donovan saying he much prefered him to Dylan. He even noted the similarities between Donovan and The Fall...the way they both sometimes sound sinister.

7. And if he is as close to being a comedian as a musician...the questions that I always find myself asking is...why are The Fall so popular with comedians?...I mean Vic Reeves, Stewart Lee, Johnny Vegas, Jerry Sadowitz and Frank Skinner are BIG fans.

8. I know there was far too much discussion of The Fall in what was supposed to be an interview with Jeffrey Lewis but in a way he kinda pushed it that way. 'Em Are I' is really great album though... much better than anything The Fall have produced in many years.


29 Sept 2009

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19may'09 Annual MES Missive; London, Glasgow, Cambridge gig reviews; Domino press release; Paintwork#2 exhibition + photos; Observer int; Nazi cattle; John Robb MCR book; Safi interview; Globo; Monks screenings.

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30oct'06 Silver Monk Time & Monks gigs, Oct. UK & Ireland gig reviews, Ben Pritchard interview, "Renegade: The Gospel According to MES," MES DJ set on Radio 1, Environmental Health News, Stewart Lee in Sunday Times.

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17aug'06 Brooklyn Vegan / Arena Homme Plus interviews, Oya Festival, Tesla-K, The Blimp, Tycoons Follies, Artrocker review, Tony Friel archive, PBL book update, KFNY poster, Billboard, more Voiceprint CDs.

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1may'06 Berlin gig, Reclaimers' footy song, MES "In Their Own Write", Praxis Hagen exhibit.

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