Fall News

News for week ending 11Jan 1998


Some UK gigs early in the year.


Many thanks to Arjan for translating a great MES interview from Dutch magazine Opscene, below.

And our man in WH Smiths, Steve Beeho, reveals:
In the latest FHM, in their Q & A feature on what some celeb listens to in the shower / while they're eating / firing their bazooka at pesky kids etc, this month's subject is MES (I'm not making this up, honest!). As well as paying fulsome tribute to Marvin Gaye, MES also reveals that he rouses from his slumbers to the lilting strains of ....... Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries (!!) : "a real Germanic wake-up call. Dressed in 3 minutes and out".


A two-part CD single, Masquerade, has appeared in the pre-release schedules for 26 Jan 1998. . The single will have a remixed Masquerade, Ten Houses (and possibly Ol' Gang) together with three new songs, one of which is Scareball.

A Peel Sessions compilation comprising 20 tracks will be released in February, tracks selected by S. Hanley, sleeve notes by J. Peel.

They've just been booked in for another Peel session.

Recent news....

980104 Melody Maker interview
971221 Not much
971211 Portsmouth, London, Cambridge, Norwich, Bristol reviews
971203 Oxford, Stoke, Leeds, Liverpool reviews; Esquire interview
971125 Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stoke reviews
971116 Manchester reviews, Loaded interview
971112 Band "back together", teletext interview
971110 NME report, various Dublin/Belfast reviews
971109 First Dublin/Belfast reviews, MES on Elastica album


THE FALL – 20 years and still an own opinion

(by Marcella van Hoof)

The Fall have existed for 20 years. The editors of Opscene decided this milestone should be celebrated and sent their most loyal Fall fan to Manchester for a meeting with Mark E. Smith. In a pub – where else? – she met with a remarkably good–humoured Smith. The main reason: the new album Levitate which is, like every new Fall-product, the best Fall-record ever. Smith:”I’m still impressed”.

The conversation starts like every conversation with Mark for the last couple of years: with an update of the latest changes in personnel. Who has been expelled from The Fall now?

“Simon left on his own accord”, Mark descibes the departure of drummer Simon Wolstencroft. After the sacking of guitarist Craig Scanlon this meant the loss of the second veteran in a short period.

“In the middle of a recording session for Levitate he just started to pack up his drumkit. He told me how I should sing. The fucking drummer! That sometimes happens to musicians. They will take themselves too seriously and want to write “real songs”. A drummer should play drums and nothing more. I’m sometimes ashamed of the behaviour of musicians. I don’t dislike musicians, but I don’t like them either."

The leaving of Wolstencroft brought the, eh, fourth comeback of Karl Burns. Mark has to laugh about this coming and going of veteran Burns.

“All those changes do keep the group fresh. That’s important. Actually I know enough young people (note: Mark is forty) who are ready to give their left arm to play in the Fall. They will do it for free. People ask me sometimes: why don’t you go solo, you can make a lot more money that way. But the Fall at their best has always been a unit, a platoon. You should be able to rely on the people behind you, otherwise you’re dead in the hypocritical music world.”

About the world of art he has something to say too. I told him about a striking art exhibition in Manchester, about Dutch working women in the 17th century which I visited. What clearly came out were the evident sexual obsessions of the men who wrote the inscriptions. With every painting the accompanying text and translations became ever more less accurate and hornier. The author would see sexual indications in almost every detail of the painting. Mark bursts out laughing.

“That’s typically British. Everyone here is sexually obsessed, even the papers and televison. We’re about 200 years behind the Netherlands. It looks sex has only been discovered here recently, ha ha ha. When I used to look at pictures of women my father always said: two glasses of water and a round through the backyard. You couldn’t talk about sex. That’s why it’s that more irritating that some bourgeois from a museum, who probably hasn’t slept with anybody in his life, should enlighten us about the “higher arts”.


Talking with Mark means also talking about football. Being a Manchester City supporter and a great admirer of individualists like George Best and Johan Cruyff. He despises the supercommercial policy of Manchester United.

“Every year complete families are going bankrupt because parents are forced to buy the new United-outfit for their kids”. Mark hasn’t been going to City for the last years because of the mandatory seating now. “At a football game you should stand. I just can’t sit down. I even heard a number of Man Utd supportes who were standing up during matches will lose their season tickets”.

Mark’s Kicker Conspiracy, the anti-football authority song from 1983, is more meaningful than ever. Besides the ever exciting music of the Fall that meaning has been one of the major points that still attracts me to the band. Whichever musical trend there has been, The Fall always go their own direction. The belief in his own abilities is great in Mark; he sees it as a big compliment when I say he reminds me of Johan Cruyff in a number of ways: always criticized, always under fire, always in the spotlights, always daring, always following his own feeling and always one step ahead of the rest. The world of music, nowadays more hyped up and commercialized than ever, needs this “Cruyff” just like football can’t do with the renewal of a “Mark E. Smith”. Both are an oracle. Speaking for myself, I consider The Fall the most important group of the last twenty five years.


But not everybody sees it that way. Typical for the situation nowadays was the reaction of a couple of record companies on Mark’s search for a new label, earlier this year.

Mark: “Our last contract expired in April. I thought it would be easy to find a new one. But all those fucking Britpop-labels don’t have any notion at all. A few asked to send them a tape. They would like to know how we sound like. Go figure, The Fall exists for twenty years and those creeps wanted to know how we sound like! And at the same time when all their bands, the Suedes, the Genes, come round begging to me to hear a new Fall tape! I don’t see that stupidity as an affront though. It has always been like that for The Fall. They are scared of us, and especially for me. Creation would have contracted The Fall as long as they wouldn’t have to deal with me, ha ha ha! And those are the so called rebellious, hot labels: they are afraid even to sit in the same room with me!”

“In some way it is a kind of compliment for The Fall. Groups like Oasis are precisely making the music they would expect from me: retro and safe. The Fall never wanted to live up to the expectancies of others. That has been keeping the group sharp for the last twenty years. The relationship with Artful, our new label, is good. They leave the Fall minding their own business. The only thing they said about Levitate, was that the vocals were audible!”

“With a lot of record companies it is not clear who and where somebody is responsible for. It can take months before a new record ever comes out. Which is extremely frustrating. You can find the same rigidity at banks. You have a business-manager, a commerical manager, all those fucking managers. They say O yes, The Fall … didn’t you play with the Sex Pistols? and send us to somebody else again. And these are all youngsters who ask me what the rate of the dollar is. They are too wretched to do their work properly”.


“I have been spending a lot of time to the business side ot the Fall recently. We got some tax problems. I am responsible for the group. That’s why I hate people with children, like my brother-in-law, who told me: “you don’t know what responsibility means, you have no children”. I fucking got a group of five, six people to support! With those children I have travelled five times through the States.”

But despite the financial worries The Fall is still going strong. “The most important thing for me is the fact The Fall can say whatever has to be said. With Levitate this succeeded well. I wasn’t too satisfied with the last album, The Light User’s Syndrome. It is a good record, but I wasn’t in full control. Levitate is raw and exciting”.

During an English tour last year you continually left the stage. Is that what you mean of not in full control ? Mark: “No, not at all. It is a dramatic effect. I wanted to pull the spotlights on the band, so that the audience will get to know them better. The Fall audience is getting younger. Most of them don’t know I have been active for twenty years now. But then the British press writes I am constantly drunk. Nonsense.”

"I’m still not understood completely, especially in England. But that is good because when one understands The Fall it is time to quit. A recent book of Michael Bracewell even contained a sociological essay on The Fall, which sometimes goes beyond me. In Germany and the Netherlands they take us more like we really are, like we appear. That pleases me more.”

On Levitate you worked again with the two producers of house-act D.O.S.E., with which you recorded Plug Myself In. Mark: "Well, in the middle of recording of a song, they quit. We got a row over money. Besides one of them thinks he really is Mark E. Smith. In the song The Fall sounds a bit like Nine Inch Nails. That's why I called the song 4 1/2 Inch."

Mark does find it important The Fall release a lot of records. “We’re a working band. Between Levitate and The Light User Syndrome there was more than one year. That’s way too long”. Fall fans don’t have to be bored though because besides an enormous stream of compilations (Mark: “Usually I know nothing about those”) The Fall is more than prominently featured on the Internet.

Mark: “I can’t cope with it, I need ten secretaries actually. Of course it is nice so many people are interested in the band but there is a reverse side to it too: I can’t reply to everybody as I would have spend the whole day behind the computer. I prefer writing letters too. On the Internet it takes hours before you can reply. I am really looking forward to the last day of 1999, 12 o’clock, when a lot of the computers on this world will jump from 1999 to 0000. They can’t cope with the change and go berserk. That will be the New Dark Age, ha ha ha. Really, I’m looking forward to it already.”

from Dutch bi-monthly music mag "Opscene no.62 (dec/jan 1997-1998), pp. 14-15

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