... Issue 1
The Biggest Library Yet 15.1
April 1999 Not available in the shops
KPFA San Francisco, July 1981
Interviewer (after playing Totally Wired): Anyway, Mark has requested that we get into some more, what did you say, 'difficult' stuff?
MES: Yeah cos that's what the set's... well not 'difficult' stuff, that's what the set's made up of, it's not made up of all these snappy crackers like it's coming across on this show. So it better be changed straight away!
I/v: What about that one that you did, it sounded like you were in the back of a bar, on this album. What's the name of that song, how was that recorded...
MES: Which one?
I/v: Is the beginning of this one that goes... it's particularly, shall we say, low-fidelity.
MES: You could be talking about a number of tracks, I think.
I/v: There's one where you were mixed down to the point where it was very difficult to understand a single word, and then with your accent on top of that... I really wondered why you hadn't been nice and provided lyric sheets for us, have you ever thought about doing that?
MES: Maybe, yeah. I always regarded it as making it a bit too easy.
I/v: Oh. You don't want to make it easy for us?
MES: I'm a very secretive person. I've been thinking of doing a bit of a book maybe, but obviously nobody's gonna be able to get hold of it, so what's the point of that. I was think of doing excerpts - hexcerpts - I think are interesting you know.
I/v: Just the particular lines that you think strike home.
MES: Can be bothered writing out. A lot of it is just sheer laziness, I haven't got a lot of the stuff written down anyway.
I/v: Do you change them?
MES: In performance they get changed, yeah.
I/v: I know Genesis when they did their triumphant, final performance here in San Francisco, came up with a lot of interesting little comments during the song.
MES: Genesis who?
I/v: P. Orridge.
MES: Oh, I thought you meant Peter Gabriel.
I/v: Not that one. I had the...
MES: Ha ha ha. Did he really, how interesting.
I/v: That's the thing, So much for TG. What do you think of that whole angle? Cabaret Voltaire is the other main stalwart on Rough Trade, what do you think of that field?
MES: I like the Cabs, they're very down to earth people, surprisingly.
I/v: They are, I met 'em once.
MES: Yeah, I like 'em, I like what they do. They've very good live, they should do a proper live album. Live, they're an experience, while on record they're good but...
I/v: A little too clinical perhaps?
I/v: That's what comes from having your own studio. Do you have any recording stuff at home?
MES: We did some stuff in the Cabaret Voltaire studio before we came here. But I don't think we'll be using any of that.
I/v: With Mal producing?
MES: Yeah we'd all put a hand in, you know. We like to change it around, we used to use a studio in Rochdale a lot which was like a heavy metal studio, which Factory records started using as well.
I/v: So you kind of have to rub elbows with Iron Maiden.
MES: No no no, Rochdale bands in the north of England, they have these heavy metal bands, like Saracen's Hammer,things like this. Who play clubs, they play Black Night.
I/v: Do you ever get the band together, run down and play an unannounced gig?
MES: Yeah we are doing this here, we've got a matinee on Sunday.
I/v: That reminds me of this crumped piece of paper, it says: 'Under 18? Well there's a Sunday matinee the 12 July at the American Indian Centre.' And that's with The Fall, the Room and the Appliances. And ID is required to prove that you're under 18, so if you want justice at last... or as William Burroughs shrieks out like a wounded faggot 'for justice at least!' Do you remember that line? Are you a fan of Billy?
MES: Yeah I do like him, yeah. Did you hear made that terrible record that Throbbing Gristle brought out of him? Yeah, what a fucking... masturbating all over the art. Terrible.
I/v: I don't know what happened to those folks, have you ever sponsored any bands and helped them get started?
MES: Yeah, you've got to watch that or you end up being like the Clash, you know. It's a very condescending thing to do really, help a band. I get loads of tapes off bands but I immediately lose respect for them most of the time by them sending me a tape. I never fucking did it. I've been in this biz for four years and I never sent a tape through for a favour in my whole life!
I/v: Yeah, well you're one of the lucky ones. And here he is flaunting it. Mark is just about...
MES: Right, do you want me to announce it. This is a piece of pure prophecy, this is the North Will Rise Again, and it's for the lads at home.
I/v: You know, I never made the connection between the initials on the label and what you were actually singing, it's just one of those things that never really quite hits home. For the kind of people that aren't exactly fast like myself.
MES: It's supposed to be insidious you see.
I/v: Have you ever thought of yourself as a quick wit? A fast thinker. In practise do you guys have that kind of snappy rapport that most bands have, with the various flying insults. Or do you just get down to business?
MES: Yeah, I try and run it like a unit. I don't go in for this arseing around endlessly, rehearsing over and over again. I tend to feel different every time I go off stage or, if we ever do rehearse you know... very strange.
I/v: How often do you guys actually get together?
MES: To rehearse? Not a lot. We haven't rehearsed in months.
I/v: A little bit before you record and a little bit before you tour and that's it?
MES: We had to rehearse with the new drummer, we did a few weekends with him. Learning the numbers.
I/v: But the rest of the boys are tuned in to what they're supposed to do?
MES: I think the only place you can rehearse genuinely is on stage. That's one of the only resaons we play you know. Because no matter what anyone says, you can't get any work of great merit out of just staying a shed for years and not going outside. There's a lot of new bands in England coming up who think it's very vulgar to play live, it's a very bad thing. I mean, everybody knows playing live is a pain in the arse, but that's not the point. I've written more stuff on stage.
I/v: It's like playing golf by yourself.
MES: Right. Musicians, if they like it or not, they get off on people watching them. I don't particularly do that, but they do. And they play better, the drums and bass are just always better, and there's women in the audience and all that shit.
I/v: Oh, women. That factor.
MES: That's right, you've got to entertain us in a crack unit.
I/v: That's why you're having this under-18 gig then.
MES: No I'm just being honest and it sets off all dirty tracks in your mind.
I/v: Oh no, I was just kidding Mark, even though we know that's the reason. [Mentions gigs coming up.]
You'll be hard pressed to beat the Delta 5 record. Delta 5 did seven gigs in the Bay Area which was like the proverbial blood out of a turnip. We're going to listening now to a single that came out before Totally Wired, a thing called City Hobgoblins, one of my favourites. How did you come to write the lyrics for this one, seeing as how you don't live in the city much.
MES: Manchester's a city, let me get that straight. It's more of a city that a lot of places.
I/v: Are you in it or are you in the outlying areas?
MES: Yeah, I'm about ten minutes from it.
I/v: Just far enough away.
I/v: So what do you think... I guess you've been in America during the upheaval over there? Do you have a comment on that, or is it moot?
MES: I think it's pretty good. especialy where I'm from, Manchester, it's great. It should have happened a hundred years ago as far as I'm concerned.
I/v: It took a Maggie Thatcher to get everyone going.
MES: Yeah true, she's an antagonist, that's where she's good really. But people voted her in for their own greed, though, all looking at rewards. But you just can't do that, she's punishing people for what they are. Like when you've got to pay two dollars for a pack of cigarettes. And like the welfare is forty dollars a week.
I/v: You're doing a great Doppler effect with your microphone there.
MES: A what. Does it work?
I/v: No, do you know what a Doppler effect is, when you hear an airplane go over and the effect, the sound as it goes away. That's what that's called.
MES: Yeah, good. Well that's a useful tip.
I/v: You learn something every day. What are your plans for recording next time out? At your current clip, you should have something out in about another two weeks, right.
MES: We did some stuff out at the Cabs' place, but I doubt if we'll be using that.
I/v: But you're talking album here, or you're talking another single?
MES: I think an album could be a good thing. We've got a lot of good live cassettes from tour - of new material.
I/v: How do you like to record your shows live... do you get a mobile?
MES: Cassettes, I scrounge cassettes off people.
I/v: Oh really. You see someone bootlegging it and ask them for a copy?
MES: Yes, give them a guilt trip about it.
I/v: Shades of Little Feat there, you remember them. Remember Lowell George, used to mix their own bootlegs? They go, oh you're going to do a bootleg, let us come on down and mix it. Give us five per cent, we won't tell anybody. Anyway... uh oh, someone's at the door... oh it's my drunken friends. Oh boy, let's go to City Hobgoblins.
I/v: Mark, have you got anything to say for yourself?
MES: No. Thank you, goodnight.
I/v: Is there a question that you've been wanting someone to ask, no one's asked it yet?
MES: No, it's fine, it's fine.
I/v: What did you have for breakfast?
MES: Me? Binding omelettes from er... these places.
I/v: Binding omelettes?
MES: Yeah, with genuine colon binders.
Interviewer: This is KPFA and KPFB in Berkeley, and KPFC in Fresno. So, welcome to sunny California Mark.
I/v: So this is the second time The Fall's come to America and probably a little bit easier this time. Anything changed in the last year, like any different ideas you have about the country now that you've been here for a long time?
MES: It's a lot more receptive to us. Anything we say is taken a lot more seriously than it was the last time we came.
I/v: We're having a little technical problem, I can't get this mic to work here. Why don't you try this mic over here? See what happens.
MES: Is that better?
I/v: No, that's not any easier. Well, this is wonderful, so just yell when you talk... there's a couple of things I've always wanted to ask you. I read this interview a long time ago, you said something in an interview about how you thought there was no class system in the United States. I'd like you to talk about that a little bit, because that's something I find kinda unusual.
MES: I've been asked a lot about this in California.
Kay Carroll: Shout Mark!
MES: I've been asked a lot about that! Can you not hear it there, at all?
I/v: Why don't you come over here...
MES: It must have been having that cigarette before.
I/v: I tell you what... we'll play another record here.
[Prole Art Threat]
I/v: We're gonna try once again here. Mark, how the heck are you?
MES: I'm fine, I'm getting into the gain antithesis (?) to the San Franciscan...
I/v: Are you into the second wind of your tour?
MES: Yeah, we're in the second wind about three weeks back.
I/v: I understand reports were that in Palo Alto that people who saw you thought your drummer was one of the best they'd ever seen in their lives. That is your second drummer wasn't it?
MES: That drummer who played there was the original drummer off Live at the Witch Trials. The drummer we have now was too young to get out of Britain with a work permit. But I bumped into Karl, that's his name the drummer, and asked him if he fancied doing it and he said yeah. And it's worked really well.
I/v: How old is your nubile little teenager drummer? [Paul Hanley]
I/v: So he's got two more years to wait.
MES: In Britain you have to report to a police station. It's not hard to do, but we'd have to go there and tell the police station all our business.
I/v: So the heck with that.
MES: Yeah, but it's worked really good because Karl is a good drummer. He wasn't doing anything. And we've got a load of material together from the tour, it's good.
I/v: I suppose the other spin-off is Blue Orchids. What do you think of that direction your ex-partner has taken?
MES: I don't like all this sort of new psychedelic mush, I don't go for it. But Martin's a good guitarist.
I/v: It's like you really want to like the Blue Orchids but somehow you can't quite do it.
MES: People who are into The Fall think that, it's weird isn't it.
I/v: So anyway, let's get into something from the first record Mark has got out in America, and let's hope it's not the last.
[Fit and Working Again]
Marc Riley on Richard Skinner's Saturday Live
Richard Skinner: You're another person who's released a BBC session on a single, because that was originally for Peel,wasn't it?
Marc Riley: Yeah, we'll do anything to get played on the radio.
RS: You first came to my notice as a member of The Fall a few years back, and I'm wondering how now looking back at that period important that patch of being in The Fall was to you.
MR: Well it was obviously very important but now I look on it as a sort of apprenticeship, you know, because you're always behind Mark. Whereas with what I'm doing now I've got to make the decisions myself.
RS: That's true, because it's very much the Mark Smith show isn't it, when it comes down to it?
MR: On appearances it is, it's not really underneath but that's how the media treats it as such, so everybody believes it.
RS: Why is there such a big turnover of people in The Fall? It's unbelieveable, he's the only one left isn't he, of the original line-up?
MR: Well surely that speaks for itself. I don't want any libellous comments...
RS: Are you still in touch with Mark Smith at all? Do you meet him?
MR: No. Well if we're in the same club he sort of walks on the balcony above me and comes down the other side.
RS: Is there any influence then from that period in The Fall in what you're doing today?
MR: Oh yeah very much so. Mark's attitude was something that was indoctrinated in the band and has been a really healthy one. His ideas for the first five years of The Fall were what I intend to carry on. I'm not sure The Fall are carrying on in the same way but that's what I intend to do so.
RS: Well we observed on this show that the singles sound much more commercial nowadays.
RS: But in fact as they demonstrated live, they're still very uncompromising in terms of live performance.
RS: So the attitude more than the music is the thing that comes through from those days.
MR: I would say so, yeah. The thing that people seem to forget when they say that the Creepers sound like The Fall is that I wrote the music for The Fall for maybe four years so I took my little piece of The Fall with me. But people say 'ooh you sound like The Fall', well The Fall was as much me as the rest of the band.
RS: You sound less like The Fall as time goes on, to be honest. What we just heard there was a big change. Are you aware of the direction in which you're moving the music?
MR: I think it's just a case of progressing, you know. It's not like maturing but I'm finding my feet now. I did Favourite Sister, the first single, I did that completely like a poppy single to get away from The Fall. But then went straight back into the arrogant stuff after that to confuse people.
RS: Favourite Sister did very well in terms of putting your name on the map, because it seemed to be played and played and played on the radio.
MR: It was played and played and played but it wasn't bought and bought and bought!
RS: People didn't buy it. I think it's a good record. I do like this one as well. It does seem to me that sense of humour is very important part in what you do.
MR: Basically Snipe is a list if things I like because I don't find writing about things I do like very pleasing and satisfactory. I write about things that annoy me. And people used to say it's very tunnel vision, so I got a list of everything I liked and put it into this song. But at the end I say 'But still I gripe'.
City to City, Radio One 1986
Interviewer: One of the city's most enduring outfits has been The Fall, formed by Mark E. Smith back in 1977. Now Mark, The Fall's always released records on independent labels like Rough Trade and Beggars Banquet. What's made you want to stick with the indies?
MES: It's not because of any idealism, we are an independent band, we're not an independent label band. We didn't want anybody dictating. In those days if you got signed people told what producer you had and stuff like this, whereas the independent records of those days were getting away from that.
I/v: How come you never got involved with Factory Records then?
MES: Factory.... I always wanted to keep it very separate from Factory because I think we're a different sound. In those days we used to feel that Factory were very uniform. You know, I like what Factory have done now, I think the Hacienda is a good idea. But I always insist, especially nowadays with all this rosy nostalgia, that we didn't actually ask for anything off them and I made quite sure that we were from the other side of town. We were more Salfordian, whereas they're more like south Manchester. Not that that's bad or anything, I just think we were different.
I/v: Now Manchester the place and the people... you say you're a Salfordian, what's the difference between Manchester and Salford then, or is there any?
MES: Well I don't know, if you want to be finicky about it. It sort of is different. Salford people are... call a spade a spade, as me dad said to me yesterday. But there's a lot of pseudo-Salfordians now. All the bands claim to come from Salford, which I find outrageous because none of them did.
I/v: Not even the Salford Jets?
MES: Ha ha, I'm talking about bands, groups.
I/v: What about the place though, Greater Manchester; the place, the people. What are they like?
MES: I think it's great. What I like about it is - it's a city. People forget this, it's not like the dear capital of this country, which is really like a conurbation of villages. And it's not a new town, it's a city, and it's an old city. I like the architecture, stuff like that, really.
BRT Belgium Radio interview, 4.2.87
Interviewer: If you look back to it [the play Hey Luciani], what do you feel, was it worth it?
MES: Yes, it was definitely worth it, for the experience.
I/v: The play was based on the song...
MES: Yeah, it went off on tangents a lot. I had a lot of things going on in the play. People thought it was about the Pope, that was the problem. It wasn't really about the Pope at all.
I/v: It was received well but [there was[ misunderstanding, all that anti-Catholic stuff.
MES: People got it all wrong, yeah. It was because we didn't send any press releases out. But the audience enjoyed it - old people liked it, and young people liked it, which I was very flattered with. And it was full most nights. It was good for me 'cause I got working with people from other things. The British theatre's almost like another social scene, it's like going back to school.
I/v: So, you picked some identities from the book and gave them new identities for the play. It had nothing to do with the church in itself.
MES: They were the historical characters from 1978.
I/v: It started from a play. Didn't you plan a film or video for later release?
MES: No, it was one of those things where I felt I had to do it and I went ahead with it. I had a lot of opposition from all camps. But it was well worth it. For a start, it made me value playing live concerts more. To go out there and just play what you want...
I/v: You're not planning a career as a writer?
MES: I'm too good. Ha ha!
I/v: It was a moment out of the life of yourself and The Fall, as I see it. It was also a denunciation of trash culture. That's what people tell me who saw it.
MES: Well... really. I did want it to be funny though, it was a humourous thing. A lot of the critics didn't see the humour in it. The audiences did. It's very entertaining, even my mother and father liked it, and they don't even like The Fall.
I/v: Now back to the band. It would be nice to see The Fall reach a larger audience while keeping its own identity.
MES: Yeah, I don't think it's any problem. This is the year we going to do it. The Fall has always expanded its audience anyway, the audience gets bigger every year and we sell more records. It's not a major consideration to become commercial. But I think it's more interesting than being your normal British art-school group who play to students and they're big for two or three years and then that's it. That doesn't interest me at all.
I/v: And many bands get lost or split when they can't handle popularity. How would you intercept popularity as a hit-making band?
MES: We can handle it pretty well. We're quite popular now in Britain, I don't find it any problem. People tend to leave me alone, I think they're a bit frightened of me which is a good thing. My wife Brix is quite a star in her own right.
I/v: If I hear it well, you like to keep distance?
MES: Yeah. Because it affects your work if you're gonna be chased around like Boy George all the time. I think it can really be a bad thing.
I/v: Would be nice if The Fall was available to anyone on its own conditions.
MES: We have a lot of troubles with record labels and things like that.
I/v: One final question. How do you select the songs for a gig like tonight. Old ones, combined to new tunes that people don't know...
MES: Yeah, it's a bit hard to pick 12 songs. But tonight I'm just going to go out for the most exciting ones. I think we'll even do Fiery Jack tonight, which is really old.
Skin and Bone tapezine
Interviewer: As far as I can see The Fall have had quite a big influence on certainly, the music that I'm interested in recent years. Do you think that what you're doing now is still one step ahead, that you'll be able to look back in a few years and say yeah we influenced what's happening now?
Brix: I don't think it's one step ahead necessarily, I think the music is still completely unique and really original. And it has a sound like nobody else's and I'm sure you could say that this song is structured like a rockabilly song, but you don't. It comes across as like, its own. The Fall have always been leaders and not followers, not so much years ahead, just leaders that's all.
I/v: When I first saw that Gavin Friday was on the new album, it initially struck me as being a bit strange. How did that come about and do you have any plans for doing anything with him in the future?
B: Well Mark played me this record called Sandpaper Lullaby by the Virgin Prunes. And I'd never heard them, but I'd heard of them. And I thought it was the most beautiful song I'd ever heard practically, and it made me cry. I've never been moved like that by music, very rarely like that. And I thought that Gavin's voice - the texture of it and the tone of it - would sound really good with Mark's voice. And I said to Mark, do you think this would be a good idea, and he said it's very interesting. So I wrote Gavin a letter and said would you be interested, and he said yes. Cause they were friends, you see.
I/v: Has anybody got any ideas of doing any music or other projects outside of the context of The Fall?
B: Beggars asked me to do a solo single, but whether or not I don't know. But I don't want to do it without The Fall, I want to use all the rest of them on it. [Steve & Craig mutter in background.]
The thing about doing other projects is that within The Fall is so much room to create in your own way. Like if Craig wanted to sing or if I wanted to sing a song, we could. I mean, we could contribute more than we do maybe. So it's not like a burning desire to get away from it. And also, the one good thing that we are doing is that Michael Clark, the choreographer, is using four tracks from the new album for the Paris Ballet Company owned by Rudolf Nureyev and premiering December 10 in Paris. So the Paris Ballet Company is dancing to The Fall which is a complete freak-out to me, cause you don't know how snotty those people are.
I/v: Did you take it as a compliment when Michael Clark asked you if he could use The Fall's music?
B: Yes, well we didn't know...
Anon (other band members, not Mark, are present): Having seen the ballet in London, trying to get a word in edgeways...
B: Sorry, I don't know why I'm so wound up.
Anon: When we went to see the ballet, it was great wasn't it. The idea of ballet doesn't appeal to me at all. But you just saw all the humour in the band. He was dressed up as Hitler, as a woman, and it was really good. It's like Mark was saying, he's like The Fall of the ballet world. He kind of shocks the ballet world, so combining the two, you're reaching this audience of er... well, a stuffy audience. But I think we're influencing them.
I/v: What sort of people were there then?
Anon: There were people ranging from about 18 years old and we even saw some people of about 50 didn't we?
(Drunken imitation of old farts at ballet.)
D'you know what I mean, like real old fuddy-duddies who like, know everything about the art world. People who'd never heard of us before. So it was like fucking great to see that.
B: They'd go 'Michael daaarling'. I mean, really, we didn't really think people talked like that. 'Michael daaarling. Get mummy a big gin and tonic.' And we didn't really know what to expect when we heard about it. When they saw it, I think everybody was really impressed. It was really good. So good.
It added a new dimension to the music, that you'd never saw before, even playing it recording it knowing it.
Other band members waffle on in background, sounding very drunk and offering the occasional belch. One of them says (about M. Clark): 'He's got a great fuckin' arse though.' 'Oh god,' says Brix, despairingly.
I/v: Do you ever feel as though people take The
Fall too seriously?
C or S: Yeah, that was the good thing about that ballet, cause Michael Clark could see the humour in it. Yeah we do, mainly because we're playing the student halls they tend to analyse things.
I/v: Has Mark got a great big pile of lyrics that he brings along?
B: He's got... I'm telling you. We have this closet in our house and it has a box that's four feet deep with papers. And he just keeps writing and sometimes he takes the papers out and picks linmes from them and puts it together. Cut-up technique, yeah. Not so much anymore. And sometimes he writes it straight.
I/v: Somebody once said, about free festivals, that The Fall were working lads and had to be paid for the work they did. Is there anything you'd be prepared to lose money for?
B: They wanted us to do a miners benefits but we wouldn't do it in London because everyone does it in London, we wanted to do it in Yorkshire where they needed it and where the miners could come you know. But no one would put it on anywhere north so we said forget it.
I/v: Do you listen to your own stuff much at all? Do you sit and home and listen to The Fall album or what?
B: We don't listen to anything, we don't even have a record player.
I/v: Do you have any preference between fanzine
interviews and established music press interviews?
B: I like fanzine much better.
B: Because the people are much more on our level and are not out to slice us up. I find particularly with me they... well the NME, this is what just happened, they look for your weak spot and they attack and they get you over a barbed wire fence and it's really hard, I don't know, they're really nasty I think. Luckily, they haven't said anything too bad yet. Mark can deal with it really well because he's been through it for years. But for me I personally prefer fanzines. And I think fanzines are really important and I think dying out.
Obviously no one likes to hear the bad things. Criticism, yes, but like... slamming, no. People taking out their own anger or their own feelings on something that you've done that's really irrelevant to what you've done, do you know what I mean, is not really...
I/v: How do you find Manchester in comparison to
Chicago? Is it Chicago you come from?
B: I'm from LA but I lived in Chicago for a while. I like Manchester and I like where we live, it's nice and quiet and the people are very friendly and warm, and I miss America a lot and I go there once a year to visit my family to get a dose of it and then I come back here.
I/v: Are you into English pubs and beer, that sort of culture?
B: I don't drink, and I don't like pubs at all, and I don't go. Mark goes without me.
Radio One, phone i/v with Liz Kershaw - Kurious Oranj
Liz Kershaw: Hiya Mark, who have you been working with?
MES: Hiya Liz. When?
LK: With some dance company I hear.
MES: Michael Clark and company, yeah.
LK: How did you get involved in that?
MES: Mike's been using our music for about three years in his shows. Just tapes though in the past. So this was the first time we could do it live, which is what we originally intended to do.
LK: Were you flattered, were you a fan of his?
MES: No, he's a fan of ours, from when he was a teenager.
LK: So what's the performance all about - did you have to write the music specially for it?
MES: Yeah, we wrote about three-quarters of it especially.
LK: And how do you go about doing that for a dance show?
MES: We were working abroad a lot so... it was a good way actually, every time we wrote anything we'd send him a cassette through the mail.
LK: So he choreographed it for your music rather than the other way round.
MES: That's right, yeah.
LK: Well it's called I'm a curious orange, so what happens?
MES: When Michael came to me with the thing, we were talking about it and I said how have we got the budget to do this, and he said we've got a lot of the money from Holland. And I said why, and he said it was the 300 year celebration of William of Orange going to Britain.
LK: Oh, that kind of orange.
LK: Nothing to do with fruit and veg.
MES: So we thought we'd have a bit of fun with it. There's an old porn film called I am Curious Yellow which is where we got the title from. So we wrote the sings and mailed them to him. The first half of it is loosely based around the life of William and reactions to it and stuff.
LK: But how do you actually express that in a dance?
MES: Well I don't know, I'm not the choreographer.
LK: But you've seen it, cause you're on stage during the performance.
MES: Obviously, yeah.
LK: And he dances around you.
LK: So he really tells a story with his dancing then?
MES: No, he's just a brilliant dancer, that's all.
LK: So you first performed it in Amsterdam - did it go down well?
MES: It went down great, yeah. We just finished a week in Edinburgh.
LK: That's at the Edinburgh festival, and was it well-received there?
MES: Yeah, it was good to do them two places first because with the English education system, no one's told anything about anything. But in Holland it's quite an important subject, and in Scotland it's quite a thing that everybody knows about. So it's a good trial for it.
LK: Isn't it all a bit poncy and arty-farty?
MES: Not particularly, no. Michael's a pretty excellent dancer. I mean, I know nothing about ballet. Anybody can tell you that.
LK: What kind of audiences do you get, do you get Fall fans coming just for the music?
MES: It's very interesting, yeah. In Edinburgh it changed every night, sometimes you get the blue rinse people with their handbags on their laps, and sometimes you get the dicky-bow people with fingers in their ears when the music comes on. And there's a lot of Fall fans, too. I think it's good, everybody seems to enjoy it.
LK: Is it a lucrative business then?
MES: No, I don't think so.
LK: But are you getting paid for it?
MES: Oh aye, yeah we are.
LK: So what do you get out of it then?
MES: How d'you mean?
LK: What kind of satisfaction do you get out of it?
MES: It just stimulates me. And also I like to do things a bit different, rather than just do the tour-LP schedule. Like the first half of this year, we were touring a lot, so it's really nice and refreshing to do something like this on a massive stage, us be in the corner and just concentrate on whacking out the music.
LK: Are you a bit of dancer yourslf?
MES: I used to be, yeah. I'm thinking of er... I don't want to show anyone up. I'd better keep still.
LK: Now, it's rumoured that you're doing a cover of Jerusalem.
MES: That starts the show off.
LK: You've actually done it. So how do you do that, 'cause it was our school song, do you give it a totally different interpretation?
MES: It was your school song... well, I think it was everyone's school song. We approach it like the Velvet Underground would. There's a nice joke section in the middle of it as well.
LK: So are you going to release Jerusalem as a record?
MES: Most probably yeah.
MES in Munich 14.2.89
German interviewer speaks to Mark in alternating German and English.
Interviewer: Mark, come on over here, you can get your beer later. This ballet that you did, when did you start working on it?
MES: When did I start working on it? Last spring.
I/v: Last spring you started?
MES: Yeah, last time I saw you.
I/v: You actually performed live on the stage with the ballet. We only saw one dancer tonight but it was a whole crew, right?
I/v: What's the matter with you? [Speaks in German] The dance group split you told me.
I/v: The dance group, the ballet group...
MES: You'll have to ask the dance group. [Speaks loudly and clearly as if to imbecile]. You'll have to ask the dance group about that!
I/v: All right. Other projects of The Fall...
MES: No, but we did a tour before Christmas with just one dancer. We find that's better.
I/v: This one?
MES: Yes, Ellen van Schuylenburch.
I/v: And how did the people react on the thing with the ballet. You did it in Amsterdam I think.
MES: It's of no importance how they react.
I/v: Not at all.
I/v: No, okay. [Speaks in German] Do you have any other problems like that?
MES: No, no problems whatsoever.
I/v: Projects, projects, sorry not problems.
MES: You are the man with the problems.
I/v: I'm the man with the problems, okay. You're the man with the projects. Which?
MES: Mind your own business, they're all secrets.
MES: Yeah, we The Fall, and we are the the best. So.
I/v: You are The Fall and The Fall are the best. What do you think about Philip Boa?
MES: I think he's okay.
I/v: Want to go see him? Right now?
MES: Er... well, he's very popular in Manchester.
I/v: Shall we go over and see him, do you wanna walk with me?
MES: Yeah, let's go over Christian, like we really are going over there.
I/v: [Introduces Philip Boa]
MES: Hi, Philip, you all right?
Key 103 interview with Terry Christian, 18.5.89
Brix: Hello Terry.
Terry Christian: Hey, very nice! You're turning on the charm now, you've just been telling me off a minute ago. Now, the Adult Net, you formed them back in 1985, you've had more line-up changes in them than an alien firing squad haven't they?
B: Kind of, I guess I'm the central figure of it and it's really who I choose to work with and who wants to work with me. I don't want to work with people that aren't happy doing what I'm doing.
TC: You tried to keep it a big secret, didn't you, who was in the original Adult Net.
B: At first I did, the very first few records.
TC: Why was that?
B: Just for the mystery of it.
TC: I think most of the records were a mystery to people Brix, because not everybody got hold of them did they?
B: No, they were quite difficult to get hold of the early ones, yeah.
TC: You did have Ian Broudie, who produced the Icicle Works and used to be in Big in Japan with Holly Johnson, in the band, didn't you?
B: At one point, yes he was, very good research you've done. He sort of produced Waking up in the Sun which was the fourth single and he played on it a bit. And we did an album for Beggars Banquet called Spin This Web which I never let out of the cage.
TC: Why was that?
B: I was never really happy with it because unfortunately I never got the money I needed to do it properly and I had to use drum machines and synths and things instead of hiring a proper band, and using machines wasn't conducive to the music that I was doing.
TC: I would have thought, don't get me wrong now, if I was a record company boss, that if you went into the studio and spent about £50,000 of my money and then said...
B: I didn't, I spent much less than £50,000 first of all, and second of all the man wasn't unhappy because two of the tracks got used for a TV movie in America which went out to 40 million people, so it wasn't so bad.
TC: What was that, are those the TV movies where you watch the first five minutes and you can make up the rest of it?
B: Mmm, kind of. It was a bit better than that. It was sort of a soppy subject, it was about teenage pregnancy, and this teenage girl who was played by Rosanna Arquette's little sister who got pregnant in high school and her boyfriend and her got married and had the baby and like it was life in the high school with the baby.
TC: It wasn't a cover version of that Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper one, Debbie Gibson's just given birth to my two-headed love child.
B: No, it wasn't that. They used Waking up in the Sun and Spin This Web.
TC: Your compositions of course. So how much money did you get for that Brix, I'm not being nosey.
B: I'm not saying.
TC: Listen, this is a girl who looks like she's worth a few bob.
TC: You actually do come from quite a rich background in the States.
B: I wouldn't say rich. You know, my mother worked for everything that she has, she was very poor as a child and she just worked her way up, she's sort of a self-made woman. So I was taught to work.
TC: Did you have a swimming pool in your house?
B: Yes! At my father's house, I admit, I did have a swimming pool, yes.
TC: That is rich, isn't it?
B: I suppose it is, yes. But, for LA standards it's quite normal because it's baking hot there so most, even small houses even apartment buildings have them.
TC: When you first came to Manchester, did you think it was like the third world?
B: No, I did not. I loved Manchester from the beginning. In fact, yesterday was my anniversary of my coming to Manchester six years ago.
TC: What, you can remember it to the day?
TC: That bad was it?
B: No, it wasn't Terry, don't put words into my mouth.
TC: Did you need subtitles when people talked to you?
B: At first. Glasgow was the place that really threw me, for language.
TC: Do you not find many Mancunians in Los Angeles, and where is it you live, Chicago?
B: No, not too many. Usually, by the time they've lived in America for a couple of years, their accents have soften a bit, and they jurt sound slighly British.
TC: I must admit all my years of working for the BBC made me sound quite posh.
TC: My accent disappeared without a trace really. Some people might think.
TC: Tell us whatever happened to Ian Broudie, why did he disappear off the scene?
B: He hasn't disappeared, he'd doing production work for other bands, I think a Belgian band. And he did Hey! Luciani for The Fall, remember that single. And he actually co-produced the last Fall album, I am Kurious, Oranj. Because we did that up in Edinburgh with the ballet and we had a mobile recording unit there and Ian Broudie was at the helm of that, and he's doing loads of things now, I just don't know what cause producers they go underground when they're making records and you don't hear of them for a year and a half later when the record come out. But I know he just got married to his girlfriend, long time girlfriend Becky. If they're listening in Liverpool, hello.
TC: Whereabouts in America do you think Manchester is like?
TC: Why do you say that, there's nothing in Chicago.
B: There's loads, it's like... it's got loads of beautiful buildings and there's a sort of kinship I think with Chicagoans and Mancunians are quite similar in disposition.
TC: What you mean everybody in Chicago is of Irish descent or black?
B: No but there are a lot of Irish and black people, and Irish black people. But that's not what I meant, nothing ethnic, just a state of mind. Maybe that's why I felt so comfortable when I first moved here because it was a similar pace of life.
TC: You mean like a cultural vacuum?
B: Why do you keep knocking it Terry, obviously I've stayed here for six years.
TC: No, this is my home town. Only people from their home town can be allowed to not like it sometimes.
B: Hey you know, hit the north, you know.
TC: Yeah, exactly. As long as I don't have to go and live in Prestwich, which is where you were living for a time.
TC: Before I play this I'll go back and talk to you again about it, because your second single you released with the Adult Net - Edie - about Edie Sedgwick who was the original bimbo in a way. And, I think the Cult, their next single is going to be about Edie, as well.
B: Is it? They're such copycats. And Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians have a song called little Miss S which is about her as well. It's quite a hip thing to write about do now, thank God I did it five years ahead of everyone else.
TC: Why were you so impressed with Edie Sedgwick? I was quite lucky to talk to Nat Finkelstein who was a photographer for Andy Warhol and all that kind of... not art deco, but whatever they had in New York in the sixties...
B: Pop art consciousness.
TC: I could certainly do with a bit more consciousness, look at it that way. And he seems to reckon that she was a complete and utter airhead and he'd never met anyone so shallow and insipid in his life. He said it was quite sad.
B: Well, that is sad, but I think visually speaking she looked fantastic and she had a wonderful sense of style and she lived her life on the edge. When I wrote the song I was 17 and that seemed so exciting, you know, but she did take a lot of drugs and she was constantly tripping and doing all sort of wild things burnt herself out vvery quickly. She also had anorexia, she was the first of the really thin Twiggy type people, and she was just an American tragedy and it was quite a sad story. In the end she burnt herself out and had a heart attack in her sleep at the age of 26.
TC: And that made you want to write a song?
B: Yeah, and I also went to school with her cousin, Rob Sedgwick, who was my suite-mate at college.
TC: What's that?
B: A suite is like a hallway with three bedrooms and a communal bathroom and me and my friend and room-mate had one and Rob Sedgwick had another and another guy who was also an actor had another. So we shared the suite with them. And we used to torment Rob 'cause we'd play our guitars really late at night singing songs about Edie and screaming at the top of our lungs and one night Rob kicked down the door to our room and he was standing in nothing but jockey shorts and he was screaming. He wanted to wring our little blonde necks. But we didn't mind because he was like an Adonis god.
TC: Was he hung like a donkey?
B: Well, I didn't really look at that area. I'm talking like blond hair and tan and biceps.
TC: I meant did he have big ears?
B: Oh well I didn't look at that either.
TC: I was asking you something interesting wasn't I?
B: What was it about?
TC: I don't know, it can't have been that interesting can it. I mean... Phonogram signed you up and they're obviously putting the wheels of industry behind you with everything that they've got. And you've got Clem Burke in the band who used to be in Blondie, Craig Gannon used played with the Smiths, Aztec Camera, the Bluebells and the Funboy Three. Who's the other guy...
B: James Eller...
TC: Who's played with The The and also Johnny Marr. And I mean they're all like in-house people aren't they, all under the Polygram umbrella, all signed to ...
B: No, none of them are.
TC: Oh. I thought maybe they were building a supergroup on the cheap.
B: No, they're not cheap either. They basically do their own thing, they do bits of sessions but they're very picky about what they do. We just enjoyed working together so much that they're going to still continue to work with me when the time comes to play live.
TC: So why are you doing so much promotion now if the album's not going to be out till September?
B: I think the singles need promotion and I don't think many people know about Adult Net and about me and I think it's important to get my point across.
TC: The stuff that the Adult Net are doing at the moment - particularly the new single, Where Were You - is very much kind of daytime radio material and people think oh yeah, Brix Smith, we'll be getting you in and you'll end up talking about The Fall all night.
B: Yeah I suppose it is different but the music comes from same place. I love music, all kinds of music, and it comes from my heart and soul. And I think when people hear the album they'll hear a bit of The Fall in it as well.
TC: Will you be going over to the States with the Adult Net?
B: Yeah, the American record company Polygram is really keen on it, they're showing a lot of support which is great. Being in The Fall we've had quite a difficult time in the States. The Fall is quite a big cult band but we've never had chart success there and our records aren't distributed properly even though we're sort of on RCA.
TC: You're with Polygram in the States, and not RC. Aren't RCA kicking up about that?
B: Well The Fall was on RCA and now The Fall have also signed in December to Phonogram as well as me, so now I'd guess they'd be on Polygram as well.
TC: So you're all under the same in-house umbrella?
B: We are actually under that umbrella.
TC: The same expense account.
B: Well, no.
TC: Have you got a bigger expense account?
B: No, probably less because I'm one person.
TC: That's sad isn't it.
B: No, not really. I'm not the kind of person that's motivated by money, I'm motivated by music.
TC: That's because you were brought up with a swimming pool in your back garden.
B: Terry, let's not stir it, please. I'll have you know that the advance that Phonogram gave me for signing, I took that money and I went back to Beggars Banquet and I bought back all of the tapes that I made there so I had have control of the music that I had written and recorded and I actually have no advance, and I have no money, so I'll just have you know that fact.
TC: Is that so you can get the greatest hits album out a year next Christmas?
B: No, no.
TC: I'm just being dead cynical. Horrible. A horrible worm of a human being.
B: I've had no hits yet, so I think Christmas is bit too soon for that.
TC: It never stops people though. The Best Of, isn't it, when they don't have any hits.
B: Yeah maybe, but I like to think of myself as a person with taste.
TC: What about the record company because they've got somebody like yourself, you're blonde you're nice looking, they could shove you... they could think we'll give her any old rubbish to sing, she'll look good in the video, she'll do well on TV and she can interview well so she's going to have hits anyway. Are you frightened that they might try to steer you in that direction?
B: As a matter of fact there's absolutely none of it. I have the kind of contract where I'm in control of everything down to the lettering on the sleeve and I make sure that I'm involved in every aspect of my career. I was lucky because they heard my demo tapes and they saw the one single gig that I did, and they liked me for me, and they liked my music for what it was. When I was done with the album I was shaking, I was so scared they were goint to say 'Remix, remix with so-and-so' you know, with Stock Aitken and Waterman. They never did, they're completely supportive and I'm really grateful to them, they've been really good to me.
TC: Do you think that, if they do show a bit of confidence and a bit of faith in you it gives you more confidence to make the next album even more of your own kind of stuff?
B: It helps you know, but basically that kind of confidence is within me anyway. That's why I'm doing what I'm doing, you have to believe in yourself and want to do it bad enough. And no one can put that in you, it must come from within and it does. But it's great to have support.
TC: It sounds like the Donahue programme now, doesn't it. Now, I've never listened to this, Over the River, you told me that it was just something else.
B: Yeah I really like this song. I wanted it to be on the album, I did about 14 tracks and it was hard to pick which 10 were going to go on and and which were going to stay off. And I decided that Over the River was going to be a CD track and not an album track, and now I'm kicking myself because I like it so much I wish it was on the album. But, too bad.
[Plays Over the River]
TC: Is that one for the yuppies then, if it's only on CD?
B: Is it only yuppies that have CD players? I got my CD player for Christmas. Took me ages to get one. I'm not a yuppie Terry.
TC: Well actually you're already there, you don't need to be upwardly mobile do you?
TC: Well it's been very interesting having you on Brix... Where Were You is out on Monday, that's going to be your new single. I reckon it'll go Top 40. Will it change your life than, you know you won't come and talk to us anymore once you've been on Top of the Pops again?
B: I've never been on Top of the Pops in the first place...
TC: Did you not go on with The Fall?
B: No, The Fall were never asked, I mean this is one of the biggest crises in the history of the band. I mean, two Top 40 hits and never asked. Even when we were the highest new entry, we were sure we were going to go on this week. Me and Marcia were going 'What will we wear, what will we wear?' It was like, failure, we didn't get on.
TC: I think that is great actually.
Next page: Lard's tour diaries | Alan Parker 'Urban Warrior' interviews MES
This is a follow-up to issue 6 which featured a number of Fall interview transcripts. The whole thing is at TBLY 6: Radio Interviews pt 1 and pt 2.