... Issue 1
The Biggest Library Yet 11
Published: April 1998 SOLD OUT
The following letter appeared in a recent issue of Q magazine...
"In your recent article about film soundtracks and their respective albums (Q137),you dared to suggest that The Fall would be an unsuitable artist for inclusion in a film. As one of the many former members of this respected beat combo, I would like to take issue with you on this point. Anyone who saw the film Silence Of The Lambs will be familiar with the scene where Officer Starling confronts Buffalo Bill in his own home, playing in the background (presumably Bill's choice) is Hip Priest from the Hex Enduction Hour album featuring some sterling drumming. I even got my name on the credits. Unfortunately, the manager of the cinema was keen to lock up and throw me out before it appeared.
Hopefully the follow-up, if it ever gets made, will feature more PR inducing Fall tracks."
Paul Hanley, via e-mail
PS. It wasn't on the soundtrack either.
the THINK TANK
MARK E.SMITH interviewed in SELECT magazine, Christmas 97
Post-rock ,the Krautrock revival, Brett & Justine' s Reading tribute.. The Fall's über-grouch has had more than a passing influence on the pre-millennia agenda.
So - 20 years of The Fall...
I'd rather everybody left it out, actually. I just look at it like working all the time. Keep producing stuff - that's what art is supposed to be there for. I got this great postcard off this guy of somebody building a house, it said: 'Don't worry Mark, one thing the common people respect is continual work'.
You've never felt like packing it in, then?
For about ten minutes, y'know. Then you see something that makes you think, 'I can't let them get away with that.
... Like Oasis meeting Tony Blair/ doing Princess Di dedications?
I find that really sinister. I thought the whole idea of music was to rail against the system. They're so pleased with themselves- 'We're on top, we're in control'. I had this argument with a couple of ex-group members about the government. I was going, 'These are the bastards you voted for', and they say 'It's got to be better, you're just trying to be trendy'. I'm not, it's just the government's the fucking government, no matter who it is. You don't like them.
Come, come, sir - they say England's swinging.
They keep telling you it fucking is. 'Virgin trains are better than British Rail... it takes an hour longer, but it's better'. Gives me the creeps. And newscasters and magazines talk to people like they're bloody idiots. Saying everything's alright, great all the time - it's just like, very communist... Czechoslovakian.
Have you detected further evidence-of increasing totalitarianism?
I dozed off for about five minutes in a pub the other week, because I was fucking knackered, and when I woke up there's the barman and all these old fellers ganging up around me saying, 'Get out! No one falls asleep in this pub - he's in that group, I bet he's on drugs'. So I go, 'Alright, won't be a minute', and he says, 'you'd better get out cos the police are on their fucking way!'. To arrest a sleeping man, in a bloody pub!, then these three cops offered me a lift home. Fuck me. I hate that. It just gives me the willies.
What else do you go to pubs for then?
For a bit of peace. Get my drift? If you can't do that in a fucking vault... that's why you go, to get comatose and blank out where your wife can't see you. That's how I was brought up. It's jam-packed in that brassiere (sic) during the week when those media people should be fuckin' working, but cos it's Friday they've all gone home early. That's Britain for you, innit?
Do you rate the bold new British artists like Damien Hirst?
David what? Is he the bloke who does the cows? This review of us said, 'Imagine a thousand David Hirsts' and I'm thinking,'Who's he,is he a guitarist or something?' A fucking cow's head - you can go and see that in a butcher's, can't you? (deep draw). That's what's happened to art, that's the frightening thing, that people who look at it find it shocking because they've never seen anything. I don't wanna blow my own trumpet, but one thing I will always have is I go and have a look around. A fuckin' sheep in a cage! I've seen worse things in a pub on a Friday night.
Did you appreciate-the Suede/Justine Frischmann tribute song 'Implement Yeah!' at Reading Festival?
Oh yeah (takes brisk draw on B&H),So what?
You must have an opinion.
It's a good job you told me. (adopts tone of effortless scorn)' Thank's for 'Implement Yeah!', man. At Reading'. I could crack jokes about that'. Can you get the fucking implement, love, get the fucking mic-stand set up? Ha ha ha!
Asian Dub Foundation dig you too.
Yeah, they're good them. I was supposed to go on with them and do a guest spot the other week, but they weren't allowed to do it.
Why weren't you on 'Sacrilege', Can's remix LP?
I just thought, no way am I partaking in this fucking LP. Cos I knew Damo (Suzuki) wouldn't like it. I don't like the label. It is fucking sacrilege.
What do you think about the Krautrock revival?
Was there one? Well,I've always been into that stuff. In Berlin they wanted us to play a Christmas show with Faust. I don't really fancy it-all the German fans were saying it would be like playing with Gong or summat.
Gong are back too.
Aaaaaaaaagghh! Everything you thought you'd seen the back of.
Isn't The Fall's high turnover of members, 30-odd in 20 years, somewhat problematic?
I've always got a reserve force with The Fall. Anyone gets stroppy with me, I've always got subs. Everytime. I take no musicians for granted. I don't like musicians. They elevate themselves, which is detrimental to the name of The Fall. I don't hold auditions, and it's a nasty thing to say, but it's like a platoon sort of thing. If the first three get shot you have another three behind them.
Er, do you get on with the press?
Believe it or not I am actually quite pro-journo. It makes me laugh when people say they're hurt by what's written about them. People pretend I act a certain way, y'know,saying I dimped a cigarette out in this writer's face. But if I took everything written about me to heart I'd never get any fuckin' work done. I could get them for libel, but I can't be bothered.
Got any good reading in?
Me? (drums on table and beer bottles), just finished something about Raymond Chandler's life - fucking brilliant. I didn't know all the shit about him hanging around in Liverpool and his alcoholic phase. What else... 'Shoot The Women First' that's good. It's about women terrorists, Baader-Meinhoff, the PLO. I'm a bit starved actually. (shakes matchbox vigorously)
How did you come to play a jack-booted social worker in the BBC production of Gogol's 'Diary Of A Madman'?
It was Steve Evets. He used to be Adolf Chip-pan
years ago, the worst act in history, sort of a bad comedy poetry
thing. But he's a really good actor and he lives near me, so... I was
only in it for about a minute anyway. Everything I've been in I've
been a psychiatrist or a killer or a social worker.
Julian Cope on 'I Am Damo Suzuki'
The following is extracted from the 'Wire' magazine and first appeared in an article titled 'Invisible Jukebox'. Here Mike Barnes plays Julian Cope 'I Am Damo Suzuki', a song he's never previously heard, and invites comment...
JC. It sounds like The Fall doing some Kraut.
MB. That's exactly what it is.
JC. Oh I know what it is. Is it 'Oh Yeah'?
MB. Yes, but it's reworked as 'I Am Damo Suzuki'.
JC. I heard they had a song called that. So this is 'Oh Yeah', with Mark Smith copping the publishing. I'm going to do that with a Fall song and call it 'I Am Mark E.Smith'. That's quite clever, I like that. I wouldn't have done anything without punk, and Krautrock is so punky, it's got the kind of changes that only someone with a flagrant disregard... it sounds so much like everything else and when it changes it's ridiculous and ugly. That's the thing with The Fall, it's the same as everything else, and when it changes it's ridiculous and ugly.
MB. Did you ever do any music with Mark Smith?
JC. No. There was an unrecorded loose jam of me,
Ian McCulloch and Mark singing songs walking home from a gig one day.
In John the Postman's world that would be a legendary unrecorded
album. The difference between Mark Smith and me is for the last seven
years everything I say is exactly the same but there's lots of
different ways to say it. With him, I think he's always saying a
different thing but he's saying it in the same way. So really, we're
very, very different but there's a similarity in the sheer Sky
Saxon-ness of it.
Mark E Smith Remembers the 70's
Vox April 98
The late 70's are regarded by pop historians as the punk era, but at the same time it was very much the disco era. As someone vaguely affiliated to the punk era, did you have strong anti-disco feelings?
MES: I never had a problem with it. The Philly stuff you were getting around that time was just about the only stuff worth hearing anywhere. What makes me laugh nowadays is people I used to hang around with back then, who I distinctly remember hating Boney M, who thought you were an idiot for liking that stuff, now think it's cool, really chic.
Vox: So you were always against anti-dance snobbery?
MES: White Americans were the worst for that. They had no idea about disco. Same now. I remember when I was in Chicago going out with Chicago's "leading rock critic" and he was really interested in what was going on in Manchester, the whole Northern Soul thing and the house scene and telling me how it was all coming from Manchester. I said "No it's not, mate, it's coming from round the fucking corner!"
Vox: So did you used to strut your Travolta stuff on the dancefloors of Manchester?
MES: I never really went to any of the disco places in Manchester, I could never afford to. Places like Pips, they'd have four or five floors, a soul floor, a Roxy floor, a Bowie floor, and so on - and you had to have the right haircut. It's getting like that again in Manchester. They won't let you in if your hair's too long, or too short, or even if you're dressed too smart. I've had that recently!
Vox: Manchester and Wigan were the hotbeds of the Northern Soul scene which was thriving in the 70's. Were you into that?
MES: Not the clubs - that was a bit much - but the music, yeah. You forget though, how raw and horrible some of that Northern Soul was. It was heavier than punk. They've started having a Northern Soul night, like, at our local. The music's great, but everyone in there's about 40, still wearing the trousers and the tank tops. It's sad!
Vox: Saturday Night Fever, now there was a film...
MES: Saturday Night Fever was actually a really good film and very true. I used to know lads like that. It's a sad life really. Just live for the weekend. No drugs or anything. They were all in bed for one o'clock. A very depressing scene. Actually, think about it: who wants to bring them days back? The late 70's? It's like, you know what they're showing at the moment on telly? Re-runs of Blankety Blank! Everyone gets nostalgic, but the70's was a horrible decade really. Out of the pubs at 10.20 pm, you could never get anything to eat anywhere at any time... it's still like that in Manchester. You try to get a pint at midnight in Manchester, it's fucking hard work - it's as bad as 1974!
Vox: There was a dance element to The Fall at one point wasn't there?
MES: We did some remix crossover stuff later on, but we never thought of going dancey back in the 70's. We had a rockabilly drummer for a start. Anyway, there's nothing worse than white punk groups trying to play funk.
Vox: Burt Reynolds has enjoyed a revival after Boogie Nights. What does Burt mean to you?
MES: He does those glasses adverts now, but he was the biggest earning star in the world in the 70's. I remember when I was living in LA, everyone thought he was gay because he used to hang around Hollywood Boulevard. But with his career on a downturn, he just used to have nothing to do. He drove round in this old van y'know, jeans on, like my brother-in-law, or something. I used to walk everywhere in LA and you'd often see Burt Reynolds trundling around in his van. He'd always smile at you too. That was when the macho thing as a gay look started, through disco and the Village People, I suppose. My brother-in-law has that look. Family and kids and all that. I took him out for a drink once, as a joke, to Manchester's gay village. He didn't really realise. He says: They're very nice people around here aren't they, Mark? Terrible pint though. Can we go back to Salford? I'm starting to feel uncomfortable for some reason...
The FALL Live!
Sankey's Soap Thurs 13 Nov 97
Prior to this gig rumours abound after the widely and wildly reported Belfast debacle. Who's in, who's out, have they split, will they make this a farewell tour, will S. Hanley finally have had enough leaving the band's fragile existence beyond repair?
Only one way to find out, so it's off to Manchester we go. On arriving at the venue early to check details we spot Mark and Julia. She's in good spirits but he's the worse for wear under the dehabilitating strains of a particularly heavy strain of 'flu. A message on the venue's answering machine carried the story that 'We have Mark E. Smith's personal assurance that despite erroneous press reports, The Fall, in its entirety would definitely be playing the scheduled gig'.
Some hours later, despite the 'assurances', it's still a relief to see Hanley, Burns, Nagle and Crooks and amble their collective way onto the stage to a backdrop of dentist's drill of feedback and shrill racket from a computer in its death throes.
MES may well claim that The Fall's audience is getting a more youthful balance, but judging by tonight's turnout I'm not so sure. The last time I saw so many 40-somethings gathered together it was for a funeral. Perhaps a horde of long term Fall devotees had sensed there really was trouble in the offing this time and were there just for that reason?
Burns & Hanley kicked in with the solid rhythmic backbeat of He Pep! and Julia tentatively teased a tune from the keyboards. Then in crashed T. Crooks with a crescendo of off-key, raw and threatening chords, totally drowning out all the others. Whether MES received the requisite cheers for his delayed arrival is a mystery. Tommy's noise was engulfing all sounds, from the stage and the audience.
'Good Evening We Are The Fall' bellows Smith hoarsely, barely audible over the ensuing din. Karl Burns, back in The Fall's ranks with enthusiastic vengeance, is mounting a most determined and noisy rearguard action; a challenge to Crooks' aural supremacy. Smith in an oversized trenchcoat, belted tightly round the waist, probably sweating out his fever [he adapts the lyrics later in the set to 'l'm feeling numb from cold remedies'] stalks the stage with menace, barking for good measure, and now catching the band up in the volume war. 'Good Evening We ARE The Fall'... a clearly stated declaration of defiance and intent.
In hindsight, the potentially catastrophic events of the ill-fated Belfast gig, turned out to be a therapeutic launch pad. The tension is back, knife edge uneasiness has stamped out any traces of complacency. The Fall live can once again be viewed as a vision of beautiful chaos. This was The Fall in top form, all clattering around each other in a free-form frenzy, yet still gelling together as tight as fuck!
Those who came in trepidation, expecting the worst, could once again draw breath. The funeral was cancelled and The Fall were stubbornly dancing around the redundant grave. Rejuvenated, insatiable, raw and demanding your reverent awe.
The show must go on a despite his ailment Smith seems to be carried along on the wave of euphoria emanating from the stage ...'One, one, one! Can we have the vocals up please Neville?. Look what's happened when I've woke up suddenly!
'I'm a Mummy' (accompanied by audience screams at appropriate moments) sees the band de-constructing the Levitate LP cover version with an indecent, but highly comical relish. Amidst all this Crooks was still showing traces of being pissed off at MES and seemed to be ignoring him, although there is a school of thought that says this could purely be studied concentration by the relatively new guitarist, who's come on in leaps and bounds since his first couple of nervous appearances at MCR Rockworld.
A superb reading of Ol' Gang went on splendidly
into a 12" mix and 2CDs and two hotch-potch Receiver albums' worth of
overtime. At times even the chaos became too fragmented at the edges
and, in terms of musical prowess, this gig would have been strictly
third division in 'The League Of Fall Headed Men'. But in light of
recent events it reached very high on the scales of importance. For
their final encore, The Fall totally massacred Mere Pseud Mag Ed. A
concession to crowd pleasing, or gloriously kicking the past to
death? True to form, we'll probably never know.
NOTE: Issue 11 was edited by Rob Waite (though Graham still does the web version). Rob writes: 'This is a non-profit making, hopefully self-financing scheme, put together with total co-operation from Mark E. Smith and The Fall. We are not operating a fan club as such, but providing a new information service. So please don't send any mail for the band to my address to pass on to them. This new venture is totally unconnected with the old Cog Sinister fan club.'