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the fall interview
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Mark E Smith on Peel and politics.One of Britain’s great institutions, Manchester’s The Fall will be 30 next year. Regrettably, that other great British institution, Fall aficionado John Peel, won’t be around to celebrate. All of which lends the release of The Fall’s Complete Peel Sessions an undeniable poignancy.
Fall leader Mark E Smith is unusually garrulous about the band’s 24 Maida Vale-recorded sessions. “The good thing was the tension”, he admits. “Get in and get out. The studio was great and the engineers were fantastic. I used to experiment a lot on the Peel things. I treated it as a glorified rehearsal.”
Despite their long association, Smith was wary of the eulogizing that followed Peel’s death. “I don’t think he would have liked me to get on that bandwagon. I tried to help when the coffin got stuck in bloody Peru though. It hasn’t really sunk in yet...”
Currently subject to a miscellaneous deluge of compilations and re-releases, The Fall remain defiant bastions of independence and contrariness. Smith has little time for contemporary music. “I think it’s getting particularly dire. What me and the wife do now is use that thing on the telly with the subtitles. Some of the lyrics, Jesus Christ! ‘I’m going up the hill, you’re going to leave me, I’m going to leave you, why did you leave me?...’. It gives me inspiration.” Smith’s tastes remain catholic. “I’ve been working with [German electronic duo] Mouse On Mars, so I’ve been giving that a good ear-whacking. But mostly it’s the same old thing: rockabilly, Charlie Feathers, Gene Vincent...”
Nor is Smith impressed by the current wave of neo-post-punk bands. “I don’t think they sound like The Fall, half of ‘em, but they use the name as a stepladder. If I had the time I’d get a lawyer, saying ‘Do not mention The Fall in interviews’. We’ve got a lot of young kids getting into The Fall now. If they’re interested in us and then listen to some of these groups it might put ‘em off.”
The Fall have a new studio album due later this summer, Smith says. “It’s good, better than the last one... quite danceable in a 60s garage band way.” And he has some General Election news to impart: “There’s a party round here called the Hasidic Orthodox Jews For Better Pavements in North Manchester. They get my vote!”
The Fall – The Complete Peel Sessions, 1978-2004, released 25 April 05 on Sanctuary.
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