paranoia man in cheap shit room
- now then!
not everyone's bag i know but these gladdened my heart..'...Bungee
what a truly frightening man...
Loaded, December? 1997
When Mark E Smith of The Fall starts an interview by trying to stub a
out in your face, trouble can only follow. Here's what happened when
went for a 'chat'.
Enter Mark E. Smith. He looks like a melted muppet in Man At C&A. He's
half the size you'd imagine, twice as old and shockingly wizened. The
frontman and original grumpy old bastard of rock immediately begins to
an anecdote about employing a Cheetham Hill drug-gang hit man to run
Fall fan club. Apparently, he used to write back to people who wanted
Fall T-shirts saying, "You don't want to bother with the Fall, they're
shit." He seems in a good mood. If a little confused.
Exterior: In the street, waiting for a taxi. Mark E Smith sees two
businessmen get into a car. There is an almost audible click and his
apparent good mood suddenly disappears.
MES: Fucking hard cunts in cheap suits. Wankers. Mark starts staring
Loaded: (Thinking he's admiring his 99p McDonald's sunglasses) What
looking at, Mark?
MES: You, 'cos you're a cunt. (Mark starts shuffling towards writer).
from Macclesfield are you? A fuckin' Macc Lad? Think you're fuckin'
yer? (Attempts to stub lit cigarette out in writer's face. Writer
Loaded: (Firmly) Fuck off.
Taxi arrives. Inside, MES starts berating the driver for listening to
FM, despite the fact that MES thinks it's "quite nice".
MES: Fuckin' better than Radio One though, I tell yer! Fuckin' John
he's the fuckin' worst, he's worse than Tony Blackburn ever was (John
is The Fall's biggest ever fan, having tirelessly supported them for
We arrive at the pub. Mark is suddenly apologetic.
MES: Y'alright John? Y'alright?
Loaded: I'm fine, don't worry about it.
MES: You're a fuckin' cunt, aren't you?
Mark is momentarily distracted by the nearby Bavarian Sausage stall.
MES: That is fuckin' great, that place. German sausage centre. Inside
Mark orders two bottles of Pils in a pintglass. Has big row with
because they don't keep their glasses in the freezer.
Loaded: Aren't you a beer drinker?
MES: What d'you mean?
Loaded: You're drinking Pils instead of bitter.
MES: You get too many germs off London glasses. They don't wash down
Loaded: Anyway, on to the interview.
MES: - Aye.
Loaded: The new album marks 20 years of The Fall.
Ignoring writer completely Mark picks up a newspaper and begins to
Loaded: Do you feel you've developed in that time.
MES: (Suddenly) Loaded?
Loaded: Um, yes?
MES: Never read it.
Loaded: Have you no idea of what it's about?
MES: Flicked through it. Fantasy life. Bungee jumping, paratrooping.
in hotel rooms.
Loaded: But about this...
Mark goes back to his paper. Starts mumbling as he reads the TV
Loaded: Do you watch TV much?
MES: I never watch TV. Never. Only gardening programmes. I don't like
but it keeps me peaceful. War videos. Last one I saw was about
Last battle on English soil. Prince Charlie.
Loaded: And what do you get out of war videos?
MES: Nothing. I watch 'em with the sound down. Or I turn 'em up, then
out. (Suddenly perks up) Macclesfield? Full of people who pretend to
Loaded: Does that piss you off?
No response Mark stares out of window.
MES: (Suddenly) You're a good lookin' lad. You should do alright.
Loaded: Cheers. Why don't you tell me about this 'Inch' single?
(The 'Inch' single was recorded in the first week of the sessions for
Fall's new 'Levitate' LP. At this point, Mark inexplicably 'fell out'
the producers and fired them. Allegedly the producers sent tapes
record companies with a covering letter purporting to be fromMark E
asking them to put it out.)
MES: (After long silence) We came to a compromise.
Loaded: What was that?
MES: I'm not sayin'.
Loaded: (Trying different tack) Do you like London?
MES: It's alright
Loaded: What do you like about it?
MES: Very tolerant, Londoners.
Loaded: More so than Manchester?
MES: I can't stick Manchester either.
Loaded: But you live there.
MES: I live in Salford.
Loaded: So something must keep you there.
MES: You can go all over the world and nothing's ever any good, is it?
Loaded: I travel all over the world and I see things I really like.
MES: Like where?
Loaded: I like New York.
MES: That's a Macc lad who's moved to London talking now. You've gotta
to your fuckin' roots. You don't desert the fuckin' barracks, alright?
Loaded: As an artist, though, surely you could get inspiration from...
MES: (Interrupting) But YOU'RE not a fuckin' artist are you? And
there to write about down here? Some nice clothes shops and some nice
people walking around. So fuckin' what?
Loaded: So do you get inspiration from...
MES: It's all work! I never stop! It's a common fallacy that work is
kind of hindrance and you should live the rest of your life in
False peace and false fuckin' leisure. That's the problem with this
retiring early, having a good time. The only pleasure in life is work.
Loaded: But surely...
MES: See? You don't fucking get it, do you? You're from Macclesfield,
fuckin' cretins. You just wanna sit on your arse and fuckin' eat all
Loaded: But if you're doing something you enjoy, that doesn't
make it work.
MES: (No response, stares at door.)
Loaded: You don't necessarily have to work at it.
MES: (No response, blows smoke at ceiling.)
Loaded: Do you have a rigid work structure to your life?
MES: (Mutters inaudibly)
Loaded: Do you go into the studio at a certain time?
MES: (Suddenly) Are you courting?
MES: (Ranting) Yeah, fuckin' look at you, you don't wanna do any work,
you're not interested in anything! See, you're just like every fuckin'
fat-arsed middle-management cunt in Britain, aren't you? You just come
to work to get away from the wife. You're not interested in creating
anything, and that's why the country's on it's back, PALLY!
Loaded: OK, but you and enjoy our jobs, a lot of people have to do
MES: (Sarcastic) Oh, and I should be grateful shouldn't I? With the
Labour government, I should be very, very grateful for anything. Look
you, you haven't got your interview together, have you? Admit it. Face
yourself, pal. I meet people like you every fucking day in the bank,
insurance offices, in record companies. There's gonna come a time when
you're gonna have to face being a cunt.
Loaded: And you're different?
MES: No. I'm just telling you what I think.
Loaded: Well tell me what you think about this: even though The Fall
been hugely influential, many other Manchester bands have had much
success. Is that frustrating?
Loaded: But wouldn't you rather have had more chart success?
Loaded: Why not, surely that's the normal way musicians get
their art, by people buying their records?
MES: (No response.)
Loaded: Are you happy just being influential?
MES: (Picks at Pils bottle label.)
Loaded: Pavement, for example, have cited The Fall as being a massive
influence. Do you see that?
MES: (Looks out of window.)
Loaded: Do you rate Pavement?
MES: (Smokes fag. Exhales loudly)
Loaded: So what do you want to talk about, Mark?
MES: I thought we were here to talk about the LP.
Loaded: OK we will, but Loaded's not just about music, it's about
just like to get your opinions on a few things. You're known for being
with opinions. We can talk about whatever you like.
MES: (Aggressive) Stop fucking about then, haven't you got it fucking
out? You're just some fucking scruffy-haired pop star! Ask me some
Loaded: I have been doing.
MES: All I've got from you is that you've got the flu and that you're
fucking pop star! It's very endemic in this society. You're not
interested in what I've got to say.
Loaded: (Losing it) I am interested in what you've got to say! But
not saying anything!
MES: Well, fucking work at it then!
Loaded: (Tight-lipped) OK, well you brought it up: tell me about the
MES: (No response.)
Loaded: Is it going to make any difference to your life?
MES: (No response.)
Loaded: Did you vote for them?
MES: (Viciously) Did I fuck! I didn't vote for anything.
Loaded: Do you never vote?
MES: I vote all the time.
Loaded: So is it going to make a difference?
MES: It's not gonna make a difference at all, it's gonna turn us into
fuckin' Czechoslovakian state. We'll be like we're stuck behind the
Curtain if you ask me...
Loaded: How so?
MES: (No response.)
Loaded: (Insisting) How is Labour going to turn us into a communist
MES: (No response.)
Loaded: Come on, Mark, give us an opinion.
MES: (Sudden mood swing becomes instantly conversational) What did you
about the Princess Di thing? Were you upset?
Loaded: Not really. Shocked, surprised. But I didn't cry. How about
MES: (No response.)
Loaded: Are you pro-monarchy?
Loaded: So why do you think so many people have got so upset?
MES: They've got nothing better to fucking think about.
Loaded: Hasn't it got to be more than that?
MES: (Long, long, long, LONG silence.)
Loaded: Are you alright, Mark? Are you just not in the mood?
MES: (No response.)
Loaded: (Concerned) Is there something I've said to upset you?
MES: No. It's alright. (Another long, uncomfortable silence.)
Loaded: Is it me? Do you just not want to talk to me specifically?
MES: I can't see the point. I've got work to do. I'm in a fucking
Loaded: Aren't interviews part of being in a band?
MES: I don't particularly like your magazine, I don't fucking really
talk to you, I'm not interested. I don't see what it's got to do with
band. People who buy my records don't read Loaded.
Loaded: But maybe Loaded readers would buy your records after reading
MES: (Raising voice) People who read Loaded are just frustrated
like yourself! I'm not interested in talking to anyone who can't have
drink like a fucking man!
Loaded: (Irritated) What's that supposed to mean?
MES: (Yelling) What it fucking means is that you're a fucking dead-leg
and I'm not talking to you. (Childishly) You smell! (Gets up and
Enter Julia Nagle, Mark's girlfriend and keyboard/guitar player in The
JN: Don't take it personally. He gets like this.
As we chat, Mark is round the corner ranting and shadow-boxing the
he smashes his fist against the wood work, a scuffle ensues with the
barstaff. Only prudent interception by Mark's PR prevents him being
Suddenly he reappears and gestures at Julia's half-full glass.
MES: Are you not getting the woman another fucking drink? You fucking
Julia and the PR separate us. Minutes later, top pop combo Ash enter
hello. Mark reappears ranting about how Ash owe their entire career to
MES: You give them their start in life and do you get any thanks? Do
FUCK! Without me, you'd be fucking NOTHING, you useless cunts!Tim
Ash singer: How exactly did you start our career?
MES: (Approaching Ash's table) Look at you, with your pop star
(Starts flicking at Tim's fringe.)
TW: (Menacing Northern Irish accent) Fuck off!
MES: (Wandering off into street, laughing like some washed-up meths
They all fucking owe me a fucking living, all of 'em.
Fade on Loaded writer, steadying nerves with stiff drink.
Mark E. Smith: Is this The List? The ratings magazine? Yeah, that's
TL: You've said you find musicians unfathomable. What's the mystery?
MES: Where did you read that? On the Internet? Unfathomable? So are
the Internet a lot? Do you get excited about it?
TL: Not really. Do you?
MES: Mind your own business. Hold on. CAROLINE, HAVE YOU GOT A
I'VE GOT TO DEAL WITH THIS FUCKING BASTARD ASKING ME QUESTIONS!
Did you hear that? Anahahana! GIVE ME A CIGARETTE, CAROLINE, BEFORE
FUCKING BASTARD GETS HIS HEAD KICKED IN So what else have you found
the Internet? Okay, WHEN WAS I BORN? (Adopts squeaky voice) Was I born
1959? Sorry, I've got to be nice, my sister says.
TL: Is there a new LP in the offing?
MES: You're so fuckin, clever, get on the Internet and find Out.
TL: How did your collaboration with Elastica come about?
MES: What, Africa? Sorry, cock. My phone's a bit dickey.
TL: You once said 'I've still got a sound in my head that I want to
Are you any closer to it?
MES: Yeah, I'm trying this week. Hahahahah! No (adopts serious voice),
doing the new LP I'm working hard on it. It sounds really fucking good
actually. I'm trying to do what I did with The Marshall Suite, a
LP. Only this one's going to be a four-sided LP
TL: A doubIe LP?
MES: Yeah Out it's going to be good so don't worry about it.
TL: Is it true The Fall once nearly signed to Motown?
MES: You're just talking about gossip.
IL: People are interested in gossip.
MES: It doesn't interest me. Ask me a fucking question or piss off!
your questions just what you've read on the Internet? They're not
TL: What do you want me to ask you about?
MES: You're just fucking pissed off because you live in Edinburgh.
fucking fat sack aren't you? Ask me more questions, you lazy bastard!
TL: You've been described as a 'deranged Percy Sugden'.
MES. Where did you read that?
TL: On the Internet
MES: Can't you think anything Out of your own mind?
TL: If you want to say anything about the LP, about the gig, I'm
MES: Alright. So we will be smashing. That's all I've got to say
TL: Okay, cheers for your time, Mark.
MES: You take care now. Ta-ra.
Chris Herbert chrish@...
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