Tony Dewhurst joined The Fall’s Mark E Smith for a sedate lunch in Manchester this week ahead of their return to Clitheroe’s Grand Theatre on Saturday, and heard his typically acerbic take on TV, politics and new technology
The Fall’s 31st album – Sub-Lingual Tablet – has all the band’s distinctive features in place, from vicious guitar to Mark E Smith’s reassuringly grouchy vocals.
MES agrees: “Yeah. It is a good record. Unusually, I like it a lot. I listen to it all the time.
“I don’t play any Fall albums – ever. I’ve hardly any Fall stuff at home, apart from the odd test pressing, white labels and a few turkeys that never got released.
“But Sub Lingual Tablet is different and I’m very proud of it.
“People have written us off for years haven’t they? They say, ‘Oh… The Fall are a post-punk band from the 1980s.’
“Excuse me. We never stopped. I didn’t used to care what people wrote about us, but I do now.”
You denounce nostalgia, but how has modern technology impacted on your life with The Fall?
“It hasn’t. I haven’t got a mobile phone.
“If you don’t have wires coming out of your head like Davros or have the latest bit of technology then people glare at you as if you are part of some evil sect.
I’ve this natural talent for getting rid of peopleMark E Smith
“I can’t believe how people have fallen for it. You get these music luvvies and they go, ‘Mark, I’ll text you darling.’
“And I say, ‘No you can’t, I haven’t got a phone’ and they are completely incredulous.
“I’ve got mates and if they don’t text the wife every hour, she is on the verge of calling the police.
“That’s why I write letters, and sometimes I even hand deliver them.
“Everybody has got to know about everybody else these days haven’t they?
“It is all about what he says, and what who says. But who cares?
“I did an interview at BBC6 and they didn’t even have a record player or a CD.
“But you go abroad, that’s when you really see how people fall to pieces.
“We played in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, a few years ago.
“We walked down the street and one of the band was moaning, ‘Maaark I can’t get no signal on me new NWZ 6733 phone. Are we are in Europe Maaaark?
“I was looking up at a building that had a gaping hole in it. An American laser-guided bomb had gone through it, but he didn’t even notice.
“Walked straight by. He was just looking at his ‘phone, going, ‘Maaark I can’t get through to Dave in Didsbury.
“It is destroying our inter-action with each other and it is now starting to seriously impede on my life. It never used to be a problem, but it is becoming one.”
Do you watch much TV?
“It’s truly pathetic, I don’t know how they get away with it, especially the BBC.
“Me mam got £80 for her pension and she had to pay £120 a year to watch people do their houses up.
“You can see that anywhere. If you want to see builders then just look out of the window.
“I do watch more TV than I used to, though – especially during the day.
“I write a lot in the morning, and I’ve had complaints from Fall fans that instead of writing about universal topics, I’m writing about daytime TV (roars with laughter).
“But you can’t even watch TV in peace these days.
“There is a lot of peer pressure to watch certain programmes.
“It is like, ‘Have you watched Game of Thrones Mark.’ Why? Should I have done?
“You are a social leper if you are not up to speed with the latest ridiculous episiode.
“The wife goes, ‘The rest of the band have got Netflix Mark.’ I just say go and live with them then.
“You even have to pay £50 to watch football on the box these days.
“Anyway, I’ve developed this natural talent of getting rid of people when they come to my house.
“They say, ‘What’s on the telly, Mark,’ and I’m sat there watching World at War for the 800th time.
“They go, ‘What are you watching this for, it’s boring. I’d rather be watching Bake Off.’ They soon leave though.
“Have you seen that Gogglebox? That is really frightening stuff.
“A complete crime, random people sat on a sofa talking about TV.
“That sums up British people for me.”
The Chancellor, George Osborne, says Manchester and the North will, eventually, become part of a Northern powerhouse.
“Don’t make me laugh. Politicans don’t have any grasp of reality – they are a truly shocking bunch.
“One of the Tories got hit by an egg outside the conference this week and they issued a security alert – don’t wear a suit in Manchester. What a preposterous lot they are.
“They officially opened the revamped Manchester Victoria Station on Tuesday.
“I went down to have a look and they’ve destroyed it.
“They’ve vandalised an architectural gem and I blame the students. Apparently, they sent a daft survey out to students and tourists about what building they would most like to change in Manchester and they said Victoria.
“Politics is bust.”
“They go on about ‘the wacky Jeremy Corbyn,’ but he seems eminently sensible to me compared to that comedian Ed Miliband. What planet was he living on?”
The Fall are at Clitheroe Grand Theatre, on Saturday, October 10. Tickets £20, call 01200 421599 or see www.thegrandvenue.co.uk