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A Quietus Interview

We Only Have This Excerpt: Mark E Smith Of The Fall Interviewed
Kevin E.G. Perry , November 24th, 2011 09:29

Mark E Smith has a drink with Kevin EG Perry and tells him about literary influences and Ersatz GB. Photograph by Valerio Berdini

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“It’s a shopper’s paradise, isn’t it?” says Mark E Smith as he surveys ‘Smoak’, the inexplicably Texan-themed bar in Manchester’s Malmaison hotel. It’s a Saturday afternoon a month or so before Christmas, and both the hotel bar and the adjacent lobby are crawling with families laden with expensive-looking carrier bags. We collect our beers, chosen at random from a long list of imports, and Smith spots a quiet corner on the other side of the lobby: “We’ll go over there.”

He moves in a shuffling gait, and already seems older than his 54 years, but his wit and his work rate haven’t slowed. In the 35 years since he and a handful of mates formed The Fall in an apartment in Prestwich he has released 29 albums under that name. Although his bandmates have long since become the subject of regular rotation, over the years Smith has crafted for himself a complex, literate authorial voice which is as unmistakable as his own Salford anti-vocals. The new record, Ersatz G.B., is out in time for the Christmas shoppers, at his own insistence.

Is he happy with it? “Yeah!” he grins as we get settled on a sofa, “but I wouldn’t mind a copy! Have you got one?” He lets out a cackle. Over the course of the evening, Smith laughs long, and hard, and often. It’s an expressive laugh, and depending on the subject at hand it ranges from a chesty death rattle to whooping back in his seat. His tongue emerges regularly. It looks like a gila monster, and in his long career it seems to have gotten him in and out of trouble in roughly equal measure...

...The full version of this article is available in Point Close All Quotes: A Quietus Music Anthology. Buy it now in the Amazon Kindle store.

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Chester Whelks
Nov 24, 2011 3:15pm

Fucking wonderful.

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Nov 24, 2011 6:30pm

A fine piece Kevin. Actually I am pretty sure David Thewlis credited MES as an influence on his self-created character in Naked, you can certainly her him in there. Just one reservation: why not publish the "ugly things" he said at the end rather than just mention them teasingly in passing? Warts and all, surely?

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Nov 24, 2011 6:54pm

Great interview. Loved every word of it. With the new album the group and Mark at the top of their form. Long may it continue.

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Paul A Garrity
Nov 24, 2011 7:22pm

Great stuff...would LOVE to spend an afternoon bevvying with MES!

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Nov 24, 2011 7:36pm

"The Best of the fucking Three Welsh Dwarves".

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Nov 24, 2011 9:09pm

what were the 'ugly things' that were said?

Bet you would have printed them if another person had said them.

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Erica L Pardee
Nov 24, 2011 9:53pm

Brilliant article.... well done. One of the best MES articles I've ever read.

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Nov 24, 2011 10:33pm

It must be great to be right about everything

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-An Australian Living in Manchester
Nov 25, 2011 1:32am

In reply to Anna:

Yes I agree, like MIA or Morrissey to name but two obvious examples. they'd print every "ugly" remark (or, *sigh*, "tweet")- zero in on them, even - and make a big deal of how offensive it was.

I say this as a much (much!) bigger Fall fan than of those two. And yes I think that they say offensive crap on purpose just to get a reaction, it's their schtick. but still: with MES it's like "Good ole Mark what a card, surely you speak in jest", it's blatant favouritism. Stop giving the man a free pass, it's sycophantic.

I loved this interview btw, read Quietus everyday, I mean God, features on Coil and MES on the same day??? I'm in heaven. I'm not deliberately trolling, but it's just too blatant for me not to have noticed, and I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Mo P

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Nov 25, 2011 5:28am

saw royal exchange gig,was amazing.but the guy he talks about bottling writes for this very magazine and he will tell you its all just wind,and the guy he talks about decking in the hotel....come on smith,you are built like mr.burns.....give it a rest.

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Billy Pilgrim
Nov 25, 2011 11:40am

I agree. You get the feeling he's a bit liberal with the truth sometimes. Renegade is great. A genuine cult read. Why he feels the need to say he's bottled the writer - who I know - is just childish. Have some class. Austin's a good, up-coming writer and film-maker. Stick with the microphone and leave the boxing gloves behind in your Prestwich mansion.

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kenny powers
Nov 25, 2011 1:24pm

I've read so many of these sort of interviews over the years, dating back to the 1970's. Mark always makes for good copy, but as above I know Austin Collings and Mark himself, and though i'll always like his music, his cheap back biting is getting tiresome and almost embarrasing. when mark and austin were working on the book they were as thick as thieves. i sometimes bumbed into them in prestwich. the best parts of Renegade are the VOICES sections which i know were the work of austin, mark even told me they were. he should be thankful it didn't end up like a million other biogs, and that it's a brillaint read. i await austin's new film and novel and future book with the artist george shaw as much as i do the next fall album. good to see you're putting a bit of weight on anyway mark

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Nov 25, 2011 1:57pm

How funny. I was a bit-part in austins film. all the best with it if you're reading. top bloke. top writer. his article on gordon burn on this site is awesome. not so sure about the new fall album yet. am I alone in thinking reformation was a real high-point? oh and gulliver's is a great pub too. way better than the castle over the road!!!!!

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Nov 30, 2011 8:57pm

Mark Smith is clearly a dick, but at least he's entertaining. There are too many people around nowadays who fall into the first category without being in the second.

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Survival Bag
Dec 8, 2011 11:53pm

Great interview - unflinching but not mythologising either. Would love to know more about the literary influences. He's probably hard to keep on track though. Panic in Granadaland!

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Dec 13, 2011 1:09pm

“I think I’m becoming very, very tired, Kevin.” Beckett

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deborah sprague
Dec 16, 2011 1:17pm

wonderful and enlightening interview. one side note, though. smith's new york arrest was for violently assaulting his then-girlfriend, who was part of the band. i'd call that marginally more serious than violating a smoking ban.

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sie norfolk
Jan 1, 2012 10:35pm

da boss

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Jan 17, 2012 9:04pm

Incredible piece, you really captured the mood and setting there. But I wish I had a whiskey an' all.

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Dec 14, 2012 7:14pm

When I met Mark E Smith on his home turf he was charming and polite - I kept the meeting brief, before sauntering on. I could have opened my arsenal and we could have talked literature for hours until the summer evening became a summer night. Who reads these days? Moreover, who thinks too hard??!

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