Mark E Smith: “I’m not going to give all my secrets away”

The Fall leader answers your questions

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What made you decide to write your autobiography?
Polly Cartwright, Cornwall
Well the main thing is, there’s about three or four books about The Fall out in the last year. Have you seen them? No, well they’re unreadable. So I decided to do one proper. I’ve got this poor ghostwriter, and he’s having a nervous breakdown. He’s getting a lot of pressure off a lot of people to get it down. But there’s nobody going to get a book out of me. They’re going to get a book – but they’re not going to get the whole truth, are they? One thing I don’t like about today is that everyone’s got to know everything about everybody.

What sort of films do you like?
Chris Turner, via email
I like [Rainer Werner] Fassbinder. It’s good, just sort of watching German people. Like, a Moroccan guy gets friendly with a middle-aged German woman, and it goes on and on, and then he gets his head kicked in by the locals. And that’s it. Which at the time, in the early ’70s, was very effective. I think British films have been bad for about 20 years. I spend a lot of time in America, but Americans laugh at British films like they laugh at Tony Blair. Most people are very respectful to Brits, but in America they laugh at you like you’re from Vietnam or something, culturally speaking. Tell you what was a good film – Culloden, a TV film from the ’60s. It actually looks real: it’s not like Jeremy, the producer’s mate, pretending to be a soldier.

What’s the worst city in Britain?
Nathan Alexander, Swindon
I think London, at the present time. I do, because it’s a beautiful city and it’s being ruined: the people are isolating themselves from the rest of the country. With the group, we’ll play Brighton, Bournemouth, Wales. But in London it’s like some kind of secularised area, like Canberra, a sort of artificial capital. I used to go down to London, do the Peel sessions, meet the record company. Now, it’s a waste of fucking time. It’s like, when I used to go down to Maida Vale, you could meet publishers, musicians, businessmen, down and outs… now it’s just tourists or people who can afford to live there. And I’m not saying that in a northern way, because there’s Cheshire up the road and that’s got more money than all London put together, but there’s not the vitality compared to somewhere like Liverpool.

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What’s the strangest rumour you’ve heard about yourself?
Johnny Vegas
For a start, I don’t read a lot about myself – I think it puts you off. But in a way, it’s a good thing, beause people steer well clear of me. I’m like that naturally: I can walk in a pub and clear it in 10 minutes. I’ve done interviews with respected newspapers – broadsheets – and they’ve gone to me: “You did this…” and blah di blah. And I say: “You’ve got that off the net, haven’t you? You’re supposed to be a journalist – do you believe everything you read?” But talk to people from the tabloids, and they double check everything. The broadsheets will print something about me, like I was walking around half-naked on the stage, and it’s not bloody true.

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