Continuing on from our Mark E Smith tribute in the current issue of Q, illustrious fans of The Fall leader remember the music and the man.
“He always reminded me of a rescue kitten.”
Graham Coxon, guitarist, Blur
“I really liked The Fall’s interview on What’s On, an early programme that Tony Wilson did, in 1978. There was a great interview with them and they did Industrial Estate (1979) and Psychomafia (1977). I really like those songs, especially the versions within that interview, which are just in a rehearsal room. I’d never seen anything like that before. I knew what punk rock was, I knew The Buzzcocks, they were like uptempo love songs, I loved The Jam, I loved The Beatles, but not something with that driving, repetitive quality to it. He always reminded me of a rescue kitten or something, he had that foxy look but he looked like he’d been dragged through a hedge backwards. I always just thought he looked so good, Mark E Smith. I liked the way he bobbed his head up and down and his uncompromising, thick speech coming over that music.”
“The joke was always on us.”
Hayden Thorpe, singer, Wild Beasts
“He was one of the bad guys, we don’t have enough of them. The Joke (1995) from Cerebral Caustic said it all for me “Don’t be nice about it, just spit it back”. An exercise in how far an attitude and a distortion pedal can get you. Eternally without filter, the closest I ever came to Mark E Smith was in the slack jawed expressions on the Domino record label personnel we shared at one time. The joke was always on us.”
“He could be a dick, but in a really affable way.”
Ben Goldwasser, MGMT
“Oh! Brother (1984) was a single around the time of The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall, and it’s just a really good song. As far as people who go deep into The Fall, they’re probably like, ‘Oh, that’s a sell-out record’. It’s more straightforward pop than a lot of his stuff, but I like that it’s noisy pop music – like it sounds well-produced, but it’s also just noise. That’s an achievement. In all the TV interviews I’ve seen with Mark E Smith, I felt like I really bonded with him: he could be a dick, but in a really affable way. Literally a week before he died, I was thinking, ‘I wonder what it would be like to meet him’. Now it’s not gonna happen, I guess.”
“The Fall made the idea of starting your own band feel possible.”
Celia Archer, bassist, The Big Moon
“I got into The Fall properly when I was at university. A couple of my friends and I raided each other's music and stole various things that we wanted and in that mix I took Hex Enduction Hour and This Nation's Saving Grace. They ended up becoming the soundtrack to those years, along with a bunch of other things that we'd sit around for hours drinking beer and playing to each other. It pushed us into starting our own band and joining The Big Moon. I think part of what appealed was how British it was. There was a familiarity to it and it felt both like something you responded to, but also could be part of. It made the idea of starting our own band feel possible. You can trace the impact of Mark E. Smith down to bands like Goat Girl and Shame at the moment. Spoilt Victorian Child is a real favourite. It's jarring. You can almost sing and dance along but not quite. It sounds silly and savage at the same time. In a world, and particularly an industry, where you're often having to appease or to compromise, it's liberating to feel the full force of someone who doesn't give a fuck.”
Get the current issue for our full Mark E Smith tribute, with contributions from John Cooper Clarke, Nicky Wire, Lawrence, Shaun Ryder, Steve Hanley, Vic Reeves, Damo Suzuki, Lias Saoudi, Sharon Horgan, Brix Smith Start, Paul Hanley, Frank Skinner and The Fall's final line-up. Out now, or order a copy here.