FEATURE LIST” I
The music for Michael Clark's new
dance presentation is being performed . by its creators, The Fall, a band which
could quite reasonably claim to be the
best ‘cult band’ in the country, a
description which founder, leader,
lyricist and vocalist Mark E. Smith probably hates. Over the course of more than a dozen LPs and a generous handful of classic singles, The Fall have been the vehicle for thirty year-old Smith’s wonderful and frightening visions: innovative, individual and always outside the mainstream the group are one of the most valuable legacies of punk,
7 laughing at the scene which both
nurtured and ridiculed them, and have
stayed a law unto themselves. Smith is
now treated by the music press.
; particularly NME, as very much an
i elder statesman, and the image of
3 ‘professional Mancunian' (like Tony
, Wilson or Morrissey) constantly dogs
Defying the popular image of himself 3 as an awkward ogre to interviewers,
: Smith is relaxed and easy-going as he recounts his complete ignorance of formal dance until approached by Clark for permission to use taped Fall songs in the repertoire of one of his early
; shows. ‘lthinkit‘sreallyinspired
i dance. it seems to be about fifty times Q taster than any other ballet I‘ve seen. I ' mean, he‘s very intricate. He’s one of . these people you've just got to look at, very compulsive.‘
Given Smith’s famed autocratic control of his band (only loosened with g the addition of his American wife Brix ‘ into the line-up as guitarist),
1 collaboration on this scale seems a
little out of character.
‘Well, fhere‘d been talk of us doing it
live for quite a while. i was never happy using tapes because of the union
' problems and everything, and i didn't think it was quite the same. And in
i those days he used to use other
‘ peoples’ work as well. You know. it was budget, things like that. We'd been
planning to do something like that for a couple oi years now.’
lAm Curious, Orange deals with old Smith favourites like the distortion of history and his more recent interest in William of Orange, (mainly because it was a Dutch iestival which put up the money for a Fall/Clark collaboration in the first place), impressions which, he says, turned out to be surprisingly accurate after the history books were consulted. Premiered in Holland, the show is to be changed a little for Edinburgh and London. Smith is thinking of setting the second half in the future and dealing with present day A issues. Bearing in mind comments he
nce made about the interesting ' vastln attitudes towards apartheid ' een the British and Dutch, whose I re running South Africa, l‘m if there's a political point to
Top MichaelClark left Clarkinrehearsal Bottom Mark Smith ofThe Fall
'e‘s a sort of humorous ‘estants, I'm one ntto sieerclearol at. ldon‘twanf to stir O .hlnk it‘s all quite funny ’. What‘s very interesting is
the way the Dutch look at it, for instance. Even though it was a Dutch festival, they referred to it as a time when they had no king.‘ Mark finds this hilarious, as he recollects. ‘We were
. going, Oh. you must be really into this
guy, and they‘re going, No, that was when we had no king!‘
ls taking a back seat a blessed relief?
‘lt‘s a great thing for us, yeah. Being in Holland was great, ‘cause we just concentrated on bashing the music out, and everybody wasn‘t looking at us. It's not that we‘re shy or anything. just that we played too much at the start of this year. But it was really good on a massive stage, we‘re at the back and people have really got something to look at. It‘s great, and the dancing
3 seems to be better, ‘cause the music‘s ' live. I think it makes a big difference.‘
A mention of Mark‘s previous work for the stage, Hey, Luciani, a musical
' based on the murky circumstances
- surrounding the death of the last Pope,
is greeted with a laugh. Given the thumbs-down almost everywhere, it‘s
still fondly remembered by its creator.
‘0h, I love it, yeah, ljustthinkl jumped into that a bit too quick. Ithink with these plays you’ve got to plan it for
3 two years, and it seems a bit boring to
me. ljust wanted to do it on the spur of
3 the moment. which we did, and we 3 didn‘t lose a huge amount of money or
anything. It was a good experience. I might bring a video out of it.‘
With this diverse activity. can he see himself hanging up his microphone, quitting the rock circuit and settling into a writerly middle age?
‘I don't know. I don'ttend to plan ahead. l‘ve set this record company up, which seems to be doing all right. I go forthings that people wouldn‘t obviously release, thatl like. Not so much what i really like as what I think should be given a voice, ‘cause people
i go on about the quality of music I nowadays. I'm not saying I‘m gonna
change it, but- I‘m talking seriously
here - I don’t think you get nutters bringing out records any more. It‘s
almost very bourgeouis, very organised. very safe. you know which
groups are gonna be in the charts
before they bring the record out. It‘s all organised before they even record. I‘m not against it, ljust think a lot of talent is missed outon.‘
Much more likely candidates for fame, on the surface at least, would appear to be The Adult Net, Brix‘s band when she‘s not tied up with The Fall. lt‘s irresistible to ask if it would be galling to see his wife's band sweep past his in terms of popularity.
‘No way, I‘m bloody hoping for it. Should bring some money into the house for a change,‘ he says, and laughs out loud again.
A good decade, Mark?
‘Yeah. Well, it hasn‘t all been good, no. But that seems to be the way I am. I‘m not really happy unless there's some sort of artistic or practical. financial struggle going on. if i look back. i think a lot of people would have packed it. it's just bloody-mindedness.‘
.J The! l\[ I7. 18 August 19887