Interview with The Fall's frontman Mark E Smith
Mark E Smith - the revered, unpredictable, controversial bandleader - discusses his latest tour, record and his run in with a certain chart-topping folk band
As the mercurial frontman of one of Britain's most iconic and enduring outfits, The Fall, Smith has developed a reputation for being surly and aggressive . This myth has, perhaps, been perpetuated by tales of debauchery on tour, a willingness to fire bandmates on a whim and an onstage intensity. In reality, this is just what happens when you're possessed by a creative impulse that drives you to always move forward, destroying everything you built before to start a new tomorrow. As such, the singer brings the latest incarnation of his outfit back to the Glasgow stage later this week for a show at The Arches.
Smith admits he has a longing to get back on the road, but why do they always seem to play Glasgow in the winter? 'It's refreshing,' he laughs. Having ridden in vans around these islands for over 35 years, playing hundreds of songs, at thousands of shows, it is unlikely that Smith even feels the cold anymore.
'I actually really like being on tour, you get a decent meal and a roof over your head - it'd be better if we had an LP out though,' he says.
The gig at The Arches comes just over 12 months since the last Fall release, Ersatz GB. Having released around 100 records during his career, including assorted live efforts and collections, Smith is always looking to the next release.
'We've been in The Kinks' studio for a fortnight and then we've come back and done three shows in Salford. The improvement in the group is marvellous - they're just tighter and better. We're actually just finishing off the next record. I haven't got a title for it yet but we are thinking about a January release,' says Smith.
For fans of the band, this is good news. They are currently experiencing a purple patch which has led to some of the most consistent reviews of the band's career. For Smith, this is reflected in the ever more diverse crowds that have been attending Fall gigs.
'There are a lot of younger people in the audiences these days. You've got the old guard and the young guard, I think a lot of it has to do with computers and getting music that way. The crowds are great though. We went to Sweden - and they hate our fucking guts there - but even that was all right. I don't know though, it doesn't bother me at all who is there. I don't fucking care who comes.'
One person he is unlikely to see at a Fall gig anytime soon is Marcus Mumford. The singer infamously had a run-in with London folkster's band, Mumford & Sons, at a festival in Dublin in 2010. Trouble began to brew when the two groups were placed in neighbouring accommodation. A singalong from the Mumford camp set Smith's teeth on edge - the singer being known for having slightly more esoteric tastes - before he implored them to quieten down by calling them cunts and lobbing a lager bottle at them.
'It was more than that,' he laughs. 'I was talking to the promoter who's a mate of mine and said, 'look, don't take the piss. You've stuck us next to some mongoloid Irish folk band.'
'The promoter turns around and says, "they're number one in your English charts." I thought he was fucking joking. They started clopping about singing, sounded like they were dancing on the tables - so I told them to shut the fuck up.'
The Fall play The Arches, Glasgow, Wed 21 Nov.