Filler by Proxy XXVIII: The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall

Tuesday 10 January 2006


My biggest regret over my time in London so far has been blowing two opportunities to see the Fall play live. Apart from being pretty much my favourite band, I’ve missed the chance to watch a gig descend spectacularly into chaos, complete with equipment sabotage, onstage punch-ups and walk-offs by various band members. If you’re lucky, you might see someone get sacked from the group on the spot, or quit in disgust.
This all happens quite a lot, as the 43 former band members can testify. Recently, Dave Simpson attempted to track down every last one of them – from the keyboard player who lasted one day, to the drummer who has been sacked nine times – to see what they’ve been up to since they fell foul of band leader (and only constant member) Mark E. Smith’s desire to “freshen up” the band from time to time.
One is dead, one’s been sent to prison: not bad going for a relatively large sampling of rock musos. Former bandmates have ranged from teenagers who happened to drink at Smith’s local, to the manager of the Chemical Brothers, who was recruited as a last-minute replacement when the Smith threw the drummer off the tour bus at a service station en route to their gig at the Reading Festival.
Dewey was led to a darkened tour bus to meet Smith, “passed out with his shirt off. The guitarist had to punch him in the face to wake him up. Then they began fighting over whether or not they should teach me the songs. Mark said no!”
Since this article was published in The Guardian, Smith has vowed never to speak to anyone at that paper again. You can also look at a PDF scan of the original article, complete with photies and more survivors’ tales of being abandoned in a foreign bar for eating a salad: best of all is the concluding plea “If you have been in the Fall and we failed to contact you, email culture@guardian.co.uk”.
As one of the current guitarists says, “I have nightmares, but it’s never boring. It’s not Coldplay.”
  1. Fucking pissweak Harper. You have no authority to bag 80s Xenakis if the Fall is your favorite band! Fucking bullshit alty-poppy self romanticising fucking shit english popular music crap. Your mission in London is to punch in the throat every faux punk NME english pop band responsible for JJJ and its crimes against the people, not to buy into the propaganda war. Next you'll be saying that you're hanging around with your good mate and musical saviour Nick Cave!

    Keep it broodle dude!

  2. Calm down Grandad, the Fall have safely faded from English pop consciousness to be regarded as a quaint British tradition, like panto or leaves on the line. The real enemy isn't the half-baked faux-punk bands stinking up the scene either – they're just dumb kids who don't know any better – but the scene that supports them, a tumescent fever dream where rock is forever white, spotty, and carries a guitar, where the Next Big Thing can only be the Last Big Thing.

    Thank god Joe Strummer is dead. The only way things can get worse is if another Beatles tribute band hellbent on sounding like their dads decides to patronise grime or dancehall, and anything new or interesting is indefinitely drowned out by self-righteous atavism. Maybe 8 months in a country where people take Oasis seriously has rotted my brain.

    Anyway, thanks for your comment. Nick says hi, by the way.