The Fall. Great band. Mark E great guy, great character.
Was playing with the Velvet Underpants and we got another gig with The Fall.
'We' had played with them a few times and they knew we were good for two things.
We were always available at short notice.
We would never pose a threat of blowing anyone off stage.
Sorry, three things.
We were dead cheap.
Usual story, down to Sheffield in an ex-Post Office bus with a dodgy exhaust which could manage 25mph downhill with a tail wind.
Get to the venue. No dressing room. Both are taken.
Mark has one. The rest of The Fall has the other.
Turns out he is not on speaking terms with the rest of the band.
As in permanently. Surely this must cause problems as they are about to embark on an American tour?. Not so, it seems.
I had never met Mark E but, knowing his reputation, was looking forward to the sound check.
We did ours. They did theirs.
Mark went through seven, yes seven, mikes before he could get one that would suit his dulcet tones.
He had an interesting way of communicating with the sound engineers.
He just threw the mike off the stage onto the dancefloor whilst shouting 'this is fookin' shite, gimme another fookin' mike'.
It worked - seven mikes later. All happy now.
I am also happy because Mark has also asked if he can borrow one of my guitars for the keyboard player to use that evening..
I take the opportunity to ask Mark E about the possibility of after-match entertainment - aha, therein lies the problem between Mark E and the rest of the band.
They just want to go home yet he still always wants to party.
So, I tell him if I find anything half decent I will let him know and he says he will do the same for me.
We eat we have a beer we play.
Hugh Reed Band has a reputation and I do remember that a large semi-circle formed at the furthest extent of our singer's microphone lead.
The people of Sheffield are not stupid.
We are given and steal what we can of the Leadmills posters and Fall merchandise and I get Mark to sign a few bits and pieces for me. Fine.
Then they play. I like it. I like it a lot.
I wish my girlfriend was there, and my bosom buddy too - he had given me tapes of every Fall song just in case the two bands were gonna do a joint encore of any sort.
(Six months previously, the band had supported The Denize and did a joint version of 'Waitin' for My Man'. My predecessor as guitarist had also got a blow job off The Denize herself - but that's another tale. Point is, best to be prepared).
Well the band played on while I tried my best to find a groupie who would show us the delights of Sheffield. None to be had it seemed. Not even a late bar.
Which is how Mark E Smith and The Boldscot ended up in a gay Italian restaurant in the heart of the city.
Sure, there had been post-gig drinkees at the venue but rather subdued in case band wars broke out so the two of us fucked off in the direction of a place where we were assured of a late drink.
A small secluded restaurant populated by loving couples and two extremely hyper post-gig maniacs.
Soon to be even more hyper and maniacal as Mark produces his stash.
Some kind of mixture of speed and coke, it appeared
We start speaking about fookin' everything.
In particular, I bemoan the fact that neither of us seem to be able to get a jump after a Fall gig.
He tells me that I am wrong and says he is just not bothered.
He says 'I can do it here if I want'
I say fuck off - they probably haven't heard of The Fall in here.
He says 'You fook off'.
Ok, I have an idea.
I grab as many beermats off the tables as I can and get him to sign some.
I do a tour of the restaurant in call-survey mode.
'Excuse me, sorry to bother you both but can you tell me who that sad bastard in the corner is?'. Invariably 'No!' from the invariably angry Bull and invariably bemused Sow.
'That is Mark E Smith from The Fall, a signed beermat for anyone who can name one of his songs!.'
Mark looks at me as though I am Brix, his wife, telling him he must give up the drink and we are well on the way to another night of mayhem when the place calms down with the arrival of the venue Manageress and a couple of guys from my band.
We talk a little and drink a lot and Mark proves his point by leaving to go home with the venue Manageress.
He's back twenty minutes later.
'Could've got a fookin' leg over if I wanted - See?.
We are both tired and mellow.
We talk about fookin' everything.
His band , the tour the fact he doesn't speak to the rest of them.
I tell him a story from my Norwegian producer.
Cato had done a two year tour with his band, sharing a room with the bass player, during which time he did not say one word to said bass player.
'The Music and nothin' but the Music.' was his motto.
Mark agrees with the great Cato Sanden '.... and nout but the fookin' Music.'
He tells me of his angst driven writing. Of course, he doesn't say it that way.
'I just fookin' write things when I am pissed fookin' off.'
He tells me what is bugging him at the moment having just split yet again from the delectable Brix.
Oh, I see.
Why not just come out, I say, could be a whole new career.
He puts the question to our keyboard player.
Derek is nineteen, pretty with a gorgeous girlfriend and will not be in the slightest bit interested.
Not interested?. He doesn't even understand.
Mark tries again.
'Merkin, can you tell this young man what we are talking about?.'
Fuck off, big man, and less of the 'WE'.
I make Derek understand. He is definitely not interested and is already showing signs of terror at the thought of tomorrow's ten hours in the back of a van with me me..
How the night ended I can't remember.
Woke up in the morning sleeping under one of the wheel arches.
Sore all over but head intact and arse intact.
'I know that it's only Rock'n'Roll..............'