This article is taken from the first issue of the Fuzz Club Magazine which you can pick up HERE.

10 000 Russos drummer/vocalist reflects on the singular legacy of the Fall front-man and relives a torturous interview with the man himself…

As much as he’d probably recoil in disgust at the thought, there’s a reason we all loved Mark E. Smith. When I say ‘we’ I’m referring to that strange group of people, those uber-dedicated Fall super-fans – The Nerds of The Fall. You know the type, the addicted record collectors desperately trying to collect as much of the ridiculously large back-catalogue as possible or the ones who slave away for hours upon hours ranking their favourite Fall albums.

Such acts are futile though, for the Manchester post-punk troupe were much more than just a band with a vast catalogue of releases. Any attempt to rank each record was pointless because deep inside they were all the same album, works of art in their own right held together by the same glue – Mr Mark E. Smith. In my view Smith was to music what the likes of Kafka or Camus were to literature – his world can be a confusing and totally surreal one but once you’re able to navigate it, there’s simply no turning back.

The reward for our dedication and idolisation? Pure resentment, of course. The person who was the very reason we were so in love with the band hated every single one of us and it was this weird, fucked-up relationship that made us love him even more. We revelled in his sneering disapproval.

A few years ago I accidentally ended up interviewing him. Me, the Fall-fanboy who hadn’t conducted a single interview in his life and had absolutely no idea how, in a weird turn of events was to interview my idol for Vice, a magazine that I hated. It was bound to be a disaster.

A friend of mine was meant to be interviewing him but given the ‘difficult’ nature of the man about ten minutes beforehand she came running up to me, put the microphone in my hands and said that I was going to be interviewing him now. So, my first experience with music journalism was to be a conversation with every writer’s worst nightmare.

I was terrified and he knew it so, like most who were faced with the task of interviewing him, he attacked me like a Bengal tiger. It was complete mental abuse and I loved every second of it. Pure sadistic mental humiliation. What a character.

My first mistake was telling him how much I loved The Fall which was met with complete silence – no reaction at all. Ok, “let’s keep things weird,” I thought. After that, knowing that he hated to talk about the songs he wrote, I asked about the meaning behind ‘What About Us’ from 2005’s Heads Will Roll LP. I’d always been really intrigued by the lyrics in that song (“I am a rabbit from East Germany / I was so happy”). A few years on from the interview, with the help of a German friend, I discovered that there were colonies of rabbits trapped in the ‘Death Strip’ between both sides of the Berlin Wall. There’s even a documentary about them called ‘Rabbit a la Berlin’ but back in 2007 I didn’t know that and the ‘conversation’ went something like this:

Me: “So, what is the story behind What About Us?”

MES: “What’s ‘What About Us’?!’”

Me: “‘What About Us’… From your band… The Fall…”

MES: “Never wrote that song.”

Me: “What? [Sings lyrics to a glaring Mark E. Smith]”

MES: “[Laughs] Rabbits from East Germany? You are trying too hard, son.”

Then it started to get ugly. He didn’t like me, and to be truly honest, I didn’t like him either. War was on…

MES: “So, cunt… are you a fucking journalist?!”

Me: “No sir, I’m a History teacher.”

MES: “History teacher, eh?”

Me: “Yes…” [Long silence. 7 minutes, more or less.]

MES: “Do you know what the job in England with the highest suicide rate is?”

Me: “Being in The Fall?”

MES: “[Laughs] You cunt. It’s history teacher and I’m not lying. Kids are difficult nowadays.”

After that things started to deteriorate even further. We spoke a little bit about Mozart, with Smith claiming that the Austrian composer, a mason himself, was assassinated in a secretive plot by the English Freemasons. I try to make a joke about this which obviously goes down like a lead balloon and at this point Smith turns around and says he’s fed up with me and wants me to leave. So I did.

Even after all of that, I walked away from the interview knowing one thing: I was going to be a fan of this band forever. I didn’t know why, and I’ll probably never truly know, but I guess that’s kind of the point. Being a fan of The Fall can be a gruelling task at the best of times but it’s always worth it. / Illustration: Olya Dyer

Words: João Pimenta // Header Photo: Montecruz  Foto// Illustration: Olya Dyer

Mark E Smith Fall Fuzz Club