Mark E. on authors


on Charles Bukowski

from an interview with Mark E. Smith in 1999,

"I like it very much. He sounds sprightly here, doesn't he?....He sounds really good here. The ones I've got, he sounds pissed out of his head all of the time. If you go for a walk on the other side of L.A., this is what it's like. The L.A. streets used to interest me. I used to split off from the [ex-] missus [Brix Smith] when I stayed there and go see people like Kid Congo [Powers] on the other side of town. Me and him used to tear the place apart. 
There's the arty side of LA, there's the film section of LA, and then there's this section that makes Salford look sophisticated. They'd be living in these flats where the big old Hollywood stars used to live, only now they were wrecked. There are all these people there that don't want to conform. Claude [Bessy - aka punk rock journalist Kickboy Face] was like that. Good people."

asked what he likes about Bukowski,
"I can't read him, but I can hear him. I've only got tapes that my mates gave me. 
Kid gave me some tapes of when he was reading at a university. He'd be on stage with a fridge full of beer, which is really revolutionary. 
You play gigs in California, even in the hippy places, you can't have beer on stage. Yet he had a fridge full! You'd hear him deliberately open the can in front of his audience, drink the beer down and go 'Blarrp!' They had to put up with it because it was all part of his act."

asked "Do you think Bukowski's audience are drawn to him because of what he wrote or what he sounds like?"
"It's the delivery, isn't it? I liked Burroughs a lot more when I saw him live in Manchester. 
I always liked Burroughs, but when I saw him live I thought he was knockout. He delivers it like a Southern sheriff. You could listen to him all night, just the way he was saying it. 
You read, 'The Naked Lunch' and it's good stuff. You hear him reading it out loud, with all the pauses, and it sounds like a press conference or some presidential address. It was surreal, yet it made his writing make a lot more sense. The old school of writers were like that too. Bram Stoker and Charles Dickens used to read out their novels to an audience, didn't they? To see how they worked before they published them. It would have been great to hear them read it out.

on George V. Higgins

from Renegade, The Lives And Tales of Mark E Smith,
"I remember reading The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins, and thinking this is what writing's all about. I ripped through that fucker in the space of days. If only they fed you books like that at school."


on Martin Amis

from an interview in 1991,
"I read history, Jim Thompson, magazines... But the standard of writing has gone right down the drain. In Britain, anyway. Rock journalism is appalling. Can't write sentences, spell... The books are appalling, that are coming out in Britain. They're all a bout murderers and psychos, and... Brett Ellis and brat-pack shit, it's shit. You need somebody to sit down and write a fuckin' proper book, that means everything to everybody, you know...I like Martin Amis very much. But even he's gone... It's a sign of the times, I think."

on Luke Rheinhart

"That song [Dice Man] was one of the most truthful. I based it on the book because I loved the idea that this guy would throw dice in the morning to decide how he'd be that day. I believe you have the right to change. We don't have a deliberate policy of keeping people guessing - that's just the way I am. You only look at life through your own eyes. I thrive on being outside the pop mess but not many people see that. I'm dead proud that The Fall aren't just another branch on the tree of show biz. Basically, rock music isn't very interesting, so it's only people like me who can make it interesting."

from an interview with Jon Wilde published in Jamming, Mark E. Smith said,

"That song was one of the most truthful. I based it on the book because I loved the idea that this guy would throw dice in the morning to decide how he'd be that day. I believe you have the right to change. We don't have a deliberate policy of keeping people guessing - that's just the way I am. You only look at life through your own eyes. I thrive on being outside the pop mess but not many people see that. I'm dead proud that The Fall aren't just another branch on the tree of show biz. Basically, rock music isn't very interesting, so it's only people like me who can make it interesting."

Dice Man was the name of a track on The Fall's 2nd studio album, Dragnet (1979)



on Alfred Jarry

"Ubu Roi is a home Hobgoblin."
The Fall song, City Hobgoblins, contains this Mark E Smith penned lyric. It is a precursor of the Theatre of the Absurd and Surrealism. It is the first of three stylised burlesques in which Jarry satirises power, greed, and their evil practices—in particular the propensity of the complacent bourgeoisie to abuse the authority engendered by success.

on H.P. Lovecraft

responding to a question about lyrics in Fall song, Spector vs Rector,

"Betrayal! Well, you’ve got to pay homage, don’t you? Somebody’s got to do it. He’s not very bloody recognized where you live, is he? It’s disgusting. They come over here and worship bloody Jane Austen and shit like that. Funnily enough, I just reread At the Mountains of Madness. It’s great, isn’t it? I would love to visit Lovecraft’s grave."

on Albert Camus

on the novel 'The Fall',
"Wanted to call the group in its nemesis The Outsider but in those days finally discovered that a lot of groups were called that so I decided on The Fall instead."

on the group's high turnover rate,
"Like Camus, I was a very disgruntled goalkeeper."

on Arthur Machen

"I used to be in the Machen society... Been a fan since I was 16. Fanatical and all. He's one of the best horror writers ever. MR James is good, but Machen's fucking brilliant. Wrote the first drug story, The Novel of the White Powder. Before Crowley, all of them. Have you read The Great God Pan? Terrifying. It's like another world. Goes to all these places, like, 'this is where the working class hang out, this is where the dandies hang out... I went in this pub, a bloke comes in with a knife in his back'. Like, the real occult's in the pubs of the East End. In the stinking boats of the Thames, not in Egypt. It's on your doorstep mate. Strikes a chord with me."

on William Blake

"He [Blake] was a real workhorse for his time. I thought he was great, especially what he did and how he managed to do it for that period of history. He wrote “Jerusalem” and all his other stuff out himself but the thing is, he used to paint stuff behind the writing and then print it out on copper, totally the reverse of what he was meant to be doing. He’d do paintings with, like, a verse over it and then print it up himself. Amazing, really, when you think about it. I suppose my favourite work by him is “Ghost Of A Flea”… What a title! What I like about it is that it’s just like a really, really grotesque painting. I like something grotesque in an artist."

on Malcolm Lowry

"There are a lot of American writers who are a lot better than British writers, it's like anything else: why are the Germans better at football? Because they care about it. They're not in it for the money Britain and England is going to pay for all this, I think. Does that sound too esoteric? England is going to pay for that. They've always had the inventors and the creators, and they just don't fucking appreciate them. Jim Thompson worshipped Raymond Chandler, who was English. But he was treated like scum here and had to go to bleeding America.
One of the best writers I like is Malcolm Lowry, who was from bleeding Warrington, or somewhere. He's one of the best bloody writers, he wrote the best books: Under The Volcano. But some bratpack idiot writes a bloody book that is some complete rip-off of Under The Volcano, about a guy who goes to Mexico and gets fucked up, and he makes a million dollars."

on William S. Burroughs

when asked by Kevin E.G. Perry about literary influences,

“When I was about your age I used to like Burroughs and stuff like that. Yeah, I think his influence is apparent”
on Friedrich Nietzsche
 
asked by Kevin E.G. Perry about literary influences:

"I used to read a lot of Nietzsche. Still do!” A sly laugh, before he deadpans:“He’s not very popular.”

on Arthur C. Clarke

“....I prefer Clarke. Arthur C Clarke, people don’t like him but I do. He’s very underrated, I think.”

on David Yallop

"Parts of it (Mark E. Smith's play, Hey Luciani) were based on David Yallop's book In God's Name about these mysteries surrounding the death of Pope John Paul I, Albino Luciani, in 1978."