Mark E. Smith dies: The Fall frontman's funniest interview quotes and many, many dislikes

'Serial killers were always a bore in my book'

Mark E Smith, lead singer of The Fall, dies aged 60

The death of Mark E. Smith, irascible frontman of art-punk band The Fall since 1976 and the band's only constant member (out of 66), at the age of 60 is a tragic loss to the music world.

It's also a crying shame for interviewers, Smith being every bit as funny and acerbic in conversation as he was in his songwriting.

In an interview with Robert Chalmers for The Independent in 2011, Smith was on rare form, listing "soft lads who blab" among things he hated, along with Manchester United, red wine, Australia, Brighton, the NYPD and many more.

Smith's characterisation of the south side of Manchester in the same interview as a middle-class haven where "people sit around wearing deerstalkers, sipping sherry" is hilarious, as is his dismissal of ex-bandmates as "d***heads who can't hold their beer and needed to get home to Cheshire."

His 2008 memoir Renegade was also a treasure trove of bon mots. Particularly relishable, in amongst the score-settling, was his dislike for BBC Match of the Day pundits Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer and "crisp man" Gary Lineker ("I bet they go shopping together"). His appearance on the Beeb's Final Score reading the Saturday afternoon football results in the company of Ray Stubbs, incidentally, remains one of the strangest spectacles the corporation ever broadcast.

On Vauxhall using his track "Touch Sensitive" for a Corsa advert, an explanation this droll could come from no one else: "I needed the money. We're not all Elton John."

Gloriously cantankerous to the last, Mark E. Smith was particularly adept at cooking up withering insults.

Fall fans took relish in sharing the best on Twitter last night, the highlights of which included his description of Badly Drawn Boy as a "fat git" and ex-Fall bassist and later DJ Marc Riley as a "floppy mong".

Riley's relationship with Smith was particularly fraught, even by Fall standards. The frontman sacked his bandmate on the latter's wedding day in 1983 and expressed his indifference to BBC 6 Music and host "Guy f***ing Garvey" to The Guardian in a late interview: "Imagine having to say hello to Marc Riley every day."

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Smith proclaimed himself glad to see Guardian interviewer Dan Dylan Wray that day as he'd been expecting "a f***ing London Billy Bragg type". Bragg was nevertheless quick to express his condolences last night.

Other highlights of that encounter include Smith's thoughts on Breaking Bad and box set culture: "That's going f***ing nowhere." Curmudgeonly, sure, but exactly the sort of contrarian stance almost no one else is adopting.

Unexpected, throwaway lines of this ilk are what made an often difficult and complicated man's outsider perspective so unique. It takes a certain sort of mind to fire a sound engineer for having the audacity to eat salad at lunch.

Other dislikes include David Fincher's 1995 thriller Se7en ("Serial killers were always a bore in my book"), Morrissey - rumoured subject of The Fall's song "C.R.E.E.P." - and even Kate Bush.

Amazingly vehement on the latter subject, Smith asked The Manchester Evening News in 2014: "Who decided it was time to start liking her again?... I never even liked her the first time round. It’s like all these radio DJs have been raiding their mam’s and dad’s record collections and decided that Kate Bush is suddenly cool again. But I’m not having it."

Just be thankful he never turned his hand to international diplomacy: “Nuking Russia might not be a bad idea as far as the bleedin’ world is concerned. They’ve plunged a lot of people into miserable lives. You’ve only got to be in East Germany to see it. It’s a horrible way to live. It’s like Doncaster.”

A truly underrated wordsmith as well as a great British eccentric, Mark E. Smith was a tremendously well-read man and a fan of authors as diverse as Philip K. Dick, Hunter S. Thompson and Arthur Machen.

His lyrics were often composed in a clipped and abbreviated style (the song "Mere Pseud Mag Ed", about a journalist he took exception to, captures it nicely) and always delivered with the sardonic Mancunian sneer that became his trademark.

Often veering close to the Nadsat slang spoken by Anthony Burgess's droogs in A Clockwork Orange (1962) - his song "To NK Roachment: Yarbles" references the novel directly - Smith's idiolect was entirely his own. Appropriately, one of The Fall's most successful albums was called Perverted By Language (1983).

A fine example from Renegade sees him attacking record labels for reissuing old LPs, a process he describes as "filching from the past like magpies with a Tardis."

The Fall's biggest champion was always John Peel. The Radio 1 DJ's famous summation of his favourite band is likely to remain its epitaph: "Always different, always the same."

A fittingly pithy remark on a man who produced so many unforgettable turns of phrase himself.

R.I.P. M.E.S., songwriter, pub stalwart and loather of computers and Paul Morley.

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