“As far as I know I think it’s when they’re all packing up and going home on Sunday.”
It’s safe to say that Mark E Smith is nonplussed by The Fall’s impending appearance at Glastonbury, their first since 1992, when he spent much of the set berating Michael Eavis for the perceived slight of putting them on before James. Urban myth also suggests that Smith is the only person ever to receive a life ban from Glastonbury, allegedly for his pro-nuclear views when it was a CND festival. This was presumably lifted when he made a guest appearance for Gorillaz in 2010, taking to the Pyramid stage sporting an Alvin Stardust-style black glove and immediately turning down Mick Jones’ guitar.
The Fall return at 7:30pm Sunday on the Park stage, where they will inevitably play much of their recent – 31st – album, Sub-Lingual Tablet. But it’s a booking that only occurred through a series of random events.
“They kept ringing up,” says Smith. “He [Eavis] said something in The Guardian. They asked him why they didn’t have more comedians and he said the only good comedian we ever had on was Mark E Smith of The Fall, which I thought was very funny. He said we don’t have comedians on which I thought was very admirable, because all them stupid comedians, they’re asking why they can’t be on, apparently. They’re well above their station aren’t they, them comedians. Bill Bailey? Why should he be on? Fuck’s sake. I’ve no fucking viewpoint. So they kept ringing up and our agent won’t have anything to do with them, but this fucking bloke came on - they were all on holiday or something - and the fella who answered the phone, he played drums for us in the Reading Festival when I got attacked by the rest of the group. He stood in. I’d blocked that out of my memory, but that fella, I hadn’t seen him before or since, but he books a lot of festivals. I didn’t even say thanks. I remember him coming on, but I had concussion. So these idiot roadies of ours kept ringing up. I said don’t fucking ring, I don’t want to play, nobody’s interested. One last try, and the guy who answered the phone was him. Forgot his name now as well. He said ‘I played drums for you.’ We’re doing him a favour, you see.”