Extracts from Transcript 'Rhubarb Bomb and Mark E Smith at Balne Lane Working Mens Club'. For the full exclusive interview please see issue 1.3 of Rhubarb Bomb.
Rhubarb Bomb: Peter Hook has done a spoken word tour, don’t know if yr aware, he’s done a book too, went to see him at Wakefield Theatre and this is what he said – he’s ‘found a way to make a future out of talking about the past’. What do you think about that?
Mark E Smith: That’s not bloody news is it.
RB: Is that the opposite of what you do?
MES: (Still pondering) Is that what he says? Tsshhhh, he’s a weirdo int he?
RB: Can’t sympathise with that at all?
MES: A mate of mine in Salford, he got a copy of the book for nothing, he read it, said there’s summat about me in it. He rang Peter Hook up, I said you don’t have to do that! He got his private unlisted number, and said how dare you say that about Mark, I said you dint need to do that y twat… but erm, but he is, he’s bitter and twisted… I could tell y some stories…
RB: You can if you want…(no response) have you had many run ins with him then?
MES: No no, I like him, but all he’s concerned about is the past, it’s true what you just said. He just goes on about Tony Wilson all the time, (Exasperated) Tony Wilson’s DEAD! But erm, I shouldn’t tell ya this… another mate of mine he got (laughs cheekily) He was working on the Hacienda when it shut down and he got a load of panelling, the floor. Japs buy it for £70, a panel of the fucking Hacienda dance floor. So he had about 5 or 6, he had about half a dozen, so he made up some himself… (laughing almost uncontrollably)… Peter Hook is selling Hacienda floor, for £75 and this fella I know was selling it for £25! So he got a lawyer on him… and they bought him out for all his pieces, but half the pieces aren’t even real ones!
RB: Bet he weren’t happy about that!
MES: He doesn’t know does he!? He just gets em and signs em, sells em to Japan.
RB: That really is just making money off the past int it?
MES: Damn right. Least he’s honest about it. So what else was he saying? Bet that was depressing. How much you pay for that?!
RB: Well, it was ok, it’s a well known story that he tells int it…
MES: Yeah the Joy Division
RB: Sorry to keep quoting the book, coz I know you can’t quite remember it but…!
MES: I’m interested to hear it….
RB: …But you say in the book ‘lads under 35 are empty of wonder’.
MES: (laughs dismissively) Ghost writer there. I don’t remember that. That’s terrible that.
RB: Were you saying that people these days get it handed to them more, coz they don’t have to work as…
MES: Nah… I don’t think that. I don’t actually agree with that… not empty of wonder. I think young people get a hard time. Definitely
RB: From the media?
MES: Its a load of shit - compared to when I was 17.18 on the dole, you couldn’t walk out in Salford and Manchester without getting yr fucking head kicked in. Its not like that NOW. Demonisation of em…
RB: In reference to John Lennon, you said you found him a bit arrogant, because he was always playing as the artist, you said “it’s more important to be a man than an artist”
MES: (enthusiastically) Yeah!
RB: Can you elaborate on that, what do you mean by that?
MES: Well it’s an old saying, its not one of mine….
RB: Do you think with you, people confuse the man and the artist?
MES: Definitely. I think…. If there’s anything wrong with arts in western civilisation, It’s very self appreciating…
RB: That’s quite a grounded attitude would you say?
MES: Yeah, course we’re not U2 or anything, people think coz yr underground you are an artist, I never really think that way. I could do. And I could live as a rich man, loads of mistresses, and all this, but it’s never appealed to me, it’s a pointless exercise.
Interview and Photograph by Dean Freeman