Keiron Melling, along with Dave Spurr and Peter Greenway where the longest serving lineup in the Fall alongside Mark E Smith and Elanor Poulou until her departure in 2016. I was lucky enough to meet Keiron Dave and Pete when the Fall played in Melbourne for three nights back in 2015. You couldn/t meet nicer guys. The three with Smith and Poulou put out some ripper LPs with the Fall, including 2015s Sub-Lingual Tablet which is up there with Hex Enduction Hour as some of the bands finest LPs. 2017s New Fact Emerge proved that Mark E Smith still has something to say and the band was in fine form. Sadly with Marks passing at the start of the year also meant the end of the fall. Keiron Pete and Dave are continuing to play together under Imperial Wax, who recently played with one of Smiths heroes Damo Suzuki up front. Keiron was kind enough to talk with us bout his time in the Fall and memories of the great man MES
Munster: What process went into making New Fact Emerge?
Keiron: It started out with myself, Dave and Pete all writing our own song ideas at home, then we hit the studio to write together. On this occasion we went to Clitheroe Grand where we roughed out 6 or 7 songs by trying out all our ideas together to see what works. We found a great little boozer round the corner from the studio… That was the end of us being productive! The next step was to go to another studio in Castleford called The Chairworks to crack on with the real versions of the songs. I took along Mat Arnold who engineered and co-Produced. He didn’t get a credit on the album unfortunately but he really helped make it great and wouldn’t be the same without him. We wrote, arranged and tracked the whole album in 10 days apart from “O! ZztrrK Man” and “Nine Out Of Ten” which Mark, Pete and I did at Dings studio in Salford one night after meeting up with Mark. Dingo has always been great with us and a good friend who Mark works well with, so most of the vocals were recorded there at his place. I took it all to my studio and mixed the whole album with Mat. Mark would come over and work his magic on it until we were all happy.
Munster: Marks vocals on some of the later tracks on NFE aren’t as rough as guts as most of his work in the later years, which was a shock and surprise, did he always ave that in him and he rather sing in the rough stylings he came known for?
Keiron: He always had it and would regularly sing in the softer voice when we were together, but live he would belt it out with the growl to keep the energy up. If I ever try to bring the song down a little for some light and shade, he would signal me to get it going again! Think he preferred the onslaught.
Munster: Over your years in the Fall what did you learn from Mark and also did you pass on any wisdom to him?
Keiron: Mark taught me what it’s like to be in a real working band. Going from a local band where it’s all good fun to a professional group is a big difference. If you’re ill you go on stage.. If you have a holiday booked and a gig pops up, you cancel your holiday. You have to be prepared to drop all your plans to work with The Fall as and when it’s needed. I know that’s not how all bands work but I liked it that way to keep us sharp. I think I also picked up on how to sniff out a bullshitter in the music industry from a mile away.
Munster: What was it like co-producing LPs with him?
Keiron It was a subtle blend of fun and frustration ha! Just when you’re really happy with the mix, Mark would come in and want to change something you’ve agonised over for hours. That’s
Munster: When I first interviewed you mentioned you hadn/t heard of the Fall prior to joining, what was his pitch that made you want to join up?
Keiron: He didn’t pitch anything. It was Dave who called me and asked if I wanted to stand in for a gig in Dublin back in 2006. I was given a cd with 12 songs to learn 3 days before the gig. I actually met Mark for the first time at the airport!
Munster: You Dave and Pete seem liked a pretty tight unit both on and off stage, what has gelled you guys together?
Keiron: Dave and I have been a rhythm section for 19 years playing for a few bands. He’s a fucking good bloke. I met Pete at the first Dublin gig and instantly felt like I’ve known him my whole life. We’ve been through a lot over the years together and I know they’ve got my back as I’ve got theirs. Like a gang or the lads you fought in the war with.
Munster: One of my favourite stories of Mark is the one of how he would send a postcard to a girl who lost her teddy bear and he would write postcodes from the bear, if you ave one please shear us a nice story bout the great man we may not know.
Keiron : There’s so many funny stories it’s hard to pick just one, or one I can tell. He once gave Dave an outline of his shoe that he’d drawn on a piece of paper to take into a shoe shop! The look on the guys face when dave asked for a pair of shoes that size.
Munster: Dave Simpsons book the Fallen had many different stories and opinions on Mark, but every person said the same thing, given the chance they would all return. What kind of impact did the Fall ave that would make them put personally stuff aside and return?
Keiron: I don’t know really. I can only go off my experience and that was good. We were great friends and enjoyed every minute.
Munster: How hard was the last year given Marks health?
Keiron: I believed he would get better for the most part and always had hope he was on the mend. It was tough watching him deteriorate physically but his mind was seriously focused. We practically begged him to postpone the gigs and rest up but he needed to do them I think.
Munster: You/ve announced that you Pete and Dave are going to push on under a new name, I take it its too early to discuss details but anything you can tell us?
Keiron: Yes, we decided to keep moving forward together just like Mark always did. He always focused on the next thing and that’s what we’re doing. We’re moving on under the name Imperial Wax with all new material. We have a one off Show with Damo Suzuki on the 12 of May then we hit the studio at the end of June with a new singer.
Munster: Stewart Lee wrote that in the later years Mark finally captured the Fall sound he had been trying to capture for a long time, given the every changing sound of the Fall do you agree with that?
Keiron: I think whatever era of The Fall at that specific time, Mark has always been himself and 100% original and has always made anything he sings on sound like The Fall.
Munster: What do you want to be remembered for in your time with the Fall?
Keiron: I’d like to be remembered for being a loyal, solid longest serving lineup who were totally unsackable haha
Munster: And finally, Favourite Fall LP please?
Keiron: New Facts Emerge. I enjoyed having more control over the outcome and can’t think of a better way to finish The Fall on.