When I received an email response to my Fall reviews (www.markprindle.com/falla.htm, of course) from a man calling himself Paul Hanley, I was of course a bit hesitant to believe that it could be THE Paul Hanley. But when I asked and he replied, "Yeah, I'm Paul Hanley," I KNEW it had to be true! Knowing is believing! Seeing is understanding! Interviewing is what I asked him if he would do! He said yes, sent me a copy of the just- released Ark CD Brainsold free of charge ($25.00) and answered an email interview about 4 minutes after I sent it to him.
You'll find my questions in thick bold print and Paul's responses in whistle-thin plain text. Before I go on though, let me add that I didn't ask him about something else he's doing because I didn't know about it. What it is, is that he and his brother (Stephen Hanley, who once played bass for popular British emo band The Fall for a couple of decades) are also playing with Tom Ingley, who used to be the singer in The Inspiral Carpets. They've got quite a few dates coming up in the UK before Christmas and are hoping to put an album out. He's not been so busy in years! You can check out the band at http://www.tomhingley.co.uk/ .
Were you affected by the whole punk revolution of the late 70s? How old were you -- did it change the music you listened to at all?
Punk coincided with the awakening of my interest in music (I was 12 in '76) and basically determined the kind of music I was interested in for the next 5 years. Obviously Steve was fairly instrumental in that - I just like the music he likes! He was at the legendary (well legendary in Manchester anyway) Sex Pistols gig at the Free Trade Hall, which also featured Buzzcocks on the bill. Buzzcocks went on to be my favourite band. He also (as you may know) played bass and hung about with a band called the Fall, so to my young eyes there was never a barrier between liking music and playing it, it just seemed like a natural progression. I'm still amazed it isn't for more people.
You were a member of The Fall during what many people would call their golden era -- what was it like having to work with Mark Smith? Was he the obnoxious tyrant people always suggest? Or was it more fun than history would have us believe?
Being in the Fall was a dream come true and a bit of a nightmare. I have a lot of good memories about The Fall and I'm still very proud of the records they made while I was involved. Mark Smith certainly had his moments, but contrary to what he would have you believe he isn't (or wasn't) The Fall. I didn't join the Fall to work with Mark Smith, I put up with Mark Smith to be in The Fall. Having said that he was the best lyricist I've eer come across and on his day was certainly one of the best front men. He was pretty alright with me to be honest, and was certainly helpful when I left and formed my own band.
Why did you leave the band? And conversely, why did your brother stay on for so much longer?
The reason I left was because the band had a massive row after a gig in Brighton where MES blamed the bands recent woes (we'd had all our gear nicked the night before) on the fact that the rest of the band was having too much say. To be honest it would probably have blown over but Steve decided to take a bit of time off from the Fall for various reasons so it seemed like a good idea to stay left. I felt I could do without MES and it was time to form my own band which would obviously be more successful than The Fall. Shows what I know!
Did you continue playing music after you left the band? Or did you take up a different profession? (or both?)
As I said, I formed a band with my mates from school Paul Fletcher and Pete Keogh (we'd been in a band together before I was in the Fall. After that they had been playing with Marc Riley's post-fall band The Creepers) We did a number of gigs (including some good support slots with The Fall) and put a single out but we never really got anywhere. At that point I decided I'd had enough of bands and decided to take up gainful employment in the computer industry.
Did you continue following The Fall after your departure? How about after Stephen's departure? I'm just curious if you have an opinion about Mark's more recent work.
I obviously had an interest in The Fall while Steve was in the band, I used to go and see them live fairly regularly but since his departure I haven't really heard much at all. I'm sure their recent work is as interesting and challenging as ever (but the bass playing won't be as good!)
What was the impetus for Ark? Did Stephen just quit after the NYC fiasco and call you up? What was the coming-together like?
I think the main impetus for Ark in the beginning was for Steve Tommy and Karl to carry on working together but without Mark, to show they could. It was a noble undertaking but easier said than done given the personalities involved!
Where did the name Ark come from?
Steve's fevered brain.
How did you run across Pete Keogh? What was it about his style and/or personality that made it clear he was the vocalist you were looking for?
I've known Pete since I was eleven and he sang on the single I made when I left The Fall. The lineup of Ark was set before I came along, however, so you'd have to ask Steve.
How does working with Ark compare to working with The Fall?
Working with the Fall was my job and Mark Smith was my employer, which was fair enough, but it means you have to put up with certain things. From my point of view I only wanted to be in a band again if everyone behaved reasonably. (I didn't need to be in a band, I'd not played drums for years) Don't get me wrong, Mark was comparatively well behaved while I was in The Fall! I'm also fairly amazed at the sheer volume of work we did while I was in The Fall. I don't think many bands work as hard as that now!
How would you describe "Brainsold" to people who love The Fall but haven't yet had a chance to hear your new band?
If you like the Fall you'll know the Steve Hanley was 9/10ths of The Fall's sound. Steve sounds like Steve Hanley but Ark don't sound like the Fall.
What's with all the Hanleys on this CD? How many Hanleys do you guys HAVE over there anyway?
Steve's son Paul (great name) is currently serving his apprenticeship! He plays the drums as well. I'd like to claim credit for that but it's nothing to do with me, he taught himself! There are 2 non-musician Hanley brothers. Steve's got 2 kids (both of whom feature on the album!) I've got 3.
I can't help but notice that in the liner notes, the band thanks such former Fall members as Marc Riley, Dave Bush and Karl Burns, not to mention you have Tommy Crooks playing on a couple of tracks, yet there is no mention of Mr. Smith anywhere. What is the general feeling towards him at this point? Hatred? Disgust? Concern? Or no feeling at all?
The ex-Fall members are mentioned because of their help & friendship, not because they were in The Fall. There was no reason to mention MES. I'm certainly not going to slag him off.
What is your goal for Ark? Do you have more commercial aspirations than The Fall had? Or is it more of a hobby for you? Do you do a lot of touring? What's the story, Morning Glory?
I've not really thought much beyond getting the album out, to be honest. My aspirations, as I've mentioned, were to be in a band which behaved decently to each other and everyone else.
Who in your opinion are the best drummers of all time? And why? What made them really stand out?
All-time favourite drummer has to be Ringo Starr. He invented modern drumming, really (with Geoff Emerick, the Abbey Rd engineer). They changed how drums were recorded forever. His drumming was also inimitable. Other favorites are Topper Headon, Karl Burns and Stoker, who played on the first Dexy's Midnight Runners album. I bought it again recently and realised I'd been ripping him off for 20 years.
How would you describe your own drumming style?
Like the guy on Dexy's first album.
Are there any Fall or Ark songs on which you tried something particularly unique or difficult -- any that stand out in your mind as "your finest moments"?
I particularly like the 2 drummer stuff with The Fall - Tempo house was great cos it's just me Karl and Steve, I'm also quite proud of some of the stuff on 'Wonderful & Frightening world of...'
With Ark I like the grand piano on 'Nasty little lonely' Playing the keyboards is definitely difficult!
What else are you really into aside from music?
My family is my main interest! I also like reading when I get the chance (usually on the can)
You mentioned that you didn't agree with some of the things I said in my Fall reviews. I need to know what those are! So I can go back and change them!!!! Oh okay, I'm just curious. What were they? Did I like The Frenz Experiment and Middle Class Revolt too much, like everybody says?
I've bee re-reading your reviews and I can't find much to disagree with! Except you called the original version of Hey! Luciani weak (I'm on that !!)
Any idea what Craig Scanlon is up to? I'm not suggesting you're his keeper or anything -- just figured you'd have a better idea than I would! ;7)
I've not seen Craig in years !! Steve sees him now and again but he's not playing, which is a shame.
What's next for Ark?
Paul was drummer in the first Fall incarnation I saw - 1980 - about the time of How I Wrote Elastic Man. At the time he looked about 12! The later 2 drummer lineup with Karl Burns was fabulous - great night watching the band play 2 years later somewhere in London (East End?) previewing stuff from Slates and Hex Enducation Hour. Winter got an airing which really brought the 2 drum sound to the fore. Paul went onto do keyboards in later concerts - playing on Middlemass and Slang King in the period while Marc Riley was gone and begore Simon Rogers arrived.
I remember it was a bit of a shock turning up to see the band - again another half-remembered place in East London - a couple of years after that to find that neither Hanley was featuring - a lot of the crowd was moaning at the time, but Smith as ever managed to pull off yet another personnel changearound, he's always been inspired/lucky in getting great players in. I still go to see the Fall, although now it's often a case of wondering which set of frightened backing musicians are going to walk on stage ahead of the warped one.
I'll keep an eye out for Tom Hingley +/or Ark stuff in future.
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