House Of All: “We’re honouring what Mark taught us”

Meet House Of All, a new band comprised entirely of ex-Fall members in our MAY 2023 issue of Uncut, available to buy here.

Last year, after The Fall’s co-founding guitarist Martin Bramah moved back to Manchester, he had an idea to form a band of former Fall musicians. He rang Marc Riley, the 6 Music DJ and early Fall member, but Riley told him he didn’t play music any more. Another ex-Fall guitarist, Craig Scanlon, said the same. Classic-era bassist Steve Hanley and his drumming brother Paul were interested, but Bramah was all set to shelve the idea when by chance he bumped into mid-period Fall drummer Simon Wolstencroft, aka Funky Si, who he’d barely seen since they played together during Bramah’s second spell in the group in 1990. “I thought, ‘Two drummers!’ Then it started to come together.”

The final piece of the House Of All jigsaw was Pete Greenway, a younger guitarist who spent eight years in The Fall prior to singer Mark E Smith’s death. Gathered in a Manchester pub to talk to Uncut, the new group represents the entire lifespan of The Fall from 1976 to 2018, though Greenway had never met the others before. In fact, they only had one initial meeting before going straight into the studio to record their debut album. As Greenway puts it, “I was intrigued by the idea of just turning up, plugging in and seeing what happened.”


Bramah – who still also fronts Blue Orchids, and in some ways is as mercurial and wilful a character as Smith – had some strong ideas for House Of All. There would be no Fall songs or attempts to replicate the sound, though he did want to recreate Smith’s way of working: a pressurised environment where music could be conjured up on the spot. “Some of the best [Fall] moments were improvised,” says Bramah. “That was the element I was interested in recapturing.”

Armed only with a few Bramah lyrics, House Of All entered a studio in Ancoats for three days, and came up with the eight songs that form their debut album. House Of All is full of trademark Hanley basslines and motorik rhythms, but never sounds too much like The Fall.

There are songs about “Westminster and the royal household” (“Dominus Ruinea”), about the joy of creativity (“Magic Sound”) and songs named after books of medieval poetry (“Ayenbite”). Their shared history seems to have produced a weird, pan-generational chemistry. “It could have been lousy,” admits Paul Hanley, “but having all been in The Fall made us able to do it.”

In January, the single “Harlequin Duke” was released on the internet to a very positive response – other than from the Smith estate, who released a statement saying they found House Of All “extremely offensive and very misleading to the wider audience of Mark E Smith and The Fall”. The ruckus didn’t last – the family’s principal objection was to the “Fall family continuum” tag, which the band have since stopped using – but Bramah insists they’re “honouring what Mark taught us”. So what do they think Smith would have made of House Of All?

“He would have gone absolutely ballistic!” concedes Greenway. “But the only connection is our shared experience and way of working. We’re not trying to be The Fall.” Bramah is quietly positive: “I like to think he’s on a fluffy cloud somewhere… and would wish us well.”

House Of All is out on May 13 via Tiny Global Productions; the band play The Garage, London (May 18) The White Hotel, Manchester (19), Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton (20), The Cluny, Newcastle (22), Summerhall, Edinburgh (23) and The White Hotel, Manchester (25)