Is there anybody there?
Rock Rock Rock Rock Rock
Is quester psykick dance-hall
For ESP medium discord
My garden is made of stone
There's a computer center over the road (2)
I saw a monster on the roof
Its colors glowed on the roof
Round the corner
Is quester psykick dancehall
Step forward (3)
For ESP medium discord
Here they have no records
They know your questions about no words
Just bumble stumble to the waves
Twitching out to the waves
Clock it! Rock it!
It's quester psykick dance-hall
Never bored with
ESP medium discord
When I'm dead and gone
My vibrations will live on
In vibes not vinyl through the years
People will dance to my waves
Rock it! Clock it!
It's quester psykick dance-hall
Step aboard for
ESP medium discord
You gotta come
For a mental orgasm
1. From Reformation: "In Simon Ford's book 'The Fall,' Kay Carroll explained the origin of the song's title: her mother opened a psychic centre 'on the corner of Gardner Road and Bury New Road in Prestwich. It was over a row of shops that consisted of a bakery, hairdresser's and a shoe shop...It had originally been a dance studio, you know tap, ballroom dancing, things of that nature.'"
From a 1981 interview:
JNM: Something I've noticed about the Fall is that there seems to be reoccuring theme of...an interest in mysticicsm, or the supernatural...for instance, i'm thinking of "Psykick Dancehall"...
MES: You mean, sort of dark...like "Spectre vs. Rector" and that?
JNM: "Psykick Dancehall" doesn't seem dark to me, it's almost...happy...about the idea of your vibrations living on...oh God, I don't want to sound like an old hippe here, but the whole notion of a life after death where your energy can be perceived as music...I liked that.
MES: Yeah, that's what the song was saying, really. That was written at a time when we were in a really bad state, financially and everything. So I wrote this song about this dancehall, which does sort of exist in Prestwich...or doesn't anymore...they were going to have a disco with no music. Just old psychics, you know, like 50-year-old women.
JNM: Just sort of, like, projecting, huh?
MES: I mean, it was also saying that, it doesn't matter if the Fall are never going to be very big in London and don't think that I feel a bit of a failure because...my soul and personality will outlive anything I ever did on a record, I know that. It'll change more things. Me meeting you, hopefully, will have as much effect on you as the records. I've always had in me this very sort of Puritan northern Englishman in me that finds records sort of...childish. I mean when people go "why don't you produce this" or "when is this album coming out" and I just think, "I don't fuckin' know!" We do in-store appearances in America, and I get really embarrassed! (Laughs)
JNM: (Back to the "psykick" question) So do you believe in these sort of...occult ideas? Things you can't see that are following you around, that are responsible for things you can't explain?
MES: Yeah, I believe in all those things...I don't think about them much. I'm not an "enthusiast" for that sort of thing. I went through aphase in my teens where I read all the books on the occult. The only reason I was into it is that it's fascinating, really. But you can't really go around talking about it, or people will just come out with facts, books and lists..."oh yeah, Crowley, blah blah blah..." all these boring farts, you know. I believe that things leave vibrations, you know. America's good for that, you go to all the Civil war places where they had the battles...the atmosphere is incredible. You can really reach out and feel it.
JNM: It's just something that's there.
MES: Like cats, you know cats are always looking at things you can't see at all. When we started the Fall in Manchester, Martin Bramah, who's now in the Blue Orchids and all that, he was very heavily into it and I used to avoid it...he used to do Tarot readings and all that...which I still do. But once you get a hold of heavy drugs and start getting into all that stuff it gets really insane. It just gets silly. I'm more interested in stuff like where Philip K. Dick is going. 'Cause it's real, you know? About time and stuff like that, the way writings can prophesize things. Like I've found a lot of my writing is actual prophecy. It's really strange.
And Dan dug up the following, from 2003:
"That was based on this Christian Psychic club that I used to go to for a laugh. These psychic women would stop me coming out of the dole and go, 'You've got it, come to our meeting.' Fascinating stuff. It was like Alcoholics Anonymous for psychics. But it's best forgetting about. They're never rich, those people. Show 'em a racing paper and they know which horse is gonna fall over at the hurdle but they don't know which horse is gonna win it. What's the use in that?"
Later in the interview, we learn that Fiery Jack used to go to the same meetings...
Martin Brahmah, on the other hand, tells us it was he who went to the club, and MES never went there (via Dan):
"Psychic Dancehall" was a story I told Mark about a club I used to go to - a little disco - above a spiritualist church in Prestwich, called Questers Psychic Disco. It was a rough little dive, a pre-18 place, because there was no alcohol. It got raided by the police one night. I didn't know Mark at that point, and Mark never went, but later I told him about this place, and the "outside" of Prestwich became a strong theme in his writing.
Also from Dan:
From "Is This the Rise and Rise..." by Chris Westwood, Record Mirror, 22 March 1980, p.34:
... the flat where I used to live was next to the mental hospital where Kay worked - she used to come round the corner from there they had a psychic centre, where all the people used to go. They had discos; it really was a Psychic Dancehall. When I met Kay, that's how the idea for that song came about, 'cause Kay's mother had actually founded this place round the corner. If you look at it one way, the psychics won't even need the records...
Dan sums up:
Reading all the accounts of the genesis/inspiration of this song together reveals some further contradictions.
Bramah says he went to a Spiritualist disco called "Questers", but that MES did not.
Kay Carroll talks about a psychic centre, which she locates precisely, in a room which was originally a dance studio.
In 1981, MES talks about a putative "disco with no music" in a psychic dancehall which used to exist.
In 2003, MES talks about a psychic club which he went to "for a laugh" (and that "Fiery Jack" also used to go). This does not sound at all like the same place as Bramah's spiritualist disco.
I haven't got a quote to hand where MES explicitly says he went to something that sounds like Bramah's disco. So either there is more than one source for the song, which is plausible, or MES is covering his tracks (less likely, because of Carroll's very precise recollection).
2. From "Garden" by the Groundhogs: "My garden is overgrown/And the weeds are creeping up on my home." The Fall have covered "Junkman" (which they renamed "Junk Man") and "Strange Town" (renamed, yep, "Strangetown").
Joseph Holt: "In the early 80s, as home computers (ZX Spectrum, etc.) took off, there was a small computer shop in the center of Sedgely Park, corner of Bury New Road and Kings Road, either in the space that is now Sedgely Park post office, or right next door. My dad bought me my first computer from there, an Oric, in about 1983."