(We Are) Mod Mock Goth



Take Viagra
Go to Camber Sands (2)
Our shirts are well out of our pants (3)
Mod mock goth

[Interim: All week we work in]

All week we work for daytime TV
When we laugh we say "tee hee hee"
We are mod mock rock goths
[Interim: Round the world
Look out, baby!
We are mod mock goth
Around the world
We're resistable
We are mod mock goth
Mod mock goth]

We're 29 going on 49
We get groups off before half nine
In Camden, Manchester and the Oxford ley-lands
We are mod mock goth

When we have the time
We stress less
We are the mod mock goth
Mod mock goth

Mod mock goth
Round the world
I'm irresistable
I got a lot of land
My land is built of silver (4)
My portaphone is lost
Mod mock goth
Mod mock goths!

And my trousers got a tick on the side (5)
My portaphone is lost somewhere deep inside
We are mod mock goth
Mod mock goth

Little beards as in the Bible
On the end of the chin (6)
Silver portaphone in hand (7)
Shirt is out of the pants
Mod mock goth
Mod mock goth 


1. According to Conway Paton, proprietor of the Fall online forum, "The song is apparently about one person in particular, and it's not anybody that's well known. I won't name him for obvious reasons." The title does suggest that it 's about a plurality or a scene, so I would imagine that if it's inspired by one person, "he" is representative of a tendency or a social scene. On the other hand, of course, it is possible that the person is quite unique and MES is imagining what a whole host of his type would look like, if he had a type. "When we laugh we say 'tee hee hee'" could also be an indication that a particular person is meant, since it's hard to imagine this being a common characteristic of a scene (like "metalheads always seem to wind their watches at the strangest times" or something, you get what I mean?). The Story of the Fall points a tentative finger at one of the the road managers indicated in "Portugal," without explanation. Another source claims that MES has privately admitted that the song is about Ed Blaney, but Conway on the Fall online forum has the following to say, which seems to confirm the "Portugal" hypothesis:

Mod Mock Goth is not about Ed Blaney. It's about a young hot-shot talent agent based in London who briefly took over managing the group while Ed was out of the picture for a bit. This comes from the person himself, who I have met but won't name, and also from Jim Watts in person, in a one on one conversation.

The Mod Mock Goth during his tenure came very close to signing the Fall to Mute/EMI along with a lucrative publishing deal for the Country On The Click album - both sabotaged by MES. He also booked the group to play a German biker festival with a bunch of heavy metal bands. And he sent the group to Portugal, which resulted in a couple of letters being sent by the Mod Mock Goth to MES which formed the basis for the lyrics to the song Portugal.

I was the first person to give Mod Mock Goth a CD of Portugal, which he found incredibly amusing, although he said it wasn't very funny at the time. I met him in New Zealand when he was here managing another client, Pete Doherty (he liked a challenge, obviously).

Apparently, mod goth is a thing, or at least enough of a thing not to have neen invented by MES. Goth is a subculture that is often associated with post-punk music, a very vague genre demarcation within which certain bands began to be described as "Goth Rock," such as The Cure, Bauhaus, The Birthday Party, The Virgin Prunes, and Killing Joke, with Joy Division sometimes recognized as proto-goth. Goth's are associated with wearing black, wearing unusual or creepy makeup, like a base of white makeup with dark highlights over it, doing conspicuous things with their hair, emulating Victorian styles, and all that sort of thing. Mod goth  is apparently a subset of goth, which incorporates elements of mod (short for "modernist," a term that is in this context derived from the jazz scene and is the term complement to "trad" or traditional jazz). Mod started in Britain in the late 1950s and was, like goth, a very fashion-conscious scene, involving bespoke suits and attention to hair, although mod styles are generally more mainstream than those associated with goth. The mod goth look, it seems, involves putting a darker (both literally and figuratively) and somewhat more outré emphasis on mod-style clothing. The character(s) in this song seems to be a bit older and more slovenly than your average conscientious mod goth, but of course the "mock" must also be taken in to account. In fact, the phrase "mock goth" isn't MES's creation either, as the term seems to have been used, predating this song, to describe poseur goths.

The Fall have sometimes been loosely associated with the Goth scene; as "post-punks" (although that label indicates surprisingly little about the sounds one can expect to hear) they are in the ballpark of what a goth may be expected to listen to, or at least be familiar with, and Bend Sinister is sometimes said to have a little bit of a goth feel, although I lack the expertise to say whether this is accurate. According to the Allmusic review of that album, "there was no worry that the Fall would ever go goth; one suspects Mark E. Smith would rather have his tongue removed. Still, opening track "R.O.D." makes for a distinctly lower-key start in comparison to recent leadoffs like "Lay of the Land" and "Bombast," almost sounding a bit like fellow Mancunian legends Joy Division, Smith's lyric his own depressing vision of a beast slouching toward Bethlehem." In other words, the Fall did not go goth with Bend SInister, but it was wiorth mentioning that they didn't, a combination of factors that probably gives a reasonably accurate indication of their proximity to the genre at that point in their career. 

The Interim version has a different vocal track; the lyrics are more or less the same.


2. Camber Sands is a beach resort area in Southern England. It hosts All Tomorrow's Parties, an "alternative" music festival at which the Fall played in 2003-2004 and 2010, 2012, and 2013. "Mod Mock Goth" was recorded in December, 2003, so it is likely that any association MES had with the town at the time involved the festival.  


3. Dan: This is an ambiguous line in British English, because "pants" usually means "underpants" rather than "trousers". So it could just mean someone who never has their shirt tucked into their trousers, or it could mean someone who makes sure that their shirts are not geekishly (one feels doing so would be some kind of marker of this sort) further tucked into their underpants.


4. Dan points out that "Land of Silver" would ordinarily denote Argentina, the name of which somes from the Latin argentum (silver). Silver reappears below in the line "silver portaphones in hand."


5. Dan connects this with Nike, as the famous "swoosh" is also sometimes called a "tick" (presumably because it resembles a check mark).


6. This line is mystifying and silly; one can only admire it.  


7. See note 4 above.


Comments (30)

  • 1. Martin | 22/07/2013
I wonder what "Oxford Laylands" are?

Maybe a misspelling of Leyland as in British Leyland's factory at Cowley, near Oxford. Or a self-reference to The Fall's song "Lay of the Land"?
  • 2. Huckleberry | 22/08/2013
"Silver portaphone in hand" sounds like "Silver microphone in his hand" in "Bingo Master's Breakout".
  • 3. dannyno | 26/10/2013
"Ley Lines" is the name of a music festival in Oxford. I don't know if it was going in 2003, though.
  • 5. bzfgt | 15/06/2014
Nevertheless "ley-lands" seems more likely to me as I have no idea what "laylands" could mean. I hyphenated it because it would otherwise probably be pronounced "lee-land." It probably needs a note, at some point.

Also note that "Lay of the Land" refers (obliquely) to ley lines...
  • 6. dannyno | 22/07/2014
"We drink all night
Goin' home, four in the back
We get groups up before half nine"

There's something wrong here. I'm mainly going by the single version, and I'm hearing this:

"We drink [ ] going home for the night
We get groups up before half nine"

There's a kind of gurgle in the square brackets. I don't what that is. But there's no sign in any of the versions I've heard (single, Interim, Real New Fall LP) of the line "going home, four in the back".
  • 7. Martin | 09/10/2014
With reference to note 6 above:

8 December 2003 Carling Academy, Islington, London. "We're 29 going on 49/They get all the groups off by half past nine."

25 February 2004 Fat Sam's, Dundee: "We get the groups off before half nine in Camber, Manchester and Oxford."
  • 8. Martin | 09/11/2014
The US version of the album on which this song is on definitely has:

"We get groups off before half nine".
  • 9. bzfgt | 16/11/2014
OK, I finally listened to this and he definitely says "We're 29 going on 49
We get groups off before half nine". Thanks for that Martin, I don't know if I'd have made it out otherwise.
  • 10. bzfgt | 16/11/2014
And Dan, I forgot to add.
  • 11. dannyno | 26/02/2015
"And my trousers got a tick on the side"

Adidas, obviously.

  • 12. bzfgt | 28/03/2015
Heh? What does that mean? What's a tick, and what does it have to do with Adidas? What's so OBVIOUS, MAN???
  • 13. dannyno | 23/05/2015
Oops, I cited the wrong brand. The "tick" is used by Nike, not Adidas.

  • 14. mark | 02/03/2018
I hear "We get groups up before half-nine" as in a managerial capacity, making them arise early in the morning, post-gig the night before.
  • 15. bzfgt (link) | 10/03/2018
I listened to it on both versions numerous times just now and both vocal takes seem to have "get the groups off" to my ears, perhaps a bit clearer on Protein Xmas though
  • 16. dannyno | 26/01/2019
"Our shirts are well out of our pants"

I just wanted to note that this is an ambiguous line in British English, because "pants" usually means "underpants" rather than "trousers". So it could just mean someone who never has their shirt tucked into their trousers, or it could mean someone who makes sure that their shirts are not geekishly (one feels doing so would be some kind of marker of this sort) further tucked into their underpants.
  • 17. dannyno | 26/01/2019
"Take Viagra
Go to Camber Sands "

An air here of middle aged desperation in trying to recapture potent youth by attending a music festival.
  • 18. dannyno | 26/01/2019
"My land is built of silver"

Bit odd this. Argentina is often said to be the "land of silver", its name derived as it is from the Latin for silver.
New Fall Fan
  • 19. New Fall Fan | 26/10/2019
Regarding #16 above and/or note (3) ... this line reminds me of the lyric from Cruiser's Creek " Watch the shirt-tails flapping in the wind.." So I would say definitely a reference to shirts not being tucked in, but we can only surmise for what particular reason.. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • 20. Huckleberry | 09/01/2020
"Our shirts are well out of our pants"
Cf "His hand was well out of his pocket" (Mere Pseud Mag Ed")
  • 21. Huckleberry | 09/01/2020
"My land is built of silver"
Cf "My garden is made of stone" (Psykick Dance Hall)
New Fall Fan
  • 22. New Fall Fan | 29/07/2020
I don't know where this is ever referred to as "(We are) Mad Mock Goth"...I suggest we simplify it to "Mad Mock Goth" that way it's easier to find alphabetically. Also this track appears on my version of "The New Fall LP" but it's not listed under that LP on this website. So in other words, if you're coming to this site to check out "Mad Mock Goth" it's a little tricky to find. I know this is all pedantic and stupid, but it might help somebody, some day.
New Fall Fan
  • 23. New Fall Fan | 29/07/2020
I am thinking "our shirts are well out of our pants" is code for "we just got our nobs licked by a groupee and we are in a bit of a disheveled condition"...especially in reference to the Viagra previously popped. Also see: "Shirt-tails flapping in the wind" on Cruiser's Creek.
New Fall Fan
  • 24. New Fall Fan | 29/07/2020
Goths don't wear Adidas or Nike pants. And you wouldn't try tucking a shirt into 'em. Not sure what "trousers with a tick on the side" could be referring to though.
  • 25. bzfgt (link) | 02/08/2020
It must be just on the US version or something...I'll look it up, and the title...
  • 26. bzfgt (link) | 02/08/2020
OK I put it in with the album. I got it from Reformation! maybe, anyway that's how they have it (Martin, any idea about this?)

I don't see it anywhere but there and here:


  • 27. bzfgt (link) | 02/08/2020

  • 28. Martin | 06/08/2020
(We Are) Mod Mock Goth is the title on the Protein Christmas single, which was the first release of the track.
  • 29. bzfgt (link) | 16/08/2020
Thank you, Martin
  • 30. dannyno | 29/10/2020
Some comments by me on the word "portaphone" in the entry forRainmaster.

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