Here is a series of email exchanges I had with Mark Burgess in late 1998. I converted the original text to HTML and corrected a couple of minor typos.

I’m a great fan of The Chameleons and recently was sad enough to transcribe a few quotes from bootlegs and put them on the Web.

Interesting, I’ll check it out next time I’m online.

Were you a big fan of The Fall ? I just love the bit where you sing ‘Rowche Rumble’ in ‘Splitting in Two’.

Yes I’ve always been a big fan of The Fall, since 1976 through all their many incarnations, my favourite being Mark Smith, Marc Riley, Una Baines, Karl Burns and Martin Bramah.

Was the dig about ‘Bleak and industrial we’re not and never will be’ aimed at anyone in particular ? A Certain Ratio, Joy Division ? Those stupid bands from Sheffield who used to bang oil drums ?

No not really, it was something that was being said about us in reviews.

What was ‘Paradiso’ about ? It’s one of my favourites together with Soul in Isolation (heard about the Jack London book) and ‘Splitting’.

At the time I did Paradiso I wasn’t sure, I just thought, shit, that’s a weird one, where did that come from But later I realised that it focused on my experiences of Amsterdam and it kind of paints a Soddam and Gommorah picture of it.

God, it really was you.

Please don’t call me God, plain Mark will do…

Yeah - since I mailed you I read an interview on ‘Home is Where The Heart Is’ where you list all your musical influences.

What’s ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’?

I saw The Fall many times and have got tons of their bootlegs. Haven’t seen them in years though.

No me neither, actually Karen Latham, who WAS to be our Bass player in ‘Invincible’ has decided to join The Fall instead, funny how things turn out isn’t it?

Were you a fan of The Smiths ? Used to go and see them a lot too.

Yeah, I’ve been going through a phase recently of playing all those records again, they still sound great.

I going to *have* to get the tape with the cover of Buzzcocks’ ‘Breakdown’ now.

Yeah you know someone asked me about that once and I was saying “nah, we never covered that” and then he pulled the cassette out and played it. I have no memory of it what so ever.

Also we used to have drunken rows about whether ‘Paper Tigers’ was written about ‘Killing Joke’ - I don’t remember where it originated - any truth to that one ?

Yeah a little bit, we were down to support them once in Leicester, they turned up 4 hours late for their sound check so when it came to our turn their crew jerked us around, a two minute job, and the band were all standing at the side of the stage when we started shouting about it, so me and Dave ran at them with our guitars and they legged it back to their dressing room. We pulled out of the gig. They came and said sorry later and wanted us to do the rest of the tour but we told them to f**k off.

I think all this obsession with lyrics and what bands thought of each other was interlinked with the MUFC/Liverpool scouse football rivalry (violence) and the fact the Mark E. Smith kept slagging the Bunnymen and the Crucial Three off in interviews. Also The Passage wrote ‘A Certain Way To Go’ which was definitely about ACR.

Ah The Passage, another of my all time favourite bands.

I guess you probably find people still obsessed by The Chameleons as irritating as requests for ‘In Shreds’ but still…

No I’m not the slightest bit irritated, the only time it bugs me is when the media go on about Chameleons when you’re trying to get something new across, in interviews or on the radio or something. But generally I’m very proud of all the stuff I’ve done.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to reply.

No problem, bye for now.

I once saw a gig in Camden once where your voice was f**ked and some lads from the audience got up for their 5 minutes of fame but the show was abandoned.

Yeah I remember that gig, it was really bad ‘cause a Geffen Rep had flown in specially to check out the band and I was miffed ‘cause Johnny Marr had come down to see us….

It happened again years later with The Sun And The Moon, a gig for Children In Need. Again I invited someone up from the audience and this lad got up and not only did he know all the words but he sounded so like me it was SPOOKY…

I’ve also got bootlegs where you refer to problems with ‘my voice going again’.

Yeah and it was ages before I sussed out what the problem was, it turned out to be air conditioning, whenever I shared a room or a car with AC my throat would dry up and my voice would go.

Did Dave/Reg/anyone else ever do vocals ?

Dave used to do backing vocals, but it got so that he’d have moods, either too much whizz or not enough hash, and then between songs he’d start really laying into the audience, slagging them off. Then when I’d start the song they’d all be looking at me through red mists, in the end I took the mike away from him :-)

Did you explicitly change your vocal style ?

Well it did change, I know ‘cause when I listen to the early stuff I think f**k But I didn’t do it consciously.