Questions answered

4 January 2006

Morrissey has answered a third series of questions submitted by Questions And Answers participants. These questions and Morrissey's answers are as follows.

Q1: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO RECORD IN ROME?

Paul Rhodes, Derby.
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hello Paul

...didn't we meet once...and discussed Alan Bates?

I'm inspired by Rome because it's the exact opposite to Los Angeles, where I've spent so much time in recent years.
As stunningly beautiful as Los Angeles is, it is also essentially a police state. The city belongs to the police, no one else. Everywhere you go there are police - watching, watching, and waiting for any reason - for no reason - to jump on people. Consequently, the people of Los Angeles are very nervous about everything - about parking their car, about driving too slowly, about crossing the road the wrong way, about sneezing without a permit, etc. If you walk down a street humming in Los Angeles you are immediately considered to be suspicious. Once you're arrested, the courts always support whatever the police say regardless of what that is. In Rome, the police are very casual, and they don't threaten people because they seem to quite rightly think that most people don't actually intend to break the law. This gains the police respect. In Los Angeles, the police believe that everyone is guilty of intending to commit a major crime - to know is to be guilty,etc. Rome has struck me as being a very safe city, and not at all uptight, which is a contrasting relief against the pressures of Los Angeles.
Am I ranting?
"Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees!"
Oh, sorry.

Q2: HOW HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR ITALIAN STAY?

Marco Zanini, Milan.
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hello Marco

Although I admire the incredible preoccupation with style in Rome, the high presence of fur is the one awful aspect of the Italian female character. Yes, it's always women who wear fur - never men. Men invent wars, women wear fur. In Rome, women literally walk down the street with dead cats and dogs flung over their shoulders. In the past this apparently represented status or sexiness. I don't understand how women can be intelligent, can know, and yet still wear fur.
Am I ranting?

Q3: ARE YOU INTO DAYDREAMING?

Ann Poulter, London.
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hello Ann

I think it's all I ever do. The alternative is making firm plans - which is something I find impossible. I've always seen life as a kamikaze course, and just dodging the bullets is success enough.

Q4: WHO DO YOU ADMIRE LYRICALLY?

Mark Raj, Atlanta.
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hello Mark

Nobody in pop or rock. Elsewhere, the poet John Betjeman.

Q5: CAN YOU TELL US WHICH OF YOUR RECORD SLEEVES YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?

Andrew, Manchester.
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hello Andrew

I designed all the Smiths original releases - but not the post-split re-issues [although the Diana Dors "Singles" sleeve was an image I had been hoarding.] The design that I thought best exemplified The Smiths was the LP version of The World Won't Listen, and I was horrified when it was mauled and chopped for the cassette and CD versions which cropped the image to only show the boy with the puffy cheeks. I couldn't understand why the full image wasn't reproduced, and since then it's always been reprinted as the boy with the puffy cheeks.
I also like the sleeve for Louder Than Bombs, which seems to sum up the recorded contents quite well.
I don't expect you want an answer concerning the solo sleeves since they've all been a bit random and mostly uninteresting. Some weren't designed by me and I now regret the sleeves for World Of Morrissey, Maladjusted, Southpaw Grammar, Dagenham Dave, Boxers - a period when I thought it best to let go. So I did. And I was wrong.
By the way, I mean the European Boxers sleeve, not the American sleeve, which was quite nice.

Q6: WHAT IS IT ABOUT ALAIN AND BOZ'S MUSIC, AND THEIR STYLES, THAT YOU ENJOY MOST?

Henry, Los Angeles.
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hello Henry

Everything. For a start, they know their craft impeccably. They are obsessive musicians and in it for life. Alain's work has a melodious sadness to it, whereas Boz is drawn to pulsating rhythms. The best of Boz is Reader Meet Author, and the best of Alain is Life is a Pigsty. I honestly feel honored to have worked so much with both of them, and our relationship just improves with time - even if I don't.

Q7: HOW HAS JESSE TOBIAS AFFECTED THE NEW ALBUM?

Darragh, Dublin
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hello Darragh

If you hear the new album you will notice a marked difference in sound, principally due to both Michael Farrell and to Jesse. Personally and musically, Jesse has made a big impact - You Have Killed Me, The Youngest Was The Most Loved, In The Future When All's Well, I Just Want To See The Boy Happy....these songs, especially, fully release the hounds. There are no Boz songs on this album, but strangely, it is the album on which Boz has been most involved and had such a massive input. Boz is 24-hour non-stop, and if impetus lulls, Boz steers everyone back on track.
If it seems to some people that Jesse has replaced Alain, I would like to say that this isn't true. There is no replacing and there is nothing but harmony amongst all the players.
I understand that there are always poisonous assumptions on the SoLow site, but that's all just crap.

Q8: I ATTENDED FIVE SHOWS ON THE QUARRY TOUR. HOW DO YOU PICK YOUR OPENING ACTS?

Patrick, Pittsburgh.
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hello Patrick

It's always my personal choice. Sometimes it doesn't work because usually the audience isn't that enthusiastic. Years ago, in Dublin, The Would-Be's ran on, looked at the crowd, and then immediately ran off. That didn't quite work... I thought Elcka were great, and Sack and the Pony Club and the Smoking Popes ...and...er, who else? I'm the world's biggest Damien Dempsey fan, but every night he kept saying exactly the same things onstage, so one night I met him walking offstage and jumped on his back. He enjoyed that. ...... and ... so did I ....

Q9: ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH SUCH DIFFERING PLACES AS MANCHESTER AND LOS ANGELES, HOW DO ELEMENTS SUCH AS GEOGRAPHICAL, LOCATION, CLIMATE AND SOCIAL TEMP OF THE CITY AFFECT YOUR ART?

Todd, Los Angeles.
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hello Todd

None of these things affect me. In fact, nothing affects me. I am an island.

Q10: IN REGARDS TO STRETFORD, WHAT PLACES DO YOU REMEMBER MOST?

Dean, Stretford.
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hello Dean

Of Stressford....mostly Longford Park, where I more or less lived every day - every corner a dark memory. Firswood Library - now butchered, Stretford Baths and Chorlton Baths - now concentration camps, the Quadrant, Ingleby Fields...and heaven knows I'm miserable now...etc.

Q11: DO YOU FEEL LIKE A MODEL TO TODAY'S YOUNGER GENERATION?

Cynthia, Massachusetts.
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hello Cynthia

A model what? A model citizen? No.

Q 12: HOW DO YOU DEFINE YOURSELF POLITICALLY, OR DO YOU AT ALL?

Emil, Gotenburg.
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hello Emil

I don't consider myself to be political, even though to sing or to write are political acts, of sorts. The proof of your political thinking is usually in your conduct. I find myself opposing barbarism, that's all. People like Blair and Bush have proved that in order to succeed in politics you must be cruel and morally bankrupt. I see no difference between Blair or Bush and Saddam Hussein - all egotistical dictators. Perhaps the only difference is that Blair and Bush do it with a smile. Murder and smile .... as Shakespeare said. Good people do not succeed in politics - it's impossible. I also think that most people have lost faith and trust in politics, and this can only be because most political leaders prove themselves to be contemptuous of the people who elect them. When Bush decided that he would have a state visit to England, Blair described the anti-Bush protestors as "these people" - even though "these people" were in fact the ordinary people of England who had probably voted Blair into government. But, Blair was prepared to attack his own people in order to avoid upsetting Bush. This is what happens in non-democratic countries.
By the way, we will oppose barbarism on Saturday April 1st in Gotenburg at the Scandinavium.

Q13: WHAT WOULD BE YOUR MESSAGE TO THE WORLD TO MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR ANIMALS ON OUR PLANET?

Frédérique, France.
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hello Frédérique

With people in the world such as Jamie Oliver and Clarissa Dickson Wright there isn't much hope for animals. I support the efforts of the Animal Rights Militia in England and I understand why fur-farmers and so-called laboratory scientists are repaid with violence - it is because they deal in violence themselves and it's the only language they understand - the same principals that apply to war. You reach a point where you cannot reason with people. This is why the Animal Rights Militia and the Hunt Saboteurs exist. They are usually very intelligent people who are forced to act because the law is shameful or amoral.
In England, animals are hunted to the point of extinction, and then a great effort is made to save and reintroduce animals, and once they are re-established, they are then hunted back to the point of extinction. Everybody needs to hate something, it seems.

Q14: ARE THERE ANY MILESTONES YOU'D LIKE TO ACHIEVE IN 2006 WITH THE NEW RECORD?

Richard, Milton Keynes.
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Hello Richard

No. It's done. It's there. I stand - or fall - by it.
[Thud.]

Q15: WHAT KIND OF FEELINGS OR MEMORIES COME TO YOU WHEN YOU LISTEN TO YOUR FAVOURITE MUSIC?

Verónica, Argentina.
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hello Verónica

All the meaningful memories I have in my life are musical...........unfortunately. All that gets me through is some faith in music.
AM I missing something?
Please - don't answer.

January/2006.