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19 June 2007
Morrissey has answered a fifth series of questions submitted by Questions And Answers participants. These questions and Morrissey's answers are as follows.
In interviews that you gave during your early days with The Smiths, you expressed an understanding that what you were doing was really important. Looking back, did you fully realize just how important and what kind of historical impact The Smiths and your career would actually have?
Tiburon, California, USA
No. When we first went to Los Angeles we played two nights at the Palladium, and it surprised me that we were so popular. There was never a sense of how big we were in other countries because Rough Trade were not global in their outlook. I was the most shy and retiring member of the Smiths but suddenly all of the press wanted to talk to me.
Whatever I said about the Smiths' abilities I meant. I very genuinely thought the music was Art, and I felt awed by it, and all of the groups of the day I saw as not-art. I thought Johnny was the greatest .... and also .... those masterful bass-lines ...
The picture of you holding the violin on the cover of Ringleader Of The Tormentors is brilliant! What was the inspiration for it?
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
There is an American film from 1946 called "Humoresque" in which Oscar Levant holds up a copy of a magazine with John Garfield on the front playing the violin, as he does throughout the film. I thought the Garfield picture was so touching, so I tried to copy it. Interestingly, my right hand is cupped on the European version, but is straight on the US version.
One thing I admire you for is your dedication to animals, giving a voice to those who have none. What advice would you give someone who is struggling to convert to the vegetarian lifestyle?
Hayward, California, USA
I tell people to take it gradually. You don't need to become a model of human perfection overnight. But if it's morally within a person to avoid 'flesh food' then nothing need be explained to them. Eating animals is obviously very cruel, and you either want to avoid inflicting pain on another living being, or else you don't much care. The argument has nothing at all to do with how flesh tastes, or the myth of protein, or personal budget, or alternatives, or being macho. If you eat animals you surely hate them ... if you respect or love animals you could never eat them. It's that simple.
Who is your favorite painter ever?
Ponca City, Oklahoma, USA
I can't say. It isn't something I cared about until recent years.
Now I'm completely pulled in, but I can't speak with any authority on the subject.
How and why do you choose to cover such diverse and intriguing songs as No One Can Hold A Candle To You, Redondo Beach, etc.?
Everything has its place and its reason. Certainly, the early Smiths covers, for example 'Work is a four-letter word' and 'Golden lights' were done as acts of playful perversity - they weren't meant to be groundbreaking miracles of sound. And that's usually how it is, just a matter of throwing something unexpected into the mix. 'No One Can Hold a Candle to You' was originally written and sung by James Maker, and we've been good friends now for 30 years. He released 'Born that Way' a couple of years back and that's one of my favorite recordings of all time. As for 'Redondo beach', I've always said how Patti Smith's 'Horses' album changed my life. When I told Patti I had released it as a single she said it wouldn't chart because of the 'Patti Smith curse', but we just missed the top ten by a few copies, even though, as always, zero airplay. I also had it in my mind that the opening line was "let it be known," which it isn't, it's "late afternoon." I have often planned a covers album, but I always scrap the idea because it seems to be such a standard maneuver now.
Thank you for contributing so much to the movie New York Doll and for being so instrumental in making Arthur Kane's dream of the Dolls' reunion a reality. How have your Meltdown experience with the New York Dolls, your interaction with Arthur Kane, and your involvement with this film affected you personally?
Kaysville, Utah, USA
I often find it hard to believe that it all happened because I obviously see that isolated 14-year-old in Manchester in 1973 having no one to talk to about this LP called "The New York Dolls". I did a montage of Dolls photos for art class and the teacher was so appalled that she burst into tears and passed it around to each boy in the class denouncing the sickness and depravity of the Dolls. This teacher appeared years later on one of those bitchy Smiths television documentaries, still apparently upset. So, with all of these things in mind, it's miraculous to jump ahead 30 years and to assess the chain of events that led to Meltdown. The film, I think, greatly helped the Dolls' status because everyone who has seen the film loves it even if they hadn't much cared for the Dolls. I'm no good in the film because I felt too emotional and I could barely speak. But, me aside, it's so well done, and must be the best ever rock docu-film. As for Meltdown, that moment when David, Sylvain and Arthur trooped on - I was standing up in the balcony, frozen, unable to hold back the tears. David Johansen later asked me to sing on the new Dolls album, but I had to refuse - I'm not from New York and I'm not a Doll and I know my place...if nothing else.
When you're writing a song, do you write it in one go, or do you take notes along the days, and when several can fit together, you just gather them?
I'm less inclined towards notes these days, and have just finished two new songs which flooded out without any consultation to any scribbled ideas. This happens more and more, notably 'That's How People Grow Up', for instance, just fell out. I'm not sure if they're actually even songs, or simply outbursts or showers of panic. Generally, there's a central vocal hook, most typically the chorus, which comes first, and if it doesn't then there's no song. My aim, mostly, is to have every moment of the song as a vocal hook.... that's the hope, anyway.
What is your most important inspiration when you write songs?
These days it's unashamedly my own emotional position, which I now admit to being quite odd. When you're 23 you have poetic license to be searching and confused and obsessed with suicide and greatness in equal measure. But I am now 48 and can no longer be said to be developing a philosophy of life. Things, by now, are meant to be settled. For me, they aren't. I'm still trying to make sense of a world that makes none. As far as romance is concerned, my life has always been absurd, so it's only by the power of song that I attempt to keep body and soul together.
What is your favorite part of touring?
The only bit I actually like is the time onstage, which I obviously love. Otherwise touring is quite lonely.
What do you do to take care of your voice?
I have never done anything. I do my utmost to avoid colds and flu, and I back off from anyone with a sniffle. Otherwise, nothing at all.
I'm curious as to what makes a concert a good and memorable experience for you. According to you, what do your best shows have in common (if anything)?
The audience doesn't realize this but, I, in effect, come to see them, and my temperament depends on how they react and even how they look. I sing directly at the audience, and I look right into the audience - few singers do, I've noticed. I am addressing them with each line, and they react - one way or another - as if we are in conversation. Often, because of the light, I can't see people - this is usually at festivals or outdoor amphitheaters and is nobody's fault, but I tend to lose the thread when I'm singing to blackness. Also, if the security at the front are too stroppy and too controlling my anger rises. The shape of the hall, and how the audience are positioned - whether free to move, or shackled to their seats, or being slapped back by security, are all elements that can make or break a night. I'm just there-somewhere-in the gaps.
What do you feel when you're onstage, singing in front of your audience?
I think it's the only time in my life that I feel right about myself.
Otherwise, I don't have any function at all as a human being....which is unfortunate! I'm not sure if I even exist offstage.
I have been a huge fan of your music since the age of 14. Why do you think your music is so appealing and influential to the younger generation?
To put it bluntly, I think it's because of the loneliness I've experienced in my life - loneliness in the true sense of the word.
Very young people, I think, feel pushed around and ridiculed - and are - simply because of their age. The world can seem to be full of officious meddlers who like to tell others what to do - and, as a matter of fact, that's exactly how the world is! So in my voice, I think young people hear someone who understands the routine of being dumped.... excavations of the heart, etc.
Where did you find Boz Boorer and when did he start to play with you?
Mar del Plata, Argentina
I met Boz through a mutual friend, Cathal, who sings in the group Madness. I went through a period when I saw a lot of Cathal, he was a very close friend, and he introduced me to Boz because I had done an album called "Kill Uncle" which Cathal thought was rubbish..... and he wasn't necessarily wrong. He wanted me to move away from Mark Nevin who had co-written "Kill Uncle" which I was prepared to do because I didn't actually know Mark that well. So, Cathal saw Boz as a writing partner for me, but it has obviously developed into a long and precious friendship. Boz is perfect company as well as being very funny.
Could you say to your fans if you think you will give us another album soon?
I presently have the option to tour for the remainder of 2007, or start a new album. I don't have a deal, but I have an offer from Warner Brothers. At the same time, there are some great touring offers - New Zealand, South Africa, my beloved Scandinavia, Israel and Iran. I would love to sing in Tehran.
So, for this week, it's a dilemma.
21 February 2006
Morrissey has answered a fourth series of questions submitted by Questions And Answers participants. These questions and Morrissey's answers are as follows.
What are the main changes, if any, that you have gone through since the Smiths up until the present time?
I now feel more inclined to stand up and look the world in the face. I find it shocking to look back at the period of The Smiths and to reflect upon the magnitude of doom that surrounded me every single day. I have no idea how I made it through my 20s. Grit? It was impossible for me to agree to any aspect of life or to compromise with it. I think I doomed myself. The terms of my connections with other people were dreadful, and I couldn't ever manage to feel responsible for my own life. I traveled a great deal and I didn't ever once feel any need or inclination to leave the hotel room. I don't feel quite this narrow anymore, so whatever has happened to shift these feelings has happened. When Johnny ended The Smiths I was forced to go solo, and I found myself going further with all my experiences of life, and, although Johnny didn't intend it to, it helped me.
In Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting, a chapter called There Is a Light that... describes how one of the novel's characters relates to the song-as many of us do. How do you feel about being quoted by writers?
It happens a great deal, and it's exciting because it means I've had some effect or influence, which is dazzling for me because I see myself permanently standing outside the stage door. There was a film some years ago called Mute Witness and I wondered if it had been so called after the song on Kill Uncle. I hoped so.
Who is your favorite author today?
I like the American columnist Maureen Dowd - I think she's very funny, but then I read that she enjoyed eating chicken legs and .... well....that was the end of that romance. I don't read fiction. What's the point? The basic details of my own life are stranger than anything I ever come across in modern fiction. I tend to judge a book by its cover, and - ridiculously - with any book, I start at the final chapter and work my way to the first. This is probably a sickness.
My favorite song in 2004 was I'm Playing Easy to Get which you played on the Janice Long show. Is there any chance that this song will be recorded in the studio and released?
Roger, Cape Town.
It was recorded, but not very well, so we hid it - although my experience is that nothing can ever be hidden - everything inches it's way onto the internet eventually. Someone, somewhere will spill it out.
Who do you admire vocally?
I think Elvis Presley had a great voice, and Frank Sinatra - two obvious choices, perhaps. Neither ever sounded unsure.
It doesn't need to be said of course but most singers are absolutely dreadful.
Do you plan to make any videos for the new album?
Yes, we've made three. It's never been my strong point... but then, what is? I throw in a basic idea but then leave it to others. I think my discomfort usually shows. I like "I Have Forgiven Jesus" and "The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get" - and "Glamorous Glue" is OK. I made a video years ago for the song "Our Frank" with the director James Maybury that was so awful that we tried to hide it. Of course, no such luck. There's always someone, somewhere ...
Which classical music period would you say you prefer, and who are your favorite composers from that period?
I'm no expert when it comes to classical music. My favorite is Chopin's Nocturnes.... Yes, I know, quite a common choice - a bit like naming the Beatles as your favorites. Anyway, there is a reasonably new CD by Angela Hewitt of this, which is well worth buying.
Does it dismay you that the intelligence you have expressed throughout your career has been interpreted by some as an excuse for cynicism and apathy, when you yourself are a figure far from apathetic?
I always get a strong reaction, and my critics are very dedicated - they will stick with me till the end. I seem to infuriate so many people. Most groups get away with dreadful albums and appalling live concerts and it just doesn't seem to matter - because they don't. There is always a reason for a scathing review, and it's usually personal. If you refuse to be interviewed by a magazine they take the most ferocious revenge. Things are never what they seem. Also, if you are an artist whose career is quite persistently and attentively followed and documented then many writers will deliver unnaturally venomous articles or reviews simply with the hope of earning a special place in that artists' history. Praise is rarely shocking whereas maliciousness is, and the writers who burst the bubble are remembered forever, alas. For me personally, most album reviews tend to review me as a living entity - the actual songs or the singing or the musicianship is secondary compared to the writer's personal feelings towards .......my face. And, of course, my face rarely goes down well...
Amigo, when you came to Mexico, it was a dream come true. How do you feel about making so many people happy when they hear your music or see you live?
It's baffling when, by your presence, you make people happy, especially when, for the most part, you feel like a big lump on a log. But, Mexico was a dream come true for me. We're having difficulties getting back - no local promoter is willing to take the plunge. Otherwise, we'd be there tomorrow. But even if I never get back, it was a great experience. Oh, and I'd like to say thanks to all the bootleggers outside selling posters of Elvis Presley with the name Morrissey across the poster... the highlight of my life..
I went to your two concerts in São Paulo, they were awesome. What remembrances do you have of your five concerts in Brazil?
Childerico, Rio de Janeiro.
I'm sorry I didn't go there sooner, but I lived under the whip of oppression. We were all shocked by the welcome - the size of the audiences and their response. I wanted to spend more time on the beach in Rio but I was nervous of the ten-year olds who were mugging tourists at knifepoint.
Is there anywhere in the world where you would love to perform music, where you have not already performed?
Turkey, Israel, Burnley, Russia.
What, according to you, is the most remarkable event in human history?
Penicillin? Anesthetic? The drainage system? False teeth?
What is, in your opinion, the most important cause to be dedicated to?
I think it's important to lead a good life, and to try not to hurt anyone - or anything. This is difficult because we live in a world where violence seems to be the answer to everything. The courts, the police, tax officials, governments - they all rely upon the threat of violence to get their way.
It's a crude world and most people are crude. All you can do is your best.
Who would you most like to see touched, affected, or even changed by your music and lyrics?
I am often approached by people who are so completely out of character from the clichéd impression of a Morrissey or Smiths listener, and that always astounds me. I think my appeal is wide, but I'm always told by the print media that it is narrow - and of course, they should know, and I shouldn't.
The audience I am trying to reach are champion figure skaters. I think they need me the most.
How do you go about choosing songs for your forthcoming tour?
I usually pick the songs that I'm sure people would least like to hear. And I'm never wrong. If I don't give people something to complain about then I've failed.
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.
...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?
Q2: HOW HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR ITALIAN STAY?
Marco Zanini, Milan.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
A model what? A model citizen? No.
Q 12: HOW DO YOU DEFINE YOURSELF POLITICALLY, OR DO YOU AT ALL?
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?
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.
No. It's done. It's there. I stand - or fall - by it.
Q15: WHAT KIND OF FEELINGS OR MEMORIES COME TO YOU WHEN YOU LISTEN TO YOUR FAVOURITE MUSIC?
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.
14 December 2005
Morrissey has answered a second series of questions submitted by Questions And Answers participants. These questions and Morrissey's answers are as follows.
How did you get the idea to mention Estonia in your song "America Is Not The World"?
I imagined the sexy and sharp people of Estonia - which is not considered to be a world leader in anything, as far as I know - looking at the Burger King fast-food hell of the modern American food industry, and actually feeling sorry for Americans.
America is frightening when it comes to food. Top priority advertising is given to anything at all that basically endangers people - from flesh "food" to heavy sugar to heavy salt. Gelatin is thrown into everything in America - and for what? Whereas, any foodstuffs that would help people - organic or vegetarian - are deliberately hard to find. The American Meat Industry constantly fights against food safety laws, and the Bush Administration routinely repeals food safety legislation. Half a million Americans have been contaminated by E. Coli, hundreds of children have died because contaminated meat is given to schools, and the country leads the way in obesity, kidney failure, and disabilities caused by bad diet. However, turn on American television any moment of the day, and you are sandblasted with commercials for ground beef and Yum-Yums. It's astonishing that the entire population of America hasn't been killed off by its own food industry - the food industry is certainly trying, and it is more of a threat to the American people than so-called "terrorism" is.
Am I bleating on? ...
How have you managed to never "sell out"?
I haven't had an easy ride with the print media in England, so I've always had a lot to fight against and there's never been a time in my life when any part of my "success" could be considered a foregone conclusion. So, I've never felt at ease enough to lie back and go with the "sell-out" flow. It seems to me that, in England, they give you a very hard time if you matter, but if you don't matter then they let you slide by.
I have always wondered if you play any musical instruments, and if so, which?
I honestly don't have the interest. I always wanted to sing, with nothing at all blocking my path to the audience. An instrument is the perfect thing to hide behind - always busy adjusting pedals, fiddling with amp-settings, looking down, and never directly facing the very audience that you are presumably addressing.
Yes, when I was 14, I had a reasonably impressive drum kit, and when I heard Jerry Nolan and saw him on the cover of the New York Dolls' first album, I thought, That's me! Off I go! ... But it wasn't me, and I didn't go anywhere. This year, Deano [ex-drummer] gave me a kit to bash around on, but I think it's probably a bit late for me to suddenly turn up as the new drummer with New Found Glory. And yet ... ?
Do you have a certain place where you'd like to be to write songs?
Miriam Champer, 15
Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A.
The answer is in the bath. I lie there for hours singing my head off. Whenever I've moved house, I first call the agent and ask what the bath is like - nothing else much matters.
By the way, you are lucky to live in Eugene. I've only played there once, but I was very taken by it.
I have been very intrigued by Jobriath's music. Which songs of Jobriath's are your favorites?
Hobart, Indiana, U.S.A.
My favourite is "Morning Starship," but I like them all - with the exception of "Rock Of Ages," which is a bit hard to take.
When you are writing a song, do you think about the melody first, or do the words create the melody?
Usually the melody comes first and then the words jump in, but before either I must have a certain feeling and a certain incentive in order to make both the voice and the words sound true. Luckily, for me, I'm always unstoppably driven. It must end soon - for all our sakes ...
What potential do you think art has as a vehicle for social change?
Alysha Layla Shaw
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A.
Feminism - yes, Greenpeace - yes, PETA - yes, Art - no. Most people have no interest in Art, and only accept it under extreme protest. All media heroes are Artless, all politicians are devoid of Art, and anyone in music attempting to convey Art is usually ridiculed. I think it's safe to say that the human race is probably scum, on the whole. There's no evidence to the contrary.
Publications have touted this or that band as the "new Smiths." Of those bands who have been given this lofty title, who, in your esteemed opinion, was the most deserving?
Jarrod San Angel
Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
None. The Smiths stood out because there was no one else like them. Originality seems to be impossible now. There are so many people making music, but they all dress and sound exactly the same. This is why, as time goes by, it seems so surprising to people that The Smiths were actually successful - given the unyielding nature of the approach and the songs.
Are there any musicians or bands emerging now that excite you?
Dunellen, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Were you pleasantly surprised and happy about the response that you received throughout the world when You Are The Quarry was released?
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.
I think it could have happened with Vauxhall And I, but neither EMI nor Sire-Reprise were interested. Sanctuary was VERY interested, which is why it worked so well. It's important to have someone pitching for you at every level, and I'd never had that until I met Sanctuary.
Do you have any memories from your visits to Athens?
As a matter of fact, no, I don't. Where exactly is it?
What was your favourite show that you played in 2004?
My personal favourite was Roskilde, with Manchester Move and Dublin The Point second and third ... although Glasgow and Birmingham never fail me. The only stinker was Bologna.
What are some of your favorite classic films or recent ones you've seen?
Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
My favourite in the last few years has been Late Marriage starring Lior Ashkenazi. It's one of those rare films wherein the entire cast is excellent, and the film is powerful without one single special effect or any sound trickery. Lior Ashkenazi more recently starred in Walk On Water, which is also worth seeing.
Do you know if your next tour will include any South American countries?
Yes, it will. I've been to Peru, but I've never played there. I would go to wherever there seemed to be interest - except China, which is too barbaric. In China, as we all now know, cats and dogs are skinned alive for the fur industry. Come, come, nuclear bomb.
Which songs do you always enjoy singing live?
Oldham, Manchester, England
Most of the songs are very wordy, and there aren't ever any flashy guitar solos, so the time onstage is usually a vocal rat-a-tat-tat without any pause, which is why I can't manage to stay onstage for longer than one hour and twenty minutes - I literally get lock-jaw. I think it's easy to stay onstage for hours if you just fiddle about with a guitar and keep your head down, but if it's a vocal assault, then it's harder to maintain energy levels. The song that has lasted longest in the live set is "November Spawned A Monster," so I think this must answer your question .... The ones in a higher register are better.
20 November 2005
Morrissey has answered a series of questions submitted by Questions And Answers participants. These questions and Morrissey's answers are as follows.
Of all your songs, from both Smiths and solo material, which song are you most proud of lyrically?
Haworth, West Yorkshire, England
It's impossible to answer this because I'm proud of most of them. There are only a few that make me shudder – such as "Get Off The Stage," "Journalists Who Lie," "I Don't Owe You Anything".... But most of them, I think, somehow stand the test of time. Of course, some songs are better than others....
What qualities do you admire in a person?
Louise Stephens, 18
Clare, Suffolk, England
It would be easy to say such things as honesty or loyalty, and so on – but the fact is that if you like someone you'll forgive them of almost any kind of indiscretion. In truth, I'm drawn to people who aren't afraid and who question authority. It takes great courage, I think, to defend animals – and it takes great courage to speak your mind. Most people are petrified by public embarrassment – especially in America, which is why the police constantly shout at the public – this doesn't happen in any other country. Except Fiji.
What are your happiest moments and memories in the life of Morrissey over the last 15 years?
Why the last 15 years? Didn't I exist in 1989?
The happiest moments have been the birth of each album. Some people might think this is somewhat sad, and maybe it is, but it's the truth nonetheless. Meltdown was also a high spot for me, and selling out the MEN Arena so quickly.
Hello our dearest Morrissey,
I was at your concert in Paisley last year, and it was the greatest night of my life. Did you enjoy it?
We will salute you forever.
Amy Rodgers, 17
Yes, Paisley was a great night. We were warned that the place was "dog-rough" and that the people might give us some trouble – which, of course, only whetted our appetites. But it wasn't so – everyone was very good to us and the audience were just perfect.
Could you please name one artist from each of the previous five decades – the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s – who has had a lasting influence on you?
...probably not! Certainly nobody from the '80s or '90s has had a "lasting influence" on me. The royal three remain the same: The New York Dolls, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, with Nico standing firm as first reserve. Oh, and Olivia Newton-John.
John Lydon once said something along the lines of, "The Irish mean it, man." Those words come to mind when I listen to your music. To what extent do you think your Irishness colours how you express yourself as an artist?
Thank you so much for writing and singing!
Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland
Ireland has always been a very credible and very poetic place, with no one under any illusions about themselves – we all end up in the same bucket, etc. This manifests itself within me by the fact that I'd obviously like some success with what I do, but I'm also slightly embarrassed to be singled-out. Silly, isn't it.
Has being a vegetarian defined your life significantly?
Many thanks for taking the time to read the questions – I wait with bated breath!
Being vegetarian is a political gesture, so it can't fail to affect your life. By becoming vegetarian you are rejecting a dominant, macho, wife-beating, throat-slitting lifestyle. Vegetarians are also often disliked because they cause so many people to do what they'd rather not do: think. Also, vegetarians, by the nature of their existence, are telling flesh-eaters that what they, the carnivores, are doing, is wrong – and nobody likes to be told this. In a basic sense, I can't bring myself to sit at any table where flesh is served or eaten – unless, of course, it's human flesh.
What is the most important advice that you would give people to be happy?
Thanks for this opportunity.
I'm no expert when it comes to happiness – I don't honestly think it's possible.
Unfortunately, comfort and contentment become the maximum goal, and these are attainable. It's important, I think, not to allow others to pressurize you, and it's important not to be intimidated. Most humans are just silly, and 95% of our daily activities are a complete waste of time anyway – so there's a strong likelihood that human existence itself is somewhat silly. Look, for example, at British television – ghastly.
I think that Ennio Morricone is one of the great composers of our time. I regard the music to Once Upon A Time In America as a heartbreaking masterpiece. Is it true that Morricone has worked with you on your new album, and if so, how was it to meet Il Maestro and work with him?
With gratitude and tenderness,
Yes, the Maestro came into the studio with his orchestra and worked on a song called "Dear God Please Help Me" – which was very flattering because he'd turned so many multi-million selling pop acts down (I won't mention their names – U2, David Bowie, etc.), so I was delighted that he said yes to scruffy old me. In the event, he was very shy, and he was heavily surrounded and shielded, and there was no way that he and I would end up at the local pub playing darts. But – that's OK. Life's rich tapestry, and so on.
I am Belgian and a huge fan of yours since 1985. I have seen you in concert many times around the world (in the U.S., the U.K., Sweden, France, Holland, Germany, etc.), as well as in Belgium.
Do you think that, in addition to the upcoming tour dates that you mentioned, you will play more concerts in Europe, such as in Belgium or France?
Thank you a lot for existing, and God bless you.
It isn't always a question of simply waking up and deciding where to play – there must at least be the possibility of a waiting audience – that certainly helps. There isn't much of a grasp on how popular I am in places like France or Belgium – no one ever seems to know anything, so only Paris is ever touched upon. Holland remains a complete mystery. Personally, I'd love to go to every major French city, but, Lyon apart, there are never any offers, and that's what it all comes down to. Otherwise I'd stand onstage in Bordeaux and sing to the bar staff – nobody else would be there. Except – at a stretch – you?
I am looking forward to hearing your work with Tony Visconti. At this time, is there more that you would like to share with your fans as to the overall sound of your new album?
Thanks for staying true to your fans and true to yourself.
Michael D. Fellows
New York, New York, U.S.A.
Firstly, the musicianship is outstanding. Secondly, the songs are very strong, which is a great thing to be able to say this far down the line. We were all very unified – everyone gets on very well, we are all very close friends, and everyone works for the common good, and there is never anyone pulling away – as there has been in the past. So, this all helped to make the album as good as it is – and we all know it is the best. It is not a continuation of You Are The Quarry, and it has no links to the past. Tony has been a very uplifting influence – has done a great job as producer and I'm honoured to have worked with him. Marco Martin, who engineered, also played such a big part in the overall sound, and we're all eternally thankful to him.
I'm a big admirer of yours, and I have been for many years. I find it very encouraging that you and many other folks I admire in the entertainment field are for animal rights. How did you first get involved with PETA?
I am looking forward to your next album, and I hope to see you back in New York on tour soon!
With love and respect,
New York, New York, U.S.A.
It began in 1985. The Smiths had played in Washington, D.C. and the concert was finished and I was...where else...in bed...and the phone rang...which was very unusual because there is always a block on my telephone. A voice introduced himself as Dan Mathews and he explained his mission was to build PETA to earth-shattering proportions...and he has! Twenty years on I am still in awe of Dan. Every single day of his life he is in a different corner of the world saving animals – none too big, none too small, none too far away – Dan is there, getting arrested, causing a flurry with the press, and his success stories are phenomenal. He has literally saved millions and millions of lives, and with PETA, his achievements are astonishing. He is the ideal American hero.
If American television shows that have musical guests – such as Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, Late Show, etc. – asked you to make appearances in support of the new album, would you consider it? (If so, I would write letters to said shows requesting you.)
Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
Yes, of course. Try to stop me.
Does the title of the new album, Ringleader Of The Tormentors, have a particular personal significance to you, and if so, what would that be?
Thank you for inspiring me to finally commit to vegetarianism.
Gabriel Garcia Pablos, 15
Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Yes, but if I tell you what it is I might put you off. Patience.
What do you love the most about living here and now?
Everything I love remains in my own somewhat private view of how I'd wish it all to be. I don't think much of life as a whole, and the world seems to be a complete and utter mess – thanks to people like Bush and Blair. I'm astonished that I'm still here – at 46, which seemed an unreachable age to me not so long ago. I am about to release a new album and many people seem to be very interested – which is a surprise considering how many times I've been publicly buried. But I'm still at the stage whereby I have absolutely no idea where I'll be in seven days' time. Face down in the gutter?