Jed The Fish, KROQ 106.7, LA, 3rd July 1997
MOZ's lines are in quotations...
Wow, it's really good to have you here.
"I'm very pleased to be here."
You are? (laughs)
"I really am very pleased to be here."
Morrissey is here at 106.7 KROQ and he brought me a copy of his album Maladjusted which I have been listening to and...
"... and you don't like it." (laughs)
Well, I listen to this and I'm worried about you.
"Please... please be worried, everybody is. It's a good sign."
Man, I'm worried about you. First of all, the name of the album is Maladjusted and then you've got this song Ambitious Outsiders which sounds like this evil child-murdering-incorporated NAMBLA theme song type.
"Not quite, not quite. But it's creeping towards it, definitely. But a great song, I think, I'm very proud of it."
Yeah, eerie as hell...
"Well, I like music to be slightly dangerous. I do - I like it to be pushed. There's not really much point making safe music, I don't think."
Well there's nothing safe about this album.
"It's not safe. It's still walking the plank and happy to be there."
But I'm sitting here thinking something like Alma Matters could be on more radio stations...
"God, I hope so. It's been a long time. It's about time something different happened. And I just hope, I just hope."
Can you forgive me if I said that? Because it sounds like the most uplifting song on the record.
"It's very uplifting, I'm very pleased and no, not a sell-out I don't think. So I just have very high hopes, I really do, for this album."
Everybody's gonna want to know if you're touring and we'll come back and talk about that in a little bit. Your songs are such a mystery and I almost hate to ask you this kind of stuff...
"A mystery to me as much as anybody else. I can anticipate the question..." (laughs)
OK, well, you're the only guy I can ask about so many of these things.
"Well, you should ask the question anyway." (laughs)
And you're free to say, "Well, it can mean whatever you want it to mean!"
"Well... it really does mean something specific. I think it means that we should be pleased and proud of the female side of our character, of our nature. Or if we're female, we should be proud of the male side of our character and give it just as much import as the other side. So, everything's fine, it doesn't matter how you behave."
OK, this is Alma Matters, new from the Maladjusted album by Morrissey that comes out - do you know when this comes out?
"Yeah - August the 12th."
Alma Matters, What Difference Does It Make ? are played
Because I have the opportunity to have Steven Patrick Morrissey walking in the studio today, I was trying to be prepared here, because I get one crack to talk to you...
"So, how prepared are you?" (laughs)
Well, because I've been listening to this album, I want to ask you about the first cut called Maladjusted. It sort of reminds me of the melody in What Difference Does It Make?
"Oh really? That never occurred to me. No, never, never."
Oh it never occurred to you? OK. I was wondering, lyrically, what themes run consistently in the body of your work?
"Well, I think the overall theme, the meaning of Maladjusted, is my position in the great scheme of things, within music. I don't really seem to ever fit in. When, in the 80's, when independent/alternative music was not played or listened to, that's obviously the kind of music I was making. And then when it was listened to - certainly in England, I was "box-office poison", if you like. So Maladjusted really means constantly, you know... not fitting in. And not really a bad thing, I don't think."
When I was listening to it I didn't take it as you as an artist not fitting into the mainstream, but I took it on a broader view, because you mention "when I was 15" a couple times... A lot of teenagers, including myself, felt kind of "maladjusted" in our lives too, so I was relating from that point.
"Well, I think the way you feel as a teenager stays with you, forever. I really believe that. And we try to change and we hope that we change, but we don't really in big ways, in serious ways. I think the personality is formed at that time, for the good and for the bad.
You try to change?
"Yeah, yeah, definitely. We all want to grow up and move on and appear to be different to people. And we want people to see us in a different way. But, I don't know, I think the personality is very, very strongly cemented, and we just bear whatever shortcomings we have and learn to live with it."
Is this a new band that you're working with?
"No, it's the same musicians as the last time I was at KROQ. Which was six years ago, I had the same musicians."
And these are the guys that came down to Capitol Records when Richard Blade and I were down there?
"That's right, yes."
Are they going to be touring with you?
"Yes, and we begin in Toronto, on I think it's the 12th of September. And we come to L.A. on October the 13th."
OK, so you're touring this fall?
"Yes, for up to four months."
What happened with the other times you were supposed to come to L.A.?
"Well, the last time I was booked to play a place which I think was called the Olympia..."
...the Olympic Boxing Arena.
"And unfortunately it was booked without my knowledge. It was announced without my knowledge. The tickets went on sale without my knowledge but sold very, very well. I was with new management and they just slightly ran away with themselves and it wasn't a situation I could live with. So, you can't really allow those things to happen to you. But I think if people have the interest to come this time, I think they'll enjoy it."
This Olympic gig was booked completely without your knowledge?
"Completely, yes. And the same for a concert in New York at Carnegie Hall."
You've kind of been reputed to not have management and this is probably why...
"Well, this is one of the reasons why. I think they make a mess of things more than anything else. They do confuse matters and you know, stand in the middle and direct people to the wrong exits, etc. So I think so many people who make music now, they don't have management. And they survive quite well. I think management is becoming a thing of the past and just as well, I think, just as well."
Do you have a manager now?
"No, not at all."
Oh, you manage yourself?
"As much as I can, yes. I'm not saying it's easy, but managers certainly complicate things."
Howie Klein used to tell me you didn't answer the phone, you just had your fax machine.
"Well... that's not a bad way to live really." (laughs)
I must confess I've done that myself.
"Yes, I think we all do, I think we all do."
Do you drink tea?
"Oh yes, I do."
Do you ever get sick of drinking tea?
"I absolutely never get sick of drinking tea. It's a psychological thing really, it's just very composing and makes me relax."
It's just so much a part of your culture!
"Oh yes, yes. I'm very avid, I have to have at least four pots a day."
For those of us who don't know how to make a pot of tea, what do you do?
"Well, you really have to put the milk in first, which many people don't."
Put the milk in with the water, before you boil the water?
"No, you're confused already" (laughs). "No, you put the milk in before you pour the water in, or the tea, whichever..."
Well, I would do that without even thinking about it.
"Right, and also you have to use real milk, you can't use the UHT fake stuff. You have to use proper milk."
OK, so what about the actual brewing of the tea?
"The brewing of the tea - it's very important that you heat the pot before you put the water in - if you use a pot, I know most people who just throw a teabag into a cup. But in England of course, you have to make a pot of tea. And you have to heat the pot first with hot water, and then put the teabags in. I can't believe I'm saying this. And then put the hot water in and then just throw it all over yourself. Rush to outpatients and write a really good song" (laughs).
Do you like to read?
"Yes, I'm very avid, I just read everything. But I don't necessarily read everything thoroughly, I buy about 20 books a week and I just browse through them and throw them away."
What are the last books that you've read cover-to-cover?
"Charles Dickens's stuff. Lots of fiction, which I've never really been into, but I'm beginning to enjoy it more. I always thought fiction was a waste of time, but it isn't really. Because when you read a great deal you find that the way you speak is slightly more flu-fluid, or fluent. I couldn't even say flu-, fluent. I couldn't even say it twice!" (laughs)
Either word would work.
"Yeah, so I think reading really helps. And it almost doesn't matter what you read."
What about the Sherlock Holmes mysteries? I love them.
"I find them fascinating, really fascinating. Very cozy and very English and very drizzly and rainy and safe. Quite funny."
Did you see the Granada television, Jeremy Brett TV shows/episodes?
"It's actually called Granäda. The interesting thing about this program is that they filmed one of them, would you believe it - in my house. And it's fascinating because they did an entire episode of short films in my house. They used the house for the series."
Which episode was it?
"It was the episode where there's a tramp, a hobo, who is at the top of the house, and he's living at the top of the house. For some reason he causes a fire in this attic loft and he goes on fire. Are you familiar with that one?"
It's like a hidden room, on top of the house...
I can't remember the episode right now... So I take it, it's like a farm house?
"It's just a very big old Victorian house. It's from 1854."
I have a Queen Anne! 1894.
"Not good enough. Passé, Queen Anne is passé at the moment" (laughs). "But she might come back."
What type of Victorian do you have? There's Italianate, there's like 4 or 5 kinds...
"Is there? I thought there was just Victorian."
Oh gosh (laughs), now you're being a fool! There's like 6 different kinds of Victorians.
There's a Queen Anne Victorian, Italianate Victorian, Colonial Victorian, and then they of course combine them. Italianates are the ones with the flat roofs.
The Queen Anne's are the ones with the turrets and porches and gingerbread-type stuff (laughs).
106.7 KROQ, Morrissey up here dissing my 1894 Queen Anne!
We've got Morrissey here this afternoon, it's a real treat to have you sitting next to me here.
Why is Oscar Wilde so special to you?
"Well, he was very special to me when I was younger because I think he was a great writer and his life was extraordinary and really, probably the most prolific person in the history of literature. And as time goes by, he becomes more interesting to people. There's a play on here at the moment, there's a play on in New York, and there are two films being made in England which look as if they'll be very big films. So he's becoming more important as time goes by. He's the most quoted, perhaps even more so than Shakespeare really, because although people know Shakespeare quotes they don't really know what they mean. But an extraordinary life - one of the few people, I suppose Dickens' was the same, whose life is perhaps more interesting than the great things that he wrote."
Is sex important to you?
"It's not one of my strong points, actually. You might be surprised to hear that. I like watching other people. No, that isn't true. Why do you ask?"
Because you were reputed to be celibate for so long.
"Oh yes, I was, wasn't I? What's your next question?" (laughs)
Are you still celibate?
"Umm, only on Christmas and bank holidays."
* Richard Blade (KROQ DJ) adds: Monday is a bank holiday in England.
Monday is a bank holiday (laughs).
So, everywhere I go people ask me - like I know, "Jed, are the Smiths getting back together?" And I know it's a question that you've been asked ad nauseam...
"Well, it's the question I came here today to ask you." (laughs)
Well, I think by the time you're 50, you'll put The Smiths Anthology 1, 2, and 3 together, have a 60 million dollar deal for a 12-hour video...
"Well, me being 50 is not really that far away (laughs). I've got no idea. I have no crystal ball. Who knows what tomorrow might bring, to quote... nobody."
Well, I guess it would take you and Johnny Marr wanting to do it. That would be the key thing. Have you been in touch with him?
"No, not at all, no."
Because he was asked that question 3 or 4 years ago, and he had pretty much the same answer as you. That he was open to it, that he hadn't talked to you, and that who knows, it could happen, it may happen, it may not happen, so that's where it is right now...
"Well, the Smiths broke up 10 years ago, and it's interesting to me that there is a legacy that's lived on. And people still do talk about the Smiths, and they seem to have been an influence to lots of new British groups. And that's very interesting because I suppose we didn't really think that would happen. But it has. So it's very interesting, and it's nice to be patient with time and see what happens."
In 1986 at the Universal Amphitheater...
"I was there." (laughs)
I know, I saw you! And you guys were playing The Queen Is Dead, I think that was the opening song of the set, and Johnny's wailing away with a drumstick on his guitar, I happened to catch that drumstick...
"He'd like it back." (laughs)
Unfortunately, I didn't think to write "Johnny Marr - The Smiths/Universal Amphitheater"...
"Don't tell me you sold it to Bleecker Bob's." (laughs)
What I'm saying is, I know I have it, but I don't know which one it is because I play the drums myself and I have odd sticks around, and I'm thinking it's in an odd pile of 30 sticks right now...
"Oh dear... Right..."
Well thank you very much for coming to KROQ today.
"It's been my pleasure, thank you."
Very good to have you here, the Maladjusted album comes out August 12th, 11 mostly dark songs on it, produced by Steve Lillywhite, many, many bright spots. "Roy's Keen", I like... let's play a new one before you go.
"Yes, please play Roy's Keen, it's a great song."
Like a window-washer guy?
"Yeah, it's just a bit of English gibberish, but very pleasant on the air, I think."
WORLD OF MORRISSEY