The article has two accompanying pictures from Tony Visconti’s site – Moz & TV together for the camera and “Mozalini” at the desk. The article is an interview with Tony Visconti, a short interview with Morrissey, and a small “update” box.
The Mozfather teams up with legendary glam-rock producer
Normally, if you want producer Tony Visconti – a man who has David Bowie on speed dial and made T Rex’s legendary albums – you have to form a queue. If you’re Morrissey, however, these rules don’t apply.
“I was always up for a Morrissey record,” admits the producer. “For some reason I lost (1992’s) “Your Arsenal” to Mick Ronson, but I’m telling you, this one was really a shock. I was told I could do it and two days later I was on a plane to Rome. That’s record speed for me.”
The reason for Visconti’s rapid recruitment was, in true Morrissey tradition, splendidly eccentric. Having fallen in love with all things Italian, the former Smiths frontman decamped to Forum Music Village studios in north Rome in August 2005. However, with the studio undergoing some much needed renovation – plus the language barrier – the visiting party began to flounder. “They started on their own and it wasn’t going very well. There was no-one in charge,” explains Visconti of the initial “Ringleader Of The Tormentors” sessions. “There were a lot of problems, so I just had to go in and sort things out. But they had already recorded their drums tracks and some guitar, which we ended up using. It wasn’t in bad shape, it just wasn’t organised.”
Quickly getting to grips with the project, Visconti suggests that despite the problems, Rome provided the perfect backdrop. “He (Morrissey) probably spent five months in Rome before he wrote and recorded this album and he’s finding inspiration there. He’s totally in love with the city,” says the producer. “He must have been walking around Rome writing the songs in his head, there are a lot of references to Rome in his lyrics. Rome s a magical city, it’s a living museum.”
However, it’s not lust lyrical references the benefited. Visconti believes that musically the new Morrissey will surprise many. “I couldn’t believe he’d written the songs on this record,” he says. “They were really high in his register. They were melodies that Bowie would write, using a whole range of notes. Also, the song structures were very different. There is a song called “Life Is A Pigsty” which is over seven minutes long, it’s more like a suite. Another song called “Dear God Please Help Me” is not just an A and a B section; it’s A, B, C, D and maybe there’s a little bit of E thrown in there! The scope of the melodies and the depths of the lyrics are brilliant. He’s singing a lot about love and death again, but with great irony and poetry, he’s struck a new chord.”
However, despite Morrissey’s personal form, the producer suggests this album is the singer’s first true band effort since The Smiths. “We really paid attention to everyone’s part and Morrissey was great for championing the individual players,” says Visconti. “Morrissey very much wanted a band sound; he’s had that group with him for years.”
Unusually for Morrissey, “Ringleader Of The Tormentors” also features a guest appearance, with Italian soundtrack king Ennio Morricone scoring the string part for “Dear God Please Help Me” after the studio owner suggested it. “We let (Morricone) do his bit and I edited him in the mix and what we have is the most glorious moments of that session,” explains Visconti. “We certainly did him proud.”
Having mastered the finished album, the producer is now working on B-sides. According to Visconti, the quality of the material is such that he recommends getting every release from the first single “You Have Killed Me” onwards. “We had about 20 songs to choose from and some of my favourites ended up as B-sides,” he explains. “I really mean it when I say Morrissey has found a new muse because his writing is incredible. To turn this into a 12-track CD was really a heartbreaker for me. It deserved to be a double.”
MORRISSEY ALBUM UPDATE
Album title: “Ringleader Of The Tormentors”
Key Tracks: “You Have Killed Me”, “Dear God Please Help Me”, “To Me You Are A Work Of Art”, “Life Is A Pigsty”
Musicians: Morrissey, Boz Boorer, Alain Whyte, Jesse Tobias, Mikey V Farrell, Gary Day and Matt Chamberlain.
Producer: Tony Visconti
Release Date: March 27th (Expected)
EXCLUSIVE: MOZ SPEAKS!
From the desk of Morrissey – the man himself sends NME a note about the album.
“By ‘Ringleader Of The Tormentors’ I mostly mean disturber of the peace. It would be easy to call the album something nicely wishy-washy, but it doesn’t come naturally to me to endear myself to the public. In fact, if that was 1773, I probably would have been hanged and burned by now, which gives even more credence to the album title.
I’ve become an Italianophile recently, so I was thrilled when Tony Visconti agreed to produce. I had always been fascinated by his work with T Rex, but he’s not at all marooned in the past; his skills are very 2006, and very apocalyptic, and, of course, all this internal steel came in very useful at the point when I started singing. Tony also played recorded on ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ album by DB (David Bowie).
I know people generally have no interest in studio engineers – usually with great reason – but our engineer on this album was Marco Martin, a dazzling talent and very much a crucial part of the final picture. The suspicious-looking musicians – Boz Boorer, Alain Whyte, Jesse Tobias, Mikey V Farrell, Gary Day and Matt Chamberlain – al outshone themselves. They never get any press recognition, but we don’t fret about this – life is too short. And so am I.
The songs, I think, see me on the brink of optimism. I expect I’ll be pulled back from this brink once I read the reviews. I remain concerned with the nature struggle, and the most you can hope for when you release an album is that it somehow makes a difference – to someone. Luck dictates everything else.”