posted by davidt on Wednesday July 02 2003, @10:30AM
Morrissey gives an interview with today's City Life Magazine, which I have transcribed for the benefit of non-English fans of his Mozjesty. (Update: 07/03 20:17 GMT: scans of the article posted on the general discussion board by gIrL uNaFrAiD.)
Typical brainless questions, but never mind. The accompanying photos are nice, but nothing spectacular. Moz makes some interesting comments on Manchester, the recent documentary, the war in Iraq and, erm, Larry Grayson (!), manages to mention Linder Sterling no less than three times, and drops tantalising hints he'll be playing the Manchester MEN arena soon! Please forgive the odd grammatical error, I'm not the world's greatest typist.
AND DON'T FORGET THE SONGS...
In only his British Press interview in seven years, Manchester's Greatest Ever Frontman (as voted by you) speaks exclusively to City Life about everything from life in LA to his new album, from Manchester's urban regeneration to the on-going ill health of British pop. The more we ignore Morrissey, it seems...
Guess who's back? back again...
A month on from signing his first UK record deal in six years (to punk stalwarts Sanctuary Records), and only a week after being voted the Greatest Manc frontman, ever, the Morrissey resurgence is now, officially, breaking into a stride. Unconfirmed reports of an MEN arena gig continue to go tantalisingly unconfirmed, but have a prophetic air to them of the self-fulfilling kind, while the internet abounds with rumours about the forthcoming album, complete with speculated tracklists, suggested singles and utterly fabricated album titles. To take things up a gear, the man himself this week breaks years of silence with an exclusive interview conducted - for the purposes of fair representation - through his now famous medium of choice, the fax. Nor should it be a surprise that it's in Manchester he's chosen to launch his assault.
El moz, we salute you.
First off, congratulations! How does it feel to be voted Manchester's greatest ever frontman?
"I'm absolutely exhausted from sending all those votes."
You beat the likes of Liam Gallagher, Ian Curtis, Shaun Ryder, Ian Brown, Richard Ashcroft, Mark E Smith, Tim Burgess and Mick Hucknall. Who would you have voted for?
"Liam, or Mark E, or Linder Sterling. Technically, of course, Linder Sterling isn't a man. But neither are most of the others on your list."
Does it scare you that you still inspire such devotion in people?
"No, but it might scare them."
You were back in Manchester recently - why return after so long?
"I was called back for cross-examination at a court case that was scheduled to run for three days. The Smiths drummer - but of course, who else? - had put a charge on my mother's house and a charge on my sister's house, and was claiming both. He was also trying to sue me under the insolvency act, all of which was absolute nonsense. So, I spent a few days with my barrister and my lawyer preparing for the court hearing when all of a sudden the Smiths' drummer dropped all three claims and completely abandoned the case. Nobody knows why, but it seems obvious that he knew he'd lose, and he didn't want to be embarrassed in his hometown."
Do you recognise the new and improved Manchester as the same town you grew up in?
"Yes, but only because of the people, and the fact that Manchester people never seem to change - thankfully. Early 70s Manchester was, I imagine, very much like late 40s Manchester. It was impossible to buy decent clothes, decent trousers, decent shoes, decent jeans - and I literally mean impossible, not just difficult, but impossible. It was very difficult to look good, which is probably why most people didn't. You had to virtually disfigure yourself in order to seem interesting. Manchester is such a positive place now, and one striking change is the almost total absence of senior citizens.
In the 70s, of course there was still that elderly generation who shuffled about in their de-mob suits and post-war overcoats. They gave a particularly distinct image of Manchester as a wonderful city, and of course, that entire generation have all passed away."
Do you think Warrington is really a good choice to be 'capital of the north'?
"No, there's nothing there, apart from George Formby's bones and a few wool shops. Mind you, that's not a bad start. I know a few people who would be quite happy with that."
Would the Smiths have sounded different in the Manchester of today?
"Yes, we would have sounded like the Radha Krishna Temple, and I'd have been accused of being anti-white."
What did you do while you were back here this time?
"Bumped into Christopher Eccleston - which was great; bumped into Vini Reilly - also great; tea with Linder Sterling at Selfridges, and caught up with Eastenders. I think the Sharon-vicki-Dennis storyline must be the most implausibly silly plot in the entire history of television. Stupid of me to watch it, though - I ought to be out playing rugby."
Does that mean you'll finally be playing a show here before long?
"I haven't played Manchester for 11 years, which seems a bit ridiculous. I had an offer last week for the MEN arena, which I think holds about 15,000. I'd love to do it."
Do you think British pop is in need of saving?
"It's beyond redemption. The world no longer has any respect for pop music, and this is why all of the major labels are now making one great mad rush to grab as much quick money as possible. also, the standard of pop writing is so awful now, but this is unfortunately immaterial because the only important factor is marketing, which is why so many singles fly in at number one before anyone's even had a chance to hear them."
Has LA given you a different perspective as a songwriter?
"Slightly. It's a very nervous and frightened city. If you brush against someone accidentally in the street they jump five feet in the air because they think you're going to kill them. If you wave over to someone to ask directions they run off in the opposite direction without answering you. Whereas in, say, Dublin or Copenhagen, you can literally sit on a complete stranger's knee in the park and they don't especially mind."
Why did it take so long to re-sign? You can't have been short of offers...
"I honestly didn't have any decent offers. For example, three major US labels said 'We want you, but we don't want your band,' so I turned them down. Another label said 'We want to sign you, but we'd first like you to make an album with the musicians from Radiohead,' and another label said 'We'll sign you if you agree to make an album with Tracey Thorn'. Absolutely bewildering. People don't know what I've been through."
Were you really as unhappy with the channel 4 documentary as was rumoured?
"Well, yes, because I did some lengthy interviews with them that were great, but they only used the most boring and monotonous comments, and they focused on all those tired old subjects such as celibacy and racism - things that people are sick to death of hearing about. I was embarrassed because it looked as if this was all I could talk about. Also, they kept filming me from my chin. which made me look as if I've got no teeth, and they positioned the lights every time to give me a greenish white deathly pale look. Lighting is meant to make you look better than you do, but theirs made me look worse. In the Australian clips, for example, I actually had a great tan, but the channel 4 camera technique made me look as if I'm just coming round after emergency surgery. I think it was a deliberate ploy to make me look grey and miserable. But that's tabloid telly."
Do you feel the need to speak out about the war in Iraq?
"Not really, because people of intelligence aren't remotely fooled. This isn't 1952. We all know that war is completely unnecessary. I'm very shocked at how people are still willing to go off to places like Iraq as basic cannon fodder. Would you give your life for Tony Blair or George W? I wouldn't.
Military action in Iraq has also made the world a less safe place. The Americans couldn't find Saddam, they couldn't find Bin Laden - so what's been the point of the exercise?
More dangerously, has anyone noticed the facial and physical similarity between Tony Blair and Larry Grayson? And is it not a coincidence that Larry Grayson 'died' as soon as Blair became prime minister? Am I the only one who suspects that this country is being run by Larry Grayson?"
What is it like being a citizen in a country whose politics you find hard to stomach?
"England is now as bad as America. In either country, it is impossible to watch the television news. I often wonder who they think is watching."
Who's your favourite new band?
"I like the Damien Dempsey CD a lot - especially 'Ghosts of Overdoses' and 'Industrial School'."
Eminem is the new Morrissey. Discuss.
"Pigfarmer's Weekly is the new City Life. Discuss."
How is the new album going, and what can we expect?
"It's going to be great. If it isn't, I'll retire to a terraced cottage by an old textile mill and I won't bother you again."
The new album is reportedly called Ludus Lumni. Are you a nostalgic person?
"To be perfectly honest, I've never actually heard of the title Ludus Lumni. I don't even know what it means. I think someone is having you on."
Have the past 20 years of pop music changed your opinion on dance at all?
"I have no opinion on dance, or any other subject for that matter."
What can you tell us about your new songs?
There's also a report on the merits of some of the possible new album's songs, and a fantastic article about growing up as a Smiths fan, which contains the funniest Moz anecdote I've ever heard. So buy City Life now!!!