Lets face it: a lot of journalists would give anything to meet you today, especially
English journalists. If you were a journalist, would you be proud and honoured to meet
(Laughs) I would be very surprised! But pride or honour is a bit too strong, I think
Id simply be happy. A lot of people in pop music are very hard to interview because
they have nothing to say. Today, the journalists job is to convince the public these
people actually do. Sometimes I read interviews, and when I happen to read it through, I
dont learn anything from them because theres nothing to be learned from those
bands or artists.
Are you thinking of someone in particular?
Most of them! (He repeats the words three times, looking almost pitiful). Its
quite symptomatic of the period were living in. Its trendy to simplify
everything. I wont take the time to make a list. It would be too long anyway
(laughs). You know perfectly well who Im talking about.
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Are there some people youve met who have interested you, or impressed you,
I am a great music fan. Ive always been. I have met most of the people who impressed
me, or that I just wanted to be introduced to. But I must admit that I absolutely
dont have this need anymore. Sincerely, I think its better to establish a
physical distance. Why? Because then you keep away from the disappointment these meetings
can bring. Its better to live with the image or the universe of someone you admire.
Very often these people dont match up with the expectations youve rightfully
awaited for... or hoped for. I perfectly know that acting like this prevents me from
experiencing wonderful moments... or dreadful ones! These people must be very kind or
interesting, but I dont want to run the risk of feeling bad about it in the end.
Dreaming is much more pleasant than facing reality. Dreaming is a refuge, its like
Listening to what you are saying, you really look like someone whos experienced many
Not at all. The yearnings I had were too strong regarding how I actually was living or how
I wanted to live. Basically, this is what I call "the tragedy of the pop-fan".
You always think that the people youre listening to are as great in their life as
they are through what theyre singing or writing. But its very seldom the case.
Whenever you see them on the TV or on stage, they seem to be enormous and great. Whereas
when you actually meet them in everyday life, they are very, very, very small...
Then solitude too can be a refuge.
I try to make it a refuge. Im 38 today. Ive been alone for a very long time
(silence). I still consider that Im living a... luxurious, lonely life. (silence)
But this notion of solitude is different whether youre 38 or youre 20?
When youre young, youre afraid of being alone. Solitude is a burden and you
try to escape from it. You always wonder when its going to come to an end. Sometimes
you cant get rid of it. At the age of 38, you use it in a different way. Youve
learned how to live with it, and you dont try to get rid of it by all means anymore.
After all you may call this resignation, but I dont think its harmful.
Youre not just standing there, in pain, asking yourself "Why am I alone? Why
dont I go out?" etc. You dont ask yourself these questions anymore. You
adapt yourself. Living alone does not mean living in nothingness.
A lot of people think you live the life of an ascetic. Is it true, or is it the image you
want to give of yourself in order to protect yourself?
It is indeed the truth but then again Im not non-social. Im occasionally
living a life, actually! (laughs). For example I enjoy sports. Im not Oscar
Wilde. I dont spend all my time in my garden handling flowers and asking myself many
existentialist questions. I enjoy life! Im not frightened by life. Furthermore,
Im not frightened by anything at all. So many things have been said about me, it
would be useless to try to deny all these rumours. When I do, a new one appears, replacing
the old one.
Sometimes these attacks can be very harsh. Do you feel persecuted?
(Amused) The English media, mainly, are making an assault on me, taking some kind
of petty revenges. This attitude is typically British. I am a victim but I dont act
like one. Musically, Im being totally ignored, fair enough; but they call me racist,
they say Im the devil... and they wont stop. They go on and on with these
stories, and I find this attitude very suspicious. Its growing stronger every time a
new album is released. The people who write such things must have no self-esteem
whatsoever. The only good point in all this is that it makes me stand out from all who
make music. Nobody has ever been as attacked as I have been. All I can say is: thank you
very much. Its wonderful. No other British pop artist has ever taken so many heavy
blows as I have. It gives me the feeling of being somewhat unique.
Your public appearances are more and more scarce. Do you think that you gave too much of
yourself at certain periods in your life?
Absolutely. In the 80s, I gave out enormously to the English press. 10 years later,
I endured a terrible life because when youre permanently asked the same questions,
youre tired of always giving the same answers. Rather than interviews, I felt I had
the impression that I was ansering more to interrogations. The journalists were changing,
but the questions were the same. That type: "Are The Smiths going to reform? When
are The Smiths going to reform? Have you met Johnny Marr recently?"... You can
imagine that in these conditions, you dont want to play the game anymore. I was
asked vulgar questions or questions about my past, even if I had started a solo career.
When the journalists were interviewing me, their only questions were always, always,
always about The Smiths. At the beginning, I kept a lot inside of me. As I saw that I was
only answering in a monotonous way, "yes" or "no" to what I was asked,
I decided to stop everything. Frankly, today theres not one English journalist that
Im ready to meet because I already know by heart the questions. I know very well
that it will bring me nothing.
There are nonetheless respectful newspapers in Great Britain?
Not at all. They are all poisonous newspapers that only carry hate, a primal hate and
beyond measure. And its not because they are not supporting my records Im
talking that way (laughs). On that point, I absolutely need no revenge! Lets
open our eyes.
By avoiding talking to the media, you play with mystery. That kind of mystery which
is creating myths.
I dont want to create a Morrissey myth. Things happen naturally, and I have no
influence on them. I know that Im not talking much to the media, but there are still
my records. I also know that I sell few records, that radios dont broadcast my songs
and that here, in the USA, MTV has never shown any of my video clips. Curiously, everybody
knows about Morrissey. Ive always decided to go on by my own means. With whichever
record company Ive worked with, no one ever came to tell me: " Listen,
Morrissey. Were going to work hard for your new single. Were going to do this,
that... Were going to use all means." Today, making a record or planning a
tour is still a personal affair. Maybe thats the best way to last and to not
Dont you suffer when you dont sell more records?
Compared to other bands, I dont sell many albums. I dont ignore it. I
dont lie to myself. But do you have to sell tons of records to be happy? Do you have
to sell tons of records to see your songs living? Im not convinced. Its
nonsensical. I do know that when someone buys one of my albums, this someone listens to
|(click to enlarge)
Are you aware of the feelings and behaviours youre provoking from your crowd?
Yes, it seems very strong. Its very kind (laughs). I think its because
of the way I sing. Maybe they hear someone real and sincere talking to them. Its not
true with all pop singers. Most of them are very artificial. Theyre just vulgar,
affected persons. Many behave on stage as if they were practicing before a mirror in their
bedroom. As far as Im concerned, Im someone true and thats probably why
my records arent broadcast on the radio. What is fashionable today? All that is
flashy, glittering and synthetic. I sing what I am and only what I am.
Do you want to be or do you like being misunderstood?
I never wished to belong to any scene. But because of what Im experiencing today, I
tend to strengthen this attitude. Im completely out of the world of indie music, of
the mainstream, of the worldlinesses... Im very far from that. Its not usual
at all. Very few artists have that type of behaviour. I would even say that this principle
has become a way of living. Charity festivals are not for me. I hate being invited to
them. Everybody knows that I dont belong to this world, and that I dont want
to associate my name with it. I put my honor in that. People can hate or adore me, I
dont care! The most important thing is to be unique and to be out of mass events.
The best worlds are unique. I am perfectly aware that its a very difficult attitude
to keep and that it's detrimental to me.
Will those life exigencies still be possible in five or ten years?
I think that as far as I will be able to go, I wont depart from these rules. Each
new year may be the last one. I dont want to be associated to this smiling pop
family. This small world hides a real spirit of competition, where everybody fears and
observes everybody else. I dont want to end like Mick Jagger, having to distrust all
the supposed friendships around me waiting for any mistake. The pop family pretends to be
happy. There is this clan, and this club, and were lucky to be together and
thats wonderful! (Morrissey imitates a conductor with an ironic smile).
Frankly, no, thank you.
Thats why you live now in Los Angeles?
I dont live in Los Angeles!
But yesterday, you declared during your gig: " Its nice to be home"?
It was a joke (laughs). Sorry (laughs). The crowd has problems with my sense
of humour. Seriously, I dont live in Los Angeles. I am currently homeless. Ive
sold my home in London and I dont know yet where to settle.
Do you seriously consider yourself a homeless person? (I show him the luxurious place
But I own nothing here (laughs).
Could you write if you were happy?
No, because youre too busy when youre happy. But Im not particularly
unhappy at the moment. Lets say Im not entirely cheerful. But who can say such
Youve often declared that your career wont last eternally. But youre
I am the first to be surprised. In this world, things come and go, live and die. You get
married, you divorce. You work, you get unemployed... For example, Im very surprised
of my success in Los Angeles. I have here a real audience, even if newspapers here have
destroyed my last album. But the public is present.
You played yesterday at the Los Angeles Greek Theater, and I was surprised by the variety
of the audience. It was of all races and of all ages. Nothing like your European audience.
Its astonishing. There are American towns where we played in front of many young
females, who wouldnt stop shouting and shouting again. In another town, there was a
majority of Hispanic people. Its extraordinary and Im happy to see that. I can
also see people of my age come and listen. But what is very important to me is to see
young people coming to see me. Why are they here? How were they introduced to my work? Why
am I interesting to them? I make this conclusion: many people still love music and are not
content with MTV or with what the popular press want them to do blindly. There are still
intelligent people. The goal of music industry is, and will always be, to provoke an
interest on the most little common denominator in order to get the widest success. All
must be simplified, prepared, chewed. Some forget too often what we are all human beings
with a reason.
Are you re-inventing the notion of the underground artist, your way?
Its good to be indie in society. But when I take the American example, to be indie
or alternative doesnt mean much anymore. You automatically get articles in big
magazines, your video clip is broadcast on TV... Thats not my situation at all. If
indie music was not so popular, few bands would try to rush in that path. Today, the trend
of the young musicians is to be more arty. They play music but show that theyre not
interested with it. Its a new hype. It comes and goes.
Once again you have a new record company for the release of your new album. Does it
imply that you haven't met the right persons, or cant just settle somewhere?
I have never met the right people. Still, it's on Parlophone that I spent my happiest
days. It was a very healthy period. I'm not sure if it's the case today. I won't have any
hit single with the Maladjusted album. I won't sell millions of albums. There are
too many people who can't see beyond Morrissey. Its "no!" all the time!
"We won't play your single! We wont sell your record!" This is what
Ive been reported. Its so crazy when I see all the bullshit that is broadcast
on television or the radio! All this crap which ends up in the top 20. Well, thats
life... or death, it depends.
After Vauxhall And I, you had declared that you couldn't do any better than this.
It matched your views on perfection. Would you say so regarding Maladjusted?
I think it's a perfect album that reflects exactly what I am today. It's the perfect album
until the next one! (laughs)
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|Do you place an absolute trust in the musicians that are with you, who
are harshly judged sometimes?
(hesitations) An absolute trust, no. But I don't believe they have an absolute
trust in what they do. There are always mistakes and failures. But that's the way I see
pop music: catchy, approximate, awkward, blurry and noisy. I'm not interested in playing
with clean musicians, little toys that would merely play the music with absolute accuracy.
It would be very boring. What you do on stage must be different than what you do in the
studio. I enjoy getting on stage wondering, "what's going to happen? How will the
show turn out?" If everything was perfect, I would endure a terrible life!
Don't you mean to confuse your audience?
Sincerely, no. I know some who would prefer it if everything was like a fairy tale, but
it's not that way! They'll have to wait (laughs). I've read a letter recently and
it was saying how shameful it was that I should produce myself with such a band of
rockers, and how beautiful it would be if I performed on stage along with a symphonic
orchestra. People would sit down and applaud as if they were at the opera. My answer is
"No, No, No!"
There are an incredible number of sites that are dedicated to you on the internet. Does
that appeal to you?
We live in a modern world (laughs). Quite honestly, I don't consult them. Sometimes
I come across people who have read what is written about me on the internet. Recently,
someone told me that he had read that I was living in Brazil. I wish to make a denial, I
don't live in Brazil (laughs). On that level, I just leave things as they are.
Just after Princess Diana died, Elton John has written this song you might know,
"Candle In The Wind". If you had been asked to write a song for the Princess,
would you have written "The Princess Is Dead"?
No, Im not that horrible. I wouldn't have written anything at all. I don't write
about princesses. I wasn't fascinated at all by Lady Diana and I'm not capable of writing
about something that doesn't interest me.
Childhood is a recurrent theme in your songs. If someday you become a father, what name
would you give to your children?
Morrissey 1, Morrissey 2, Morrissey 3...
And if it's a girl?
(hesitates a few seconds) Morrissette! (laughs)
What kind of a father would you be?
I'd be a terrible father, and very strict. I wouldn't let my children get out of the
Are you serious?
Absolutely. I would enjoy it. They will be Oliver Twist-like. No food, no bed, no baths.
The very minimum.
But we live in the 20th century!
No matter! I like to revive things. Its my favorite hobby! (laughs)