Alain Whyte - 4 interviews from '97-'02 (Morrissey content)

Famous when dead

A collection of 4 interviews from '97-'02.
I saved the text from the Alain Whyte 'Syte' (post-Geocities) a long time back, but as Johnny Panic is being mentioned again - thought it worthwhile dusting them off.
Lots of Morrissey content.
All credit to the original interviewers, any named within & Alain Whyte.



a chat with Alain Whyte

Morrisey's man
Tristan McKay
Daily Staff

It's not everyday that a young, aspiring musician has the chance to audition for Morrissey, but six years ago, Alain Whyte did.

Whyte joined up with Morrissey when he was 24. Morrissey was looking for new musicians to form a band to tour in support of his then-current LP, Kill Uncle. Whyte knew Morrissey was going to be looking for musicians and he had the foresight to practice many of Morrissey's songs with Gary Day and Spencer Cobrin, two other members of The Memphis Sinners. When it came time to actually audition, they were very well prepared, and impressed Morrissey with the extent of their repertoire. “We knew 15 [of his] songs from day one, and he was just flabbergasted. Three weeks after that, we were on a world-wide tour for six months,” recalls Whyte during a telephone interview.

Alain Whyte has been the guitarist and main songwriter for Morrissey on the last three albums. Whyte is a charismatic performer, charging his live playing with remarkable energy, exuding coolness and style from every pore, and all the while providing impeccable musical foundations for Morrissey's emotive singing.

Whyte joined Morrissey at a crucial time. If it hadn't been for his consistently cohesive and musically diverse songwriting, Morrissey's career may well have faded into obscurity after the meandering Kill Uncle. Even Morrissey's wonderful voice could not continue to captivate without the support of catchy tunes behind it.

For Whyte, writing songs is an organic process. Ideas come into his head and he writes them down on the spot, figuring out the song's chord sequences then and there. If he gets stuck on a song, he will leave it for a while and then come back to it later when he gets another idea. For Morrissey, Whyte records demos of songs in an eight-track recording studio Whyte has in his home, and then Morrissey adds vocals to the music by either writing the words around the music or fitting words to it that he has already written. Oftentimes, when the whole band plays the songs on an album, they are very similar to Whyte's original demos.

Other times, however, Morrissey takes a more active role in the arranging of a song. “He'll make a suggestion, possibly to a tune that he has a really good idea with, and if he's made up in his mind how the song goes, he'll take parts of your song and say, 'I want that to go around another four times,' like verse, chorus, verse, chorus. He'll kind of chop and change a song around if it's not bang-up, but a lot of time, the songs are exact. He writes exactly to the tune that you've put down.”

In addition to playing guitar, Whyte also sings the backing vocals for Morrissey. He has done some impressively haunting, ethereal singing on Vauxhall & I and Southpaw Grammar, and he has a remarkable amount of range in his voice. “I've gotten good with harmonies and stacking up vocals. On Southpaw Grammar, I did a lot of backing vocals actually singing down my guitar pickup. I'd do about three or four tracks harmonizing, especially on 'The Teachers are Afraid of The Pupils.' It's really kind of ghostly and strange.”

Of his work with Morrissey, Whyte's favorite albums are Your Arsenal and Southpaw Grammar. The chance to work with glam-guitar legend Mick Ronson, and the rich variety found on Your Arsenal, from “slow moody songs” to the “up-tempo rocking songs,” make it a real stand-out in Whyte's mind. With Southpaw Grammar, he appreciated the &#147complete attack” of the album. “I think it's really underrated, that album and I'm really sad about that. The press were quite vicious towards us in England. I think they're pretty negative in England in general, especially about bands. I find that in America, people and press seem to be a lot more keen on artists and basically write more fair reviews.”

Whyte is excited about the new Morrissey album, which is called Maladjusted, and is scheduled for release in early August. He describes the record as, “really mature. It's a cross between Southpaw Grammar and Vauxhall & I. That sounds really silly, but it's pretty much that. There are some great songs. Lyrically, it's a very strong album. I think a lot of fans are going to be impressed.” Whyte is confident that Morrissey will have a world tour to support the new album. “He has to, really,” states Alain. He expects the band will tour the United States this October or early 1998 at the very latest.

Whyte was born and raised in London. From a very early age he enjoyed music. Thinking back, he says, “I was brought up on a healthy diet of Jimi Hendrix and The Doors. I was quite a hippie child; outrageous, really. I remember, I used to have a little turntable, and at the age of four, I was sticking on Doors LP's, The Who and The Beatles.” His interest in music really took form following Elvis' death when Whyte was eight. After The King's death, all of his movies were played on TV, and Whyte was deeply inspired. &#147From then on, I wanted to be a singer or in a band,” he said.

Although his first instrument was drums, Whyte eventually gave it up to learn guitar. “I wanted to sing, and I strummed an acoustic, and just kind of learned. I just picked it up as I went along,” states Whyte. His playing has kept improving with practice, and he is actually contemplating returning to school some day to attend music college in order to broaden his musical abilities even further. He feels his playing has really become much better in the last couple of years. “It's weird, for me it's like I've taken one more step up a big stair,” he said.

As a teenager, Whyte listened to rockabilly music and was in several rockabilly bands, including the Rugcutters, Born Bad and the Memphis Sinners.

In addition to his work with Morrissey, Whyte has recently joined a new band called Johnny Panic and The Bible of Dreams. He is very enthusiastic about the new band, because the singer is a fine lyricist with lots of great songs already written, and Whyte has a lot of unused tunes and new musical ideas as well. He sees a great potential in the future of their combined efforts at songwriting. Whyte describes the band as “indie pop sort of stuff. It's kind of a cross between The Jam, and I hate to say it, Blur and The Smiths, that kind of thing. I guess it's got Alain Whyte sound on it, because that's just the way I play.”

Johnny Panic are currently looking for a record label on which to record and release their material. There seems to be a lot of interest from some big companies, like Geffen Records, and the band should get an album deal soon. Whyte has been touring recently with Johnny Panic, doing a lot of smaller shows, and he hopes to eventually come to America with the band. He may actually sing lead vocals on a couple Johnny Panic songs that he has written. “Look out for Johnny Panic,” quips Whyte, “I think you guys are going to really dig them. They're going to be a real college radio band, without a doubt.”


Alain Whyte is the Nicest Guy in the World... Seriously.

Thesseloniki, Greece. It's past midnight and Kimie and I are incredibly tired. We're in a building that resembles an airplane hanger at the Hellenic Expo. Minutes earlier Morrissey finished singing the last notes to "Last Night I Dreamt" and rushed off stage. The crowd has emptied out of the building but Kimie and I remain.

We walk over to the gate that separates the audience from backstage. Several yards inside the gate we see Alain Whyte chatting with Spike and a few roadies.

I point my camera at Alain and wave to him, urging him to come over for a photograph. Initially, he shakes his head no, but moments later he interrupts his conversation with Spike walks over to us.

So I hear you have this poll," he says smiling. He's referring to the current question of the week which was, 'Who's the cutest lad?

"Oh yeah, the last time I checked you were winning."

"No, man," he says graciously, "Gary's the kingpin."

He flashes his smile again and continues talking to us until it's time for security to clear out the building.

As Kimie and I walk outside I tell her how freaked out I am by Alain. Maybe it's because I'm from New York and I'm not used to meeting nice people. "I just can't believe how nice he is," I say "it really freaks me out. He's like, the nicest guy in the world or something." Kimie gives me a look as if I'm clearly crazy but deep down I think she knows what I mean.

Since 1991 Alain has been writing music and playing guitar for Morrissey. His collaboration with Moz has produced favorite songs such as, "Sunny", "Nobody Loves Us", "Boxers", and "Tomorrow"

At the end of 1999 Oye Esteban tour Alain was gracious enough to answer a very long list questions for us. Without further hesitation we present, the nicest guy in the world, Alain Whyte.

I've heard that your mother is French, and so that is why your name is Alain, not Alan. Does it bother you when people mispronounce your name?*
I hate it when people call me "Elaine." Unless you are French speaking, my name is pronounced exactly the same way "Alan" is. Just pretend there is no "i" in it.

What things in life make you happy?
Playing music and spending time with close friends.

When did you make the conscious decision that you wouldn't drink, do drugs, or partake in the vices associated with a rock n' roll lifestyle?
When I was in my early twenties my stepbrother died from a heroin overdose. I felt firsthand the devastation of losing someone close to you to drugs. He was a good friend and to lose him in such a needless way was terrible for all of us who loved him. This experience obviously made a great impression on me. I work very hard to make a living from music and have always felt that if I was privileged enough play in a successful band I wouldn't become a rock n' roll casualty like so many others that given the opportunity have thrown it all away. Don't get me wrong- I'm not a teetotaler, but for myself I chose a pretty clean lifestyle. You won't see me on "Behind The Music" reminiscing of mad binges.

On occasion, there are people that assume you're gay. Do you think this is because you play for Morrissey? Do you think that people would make the same assumptions if you played for Santana, Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, etc.?
I like to look sharp- especially on stage, with loud shirts, quiffed hair, etc. A lot of straight men don't have much going on in the style department so I can see how some people might find my garb a bit camp at times. Those who don't just see me from a distance, but actually know me never question my sexuality. Morrissey inspires an intense following of all different kinds of people. You could see the diversity first hand in the audiences at the Oye Esteban shows.

What are your vices?
In England there lives the legendary fruit machine...Boz and I love them. Fruit machines are found in most pubs and are similar to slot machines but require a bit more skill. There are more ways to manipulate them.

What are most people surprised to learn about you?
Probably how down to earth I am...and my interest in ufology.

What do you think of the NME? Why do you think they are always so hard on Morrissey?
The NME as a voice in popular music is a joke. The root of why the NME is so rubbish is their complete disregard for basic journalistic standards. Just because their focus is primarily music and pop culture shouldn't allow them to get away with lower standards. Journalists are entitled to their opinion, but if they are only going to give their opinion than they are editorializing and should present their piece as such. Journalists are supposed to research their subject, check facts, be accurate, and write without a bias. Would it kill them to do some basic research and get the names of the band members and spell them correctly? I don't know who they think writes the music, they are so busy slagging the band off, that they ignore or are ignorant to the fact that Boz and I have written most the music they are listening to.

I think the NME and British press in general are so hard on Morrissey because he won't play by their rules. When they decide he is in favor, and want to do an interview or a photo shoot they expect him to jump at the opportunity, but he won't bow to their whims. The lack of credibility in papers like the NME and MelodyMaker is best reflected in their decline of circulation. It's no mystery why the numbers are falling.

Did anyone ever tell you you're just too good looking?*
God, I wish they would!

Are you a spiritual person?
I'm not spiritual in a religious way- but I believe in things like karma.

Do you believe in monogamy?
I believe in being faithful.

Have you ever escaped from a shipwrecked life?
Yes, I have, and am a much stronger person for it.


Is "Sorrow Will Come in the End" written in iambic pentameter?
Isn't iambic pentameter the rhythm of words? I only know about the music!

Which Morrissey songs are your favorites to perform? Which one of the songs you co-wrote with Morrissey are you most proud of?*
On the Oye Esteban tour I really enjoyed playing the solo in "Hairdresser on Fire" and I always enjoy playing "Tomorrow." As for the songs I've written with Morrissey, my favorite so far is "The Edges Are No Longer Parallel."

Who are your musical influences?
Elvis Presley made me want to be a pop star. I'm influenced by all different kinds of music and try to keep up with new bands.

As a band, how has the music changed since the Kill Uncle tour era until now?
We have all improved individually as musicians and calmed down a little bit on stage. We've matured and the music reflects this.

In your opinion, what is "I Can Have Both" about?
He can have both.

Are there any Morrissey lyrics that confuse you? Which ones?
Some of Vauxhall & I I can't quite figure out- I would love to get down to the actual core message of some of those songs.

The Tour

How are you enjoying the tour so far?
More than any of our previous outings; of course apart from the odd aches and pains.

Are there any shows that stick our as your favorites?
The shows at the London Forum were triumphant- my hometown audience, and the shows in Los Angeles at the Palladium were amazing for the sheer enthusiasm of the crowds. The Ventura show had the best sound.

Are there any songs that you'd like to perform that haven't appeared on any of the set lists?
"That Joke isn't Funny Anymore," "Lucky Lisp," and "Southpaw."

If you don't mind, could you explain the troubles that your back has been giving you? How long have you had the pains? Do you think any of the pains can be attributed to stage invaders who might have run into you?*
I first experienced back pain about two years ago. Completely out of the blue my lower back went into a paralyzing muscle spasm. I was unable to walk and was extremely uncomfortable. I tried a variety of remedies including massage, prescription anti-inflammatory drugs, and I saw an osteopath. After a few days I was okay. I had x-rays taken of my back and luckily there is nothing wrong with the bones. It is muscular.

This past summer my back locked up on me again and I treated it successfully with massage therapy and acupuncture. I am trying to be more in tune with my body to catch early warning signs that my back is not right. I have learned that sitting for any length of time is not good for me, and I believe that stress levels can contribute to it.

My back started hurting before the Santa Barbara show, so I had a massage therapist work on it just before going onstage. During the encore of the show the stage was invaded, and a fan slapped me on the back to say "good work." This didn't really hurt me but it didn't help either. After the show I lay on the dressing room floor to try and relax my back. By the time we reached Las Vegas I was very uncomfortable. An appointment was arranged at a chiropractors- for some reason in Nevada you have to physically go to the chiropractors, they can not come to you, so I was forced to travel in a car to his office. This was not a pleasant experience as sitting was extremely uncomfortable. The chiropractor worked on me for a couple hours but I felt no immediate relief. The ride back from the chiropractors to the hotel was agony; unable to sit I crouched across the backseat of the car.

Upon reaching the hotel I was trying to get out of the car when my back locked up even more and I basically collapsed on the concrete. I could not stand up enough to use crutches or get in a wheel chair to try to get back to my room. I even tried to crawl onto one of those luggage carts and was unable to do that. The paramedics came and wanted to take me to the hospital but I refused, as I knew it would only make things worse. After lying on the pavement outside the hotel for about 20 minutes I somehow managed to stand up enough to use crutches. I was desperate to get to my room and try to relax. I finally made it there and a doctor was called to examine me. There wasn't enough time left before the show for the anti-inflammatory and painkillers he prescribed to work- and even if there was more time there was still no guarantee I would even be able to play then. The doctor informed me that if I did try to play while on painkillers, I could do more damage to my back and seriously hurt myself. It was too dangerous to try. I can't say enough how sorry I am that I was unable to play the show. It was impossible for me to perform.

We had the next day off in Las Vegas and I continued to take the drugs the doctor had prescribed and had a massage therapist work on my back. We rode on a tour bus to the Coachella Festival and I lay down the entire time. It had been days since I had been able to stand up for any length of time so when I walked onstage and picked up my guitar everyone's fingers were crossed. I am grateful that I was able to play that show, and the rest on the Oye Esteban tour. I haven't totally conquered my back pain but am working on it as best I can with special exercises and massage therapy.

Why do you use a silver sparkly guitar for "Meat is Murder"?
That's my silver Danelectro- I use it because Meat is Murder is a different tuning than the other songs on the set and nobody would want to wait around for me to change the tuning on my Les Paul.

At the 1991 London Hammersmith-Odeon show your fingers were bleeding all over your guitar, but you went on strumming away. What happened? How did it feel? I though you were incredibly stoic to continue until the end of the show when your guitar was all bloody. This concert was broadcast on Japanese TV.*
Right before going onstage I cut my finger. It was an accident, and only a tiny little nick, but as soon as I started playing blood went everywhere. It didn't hurt me, but was just annoying.

(Continues below)
(1999 continued)

The Smiths

Do you ever feel from fans or critics that you're being compared to Johnny Marr? How do you deal with that?
The press has made up its own mind re Johnny Marr. My contribution is rarely considered by them. When the press do complement the music or my guitar work, they almost never attribute it to me by name. It is frustrating at times, but I get more out of writing and playing my own music than I ever would from reading my name in a paper.

Were you ever a Smith's fan?
I remember seeing "What Difference Does It Make" performed on Top of the Pops and really liking the song and thinking that Morrissey looked brilliant. At the time I didn't own all the records, but was definitely intrigued by the group.

What are your favorite Smith's songs to listen to?
"Never Had No One Ever," "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore," "Big Mouth Strikes Again," "Headmasters Ritual," "Pretty Girls Make Graves," and sorry Moz, I love "What Difference Does It Make."

What are your favorite Smith's songs to play?
"This Charming Man" and "What Difference Does It Make."

Have you ever met Johnny Marr?
No, but our paths have nearly crossed several times.

Band Dynamics

In your opinion, how did the dynamic of the band change once Gary Day left the band?
Since we'd all been playing together from the start, when Gary left it didn't feel so much like a band, but more like four individuals. There is a difference.

How would you describe your relationship with Boz? Do you ever feel competitive towards him?
I've known Boz since I was 14 years old. When you've known someone from when you were a kid, it's a different dynamic than if you've only known the person as an adult working together professionally. We are very different people in terms of both personality and playing styles and these differences complement each other.

Are you happier with the band now with the addition of Spike and Gary than you were during the Maladjusted tour with Spencer and Jonny?
Though the band lineup is the most obvious difference between the Maladjusted and Oye Esteban tours there are many other changes behind the scenes that contribute to the overall vibe just as much. It's not better or worse, just different. Jonny and Spencer are friends of mine, and our friendship doesn't revolve around whether we are working together or not. I appreciate Jonny and Spencer's musical talents and have enjoyed working with both of them on separate projects outside of playing with Morrissey, and see no reason why we wouldn't work on something together in the future.

When you first saw Spike play at the Forum last year, did you know that Spencer would be replaced?
Actually, it was at Club Kitten, at HQ's in London, that I first saw Spike play. This first meeting was months and months before I heard Spencer was working on his own project, and was not going to be playing in the Morrissey band- I just happened to catch Spike's set with a band called Jolt and was really impressed with his drumming. I introduced myself to him after the show just to tell him what a great set I thought he'd played. I remember we ended up talking about the drumming on The Cult's Love album, of all things.

Later, I found out that the band Spike was playing with at the time happened to be represented by the same booking agent as Morrissey for England and Europe. So when we were looking for a new drummer he came to mind as an obvious choice to invite to the auditions.

What was your first impression of Spike?
Spike came across really well. He didn't know me from Adam when I introduced myself to him. I just wanted to tell him how impressed I was with his playing and he was very receptive. It was only a brief conversation, but he obviously made a big impression, as it was about a year later that auditions were held for a new drummer. I wasn't in England when the auditions were held, so it wasn't until we began rehearsing for the Oye Esteban tour in September that I got to know Spike a bit better, and he has definitely lived up to that first impression.

How did it all begin? How did you get to meet Morrissey and later become his guitar player?
I first met Morrissey at a Rock n' Roll club in London. I knew he was looking for musicians, so I went up and introduced myself to him, and gave him sort of a demo tape of me playing guitar. Shortly thereafter, I got a call from Boz, who had also met Morrissey through the rockin' clubs, to come down to the recording session of "Pregnant For the Last Time." The session didn't go that well, and I thought that was the beginning and end of my work with Morrissey.

I met Spencer Cobrin when I played in a band called Born Bad. After Born Bad split up, we then met Gary "Gaz" Day and a guy called Johnny Nitro, and formed a band called the Memphis Sinners. This was the band I was fronting when a few months after the "Pregnant For The Last Time" session I ran into Morrissey at a pub in North London. I had just come from a Memphis Sinners rehearsal, and Gaz and Spencer were with me. I went over to Morrissey to say hello, and he asked if we'd all like to be in a music video for his song "Sing Your Life."

Spencer, Gaz, and I, along with Mark Nevin were Morrissey's band in the "Sing Your Life" video. I had a feeling that Morrissey was going to ask us to audition to be his real band so we rehearsed up about 15 Morrissey songs. Sure enough, we were asked to audition and we surprised Morrissey by knowing so many of his songs straight away. A few weeks later we were out on the road for the "Kill Uncle" tour. Mark Nevin had decided not to do the tour, so we got Boz in, and that's how it all came together.


What do you think of Morrissey fans?
I think they are a very loyal group of people. I respect them for their enthusiasm and appreciate all their support. It's cliche but true, without them I wouldn't have a job.

What do you think Morrissey fans think of you?
I don't really know.

How do you deal with stage invasions? Do you find them annoying?
I find it distracting. People are so desperate to get onstage I worry they will hurt themselves, clambering over barricades, security, stepping on people's heads, etc. One person at a time is tolerable, but it is too dangerous when a mob of people comes on at once. If you do get onstage, don't step on my guitar pedals or pull my lead out. That's annoying.

I heard once that a fan got up onstage and hugged and kissed you instead of Morrissey. How did that make you feel?
Ah yes, the moment of glory at Battersea, London 1997. I have to admit I was shocked when I saw the fan coming towards me; partly because given the chance the person went for me and not Morrissey, but mostly because realized I knew the guy! Cheers, Paul. You definitely surprised me!

Why do you think that Moz has a large gay following?
I think his lyrics and the messages they send are very tolerant of different lifestyle choices, sexuality being one of them.

Johnny Panic

Can we expect anything from Johnny Panic in the near future?
We have loads of great songs recorded, but we've held back on releasing the material because we have been watching the Internet and how music is being disseminated via it. The changes that MP3 have brought about are amazing, and we've been exploring our options of releasing songs. One way or another, we'll get some music out to the fans in 2000. It's long overdue.

How is playing with Johnny Panic different than playing with Morrissey?
It's a lot more work. Playing in a new band, you have to do everything a major artist does to promote your music and get it heard, but you have to start at the bottom and claw your way up. We played gigs up and down Great Britain, developing our live set and then did a few showcases in London mostly for the industry and press to check us out. All the work leading up to the release of our debut single, "When I Drink I Love You More" was a huge lesson for me. I participated first hand with many more aspects of the business than I ever do when I work with Morrissey. I was totally involved with the selection of the producer and recording studio, design concept for the artwork, meeting with stylists, photo shoots, print and radio interviews, etc. All of us in the band worked our asses off but what a reward it was to see people get into our music; the fans appreciated our efforts and the continued interest in Johnny Panic validates my belief in the project.

Questions from the web site:

From: Ryan Andrew Montell ([email protected])

Hey Kimie: My name's Ryan. I'm a college student in Oregon. Been following the tour via your site and David T.'s Morrissey-Solo. You and Madame Slug are doing a fantastic job. 'Love the photos.

I wondered if you'd ask Alain about how he, Moz, and the other guys work in the studio. I know that Alain comes up with most of the tunes, but does someone generally take charge during the recordings? I mean does Morrissey stand on a chair and start barking out orders? Or does the band just work out the arrangements and cal in The Man when it's ready? Also wanted to know about Alain's impressions of the producers with whom he and Moz have worked.

Lastly, please tell him I think he's a kick-ass guitarist. Thanks.

The producer and Morrissey are in charge of the recording session. We'll work out the arrangement and put down a live take of the song, and then go back and overdub guitars, etc. We can put down what we like, but if Morrissey isn't happy with a sound, we'll change it or lose it altogether. Morrissey puts his vocals down after the music is finished, but he surprised us all on the recording of the Maladjusted album and gave us a vocal guide early on to record to. My favorite producer to work with was Mick Ronson, he was an incredible person and I feel so privileged to have worked with him. I also enjoyed working with Steve Lillywhite and Clive Langer. Danton Supple, who produced the b-sides for the Maladjusted, gets a big pat on the back from me. I've definitely learned something from working with each of them.

From: Miguelangel ([email protected])

What is the approach you take to write songs with Morrissey... Do you write the song and record it and then hand it to Morrissey?
I'll get an idea for a song and work out the basic structure on guitar. Then I'll go into my home studio and record the song on a digital eight-track machine. I'll program the drums, strings, and other atmospheric sounds on the computer and then play live bass and guitar tracks. The finished demos are very polished. I usually give Morrissey a CD with a couple songs at a time and he writes lyrics to the ones he is partial to.

What song are you most proud of that you wrote? And what song do you really enjoy playing live?
"The Edges Are No Longer Parrallel" is my favorite song that I've written, and to play live I always enjoy "Tomorrow."

What's your take on playing old Smiths tunes, do you think they're hard to pull off, dislike them?
I don't mind playing Smiths songs. Some are difficult at first for me to figure out, as Johnny Marr used very strange tunings on the guitar, but I enjoy working them out. It's a good challenge to figure out how he played something.

From: Scott, San Francisco ([email protected])

Since it's obvious that you can write songs, play guitar, and sing really well, do you have any plans to do your own solo project or front your own band anytime soon?
I have been thinking about fronting a band, purely for fun. I'll do it when it feels right.

From: Kris Brown ([email protected])

If/when will Morrissey tour the East coast?
At the end of the Oye Esteban tour it was looking like an East coast tour would happen around February.



Many thanks to Alain who generously took the time to fill out this long questionnaire. His time and effort are greatly appreciated.

(Continues below)
(1999 continued)

Lastly is there anything else you'd like to add?

I'd like to take this opportunity let people know about the Paul Peek appeal. I am a huge fan of Rock-a-Billy music and Paul's work as a rhythm guitarist with one of my favorite singers, the legendary rock n' roll singer Gene Vincent, made a big impression on me. I've had the pleasure of meeting Paul several times- he has even come along as my guest to a couple Morrissey gigs when we've played Atlanta, and I ask that you take the time to read about his situation.

Paul Peek Appeal

For those of you who don't know, Paul Peek joined Gene Vincent's Blue Caps in 1956 as a rhythm guitarist. He made a short but spectacular appearance in the film "The Girl Can't Help It" playing guitar and chewing gum behind Gene in the number "Be Bop A Lula."

He went on to become on to become one of Gene's "clapper boys" (along with Tommy Facenda) in 1957 and appeared in the film "The Hot Rod Gang" with Gene Vincent. Paul left the Blue Caps to pursue a solo career and his first record was "Sweet Skinny Jenny" backed with "The Rock-a-Round" on the NRC label. The other musicians on this record included Ray Stevens, Joe South, Jerry Reed, and the fabulous Esquerita.

Paul continued working in the music industry, and though extremely talented never hit the big time, (unlike some of his band members). Any of you who met Paul on the Blue Caps tours of the 80's and 90's know what a genuine person he is. He always made an effort if any fans visited Georgia to at least meet up with them and often even went so far as to put them up in his own home.

Now to the point of this letter; some of you will know that Paul couldn't make the recent Blue Caps gig at the Eddie Cochran weekend. This is because he had just come out of the hospital- he has serious liver disease. He is still in a bad way, but is slowly getting stronger.

As with all these types of letters, this is an appeal for money, as unfortunately Paul had no health insurance. For those of us lucky enough to live in a country like Great Britain with a health service that is free at source it may come as a bit of a shock that Paul and Barbara Peek are facing a massive bill. That is with Paul unable to work and Barbara working as a hairdresser.

The local musicians in the Atlanta area have had an appeal out for him and we are spreading the word as we felt all his friends and fans may like to help.

For those of you who can't afford to send anything, I know that Paul really would appreciate a get-well card; things like that really do cheer him up.

Paul's address is:
6276 Cathedral Lane
Lithonia, Georgia 30058, USA.

Thanks for taking the time to read this- Best wishes to everyone for the year 2000!


We just couldn't get enough of the band during last tour. Which was your favorite gig during the Oye Esteban tour?

My favorite gig was the Ventura and Metro shows in Chicago. The sound was great at Ventura, and the vibe was excellent at the Metro.

Nobody Loves Us and Sunny are masterpieces. Why weren't they included on Southpaw Grammar?
Nobody Loves Us and You Must Please Remember could have and should have been on the Southpaw Grammar album.
Sunny was recorded at the Boxers session.
I think if the longer tracks on Southpaw G. had been shortened, and the two tracks had been added, I think it would have been even more of a classic!

How exactly do you do your singing-thru-the-humbucker technique?
Mmmmm, trade secret, I'm afraid.

Can we expect any new output from Johnny Panic? Any performances?
Ben Gunstone, J.Panic's lead singer, and I might record together at some point. There's still a lot of J. Panic stuff in the can, and it would be great to put an album out. Watch this space. No gigs are planned - sorry.

How about a solo project from YOU? Any comments about Boz's latest musical coup?
I've written a lot of solo stuff and have easily and album's worth of material which I'd love to put out, so expect a solo longplayer out at some point. The main priority now is to do a new Moz album and get out on tour again. Re: Boz, I haven't seen or heard any Boz stuff, but I'm sure it's fabulous.

Could you tell us about the latest song you've written?
I've written some great stuff recently and I'm back on form. There's one called There's No Magic Wand that I'm sure you'll love.

Are there any good bands that you are listening to now?
My friend's band, the Lo Fidelity Allstars, is fantastic - they're quite dance-oriented. I still love punk music. Unbelievably, my top tune at the moment is by rapper Q-Tip. It's called Vivrant Thing. What a voice!

How long have you had a quiff? And just how do you keep your hair styled so nicely? At least tell us your styling aid of choice.
Too damn long. I'm branching out a bit now! I use water-washable wax on my hair - called D-fi.

Rumor has it that you are a Scooby Doo fan.
I loved Scooby Doo as a kid, but Scrappy Doo is crappy.

What else interests you? Mermaids?
Mermaids? What planet are you from? Note: Mermaids don't have legs. Therefore they wouldn't interest me.

Are you happy? How do you know?
Happy when horizontal.

Why have you returned to England? What did you find most appealing/irksome about the U.S. and Americans?
I love my home in London and LA is crazy. The standard of living in the States is fantastic, and the weather in California's great, but LA's full of seriously flaky people

Why did you kill the Telecaster in "The More You Ignore Me" video?
You didn't see the six guys with a blanket catching my Telecaster! It was an orange Tele copy that was sprayed black. I gave it to a friend of mine. Morrissey asked me to throw the Tele in the video - I have no idea why!

We all appreciate your work on the guitar, but some of us insist on reducing you to a sex object. Are you for or against this?
I don't mind being seen as a sex object - I'm flattered and I think it's quite sweet.

You've said once before that Gary is the kingpin, but after hearing so many tales of you flirting with various audience women, we're convinced that you are the true ladies man.
I do love women - but it doesn't mean I'm Barry White, though.

Things must get hot inside of that patent leather shirt of yours. How do you cope onstage?
I haven't worn a leather shirt for a long time!

Just one Morrissey question: How tall are you compared to Moz?
I think I might be taller than Moz - I'm 5'11". With my boots, I'm 6', and with a quiff, I'm a basketball player!

John Gimenez...I installed the bigsby but got a friend to fix up the intonation on my guitar.

Summer...Thank you for your kind words. I like to be as real as I can be.

Scott Weinkle...I would love to hear your CD-I'll try and work something out. Thanks.

Darlene...What a great name. Gene Vinent wrote a song called Darlene, which reminds me that Paul Peek, the guitarist in the Blue Caps, died recently.
My brother and I are upset as he was a great person and friend.

Sara...Thank you-I do remember you and your boyfriend.

To the guy who gave me the Elvis badge-thanks. I still have it.

One last bit of news...I've played guitar on a couple of tracks by Kirk 'Spear of Destiny' Brandon, who's a mate of mine. He's doing some great acoustic shows at the moment-check him out! And Spear of Destiny are also fantastic live.

That's all from me for now-sorry if I've missed any other people's questions. Thanks for all your good wishes.


Alain Whyte & Crash Action

by Mel [email protected]

Strange but totally true! Instead of being folded up and tucked away in a dusty closet when not working with duh Man, some of Morrissey’s musical collaborators still manage to carry on with quite exciting and productive lives. Alain Whyte is one such specimen of this amazing ilk, and he has produced an e.p. titled "Escape Hatch" for a band called Crash Action.

More information about the band and audio samples from their e.p. can be found at their web site: recently spoke with Alain Whyte along with Pierre Doutreligne and Jay Carlisle of CrashAction:

MT: Alain, why did you decide to work on the Crash Action e.p.?

AW: Well, I heard the rough demos and thought their songs were great. It also helped that Pierre was a good friend of mine, which is why I decided to do the session. If I thought they were bad songs I wouldn't have done it.

MT: How did it all begin? How did you form Crash Action?

PD: We met through mutual friends, from Sydney. They're in the Australian band Me Me Me and they recommended me to Jay as a guitarist. It turned out we had a lot in common musically and we started writing songs together.

MT: Where does the name Crash Action come from?

JC: It doesn't really come from anywhere. We just wanted to sound energetic, without a referring to anything in particular.

MT: Jay, you are Australian. Pierre you are Belgian, but you're both living and making music in London, England. That's very international! How did that come about?

PD: Well, London is a very international city. A lot of people you meet here are from somewhere else. It works to our advantage to be outsiders because we don't feel the need to conform, especially image-wise, like a lot of London bands might.

MT: Jay, you have a beautiful voice. At what age did you begin singing?

JC: I have been singing for a long time - I'm not sure of the exact age. I started piano lessons at 8, and was singing as a kid. I started performing my own original songs in public at 17.

MT: So, what is your song-writing process? Who writes the lyrics, who writes the music, which is written first?

JC: Generally I write the lyrics and Pierre writes the music - other times I will write the music, or we both will!

PD: It is very much a joint effort. By now we know each other's style of writing, and we will bring music or lyrics to the table and fit them together.

MT: How did that come about that you worked with Alain?

PD: I've known Alain for years and shortly after we started out Crash Action together we played Alain some of our songs. He really liked them and was very enthusiastic. He offered to help us record them, and true to his word he called us in January and within the following week we had recorded 3 songs.

JC: We had made 4-track demos already. Alain listened to those and put down drums and bass. We added our guitars and my vocals. He then contributed some finishing touches and mixed it. He very much produced our raw product.

MT: Alain, the Crash Action e.p. was recorded in your home studio. What sort of set up do you have there? What else have you recorded there?

AW: Well, I have a 64-track recording studio in the computer - I am still getting to grips with it - but I am working on my solo album which I would like to put out after the new Morrissey album in the new year.

MT: Musically the e.p. is similar to some of Julianna Hatfield's stuff. Her album 'Become What You Are' comes to mind. Are you a fan of her music?

JC & PD: No, not really.

MT: How would you characterize the current London music scene?

PD: You are right in saying word 'current' because there is a new scene every month virtually. Last year you had the 'new acoustic movement' and now it appears to be more rocking, which is good. Funnily enough, the bands that are all the rage at the moment (Strokes, White Stripes, Hives) are all foreign. It is important not to pay too much attention to what's hot and what's not.

MT: What was the inspiration behind 'Jay Doesn't Live Here Anymore'?

JC: 'Jay Doesn't Live Here Anymore' is my story. It was one of those songs that I wrote about something or someone else and didn't realize until some months later that I had predicted what would happen in my own life. I had predicted the end of a 7 year relationship. I guess in my subconscious I already knew what was happening, even though consciously I had no idea. That song is very important to me.

MT: Which is your favorite Crash Action song, Alain?

AW: 'Escape Hatch’ was my favorite, I love the lyrics and the tempo and key.

MT: On the e.p. Jay sings lead. Are there any plans for you to sing lead, Pierre? If so any plans to sing in French?

PD: Not really, no. If I ever feel the need to sing lead I will bring it up (say, on a B-side). I want to concentrate on guitar at the moment.

JC: I may sing in French. Pierre will translate some songs maybe.

MT: If you were ever to do a Morrissey or Smiths cover which song would you choose and why?

JC: We don't do covers. We both love Morrissey and the Smiths, but we don't do covers.

MT: How was it working with Alain? Is it intimidating knowing that the guy that produced your e.p. has also written such hits as, 'Certain People I Know,' 'The Boy Racer,' etc.?

JC: It is more flattering than intimidating. I didn't really look at it that way until after it was finished. Personally, I was constantly amazed at how talented Alain is.

DT: We were working with Alain in his own right, we never set out to work with Morrissey's guitarist. Alain is the consummate professional. He played us his solo stuff, which blew us away, and to us he is Alain, a good friend and extremely talented musician. The Morrissey connection is only one part of his career. Alain is so warm and humble he makes it impossible to be intimidated.

MT: What do you find most fulfilling - producing music, writing music, or playing music?

AW: I like writing and playing, but I do want to get into producing as I get older. I still have a lot to learn.

MT: Any plans for the summer (to Alain)?

AW: I think the boys and I will be rehearsing for the Moz tour in July. Location is top secret.

MT: Any closing words, Alain?

AW: Expect great things on all fronts. Lots of love to all the fans who have stood by me and the boys in our gang.

MT: Crash Action bio details, audio samples, and e.p. ordering details are available at

It's interesting reading these and seeing how some of the perspectives or answers have changed over the years. Thanks for compiling them.
I like how his opinions have never wavered regarding certain songs, particularly how proud he is of “Edges” and how he thinks “Nobody Loves Us” and “You Must Please Remember” should’ve been on Southpaw G.

He’s a lot more vocal about songs and obscure songs than a lot of other members of bands generally are when asked questions about the discography. Always liked that about him.
alain whyte
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