Published August 1st 2008. Another subpar translation by davdavon.
We were all excited about Morrissey's visit, but there's someone who thinks that he's just a little asshole. Andy Rourke, bass player for the Smiths, pours his heart out in a conversation with Einav Shif.
One day in 1986, the Smiths' bass player Andy Rourke went out of the band's recording studio, and noticed a note on his car's windshield. From the outside, these were the most beautiful days of the Smiths, who just released The Bible 2, or as the public knows it, The Queen is Dead, but from the inside, Rourke was in a completely different situation. "I was totally addicted to heroin," he recalls in a conversation from his Manchester home, "and when I approached the car I saw this paper and I thought that it was a parking ticket. When I read the note, it said 'Andy, you have left the Smiths. Good luck, Morrissey'. He just fired me from the band with a note."
But it probably helped you go through rehab faster. Can you understand Morrissey's move?
"Yes, and firing me did help with my rehab, and after two weeks I was also back with the band. It is possible that if Morrissey had done this in a slightly nicer manner, I would have even thanked him".
This anecdote, where Rourke moves from anger to understanding regarding the Smiths' leader, emphasizes how ambivalent his attitude towards Morrissey is: one moment, he praises him and hails his abilities and the period spent with the Smiths, and the next moment he can sting and even attack him, especially regarding the Moz's refusal to reunite the band for sums that would fix Rourke up for the rest of his life: "we were offered five million dollars to unite a couple of years ago", tells Rourke, "and Morrissey came and said 'I'd rather eat my own testicle then reunite'. You get this? This coming from a vegetarian person!'".
Would you reunite?
"For such a sum, wouldn't you reunite the band? I think it's such a high sum that it's totally stupid to refuse it. It's not that we would've had to talk with one another, just to play".
If we're touching on the point, with which of the band members are you still in touch?
"I was on good relations with Mike Joyce, the drummer. We even did a DJ set together once that really excited the crowd, because we were both from the Smiths. But after one time when only I handled the music while he mainly danced in the dance floor while still sharing the payment with me at the end of the night, I figured that I'd rather do it alone. I also get occasionally in touch with Johnny Marr, but not too often. With Morrissey I don't really talk, but not because something happened. As a matter of fact, I played for him together with Mike in Bona Drag, but since then we're not in touch".
It seems that between all of you, you're the only link remaining that's not at odds with all rest.
"This is true, except for that one time when I was subpoenaed to testify in Mike's court case against Johnny and Morrissey, I didn't fight with anyone from the band".
So can you say what actually went wrong?
"Even today I can't really say what happened. I guess that everyone just became greedy and that's quite bad, isn't it?"
THE END, MY ONLY FRIEND
In spite of the Smiths' sad demise, Morrissey's refusal to reunite and Joyce's lawsuit against Marr and Morrissey (Rourke himself was a part of the lawsuit in the beginning, but settled out of court), Rourke still enthusiastically remembers those days: "Even in real time, we knew that we were doing something special," he tells, "we didn't think in terms of 'history' because you can't predict the future, but we knew that we were different. I think that it's because we were the voice of the underdogs in that time. Ah, and we were all amazing musicians, of course".
What is the moment that you remember the best from the Smiths?
"There were so many that I can't really put my finger on one. There were amazing concerts in the Royal Albert Hall, but the band's recording sessions were also very enjoyable and exciting".
Even though in some of them you didn't really communicate one with the other.
"This is totally untrue, it's an invention by the tabloids and the rest of the media. Even when we recorded Strangeways, Here We Come, the sessions were great. While recording, the communication between us was never a problem."
The credit for the band's genius is always given to Morrissey and Marr. Where do you place yourself inside the Smiths?
"I see myself as a part of a very important machine, that wouldn't have worked without the activity of all of its components. I believe that it wouldn't have really been the Smiths with a different bass player. I attended a Morrissey concert in Manchester three years ago, and every time he performed a Smiths song, I looked at the bass player and said 'God, he's not playing these songs the way they should be played". See, I'm very sensitive about these songs. I'm also still waiting for a band as good as us to appear. The media always crowns successors, but I'm still waiting for a band to take our place. The problem is that bands today don't have the courage that the Smiths had back then, or the breath length. This happens because the record companies aren't giving the bands enough chances, and if there's no immediate success – they drop them. When will it happen? Let's hope that the members of these groups were at least already born."
HANG THE D.J.
44-years old Rourke keeps a polite, almost dry tone throughout the conversation, it's almost hard to identify by the tone of his voice when the things that he say really touch him and when they just fly above him. It seems that the things that excite him nowadays, more than his occupation as a D.J. or an organiser of musical charity events in Manchester, are his adopted daughter, a photography student, and his band Freebass, where he plays with two of Manchester's best sons, Mani from the Stone Roses and Peter Hook from New Order. "I really hope to get our albums out somewhen", he says about the band. "We've been working together for three years already and we're close to it. Maybe New Order's disbandment will help us, Peter will have more time for us. Actually, Mani is now with Primal Scream, so we'll see what happens".
What makes a city like Manchester a place that spawns out so many influential musicians, especially comparing to its size?
Rourke laughs: "It's probably something in the water. And seriously, Manchester is a relatively small place, and there are still only two-three decent places for rehearsing and working, so everyone arrives at these places and nice things are made there. Also, Manchester is still a city with poverty and drug problems and people use music to get out of these problems. So I believe that after all there are more musicians in Manchester than in London".
Speaking of Manchester, I was very disappointed to discover in the film Control that Ian Curtis was a fan of Manchester City. You were a Manchester United band, weren't you?
"We were half-half, I think. Morrissey was red. Or pink".