Andy Rourke RC interview - April, 2022

Text reproduction of his interview in "Record Collector presents: The Smiths" special (April 21, 2022).

"ACE OF BASS

It all began with a Neil Young badge pinned to his school blazer. In this brand new interview, Andy Rourke tells Lois Wilson about the call from an old mate that would change his life forever...


I met Johnny at school when I was 11. I was really into Neil Young at the time and he was wearing a Neil Young Tonight's The Night lapel badge. This was when everyone else seemed to be into Jethro Tull and heavy metal, so Neil Young was a conversation opener and pretty soon we were spending all our spare time together, either playing music or listening to music or talking about music. We formed a band together, Freak Party. It was me on bass, Johnny on guitar and funky Si Wolstenscroft on drums, and the music did get funky. The Clash's Sandinista! had just come out and we were jumping on that vibe. We rehearsed every night until kicking out time, we got stoned a lot and jammed a lot. They were good days, but we auditioned countless frontmen to no avail and eventually Johnny quit out of frustration as it became clear we weren't going anywhere.

Not long after he quit he called me up. He had a new band called The Smiths. Did I want to join. They'd already played their first gig at the Ritz in Manchester with Dale Hibbert on bass. Some mates of mine had gone along but I hadn't. I met up with Johnny, he said it didn't work out with Dale and he gave me a demo tape which had two songs on it - Suffer Little Children and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. It wasn't what I was expecting but I could hear something great in there, something different and I really liked what Johnny was doing, The first recordings I did with The Smiths were the demos for Handsome Devil and Miserable Lie and these were done in the downstairs of a studio in Chorlton called Drone. That's when I first met Morrissey and Mike. When I got there, Mike was saring up his drums. He was chatty, easy to get on with. Then, as I was setting up Morrissey arrived, he introduced himself as Stephen, shook my hand then shuffled into the corner and started going through his bag of lyrics and sandwiches and stuff. People often called him aloof at that time, but I think he was painfully shy, he just wasn't used to meeting new people. Our first gig was at Manhattan Sound in Manchester (on 25 January 1983) and it was utter chaos. There was no stage, the sound was terrible, the audience were right in your face, virtually touching you and I was so nervous I really didn't enjoy it at all. But we played OK. James Maker introduced us. He was our go-go dancer. I wasn't comfortable with his role and I am pretty sure Mike and Johnny felt the same. It was an unnecessary distraction and I think it cramped Morrissey's style. There wasn't much scope for him when James was jumping around.

Johnny and I used to go to The Hacienda pretty much every night. In those days it was really quiet and it was freezing cold. People sat in their own corner. There was the drug dealing corner, the gay corner, the extrovert corner and when we got a gig there [on 4 February 1983] it felt like a big deal, and in many ways our first proper gig. We had monitors and a stage and a set list and Morrissey ordered a shit load of gladioli and he threw half out to the audience, and half he stuck in his back pocket and that became a thing and the boxes got bigger and bigger and his back pockets got bigger and bigger and eventually he had half a tree in there.

After that Hacienda gig, we really took off, there was no stopping us. We were a had total belief and we had a real "us versus them" attitude. Not being on Factory, there was a sense we stood apart from the other Manchester bands like A Certain Ratio, New Order, Durutti Column. We were our own separate thing.

I don't remember the exact point Steven became Morrissey but I know he first broke the news to Johnny and Johnny gave us the heads up we weren't to call him Steven or, worse still, Steve, which he hated. At first it was really awkward calling him Morrissey, and he'd get embarrassed and then he'd call me Rourke and I wouldn't be sure if we were to revert back to calling him Steven but eventually it became normal and we even got down to just Moz and Mozza.

Going on Top Of The Pops with This Charming Man was another big deal. I'd grown up listening to the Top 20 on the radio with my mum and it had been everything to me so I was overjoyed, we all were, but we were all nervous too. We went down to the studio. It was very surreal and we weren't prepared for the total fakeness of it - the miming, the fake audience dancing (and if they didn't dance they got thrown out). We went into the make-up room and we'd bought Marks & Spencer sweaters for the occasion and they said, "What are you going to be wearing for the show?" and we were like, "This is it." We went on in our black jeans and sweaters. We definitely stood out.

Ironically, Strangeways, Here We Come is my favourite album. It's the one on which we completely gelled. We had come of age and we were in our element and ready to take on the world and then of course we split up. There was no inkling Johnny was going to leave but in hindsight I can see the frustrations, but I was too busy getting on with my own thing to realise the gravity
of the situation. When he left the impact was huge and I think we were all traumatised and probably still are. No one knew how to react. I didn't know whether to call him or leave him alone. It was a really awful time, horrible. for everyone concerned.

Almost immediately after he left, Morrissey asked me and Mike to play on his solo stuff-a big kick in the eye for Johnny and it made me feel even more awkward about speaking to him. I felt like I had betrayed him so it was a long while before we spoke again. We had been best friends and then we weren't talking. I hadn't fallen out with him, but I felt guilty. It's not a time I fondly recall.

In The Smiths when we were getting songs together, Johnny already knew how the music would sound and he would play his guitar part. I would write the bass part and that was as far as my writing went. Morrissey brought out the songwriter in me. He believed I could do it and he made me believe I could do it and we ended up writing together. We started off with a blank page and a blank cassette and from that we wrote Yes, I Am Blind and Girl Least Likely To.

After Morrissey, there was Freebass (with Mani and Peter Hook) and D.A.R.K. I also wrote the music for Anthony Bourdain's Raw Craft TV series and worked with James Franco putting his poems inspired by The Smiths to music. I am currently playing in Blitz Vega with KAV from the Happy Mondays. We've got a single coming out this year called Strong Forever to be followed by an EP."



Regards,
FWD.
 
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Redacted

I think I must be, absolutely, a total sex object.
Nice interview, he seems to have fond memories of his time in the Smiths :flowers:He has very affectionate memories of Morrissey, but not really about Johnny. Very telling that Andy had no idea if it was ok to call Johnny or not when he quite the Smiths and this was the second band Johnny was in with Andy that he walked out on.
They really did have to work when Johnny left, there was another record to be made, Johnny obviously walked out on his contractual obligation on that, leaving the entire group on the hook for it, especially Morrissey - so it's saying something that Andy felt guilty for being put in the position Johnny put him in, Johnny caused a really awful time, horrible. for everyone concerned.
 
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Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
This is lovely. The part about the transition from 'Steven' to Morrissey was very interesting.
 
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Ketamine Sun

WATCH IT SUCKA! ; )
‘Morrissey brought out the songwriter in me. He believed I could do it and he made me believe I could do it and we ended up writing together. We started off with a blank page and a blank cassette and from that we wrote Yes, I Am Blind and Girl Least Likely To.’


:LOL:doh:
 

TheSmiths_1985

Moved to off-topic
Some nice bits in this. I’ll maybe venture to WH Smith and buy a copy of this magazine.
 

BrummieBoy

Well-Known Member
This is a delightful reverie-reflection and goes some way towards ensuring that the soi-disant 'lawnmower parts' are finally validated and honoured.

We would never have experienced Les Zeppelin if Robert Plant and Jimmy Page had had a similarly disrespectful attitude towards John Paul Jones and John Bonham. In fact, the notion that Bonzo was 'just the drummer' is both risible and belied by the fact that his bandmates never recovered from his tragic early death.

One can only wonder at what 'The Smiths' might have become if their initial 'one for all and all for one' ethos had been genuine for all four parties to the Art Collective and it hadn't been derailed by greed and bad faith.

At least Johnny Marr finally awoke from the thralldom and stopped trying to defend the indefensible. Morrissey is still lost in a fog of devious, truculent and Unreliable Narrator nonsense about how and why he was a victim.

Of what, exactly?

His business ineptitude, his greed and his inability to be held to his word?

A charmless man, lacking in dignity, authenticity and even a scintilla of masculine 'band of brothers' honour.

Taxi for Steve...

Loser...begone!

BrummieBoy

R.I.P Dolores...

 
V

Vegan Cro Spirit .444

Guest
This is a delightful reverie-reflection and goes some way towards ensuring that the soi-disant 'lawnmower parts' are finally validated and honoured.

We would never have experienced Les Zeppelin if Robert Plant and Jimmy Page had had a similarly disrespectful attitude towards John Paul Jones and John Bonham. In fact, the notion that Bonzo was 'just the drummer' is both risible and belied by the fact that his bandmates never recovered from his tragic early death.

One can only wonder at what 'The Smiths' might have become if their initial 'one for all and all for one' ethos had been genuine for all four parties to the Art Collective and it hadn't been derailed by greed and bad faith.

At least Johnny Marr finally awoke from the thralldom and stopped trying to defend the indefensible. Morrissey is still lost in a fog of devious, truculent and Unreliable Narrator nonsense about how and why he was a victim.

Of what, exactly?

His business ineptitude, his greed and his inability to be held to his word?

A charmless man, lacking in dignity, authenticity and even a scintilla of masculine 'band of brothers' honour.

Taxi for Steve...

Loser...begone!

BrummieBoy

R.I.P Dolores...


🥸

is that another Vegas Splits video?

WOWOW‼️
DH Andy is an amazing bass player😐
'ta ta ta ta TA TA ta ta TA TA'
he has his tatata book open so he doesnt miss a single ta🤒

:hammer:
 

gordyboy9

Let The Bullets Fly.
good stuff from andy although i dont see why he should feel guilty about playing with M,guy probably had a family to feed.
 
J

Js138

Guest
I still don’t quite understand the Morrissey Bad/Marr good nonsense. I think at the very least Marr should be held in a more negative light with his self centered actions and eyeing of the limelight that clearly lead to him hurting multiple people around him. Sure, you can quit your band if it’s not fun, or you can take a hiatus, but shunning your mates with no real explanation is a shitty thing to do, no matter how burnt out you are on being around them.
 

The Wild Turkey

Wild T!
Turkerator
‘Morrissey brought out the songwriter in me. He believed I could do it and he made me believe I could do it and we ended up writing together. We started off with a blank page and a blank cassette and from that we wrote Yes, I Am Blind and Girl Least Likely To.’


:LOL:doh:

It explains why Girl Least Likely To sounds like
Only To Other People.
Moz probably told him to make it like that.
Moz used to do the same thing with Johnny.
 

Ketamine Sun

WATCH IT SUCKA! ; )
It explains why Girl Least Likely To sounds like
Only To Other People.
Moz probably told him to make it like that.
Moz used to do the same thing with Johnny.

Well, he doesn’t actually admit the ‘inspiration’ behind Girl Least, or just confess. Which made me laugh.
 

Redacted

I think I must be, absolutely, a total sex object.
I still don’t quite understand the Morrissey Bad/Marr good nonsense. I think at the very least Marr should be held in a more negative light with his self centered actions and eyeing of the limelight that clearly lead to him hurting multiple people around him. Sure, you can quit your band if it’s not fun, or you can take a hiatus, but shunning your mates with no real explanation is a shitty thing to do, no matter how burnt out you are on being around them.
Marr is extremely insecure and has tried to craft this image of him being the good guy vs Morrissey being a terrible monster. Marr broke up the band and needed to blame someone, because he was not going to take responsibility, there are a few paragraphs in Mozipedia quoting Andy, about how Marr was making demands at the end and no one went along with him. One was no more quiffs, he thought he could tell him and Morrissey how to wear their hair! Marr seemed to really think he was the most important person there, turns out he was not. Marr said it could have turned out differently if THEY, meaning the band, had handled it differently. He takes responsibility for nothing. I read an interesting article about how the Smiths were contractually bound to tour for Strangeways, not sure how they got out of it, but also signed to a new record company for another album after that, which became Morrissey's first solo album. The contract was written that the record company would have control of whatever was put out by either Marr or Morrissey, even if they broke up, which means Johnny could have gotten a solo deal too, if the record company had been interested in the songs he wrote, and he did write a few, but apparently they were not interested and only wanted Morrissey. That must have stung. Marr went on to the Pretenders, where he did a cover song and he was fired within 4 months.
He really is a horrible person and he has hurt a lot of people.
It's interesting that Andy does not feel he has to distance himself from Morrissey in this interview and slam him, the way Marr always does, but instead says kind things about him.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Sorry you Marr apologists are so emotionally stunted that it affects you like this, Rourke is clearly discussing happy memories in the band.

Maybe you don't know Andy's history. This statement alludes to his heroin addiction: "There was no inkling Johnny was going to leave but in hindsight I can see the frustrations, but I was too busy getting on with my own thing to realise the gravity of the situation."
 
N

Nobody's bassist

Guest
Thank you, Andy, for being one of three dudes to compel me to play bass. The other two were Ready Freddie Washington and my friend who was a Geddy fan. You're in great company... and possibly the most underrated bassist to "make it." Bass changed my life. My first year was spent building a foundation in Louder than Bombs, The Queen is Dead and, yes, Strangeways... a fantastic album. You helped change my life in a big, big way.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
What I found more interesting was that they were calling him Moz and Mozza during the Smiths period, I thought that came later. And I wonder how that nickname came about, it’s transition? Do you know?
Really? It's mentioned in Morrissey's autobiography - Johnny gave him the nickname 'Moz' in the Smiths period and it stuck.
 

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