Dale Hibbert answers - Morrissey-solo Q&A

Discussion in 'General Discussion archive 2015 (read-only)' started by davidt, Nov 20, 2015.

By davidt on Nov 20, 2015 at 6:33 PM
  1. davidt

    davidt Administrator Staff Member Moderator Subscriber

    Feb 12, 1997
    Many thanks also to Dale and Mark at Pomona Books for setting up the Q&A. Questions were chosen from the previous story posted on Nov. 10.

    "Boy, Interrupted" - Memoir of a former Smith is out Monday Nov. 23, 2015 and can be ordered at the Pomona Books online store.

    Dale Hibbert – Morrissey-solo Q&A

    Cornflakes: Dale, did you write any of what became the Smiths' basslines as we know them, or were they re-written by Andy Rourke? And what, if anything, can you tell us about Annalisa, who did the female voice on "Suffer Little Children"?
    I made slight changes to the bass lines that Johnny wrote. They remained the same when Andy played them. I can’t remember much about Annalisa. She provided the laughter. She seemed close to Steven, or as close as anybody seemed.

    evennow: How much of your inclusion in The Smiths do you put on your connections at Decibelle Studios, and what was the main thing you felt when asked to leave the band? From a distance, it appears that you were the "friend" with the car so to speak. And to follow-up if I might, have you ever through the years drawn comparisons between yourself and Pete Best or felt a certain kinship with him over your similar fates?
    Well, this is covered in the book. I offered sessions to many, many bands for free. Johnny knew this. They could have recorded a free demo without me being in the band. Also, logically, it makes no sense for me to remain in the band after the demo and play the Ritz gig, and contribute to their first music paper interview, if I was considered merely a ‘friend with the car’.

    DavidK: Thank you for your time, Dale. Looking forward to reading your book. One question only ... These days Morrissey comes off as introverted, petty, venomous, judgemental, and quick to anger. Does this reflect your experiences with Morrissey in the past?
    I didn’t really get on that well with him, although if you inputted our stats into a dating site, we would appear to be made for one another. Lifelong vegetarians, fans of the Velvet Underground, Mancunian musicians etc. Frontmen are often a little odd.

    Jamie: Dale: thanks for agreeing to a round of questioning from the Morrissey-Solo hoi polloi. Best success with the book. From your perspective, how did the Morrissey / Marr dynamic work, both in the studio and outside? Did Johnny generally communicate Morrissey's suggestions/critiques for him or were they both active participants? What struck you as the most remarkable thing about either man?
    From the first meetings, Johnny tended to voice Steven’s opinions. Obviously, when I was alone with Steven, he had to speak, but, on reflection, we were both comfortable with silence. Johnny’s most remarkable attribute was an energy that would make a Labrador puppy seem lethargic. Steven had an innate ability to make everyone in the room feel uncomfortable. Their dynamic wasn’t a veneer, which I think caused problems later on. It has to be borne in mind that Andy was a close friend of Johnny’s, but he returned to a relationship that demoted him. I’m not sure this has been covered elsewhere, but psychologically it must have been hard to witness the closeness he once had to Johnny, being replaced by a hugely intimate bond between the two songwriters.

    Detritus: Dale, I know you've owned a couple of vegetarian/vegan cafes in England. Are you vegetarian/vegan yourself, and if so, is this something you and Morrissey bonded over or did you come to decide on a meat-free diet post-Smiths?
    Nope, I became vegetarian from the age of about four. I am vegetarian still, and acknowledge the vegan arguments, which make it impossible for vegetarians to take the moral high ground. We didn’t really bond, just put up with each other’s presence.

    sycophantic_slag: Dear Dale, what inspires you to persevere through so many hardships and feelings of loneliness? In other words, what brings you hope the most?
    Wow, there’s no answer to this. I don’t really have hope. I have a slight belief in Karma, or maybe I just feel a little better about my life if I help people out. There was a time when I had a tendency – well, that’s putting it lightly – I had a burning desire that if things got bad, I would self-destruct. Rather than try to help myself, I would deliberately make things worse. Loneliness means different things to different people. Some assume that if you are surrounded by friends, you can never be lonely. Some, myself included, can feel that the more people that surround you, the more intense the feeling of loneliness can become, as you recognise that other people aren’t the answer, and that they simply compound the problem. I tried to run away, to cities where I knew no one, where the language was incomprehensible, the customs alien, but I was followed by my shadow. There came a turning point, where the self-destruction was so severe, and so final, that a kind of preservation kicked in, where I would be anywhere but alone in a hotel room, not for company, but for fear of being alone and the consequences. I’m sorry that this doesn’t sound hopeful. I would love to be able to cite an epiphany, but it didn’t happen. I was fortunate. A person came into my life at the last moment, someone as damaged as me, but because of that, she was able to comprehend, help, and most importantly, not judge or be self-righteous. She never once said “cheer up”, “worse things happen at sea”, “yeah, I get depressed from time to time” – the absolute shite that people come out with.

    anonymous: Was the aesthetic and sartorial style of The Smiths ever discussed openly and in detail? The plain Jane, cast-off clothes, exaggerated quiffs and odd brooches was a big bulbous salutation in the road, a divergence from the mega-eyeliner, bleached-out android look of David Sylvian and other "alternative" pop stars of that time. Did you have "the right hair"?
    Many styles were discussed. I didn’t have the right hair, but we all went to have our hair cut, just before a photo shoot. When I say “all”, at the time it was just the three of us. The biggest problem was the impact motorbike helmets had on flat tops, the haircuts were never referred to as quiffs, just flat tops.

    Before the demo was recorded there was quite a leaning towards the “wall of sound” style of music, reflected in “Boy for my Birthday”.

    Raised To Wait: Dear Mr Hibbert, Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions from the questionable ranks of Morrissey-solo. I have often wondered if anyone in the Smiths camp ever talked to you at the time Craig Gannon was asked to step in for Andy?
    Nope, I didn’t have any contact with them after I was fired. Andy came to DJ at a club I owned, but that was all.

    Eugenius: Glad you've decided to write a book, Dale. I followed you on your blog a log time ago -- you only got a few posts in, but they were all informative and offered a unique look at the Smiths before they were even called the Smiths. So my question: You talked a bit about the orders you got about your hair style, bowling shirts, etc. Much has been said about Morrissey and Marr wanting the Smiths to be a band that catered exclusively to a gay audience (like Bronski Beat and The Communards, I suppose), yet they backtrack on that now. How much of that was true: the style, the plotted direction of the band -- considering you were there during the formative early months. Morrissey and Marr like to say the band's style developed organically and that may be the case, but it sounds like there were some specific plans before the love beads and turtlenecks.
    “Before the Love beads and Turtlenecks” that would have made a good title for the book. You know, the reference to being a gay band was a 20 min conversation, batted about. Smiths fans saw their arses about it, became indignant, what they failed to recognise was that it was just three lads, barely out of their teens, sat in a bedroom, formulating a stage persona. I never said it was more than that. I think because of what they became, what Steven became, far more gravitas was associated with this conversation than was warranted.

    Mr Delaney: Dear Dale, Guess this question has been asked already in slightly different wording by @Cornflakes, but still. Was there much room for improvisation/(re)arrangement while you were in The Smiths, or did Johnny present the band with fully formed arrangements and told you what to play? Also, your memories of that first Smiths gig will probably feature extensively in the book, but anything you can share on that would be much appreciated. Many thanks in advance.
    Well, the bass lines to Suffer and Cradle were written by Johnny, I added a few tweaks. The bassline to Boy for my Birthday, was written by me, but influenced by the original, but that was never used in a recorded form. The first gig is covered in the book. I’ve absolutely exhausted my memory to attempt to re-create the gig in the book.

    Uncleskinny: Non-music question. I work in Manchester. The travelling is a pain, so looking to relocate halfway, and looking at Todmorden for a move. What attracted you to Tod, and what do you like about it?
    Well, Tod is like Chorlton was 20 years ago. Property prices are reasonable. There’s quite a community of musicians, artists, creative types. Live music can be found at least a couple of times a week. There’s now an excellent coffee house! Commuting to either Manc, Halifax or Leeds is easy and frequent.

    If you like a good single malt, an open fire with a wet dog steaming in front of it, there’s no better place. Nobody here will start banging on about smokeless zones.

    Last edited: Nov 20, 2015


Discussion in 'General Discussion archive 2015 (read-only)' started by davidt, Nov 20, 2015.

    1. Anonymous
      What a dull, dull man this Hibbert guy appears to be. Not only will I not be buying his book, but what on earth has he got to do with Morrissey's solo career, which is what this website was set up for?
    2. Anonymous
      What a dreadful question from Uncle Skinny. Dale isn't a fucking estate agent! Unbelievable.
    3. terrancestamp
      Nobody even ask about "Boyfriend for my Birthday"??? Sorry for not asking a question. Thought this would be the first question in line. Dale if you have a second can you talk about this song and how it came about? Also you brush the gay tag away with ease but with a recording of a male voice singing "I Want A Boyfriend For My Birthday...it surly can't be that easliy shruged off. Sorry, last thing, how many people have the original recording of this song. I tried to buy this recording from you in the early 90's but must have underbid. Do you still have a copy of the song and is it original. Who got the one you sold? Not a name but a country by chance? Looking forward to the book. Will it be digital?
    4. mcrickson
      Thanks for your time, Dale.
    5. Devoted101
      So this "Cornflakes" lives in a bubble in a cave under a rock in a bomb shelter? It has been well documented by Moz & Marr that Andy and Mike contributed NOTHING artistically. In fact there are legal documents stating as much!! Good god, nerds... Maybe now that Dale has said it then it won't ever haunt the uninitiated ever again. Amen.
    6. marred
      Yes this was a very telling comment...

      "I made slight changes to the bass lines that Johnny wrote."

      I've never believed that Rourke or Joyce had anything to do with writing the rhythm section of any Smiths songs. I can't even work out where the rumour started, but I'm sure someone here convinced of Andy Rourke's masterful songwriting abilities will tell us. He's a fantastic bass player, don't get me wrong.
    7. marred
      Much has been said about Morrissey and Marr wanting the Smiths to be a band that catered exclusively to a gay audience (like Bronski Beat and The Communards, I suppose)

      Where are you people getting your information? Sheeesh....
    8. Detritus
      These are all really great responses. Thanks for taking the time to answer them, Dale!

      And regarding the basslines matter....Dale spoke to his particular experience, which is that when he joined the band, basslines were pre-written for at least two songs. This does not "prove" that every bassline ever recorded for a Smiths song was written by Johnny.

      Compare Rourke's bass playing in the Freak Party demo, to his bass playing in the Smiths, and then finally his bass playing on several Morrissey solo recordings. There is a consistent style and approach, even when Johnny is no where to be found to dictate what to do. I'm sure he and Johnny strongly influenced each other's playing (and both musicians have said as much), but I really doubt Johnny would have such tremendous respect for Rourke if Rourke had to rely on him for what to play and couldn't stand on his own as an intuitive performer and player.

      And again, here is the Johnny quotation I shared in the previous book thread, which I have since sourced (it is from the "Barbarism Begins At Home" entry in Simon Goddard's The Songs that Saved Your Life): "There was no drums there, it was just me and Andy jamming like we used to when we were 14 or 15. I know a lot of fuss has been made and Andy is, quite rightly, proud of that bassline, but, personally, harmonically I don't think it comes anywhere near Andy's other stuff. 'Nowhere Fast', 'That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore', 'The Headmaster Ritual', all tower above it."

      And from the Queen Is Dead entry in the same book:

      "From this basic agenda, Marr began to jam his ideas with Joyce and Rourke, whose resultant bass riff ('a killer' in the words of Stephen Street) would earn the guitarist's accolade of 'one that [other] bass players still haven't matched."

      From a 1995 interview with Total Guitar:

      I could keep digging up more quotations. Point is, why would Johnny heap praise for his own writing on someone else? To what end would it serve? He even refers to it specifically as "Andy's stuff." Either Johnny has kept up an elaborate ruse for years where he pretends Andy is responsible for his own bass parts, or you could accept the much simpler and much more likely explanation that he is simply giving credit where credit is due.
      Last edited: Nov 20, 2015
    9. Uncleskinny
      Read the description on the 'About' page: "Morrissey-solo is an open forum for fans of Morrissey and The Smiths to share and discuss related information."


      Hi Dale, if you're reading this, ignore this tool. Someone clearly has self esteem issues. Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions.
    10. Amy
      I can't find a polite way to say this. Why would a man who was, at best, a minor footnote in the Smiths history ever write a memoir?

      From the Q & A responses it seems that he never got on with Morrissey or really found his place in the band dynamic. We might as well have a memoir from the guy who cut Morrissey's hair for a bit in 1984, or used to take Johnny's dogs for a walk. This book is a cash-grab. Next up, the memoirs of Craig Gannon!
    11. Mr Delaney
      Mr Delaney
      Dale, thanks for taking the time, much appreciated! Drat, forgot to ask if you'd read Simon Wolstencroft's autobiog and if you found your experience in/with The Smiths similar to his.

      Because it's not just about The Smiths, it's about his life and its ups and downs, including The Smiths. Personally, I'd be interested in Craig's memoirs, just like I was in reading Wolstencroft's (which has the additional benefit of also touching upon The Fall and The Stone Roses).
      Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
    12. Mr Delaney
      Mr Delaney
      Exactly. Come to think of it, Andy's role in The Smiths is underrated in much the same way Sterling Morrison's was in The Velvet Underground. Pivotal support to the main songwriter (Andy's Johnny to Morrison's Lou Reed) yet sadly overlooked.
      Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
    13. Mr Delaney
      Mr Delaney
      See [MENTION=23844]Detritus[/MENTION]'s rebuttal of that. You haven't played in bands or know how band dynamics work by the looks of it. (Never mind the politics of songwriting credits.)

      Even if in recording contracts Joyce and Rourke were not mentioned as being The Smiths, that does not mean that they did not contribute anything. Surely you see the flawed logic in your statement.
      Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
    14. Anonymous
      I have the same issue with it. Of course he can write a memoir if he wants to but the tag "Memoir of a former Smiths" is nothing else but a cart horse. It's especially sad since he seems to have had an interesting and colorful life beyond his time in the Smiths. You could say it is nice of him to answer some of our questions but, really, we are the main target group for his book. I have nothing against Dale, he surely is a nice man but Simon Wolstencroft released his memoir and didn't need the tag "former Smiths" in the title.
    15. eugenius
      Right here, asshole...

      Pomona Books are going to publish a memoir by Dale Hibbert, the original bassist in The Smiths:

      Pomona Books news - Wednesday 27 May, 2015


      And, in September, we bring you Boy Interrupted, Memoir of a Former Smith by Dale Hibbert. Dale was a member of The Smiths during their formative years, so was privy to the hopes and dreams and bizarre ideas of young Morrissey and Johnny Marr. He is a fund of hitherto untold stories - how the Smiths were to be launched as a 'gay' band, each of them bearing the stage name of a serial killer. There was also a plan to wear stage clothes based on American baseball teams. Dale helped shape the band's sound at his recording studio. He produced their first demo tape. He even gave Morrissey a lift to sessions on the back of his motorcycle. On the cusp of The Smiths breakthrough, Hibbert was replaced on bass by Andy Rourke. For the first time, he reveals the full details of his sacking. And, The Smiths aside, Dale has lived an incredible life, often tragic but always dogged and hopeful. It is also a comprehensive look at Manchester and its fascinating music scene both before and just after the advent of punk rock.
    16. eugenius
      Great Q&A. Looking forward to getting my hands on this book. If it's half as interesting as Dale's Smiths-related answers here, I'm positive it'll be one million times more readable than "List of the Lost." (Couldn't get past page 10 on that one.)

      And considering Dale is one of 3, maybe 6 people (Hibbert, Moz, Marr, Rourke, Joyce, and maybe Joe Moss) who possess the unique knowledge of the Smiths in their incubation period, I'd say yes, he deserves a book on the matter.
    17. Anonymous
      Do you realize that he did backpaddle big time in his answer on this thread about the "gay" issue? "I never said it has been more than a 20 minute conversation. Smiths fans saw their arses about it". Well, who mentioned it in the first place. Oh dear ...
    18. Anonymous
      what mr d and detritus have said again and again. the comment about andys bass playing on m solo is also really correct. its so consistent in almost everything he does. isnt it girl least likely to, in mean that could almost be on a strangeways bside album. this is why i have such an issue with song writing credits and the politics that comes with it
    19. Anonymous
      oh and thanks for your time and patience giving answers and that your book does well. laterz

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