new Morrissey interview in Austrian magazine



I already posted this on another community (and I hope that the lovely guys there can forgive me for sharing it on here, too), but I though you might also enjoy it. It's a recent interview with an Austrian magazine called "Now!" which incidentially strubmled across today - and I had the coutesy to translate it for you.


By: Klaus Winninger
Interview: Andrea Morandi & Wouter Van Diessche

Goodbye Los Angeles, Ciao Roma! Our Morrissey moved to the eternal city and there he discovered sensuality, sexuality and joy of life. And, by the way, he also recorded his new album "Ringleader Of The Tormentors" together with producer Tony Visconti.

A classy hotel room over the roofs of Rome, on the top floor of the Hotel de Russie at the end of Via Del Badduino, which has of all people been inhabited by Marlon Brando during his last stay in Rome. Steven Patrick Morrissey, dressed in jeans and a blue t-shirt with an “M” on his heart, speaks calm and gentle, he’s relaxed and friendly while listening to the questions, and opens the Now!-Interview with a excessive explanation why he chose to live as well as record his new record Ringleader Of The Tormentors, which means is German as much as “Anführer der Peiniger”, in Rome.

Morrissey: I didn’t choose Rome, Rome chose me. In fact I’ve been here several times, but I never really realised anything particular. I let myself float around and, for some reason, nothing hit my eye. The reason of this might have been because I spend so many years walking through my own glumness. But when I came to Rome last January it struck me immediately and I was overwhelmed. People, the sun, architecture, clothes and style. And this joy that people feel just because they exist. They don’t even worry about their horrible government but enjoy their lives in spite of that. They don’t hide in their houses, they go out on the streets where live actually happens. I was so impressed by this that decided to stay here. So I just spend the most part of last year in Rome and of course also recorded my record here. I made the album with the help of Tony Visconti, who is of Italian offspring, Ennio Morricone arranged it and on one song you can even hear an Italian children’s choir sing. It was like a tornado – Rome just sucked me in.

Now!: The first line of “Dear God Please Help Me” reads: “I am walking through Rome with my heart on a string…”. Did the lyrics really result from that?

Morrissey: Well, yes. Most of the songs were written while I was in Rome – I just sucked in as much as I could possibly get. In a metaphorical way, of course.

Do you always work like that? While walking around?

Very often, yes. If you’re taking long walks, your mind starts to think in a thoroughly different way. When I’m alone and I don’t have a particular place to go to, I start to imagine things I would never cross my mind if I sat in a an armchair. I find this very stimulating.

During antique times many Greek and Roman philosophers also did that to explore their thoughts. They just strolled around.

Well, that doesn’t surprise me (smirks). Rome is an incredible beautiful city with beautiful people, which you can see everywhere, and there’s a stunning, majestic building on practically every corner of the street. Walking around here is makes huge demands on your senses in order to realize all this beauty. That’s of course very inspiring. It makes you want to take part of it personally and to make the best of what you have. In other cities, which don’t have such high standards, it’s easier to let yourself go.

Are you referring to Los Angeles, where you’ve been living for the last seven years?

Los Angeles is a very cold, frightening, impersonal city. People there are very nervous, they’re always watching all of their own acts, because of the police and actually because of everything. You don’t walk along the streets in Los Angeles, you just don’t move among other people. In Rome there’s a feeling of freedom and independence in the air. I was really walking trough this place with an open heart and was ready to love everything and everyone. I enjoyed being among other people, I was in the middle of a flood of sincere emotion. Eventually I felt the urge to get rid of my self-imposed restrictions.

Is it true that you sold your house in Los Angeles?

I already did it last June. I also didn’t want to live there anymore because too many people knew my address. Everyday there was someone waiting for me in front of the house. I stored my things in a depot and tried to find place to live in Rome. But it’s hard to find anything suitable here. Roman’s don’t like to sell their houses and flats – I’m still on the search.

There are many references to Rome and Italian culture in your new songs. In “You Have Killed Me” you mention directors Pier Paolo Pasolini and Lucchino Visconti, but also actress Anna Magnani.

Well, I’ve always been very fascinated by the Italian cinema, and films like Rocco and His Brothers influenced my a great deal. But it was only last year that everything suddenly started to make sense.

The first line of “You Have Killed Me” is “Pasolini is me…”

I love Pasolini, and I’ve seem all of his films. He was a unique generalist genius, a great director, poet and journalest, and he always looked great as well. You can feel his legacy/presence very intensely here in Rome.

Where did you get the siren at the beginning of “The Youngest Was The Most Loved” from?

It’s simply the sound of Rome – sound which can’t possibly compared to that of any other city in the world. We just left the studio for a moment to take a breath and there we recorded this staggering sound.

It is said that you discovered the pleasure of driving a car in Los Angeles. Do you also drive in Rome?

I’m not completely stupid. I can’t possibly drive in Rome, it’s far too crazy and dangerous. Even if I’m just driving with someone I usually get completely hysteric because everybody just does what they want. Kamikaze on wheels.

You said that you admire the Italians’ sense for fashion and style. What do you think about rich Italian women’s weakness for fur coats?

It depresses me. They could just as well say: “I’m wearing a fur because I’m an idiot.” It’s thoroughly unattractive and I don’t understand why intelligent women would wear fur. Madonna and Victoria Beckham claim to be good mothers and yet they were real fur. It’s massive contradiction because what they wear was a creature’s mother or child. Women who wear furs can’t be good mothers.

How did your cooperation with Tony Visconti, the album’s producer, happen?

The first time I met Tony was about twenty years ago when I and Johnny Marr were heaving lunch with him and asking him to produce The Queen Is Dead. But he refused. About ten years ago she also should have produced my solo-album Your Arsenal, but it somehow didn’t work either. While trying to record Ringleader Of The Tormentors we were fighting a bit with our songs and were in urgent need of a proper producer. This time we were able to get him and he sat in a plain almost immediately. He was also happy to come to Rome because he has many Italian relatives. It’s astonishing to work with him because he’s so terribly talented and of course very experienced. He just knows what to do. Some people told me that he did indeed produce T. Rex and David Bowie but that far too much time has passed since that. In fact he’s anything but out of date and very much living for today. I think we made a stunning record together.

Legendary Italian film-composer Ennio Morricone did arrange the strings on the album’s song “Dear God Please Help Me”.

People in the forum knew him very well because he had worked there for many years. However, they told us that he would most definitely refuse to work with us and that he’s also rejected offers by David Bowie and U2. But then he heard the song and just agreed, and I would lie if I didn’t say that I felt very honoured because of this. He took his orchestra to the studio and spent the whole day with us. Well, it wasn’t easy to communicate with him because he has no interest whatsoever in other human beings. But that’s okay, he’s the maestro, and he can do whatever he pleases.

On Ringleader you’re singing very openly about erotic and sex, apparently for the first time.

You’re not the first one to tell me this, and I have to admit that I’m a bit confused by this reaction. I’ve thought that I already sang quite openly and frankly about things like this on the Smiths songs. I never had the feeling that there are things I can’t sing about.

It may have something to do with “the explosive kegs between my legs”, about which you’re singing on “You Have Killed Me” [actually “Dear God Please Help Me”, dear magazine]?

I actually mean kegs of ale – no, that’s not true (smirks).

You’re knows for your handling with words and the high literary standards of your songs. Are there any words which you would never use?

I’ve terribly possessive in regards of the English language. I feel a certain protective instinct for it. There are many things about the American way of life which I like, but I can’t stand it if Brits try to adopt an American accent. And unfortunately that’s quite common in Britain at the moment. It just makes me sick. I try to be very careful with the words I chose. There are some words I hate, “chill” and “chilling” for example. These words are just repulsive! I also do my best not to use the term “fans”. And still most of the time, when I’m talking about my audience to the British press, they write that I talked about my “fans”. I never say “fans”, but they always change what you’re saying. I think that “fans” is a meaningless, disgraceful word which pushes people away from you. For me, people in my audience aren’t just “fans”. They have very serious reasons for why they’re here – apart from the fact that they like the sound of my voice.

The reasons are?

Firstly, buying a ticket for a Morrissey gig is already a resolute sign to set. If you do something like this, you have to be able to explain why. Or at least in Britain you have to. “Morrissey” is still a heavily incriminated name. If you admit to be going to a Morrissey concert, people will ask you: “Oh really. But why do you do something like this?” I think my audience truly loves me because they see how candid I am. People see that I can’t but do what I’m doing.

Your audience is extremely attached and true to you, and there’s actually no stereotypical Morrissey-admirer. Don’t you sometimes think that this is frightening or intimidating?

No, but it’s apparently quite clear why my success is a very strange one. Either people are totally obsessed with me, or they just can’t stand me. It seems that there’s nothing between. I never meet people who simply thing that Morrissey or The Smiths are okay. The reactions I get are mostly extreme. It’s often said that you get the audience you deserve, and I think that there might be some truth in it. My audience knows me as someone who’s very passionate, and that’s why they’re also very passionate themselves.

You also had very strong feelings for your heroes, didn’t you? Patti Smith and Marc Bolan, for example, or…

Oscar Wilde? I think I referred to him so often that it seems to me that I’m always carrying him around with me. I was completely obsessed with him when I was a teenager, when I was imprisoned in the dreadful cell of my tiny bedroom. I somehow felt as if I had to get him out of my room and make him a part of my music. Many people told me that they became interested in him because of me and that they adore him now as much as I do. That’s a very satisfying feeling.

Some time ago you worked together with Nancy Sinatra, but projects like this seem to be an exception.

I get offers from time to time, but I think that I’m quite good in what I’m doing. It’s also that I just don’t want to do anything with anyone. I don’t want to sing backing vocals on other people’s records. I don’t want to produce other people’s records. In fact I don’t want to be involved in other people’s musical affairs at all. I’m best working for myself alone and care for my own business. I have no interest to be part of the global world of pop business and don’t want to end standing next to the usual suspects on photo, grinning.

Franz Ferdinand, The Libertines, The Killers, Arctic Monkeys and many other young pop bands quote Morrissey or The Smiths as an important influence. What do you think about that?

I find it quite surprising that young bands seem to say quite regularly that they’ve been influenced by me or The Smiths. It’s of course a great honour, because you can just as well become very popular within the music scene and sell millions of records without ever inspiring anyone.

Like Madonna?

Madonna is the perfect example for it. She sold sixty million records but has never changed the live of anyone, and she doesn’t get respect from credible artists. Though I’m not a global pop star who sells millions of records and who MTV makes a fuss over I get respect. And that’s priceless.

Twenty years ago your album The Queen Is Dead, which is known as The Smiths masterpiece today, was released. What do you think about The Smiths yourself?

I’m very proud of the band, because we were unique back then. The Smiths didn’t have a hype, and no one put money into us in order to get us into the charts. In the early eighties the Smiths didn’t belong anywhere and in regard of the pop climate back then, we were a rather subversive band. We didn’t fit into any familiar category and existed in our own world, but still we were successful. Because the songs are great, and they still are.

Which songs are your favourite Smiths songs?

That’s a very hard question to answer, because I’m very fond of all of them. There’s hardly a song which I don’t like.

Could a band like The Smiths be successful today?

Today everything is completely different - many things are much easier now. If you take a look at the British charts today, it seems as if Independent Charts and Mainstream Charts were being mixed up. The sound and the look of Independent Music have been made a business standard. In the eighties it was anything but welcomed.

Which music do you listen to now?

Many different things, but not necessarily only contemporary stuff. The past, for me, is a very vivid musical painting, in which you can chose between so many things. Much Eighties-Independent-Music, much Sixties-Mainstream-Pop and particularly stuff from the Seventies.

Were you in Rome on July 7th 2005, when the terror attacks in London happened?

I was in Rome. Nothing that happened surprised me in the least. Before the bombing happened Blair had stayed suspiciously silent for a very long time, but then he made his pompous statements that London could just go on existing like it always had. It’s very easy to claim a thing like that. He doesn’t need to take the subway or the bus; he’s not alone on the streets. No matter where he goes, he’s always under protection. Blair doesn’t care for people, who voted him. Just like Bush, he’s a complete egoist.

Do you take interest in Italian politics?

Not really – everything’s so frustrating. And as long as thing aren’t about to change it also won’t get better or make me laugh. I think it’s wonderful that Italians don’t let themselves be dragged down by this situation. They just enjoy their lives, have fun and say: “Yes, we do have an abominable government, be we don’t care!” In Britain, however, people are paralysed because of their terrible politicians.

Is it true that you were offered 2 million pounds for your autobiography and that you rejected?

… and that I said the money isn’t enough? That’s complete nonsense. I read about it in the papers, but everything is just made up and invented. Well, it’s quite strange how some journalists live in their own imaginary world. None if it is true. What’s true is that I started to write my autobiography. I’m half through with it and am determined to finish it. Due to my move and the recording of the album I just didn’t have the time to do it yet. I didn’t get any financial offers either and there certainly is no publisher who already bought the book. There will definitely be an autobiography because there are so many things about my life out there which I need to correct. Enough stupid gossip has been and is still being written about me.

Will you really get your own wax figure at Madame Tussauds?

I prey to God that this isn’t true. And if it really is true, then I hope they’ll give me an axe or a can of petrol and matches. I certainly don’t want to end up as a wax figure at Madame Tussauds. That would be ridiculous.

There’s always been enough self-irony, even self-hatred, in your songs. Can you tell me what the best thing about being Morrissey is?

The songs that I wrote. The records I made. When I remember how desperate and hopeless I was as a teenager, it seems quite astonishing that I’m able to look back on this work, which has for the most part been liked by people. No matter if paintings, films or poetry, nothing can mean so much to me as the recorded human voice. Songs can indeed change your life.

You once claimed that music means more to you than people do. Would you still say that?

Absolutely. Music is still the only thing that’s able to comfort me. People can’t do that. And even if you find someone who can, it’s still terribly hard work. Music is still the only thing that makes waking up in the morning bearable, and I think I couldn’t survive the day without my love for music. It is music which makes me work. It may sound trite, but every single memory of my life is somehow linked to music.

Did you ever ask yourself why this is so?

I’ve been under the spell of music since I was a little child and it never stopped. I never really trusted people if it came to love or entertainment because I could find everything in music. Why do you need people if you have music?

Is music your vocation?

Yes, I strongly believe it really is. I have no idea what I would do if I suddenly had to find another job. I might be able to do very simple work. It’s not that I am very qualified or that I have specific skills. I’m not even very intelligent. So, what could possibly become of me?

Many people would object to your claim that you’re not intelligent.

Yes, and in this way they would only prove that they’re not very bright themselves (smirks).

Morrissey Bio
On May 22, 1959, a certain Steven Patrick Morrissey was being registered in Manchester's book of new-borns. Back then no one could know that this Irish immigrants's son's "M" would one day be at least as famous as that of his hometown Manchester.

In his childhood and adolescence, Morrissey developed quite atypical passions: he was listening to Girl-Group-Pop and reading Oscar Wilde, refused to eat meat but was instead obsessing over Glam-Punk bands like the New York Dolls.

From 1982 to 1987 he was part of the Smiths, together with guitarist and co-songwriter Johnny Marr. During their active years they only achieved two chart-placings in the UK - today The Smiths are known as one of the most influential bands of all time, which was particularly due to Morrissey's bittersweet portrayal of juvenile loneliness and depression.

After breaking up with Marr Morrissey started a solo carriere, which could only partly live up to the Smiths's standards. He immersed himself in his obsessions but did, at least temporarily, lose the grip on his musical orientation.

After several years of exile in L.A. he celebrated his come back in 2004 with You Are The Quarry. At the moment Morrissey's living in a happy relationship in Rome [is he?], which can be heard on his new album Ringleader of the Tormentors - a culminating climax of his work.


I just saw that there are various grammatical mistakes in the text. Please be gentle with me and ignore them.


A fun little interview, thank you very much.

I must remember never to say 'chill' or 'chilling' around Morrissey.
Not that I say it normally anyway.

spectral hand

Thanks for this - fascinating!

I do hope the Hotel de Russie is not swamped with fans now, though.


thanks !!! great Interview

could you please post the german original too...

vielen Dank im voraus :))


Sure. Just wait a minute. I hope photobucket won't resize the scans again.


Sorry, but I think my scanner doesn't work. I could sent it to you later on if you give me your email address. No, I don't want to spam you.


> Sorry, but I think my scanner doesn't work. I could sent it to you later
> on if you give me your email address. No, I don't want to spam you.

Danke, das wäre nett von Dir:
[email protected]

liebe grüße
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