Maelstrom! Sparks Interviewed - The Quietus
Jeremy Allen meets Ron and Russell Mael in Paris to talk Morrissey, Moroder, Tati, Adjani, Carax, Ronson and Rundgren, and to discover what it’s like to make music as siblings for nearly 50 years
Shall we talk about Morrissey? Does he need to lighten up?
Ron: I hope he doesn’t. It’s more interesting if he doesn’t.
Russell: Even sometimes politically now, you kind of go “Morrissey?” It’s intriguing that he’s contrary on so many political issues now, and social issues. And you kind of go, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming,” this, you know, vegetarian-
That’s the way Hitler went.
Ron: That’s true!
It is true that you used to always communicate by fax?
Russell: Yes, we did. We have all the fading messages which we’ve kept. By fax and in giant letters, and even more recently - several months back - on my doorstep. I didn’t hear him. I was working at home, and I go outside and there’s an album propped up against the door and it’s a Morrissey album with the Ameba Records sticker still on it which had just been purchased there obviously, and it had been inscripted by Morrissey saying “Russell, you have to record ‘Windy Day’” - which was a demo we made in the Kimono My House period that was recently released in a repackaging of Kimono with various tracks that were demos at the time. And he said that, and it was just left there, and he was gone in the wind. He didn’t want to speak, so there’s this odd relationship from a distance. It’s intriguing and nice.
Have you read any of his books?
Ron: Only the sections we’re in. We’ve got them all underlined.
Actually he writes beautifully about music, just not so well about himself. As a songwriter he writes well about himself of course.
Ron: That’s what I was gonna say. It seems like songwriters should express who they are through what they’re doing rather than trying to go legit in that way. What he presents as a personality is so much more interesting and deep and intriguing in his music than just saying it in prose.