That time Morrissey said Depeche Mode sucked - NY Post
By Hardeep Phull
August 25, 2017 | 3:15am
In August 1981, a young, buzzy electro-pop band named Depeche Mode rolled into Manchester, England, to play at a small club called Rafters. Spirits were high; the band had just had its first major hit with “New Life” and another smash called “Just Can’t Get Enough” would hit the UK Top 10 before the end of the year.
But one person not buying into the hype was a local writer named Steven Morrissey, then 22. As depicted in the new film “England Is Mine” which opens Friday, before Morrissey became a star as the singer of the Smiths during the mid-’80s, he was getting in his curmudgeon practice by writing letters to the music press, and even penning the occasional review.
In a write-up published in the now defunct weekly Record Mirror, he called out Depeche Mode as “hilariously unimaginative” and accused them of peddling “every murderously monotonous cliché known to man.”
“That viewpoint is a very Manchester thing,” director Mark Gill tells The Post, referring to Morrissey’s brutal writings, which laid waste to not only Depeche Mode, but also the Sex Pistols, the Rolling Stones and even the Ramones. “It’s not enough for you to be good, everyone else has to be s - - t!”
‘Whatever [Morrissey] says — positive or negative — it will be going on my wall.’
Portraying Morrissey is rising Scottish actor Jack Lowden (who played the pilot Collins in “Dunkirk”). The 27-year-old spent a year researching the role by delving into these old writings, interviews and, of course, the lyrics of Smiths songs that drew heavily on Morrissey’s youth.
“He talked a lot in his early interviews about his experiences, his family and his depression,” says Gill, a 2014 Oscar nominee for his short film “The Voorman Problem,” who grew up in the same area of Manchester as Morrissey. “That early period of his life was certainly the most romantic for me. I was certainly never interested in making a film about the Smiths.”
Also on hand to help the director and star get an idea of what young Morrissey was really like was Billy Duffy, who was Morrissey’s early bandmate in the Manchester punk group the Nosebleeds, before he found success with the Cult. Unsurprisingly, Morrissey was often as scathing in person as he was in writing.
“The scene in which Morrissey criticizes the lyrics of Joe Strummer [from the Clash] is based on a story that Billy told us,” says Gill.
But the director is aware that the next target of Morrissey’s fury might be “England Is Mine.” The singer (who this week announced he is releasing his album “Low in High School” in November) maintained a distance from the film during production and has so far given no verdict. But if it doesn’t meet his standards, Morrissey will have little problem speaking up.
“Whatever he says — positive or negative — it will be going on my wall,” says Gill. “Maybe my bedroom ceiling, so I can see it every morning when I wake up!”