Morrissey on His Hatred of "Cell Phone Nation," His Skin of "Perished Rubber," and Why He Loves System of a Down

Categories: Interviews

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Although Morrissey doesn't have a record deal, he hasn't slowed down one bit. Tonight, he will perform a sold-out show at Radio City Music Hall, playing hits from throughout his career as well as a few numbers that might surface whenever he releases the follow-up to 2009's Years of Refusal. (He also has two sold-out shows at Terminal 5 Friday and Saturday.) His most recent release, as it happens, is a remastered reissue of his solo debut, 1988's Viva Hate, which is available stateside only as an import. Interestingly enough, since he recorded it in 1987, it coincides with the 25th anniversary of his departure from the Smiths, a band he says will never ever (ever) reunite. Nevertheless, when he answered our interview questions below -- via e-mail, as he won't do other types of interviews with the press after being burned by the NME a few years back -- he was cordial enough to answer questions that covered his entire career, as well as some about his current state, beginning with this tour.

See Also:

- A Look Inside Morrissey's Mind
- Morrissey Nude, Still Depressed
- Live: Morrissey Gets Stoned at Bowery Ballroom

So far, you've played some new songs and many of your greatest hits on this tour. What songs have you enjoyed revisiting the most and why?
I enjoy all of them, otherwise I couldn't sing them. Songs are like lie detectors -- you can easily tell when the singer doesn't mean it.

What is the status of the new album you've written? Why do you feel like you're better off holding out for a label instead of recording and releasing it yourself?
I like to be institutionalized behind a great big wall. I'm independent enough without selling CDs out of the back of a van.

A few years ago, you had to cancel some concerts due to throat problems. How have you had to change your life to keep your voice in shape these days?
I usually contract throat problems from others, who don't bother with prevention. The stage is a hotbed of wafting germs, and with so many air-conditioning blasts coming at you everywhere you go in the U.S., it's difficult to keep your body balanced.

It has been 25 years since you embarked on your solo career, and you recently reissued Viva Hate. What do you remember about your mind-set when you were making that album?
I was a zombie. I didn't want to be a solo artist. But when the Smiths split took place, I was served with legal papers from EMI in England and Sire-Reprise in the U.S. saying that I alone was responsible for clearing up any financial Smiths debts. There were no calls for 25 percent equality at that stage from any ex-Smiths! Let Morrissey carry the can, and we'll carry the cash . . . uh. Anyway, like an idiot, I trotted along, and under such pressure came Viva Hate.

In her liner notes for the Viva Hate reissue, Chrissie Hynde talks about how you sing in a way that makes her feel as though you're singing just for her. Many of your fans feel that way. What artists these days make you feel that way when you listen to their records?
Well, none, because I don't think that type of singing is encouraged. It's thought to be quite a disturbing factor these days if you sing in a personal tone. If Billie Holliday emerged in 2012, the music press would probably dismiss her as a daft, old bat. 

You recently said that "Lonely Day" by System of a Down is the last song you absolutely loved. What is it you like about it?
It caught me in the right way at the right moment. I like the band generally, and the main vocals (by Serj Tankian) always have interesting tunings, almost Arabic, sounding like ancient codes for bewailing the dead or something. Although "Lonely Day" wasn't sung by Serj.

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11 comments
worthlessrecluse
worthlessrecluse

Wish he'd lay off the other Smiths for five minutes. Insinuating they didn't like his lyrics is an amusing attempt at a slur - so they were clueless yobbos while he alone was the sensitive heart of The Smiths, I suppose? 

pragueman
pragueman

Well said, Moz. There is far less class these days, or in a very self absorbed hurry up world.  Cell phone nation is absolutely disgusting and vile. The story of the old woman suffering a stroke, while being ignored, by others, was deeply sad, but that's how most people react.  Always fearful of the almighty lawsuit, costs, and will ignore basic human decency and kindness. A musician with integrity and intelligence,  who doesn't go along with the other vulgar sold out sheep of unimaginative cowards.

CenterOfThought
CenterOfThought

Morrissey says, "I miss the large record stores. I think it's so sad that they've been wiped out. I mean, who would ever have thought it likely? Yet Bed Bath & Beyond survives. Why?"   Uh...dude...because you can't DOWNLOAD A TOWEL SET!?  Otherwise a fairly entertaining chat.  Btw, your show last night at Radio City was fairly entertaining, as well.  

vivanoire
vivanoire

Loves Morrissey this much time later.

HoverCrab
HoverCrab

@villagevoice as of course no interview with Morrissey would be an interview with Morrissey without him having a whinge..

madmonq
madmonq

Holy crap. Given his utterances Morrissey thinks he is royalty.  Since we know royal, divine ascension within a bloodline is bullshit, how much more Morrissey?   

poppie_cock
poppie_cock

@Sberrells viva hates not a bad album considering the circumstances in which it was conceived. I never knew that.

rioux
rioux

I find the "See Also" section (as funny as it is (sorta)) a bit intrusive and mean..

GregCochrane
GregCochrane

@villagevoice "the stage is a hotbed of wafting germs" - Morrissey: on getting throat infections...

Sberrells
Sberrells

@poppie_cock Nor did I, Michael. You're not wrong.

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