MORRISSEY TALKS TO JOHN RIGGERS April 2018
JOHN: Thanks for talking to me because I know you don’t talk to the press anymore. I can guess the reasons why, but can you explain them now?
MORRISSEY: Yes. There is simply no point. They don’t print what you say, and they print what you didn’t say. There’s hardly any point in me being there! The function of reporting has disappeared. Now, all journalists are megastars and the only aim of their interview is to express and establish their own personal views, and to hell with whatever the interviewee says.
JOHN: So why have you agreed to talk to me?
MORRISSEY: Because you’re not from The Guardian.
JOHN: SPIN magazine have recently termed you a fascist. I’ve never known SPIN be so aggressive towards anyone before. I am very shocked by SPIN. Are you aware of their accusation?
MORRISSEY: Yes, and I will be interested to see how they explain themselves in court. It’s unfortunate to take any publication to court, but sometimes you must, and this is one of those times because otherwise the press can succeed in dictating an ugly view, which they fully realize can place you in danger.
JOHN: Why do you think the press suddenly see you as a difficult figure?
MORRISSEY: Because I speak from the heart. The mainstream media will only encourage pop artists who have nothing to say. We are meant to keep our nose out of politics even though we are all living, breathing humans and as much a part of 2018 life as anyone else.
JOHN: You are 59 next month, is this a concern?
MORRISSEY: We might as well call it 60 and get it over with.
JOHN: How old are you in your heart?
MORRISSEY: Good question! 165.
JOHN: Did you ever think your social theories would be as much sought after as your songs?
MORRISSEY: They were always one and the same thing.
JOHN: You have been accused of supporting Brexit by the press. Why are they so concerned, do you think?
MORRISSEY: Accused is the correct word! It isn’t possible to be congratulated for supporting Brexit, is it? That should tell you all you need to know about the outstanding lack of neutrality within the British press. It’s all a pointless argument anyway because, as you’ve surely noticed, Brexit did not happen. The EU wouldn’t allow it to happen. It is now a dead issue. The people said Leave but the EU said no. People wanted to leave the EU because of the complete erosion of freedom under EU rules, and the fair-minded majority now see in even more frightening ways how very much they are hated by the EU, not to mention the British political elite. How England is today is a country that is not leaving the EU. Hungary, Italy, Finland and Poland will leave before the UK is allowed to. A second referendum is muttered about but people don’t realize how a second referendum will see an ever higher percentage of people voting Leave. What then? A third referendum?
JOHN: Did you actually vote to leave?
MORRISSEY: No, I haven’t ever voted. I don’t have sufficient faith in the circus of politics … and … you can see why! It is a moral disaster on every level. Even Tesco wouldn’t employ Diane Abbott.
JOHN: Your music explains fully how you feel, and your audience is now more dedicated to you than ever before. Is this why you continue? I remember you were talking about retirement in 1992!
MORRISSEY: Unfortunately I cannot retire from myself! If I could, I would!
JOHN: Do you still listen to The Smiths?
MORRISSEY: No. It was beautiful, but it’s gone. My pride is with Low In High School, World Peace Is None Of Your Business, Years Of Refusal, Ringleader Of the Tormentors, You Are The Quarry, Swords, Southpaw Grammar, Your Arsenal, Vauxhall and I … they are me, whereas The Smiths was a great but simplistic time. I cannot imagine my life without those solo albums, yes, and even Maladjusted ! I love them so much.
JOHN: You didn’t mention Viva Hate or Kill Uncle ?
MORRISSEY: I wasn’t ready. I rushed in too quickly. It was my fault.
JOHN: Your solo musicians receive no support from the press.
MORRISSEY: Last year I did an interview with The Times newspaper and the piece emerged with an enormous photograph of The Smiths … who weren’t even mentioned in the conversation! I must live with it. There can never be enough detail to look beyond The Smiths, or to write a headline that wasn’t a Smiths song. I don’t think it’s a hateful gesture to keep pulling me back to 1983, but there’s certainly a morbid sentimentality. It’s a bit like referring to David Bowie only in relation to The Laughing Gnome.
JOHN: You didn’t seem to mourn the death of David Bowie?
MORRISSEY: Oh. What was I supposed to do?
JOHN: People associate you with one another, yet I’m not sure why.
MORRISSEY: I am surprised that people whose entire life has been the music industry manage to live as long as they do. There’s something mentally crushing about persistently placing yourself before people for their approval. As a matter of fact, I absolutely love to sing. You’d never guess, would you?
JOHN: Your last album was dedicated to Dick Gregory, yet a question of racism has always chased you through the press.
MORRISSEY: People accuse, yes, but they can’t penetrate or illuminate. The sole point of all of those NME slurs was to turn my audience against me. I recall one NME piece many years ago which addressed its readers with ”we just can’t turn you off him, can we ?”. That said it all. And as far as racism goes, the modern Loony Left seem to forget that Hitler was Left wing! But of course, we are all called racist now, and the word is actually meaningless. It’s just a way of changing the subject. When someone calls you racist, what they are saying is ”hmm, you actually have a point, and I don’t know how to answer it, so perhaps if I distract you by calling you a bigot we’ll both forget how enlightened your comment was.”
JOHN: What are your thoughts on the upcoming UK elections?
MORRISSEY: They are local elections but people use their vote with national party figures in mind. UKIP is dead, and Nigel Farage aided their downfall by supporting Henry Bolton. Theresa May was always a Prime Minister uninvited. She is incapable of leadership. She cannot say her own name unless it’s written down on a cue card in front of her. I recall her speech on Eid al-Adhar, and how she referred to it as a ”joyous celebration” … as millions of animals had their throats slit to mark the occasion. I wondered what kind of compassion she could possibly have. The answer is none. However, the Conservatives conserve nothing in modern Britain. In fact, they are the prime destructors of British heritage. Labour are no different from the Conservatives in that they do not object to FGM, halal slaughter, child marriage, and so on. There is no moral clarity with these people, and you shouldn’t vote in a certain way simply because you always have. Do you have the nerve to vote differently? If you have any concern for animal welfare, for example, you cannot possibly vote for either Conservatives or Labour, because both parties support halal slaughter, which, as we all know, is evil. Furthermore, halal slaughter requires certification that can only be given by supporters of ISIS, and yet in England we have halal meat served in hospitals and schools! UK law is pointless!
(images below of halal slaughter: the animal bleeds to death very slowly.)
JOHN: Will animal abuse ever stop?
MORRISSEY: Yes. Walk into any major supermarket and you will see how cow’s milk has shrank into to a small corner whilst alternative milks have taken over. Even people who don’t care about animal welfare would rather have rice, oat or cashew milk. The same has happened to eggs. It’s very difficult to locate them now in a supermarket. Obviously I wouldn’t ever buy eggs, but it’s worth taking note of these things.
JOHN: But halal is done in the name of religion.
MORRISSEY: Most murder is! But animals rights must come before religion. Religion must cease to be the ONLY word. I am not interested in what people did ten thousand years ago. I am concerned about what is happening today.
JOHN: Kosher is also very cruel.
MORRISSEY: Very. It, too, must be banned. I am not saying that stunned slaughter is acceptable, because it couldn’t ever be. If you use the term ‘humane slaughter’ then you might as well talk in terms of ‘humane rape’.
People sound very stupid when they mention ‘humane slaughter’.
JOHN: A lot of people can’t afford a vegan diet.
MORRISSEY: I think the point is that we cease to put ourselves first. It is not about what we frivolously want. Every animal even during slaughter fights and kicks until its very last breath. It has one instinct and that is to
survive. I stopped watching television because of animal death commercials. I couldn’t allow that into my living space for one more day. I feel liberated without it. They won’t show cigarette commercials but it’s OK to show butchered lambs? And to laugh about it?
JOHN: Don’t you ever wonder if your views have held your career back?
MORRISSEY: Nothing I say is provocative. They are just facts.
JOHN: You say you have never known a British political party that represents your views.
MORRISSEY: There is a new party called For Britain. They have the best approach to animal welfare, whereas no other party even bothers to mention animal welfare. The EU will not protect animals from halal or kosher practice. For Britain seem to say what many British people are currently thinking, which is why the BBC or Channel 4 News will not acknowledge them, because, well, For Britain would change British politics forever … and we can’t have that! If you love animals, you really cannot vote Labour or Conservative. Give animals a break. They’ve done enough for you. Let them live.
JOHN: Your recent tour was magnificent. You seemed very happy.
MORRISSEY: I am!
JOHN: What about a new album?
MORRISSEY: It is under way.
JOHN: Some people objected to your new song Israel.
MORRISSEY: Most did not. It doesn’t do to constantly consider the feelings of those who are determined to hate you eternally. I’m not here for them.
JOHN: The music is much stronger than I can ever remember. I couldn’t imagine The Smiths being so varied or so powerful.
MORRISSEY: The Smiths were explosive during the Rank tour. Before that, we were all fumbling about - me, especially. My voice wasn’t great. The music was always solid.
JOHN: I Wish You Lonely and Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up On The Stage are your best ever songs. David Bowie was not writing great songs at this period of his career.
MORRISSEY: I’ve said this previously but I don’t think I have the same
lyrical concerns as other singers or writers, so it’s difficult to compare. Everyone, I assume, does their best.
JOHN: I Bury The Living is a shocking song because it is a taboo subject - the idea that a solider might enjoy war and killing. As always, the tabloids attacked you for this song.
MORRISSEY: The tabloids would attack me if I reversed global warming. I once made a comment about China and of course The Guardian attacked me, but the next day David Cameron said more or less the same thing about China and The Guardian praised him! So, you see, personal bias is usually at the root.
JOHN: Spent The Day In Bed was a big radio hit. Was this a good feeling? It’s been a long time since I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris.
MORRISSEY: It’s still an incredible feeling to be driving along and suddenly your song comes on the radio. I actually stop breathing.
JOHN: Will you stay with BMG?
MORRISSEY: Well, they have very high walls. I think they haven’t had it easy with me because the songs are not pop pap and therefore radio isn’t automatically obliging. My career, if it is a career, is measured in minutes.
JOHN: What do you mean?
MORRISSEY: I mean that I can only plan minute by minute. My legs are all I have to hold me up. (laughs)
JOHN: Are you healthy?
MORRISSEY: No. I’d like to play sports and swim and so forth but such places are usually full of people holding iPhones, and of course, before you know it there’s a shot of you on someone’s Facebook clinging to the parallel bars.
JOHN: You had a bad time with Der Spiegel newspaper in Germany. I heard the tapes and the interviewer sounded agreeable and happy with you, but then she wrote an ugly piece. What is the point of this, do you think?
MORRISSEY: Genuine hate? Well, I think a lot of writers are genuinely embarrassed to say ”I really enjoy your music, and you are unique and you look great” - this is thought not to be useful journalism. In order to be thought to be a good writer it seems to me that you must bury your subject. This is also true of biography. You must write with no forgiveness about pop artists who probably saved your life at some stage.
JOHN: Low In High School has a boy on the front holding a sign which says AXE THE MONARCHY. Why did you feel the need to say this again?
MORRISSEY: It wasn’t actually my idea! The photograph was a big surprise to me and I momentarily thought it was very funny. We were in a situation where artwork needed to be handed over instantly in order to meet a release deadline. I wish I’d had a bit longer to get it right. Often, as with Southpaw Grammar and World of Morrissey, there isn’t actually a striking photograph of me to go on the cover. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s true.
JOHN: What is your favourite sleeve, and worst favourite?
MORRISSEY: I didn’t ever like the original Kill Uncle or Southpaw Grammar, or Maladjusted - which was the worst. My favourite is the Greatest Hits image. People think I meticulously design the album sleeves myself, but I don’t.
JOHN: With your views on the monarchy, why did you recently play The Royal Albert Hall, Alexandra Palace and even The London Palladium? Your mother was in the Royal Box, apparently?
MORRISSEY: Yes, my mother, whose name is also Elizabeth, was in the Royal Box. I think those halls belong to all of us. I also think you are asking me if I have softened towards monarchy?
JOHN: No, but, you’ve asked yourself, so go ahead!
MORRISSEY: Well, you know, even a passion to save the planet can start to tire out a bit. I am not fiendish where the House of Windsor is concerned. I resent being ordered to be in awe. I resent the assumption that I must be relentlessly engaged in being in awe of power and money. The House of Windsor represents the strictest social inequality, but I have, I think, expressed my opinion many times, and I don’t feel the need to go on about it, and I wish no ill to anyone. I have been invited to Buckingham Palace three times, did you know? Charles once sent a signed note. If I get a fourth invitation I will go. It seems rude not to! (laughs) I am certain I could persuade Anne that eating horses isn’t a nice thing to do.
JOHN: But you persist with animal welfare?
MORRISSEY: Because animals have no voice. If animals spoke English then no one would eat them. You see, racism is at its most abhorrent in relation to eating animals. If you eat animals, isn’t it a display of hatred for a certain species? And what gives you the right to eat another species or race? Would you eat people from Sri Lanka?
JOHN: In The Bullfighter Dies you are happy because the bullfighter has been killed by the bull.
MORRISSEY: I am applauding the bull. From every angle the torture of the bull is staged. The bullfighter is a spectacular failure who cannot actually fight the bull without a mass of weapons and a host of helpers, whereas the bull stands alone. No one can possibly believe that this is sport. They say ’oh, but it is tradition’, well, yes, but murder has a long tradition in Spain, should we celebrate that, also? A Murder Festival?
JOHN: London has become a murder capital recently.
MORRISSEY: London is debased. The Mayor of London tells us about ”Neighborhood policin ” - what is ‘policin’? He tells us London is an ”amazin ” city. What is ‘amazin’? This is the Mayor of London! And he cannot talk properly! I saw an interview where he was discussing mental health, and he repeatedly said ”men’el ” … he could not say the words ‘mental health’. The Mayor of London! Civilisation is over!
JOHN: But why do you think so many people are being killed in London?
MORRISSEY: London is second only to Bangladesh for acid attacks. All of the attacks are non-white, and so they cannot be truthfully addressed by the British government or the Met Police or the BBC because of political correctness. What this means is that the perpetrator is considered to be as much of a victim as the actual victim. We live in the Age of Atrocity.
JOHN: Since you have so much to say on many subjects, why do you not appear on television interviews?
MORRISSEY: Haven’t you heard of people like Cathy Newman or Jo Coburn? They don’t discuss, they insult. If all fails they’ll conclude the interview by calling your grandmother a fat slob. Diverse opinion is banned in England, debate is over. The most offensive thing you can do in modern Britain is to have an opinion and to talk clearly.
JOHN: How can we be saved?
MORRISSEY: Music is your only friend.
JOHN: When will you play more concerts?
MORRISSEY: I believe Austria and Finland are on course for July.
JOHN: Thank you, and most especially for World Peace Is None Of Your Business.
© John Riggers / Alamist, Morrissey Fans Of Portugal (publication September 2018)
Special thanks to Morrissey for this interview, and also to Christian Berret, and to Mariella.
Please do not reproduce interview without permission, John Riggers care of www.morrisseycentral.com.
Also thank you to Sam Esty Rayner.
Photograph of Gustavo Manzur’s two daughters Rigel and Kia taken by Gustavo Manzur, 2017.
Layout and design by Mariella.