Word Magazine Jun.2004

Text by : Andrew Harrison / Translated by Makio & Ms.Fumu

Could you put your finger on the secret of Morrissey's appeal?

JM:"Probably like Andy Warhol, it's more to do with what he doesn't reveal. When I met him, I already knew he was a frontman but I don't understand Why until he had a microphone in his hand. Then I was really impressed because even early stage, he was projecting, His Bodylanguage was such that he was leading a band.
The first show we played, he spun around and, unbeknownst to the band, released a pocketful of confetti and glitter over the front three rows it was a big surprise and a revelation. The way he engaged an audience was a surprise too, telling them "the only thing to be is handsome", these little phrases that helped create us as we wanted to be. You've never heard that kind of stuff before.

How did you feel about the iconography and lyrics that Morrissey presented to you - the grim Northern imagery?

Well, the street Viv Nicholson is stood in on the cover of Heaven Knows - I grew up on one identical to it. A large part of the iconography was ourlives. The sleeves are without doubt a great example of the true meaning of innovation:completely dispare elements pulled together by this vision and turned into a definitive article. If you were to describe a Smiths sleeve to someone who'd never seen one Terrence Stamp, Viv Nicholson but also Cocteau and Antonioni - they would never understand it. It's genuinely creative.And the lyrics always surprised me. The two first songs we wrote on the same day were The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and Suffer Little Children - these are not obvious or quaint lyrical ideas. From then on, everyone else was constantly intrigued, you never knew what he was going to come up with. Andy and Mike and I would record a workable demo and then he'd put a vocal on it - often that would be the first time we heard the words. I saw it as his business and we had such a close friendship - he was my mate, and I was proud of what he was doing.

But one of the criticisms levelled at The Smiths was that they were an exercise in retro fetishism.

Me and Moz did have in common the fact that we were into old stuff. Now that's commonplace but The Smiths arrived when Heard In Through The Grapevine had not yet been used to sell jeans, and back catalogue only existed in a few obscure shops. Retro was new when I invented it! I'm not saying we caused it but we were part of a generation that were able, after punk, to look back on this ocean of stuff and take what was pertinent and resonant. Very quickly afterwards, a generation of teenagers were suddenly able literally to look in books called things like The History Of Rock'n Roll and go, I'll have a bit of that, or that, or that. Our generation didn't have those books, so the act of discovering it made it more exclusive and more powerful for you.

Can you remember the first time you encountered Smith fans?

Absolutely. We pulled up outside the Rock Garden in Covent Garden and I saw out first two fans. I remember it with real pride:Josh and Anna, stood there holding flowers. He had his fairly new and quite good gothy hair - they were both quite good looking and about 17. They looked great. As fans, they really were all you dreamed of. I really get annoyed at the revisionist idea put about by all these self-designated social commentators, that the Smiths was the geek or the uncool, friendless nobody. That was far from the case. It was all the cool kids who were into The Smiths. And If you are cool but you didn't like The Smiths there was New Order,who had a different kind of fan.

The Smiths are sometimes derided as one-dimensional indie-rock janglers, but in fact you covered new musical territory faster than anyone but The Beatles - by Meat Is Murder you were playing funk,rockabilly and heavy metal, and on The Queen Is Dead there's musical hall and what are very nearly folk songs. How consicous was all of this?

We didn't have to be told to raise the bar, we expected it of ourselves. I wanted to be as good as Townshend, not a third generation wannabe - I wanted to be in the Jagger-Richards league. My generation in particular carried around the negative aspects of punk, the idea that "It's been and gone" and anything you do is only ever going to be a pale imitation of the good old days.When you do get big bands like Oasis,who try to fulfil the promise of being not just as successful but as relevant to their generation and to pop culture, it's an absolute rarity. It takes a certain type of character to do it,who's generally got a lot of spirit and they're usually pretty pissed off too. That's the way I was.

The Smiths famously released pretty much everything they recorded so there's little hope of unearthing any lost material. But wasn't there talk of a Smiths box set recently?

We released everything because everything we did was good enough to come out, but there are a few things that survive, like some of my old demos on the recording Walkman. And there's the first version of the debut album that we did with Troy Tate and never released - I haven't listened to it since we did it but I'm told that's really good. Morrissey and I had a fax conversation about it last year but nothing came of it. I know what I think it ought to be like, put it that way.

Do you regret not nailing down the band's financial arrangements more openly?

Are you fucking joking? It's the only regret I've got. That little loophole where we didn't sign what was agreed. Someone thought they were being clever by not getting it down, and it ended up blowing up in everyone's faces. That is my only regret.

How do you feel about the court case now?

I hated every second of it. I've got no respect for any of it. Even some of the people representing me. The public and the media, all of us, we're all good at getting carried away with stories. And the story of the two horrible old control-freak ogres ripping off the poor, hapless other guys was the scenario everyone went with. But there are two other scenarios.One is that if you're in a job with somebody for five years every single day, are you seriously trying to tell me you don't know what money you are getting? The second scenario is: If you do know what you're on and you're aware that two of the other guys are on more than you, then why does it take the guitarist, the one who's getting paid the most, to call it a day?Why don't you leave or make your protest then?
Of course there is the other scenario, which was that rightly or wrongly it was always agreed that the shares would be X and Y. But because it wasn't put down on paper, years after the event someone can come along and say that you're entitled to 25% because there's nothing on paper. Then you go on legal aid and beat the other guys down over ten, twelve years. So when you look at those scenarios, it doesn't look quite so cut and dried."As absurd as it was, effectively it came down to me sat in court saying "Can I leave now, please? Can I leave this band? I'd left The Smiths in 1987 and here it is, 1996, and I'm sat in court - still trying to leave.

Marr had already suggested to the band that they ought to have a break, and even told Morrissey that if they were to call it a day and split the band "I would see an enormous amount of pressure leave your shoulders, Morrissey. "He'd also advised that they needed to think about where they were going to go with a future Smiths record. "My guess would have been to do an album entirely like 'Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me', almost a Scott Walker album." Imagine that, a big Morrissey torch album. "The last recordings had proved the final straw. Marr frew to Los Angeles, sories filled the music papers, the band conceded that Marr had resigned from The Smiths and then claimed, to blanket astonishment, that they would find a new guitarist. The band which had played 'I Know It's Over', seemed to have no idea that it was - it took Morrissey a month to accept that The Smiths were no more. As for Marr, he felt as if he had jumped into the void. "I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do - that was how much I needed to get out of The Smiths. I don't want to sound moany - I hate that Smiths articles end up missing out on the joy of the band. But the end was a really sad tale. When you think about it, how fitting. It was always going to be a grand, tragic ending.

There is, however, another version of the story which I've heard enough times over the years to make me think it is more than rumour. That the breakdown was was personal, not professional. That, essentially, Morrissey was in love with Johnny Marr, That he told Marr, in those typical handwritten notes left at his house, that Marr must choose between Morrissey and his wife Angie. That the notes were even written in bottles and tossed over Marr's wall. When I put this to Johnny Marr, he doesn't sigh or give any sign of surprise."Morrissey never said it can't be you and Angie to me. All the way through that time with Morrissey, I felt like the lukiest guy in the world. I was playing great guitar in a great band with people I love, a partner I love and girl I love - and it's all working. Morrissey and I had a super-intense, close relationship, as close as it can get without being physical. It helped make the band. He sent me correspondence all the time, and the notes were always amusing, but I've never heard the bottle-over-walls theory. I know he wanted our relationship to be very close, but for him to have crossed a line with me would have been a serious misjudgement. For it to be suspected that I would have left my own band for a reason like that would be a complete insult to me and the work I put in."When Johnny Marr left The Smiths, he was 23 years and 10 months old.

Johnny Marr has Smiths dreams too. There are the usual ones where you walk onstage and your guitar sounds like banjo, or Bill Wyman's on bass. And there are the other ones that remind him of the early days - dreams that are so realistic that nothing surreal happens at all. "We're in a Van, on our way to a gig in London, We arrive, we play our gig and and it's great...and I wake up remembering how much we loved each other, loved our lives, loved doing what we did. In the dream the sun was shining, we had new Rickenbackers and new clothes and £50 worth of gladioli. And it was real.


















マーは既に、休暇を取るべきであるという提案をバンド、そしてモリシーにさえ解散の危機を伝えた。”君のその膨大な肩の荷が降りるよ、モリシー”と。彼は更に、スミスの今後のアルバムの方向性についても考えるべき、とアドバイスした。”僕が察するに、'Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me'みたいな感じにひたすらなるんじゃないかって思うよ。殆どスコット・ウォーカーみたいな”。想像してみよう、ビッグ・モリシーのトーチ・アルバムを。最後のレコーディングは我慢の限界を超え、マーはロスへ飛び立ち、その話が音楽各誌で溢れた。バンドはマーの脱退を認め、驚きを隠す為か新しいギタリストを物色する旨の声明を出した。かつてバンドが演奏した'I Know It's Over'のように、モリシーがバンドがもう機能しないと知るには1ヶ月も要したのだった。マーにしても、とんでもないカラッポ感を感じていた。”僕はもう、スミスから逃げ出す為にどうしたら良かったのか全く解らなかった。云いたくないけども、バンドの楽しい部分なんてまるっきり削除しちまった記事はクソだね。まあ、最後は哀しいお話になってたよ。どのくらい君の想像に当てはまるか知らないけど、大抵は大袈裟で悲劇的な結末になっているのさ。"