Morrissey Interview 2022. - Sam Esty Rayner / YouTube (November 27, 2022)
Questions by Fiona Dodwell
Premiered on YouTube Nov 27, 2022.
In his first filmed interview since 2015, Morrissey speaks on his best album to date.
Recorded October 9, 2022 at The London Palladium during his triumphant U.K tour.
Directed by Sam Esty Rayner Photography.
Adapted from the YouTube transcript.
Morrissey, I thought a good place to start is with Bonfire Of Teenagers, the album. Obviously we haven't seen the release of it yet can you tell us what the status of that is?
It's very good it's about to be announced and released very, very quickly.
So I will leave it up to others to announce that and it will be soon, very soon.
It is on its way?
Yes, it's on its way.
Finally. It's been a long claw, crawl, but it's on its way and I'm very pleased and it's beautiful. It's absolutely beautiful.
You sound really happy with it.
I'm so happy with it, so happy with it. It's incredible because I've been around a long time and if you can still make music that really excites you, I think that's unusual. I think a lot of people who've been around for 40 years can't quite do that. And I'm not being snippety, I don't think they can. I don't think so. But here, suddenly in my life I have this album which is really... I know people always say it's the best... which actually is. It actually is. I'm grateful.
It must be a great feeling after all these years to still know that you're in that place...
It is, it is... and I have made lots of music over those years. It's been pretty constant so having another stretch is unbelievable because (pounds chair) I'm not 22.
I wanted to sort of say I've been checking the set lists of the dates you've been doing recently and you've done a lot of songs from Bonfire Of Teenagers.
Do you feel an extra like sense of pressure when you're performing songs to a crowd that perhaps are unfamiliar with the work or does it not really cross your mind?
No, because I think you should be able to interest anybody, with any song really. You can't simply say, "Well, I'm only good for that song. I'm only interesting with that song, I can only sing that song." You have to be able to sing absolutely anything and do it in a way that interests people. And that I think is the measure of somebody who really deserves to be on the stage.
Yeah. That's actually one of the things that I admire about you as a performer. You don't patronize your audience by doing the same things over and over you. You don't shy away from doing perhaps rare tracks or obscure songs. I mean, is that a deliberate choice to mix things up or do you literally go with your gut instinct with what you pick?
I think they like it also. I think they like to hear off the beaten track songs. But the thing is, as long as you can do it and it's it's right and it's convincing and it's enjoyable, then it doesn't matter what you sing. It doesn't matter what you sing.
Exactly. And the shows have had such a fantastic reception as well.
Incredible. Absolutely incredible, I am really dazed by it and obviously thrilled, obviously thrilled.
I think you have probably one of the most die-hard army of fans that I've ever witnessed. They travel all over the world, across continents, they camp outside venues...
They're incredible... they do.
How does that feel to you, after the years you command still that level of respect and love?
I think it's because I'm a real person and they know I'm true. And it's actually quite rare, really, to have that kind of audience. You can be a stadium band and you can play enormous... to millions of people every night but nobody wants to go near your stage. You are a brand and you are a business but I'm not like that. I wasn't made by the music industry, I was made by the people. And there's a huge difference. When you look at artists you can tell all of those who were put there by the music industry. "You will be very big now you'll be very famous." And there are people who are of the people. There are singers who are of the people of which I am one. And often that works against you because the industry don't particularly like people like me. And the music press don't particularly like people like me because they know I'm of the people, they know it isn't just a "money has been injected into this person." Nothing has been injected into me I can assure you. So they don't know what to do with people like me, they think "this is odd."
It's almost like there's a preference to manufacture artists so that they can control them.
They understand manufactured artists. They can get rid of them when industry is bored with them, they just get rid of them. But you can't with people like me... unless... I'm shot.
Because it feels like you've made that personal connection with your audience and that makes a big difference.
Well, I didn't make it because of radio, British radio was never on my side. So it's gratifying.
You just do it for the love of music?
Yes, it's very, very genuine, very genuine.
From Bonfire Of Teenagers, just going back to the album, do you have any favorite tracks on there?
It isn't possible really, they're all the same to me in the sense that I love them so much. So whichever ones that the record label choose to be released as singles and so forth it doesn't matter because it's all great, it's all wonderful to me.
You sound very happy.
I know, it's worrying, it's worrying.
You've been part of the music world for so long now Morrissey. I'm just wondering what would you say in your opinion, in your experience is your biggest frustration that you've had and that you see?
Well the blessing is the frustration because you're outside the gates and you don't, I don't really have anything to do with the music industry and I don't think I ever have. And that's okay but sometimes you think, "Well I think I do deserve to be on the radio I think I do deserve to be included somewhere. But it doesn't ever happen, they don't include me anywhere. Even just for perseverance and just to shut me up they don't include me. It's very strange, very peculiar.
It's shocking as well because they must see the audience is still there for you.
They don't care, they don't care. If you don't chase them and say, "Please do this for me, please..." They just think "No..." No, they want to be chased they want to be wooed.
But you're not having...
I can't do it, I can't.
I know that you've probably been asked about this quite a lot but how do you personally cope with seeing yourself fictionalized and caricatured by the press so much? I mean is it difficult or are you so used to it?
I'm used to it but it isn't positive, it's always ridiculous I think, mostly. As far as I can tell. But, I think if you put yourself out there, if you step out there, you have to expect it, really. It's going to happen and it happens to everybody to a degree, if they're interesting. It doesn't happen to people who are not very interesting.
Exactly, but the people that are seen as not interesting often the ones they're just frightened to actually say what's on their mind and what they believe.
Usually, there is nothing. (sighs)
Are you currently working on anything else? I don't want to jump forward too much because of the new album but I have read somewhere that you've been writing and recording again is there any truth to that?
Yes, we have written the the follow-up album and that will be recorded soon but it won't be released soon because Bonfire Of Teenagers must have a chance to breathe and blow and so forth. But, it will be recorded soon, yes.
That is one thing that's actually really impressive. I mean, looking at the length of your career, other artists that might be in that position would often slow down whereas actually, if anything, you've become more regular, very prolific.
Yes... Well, that's a nice word someone would have other words but... it's all I think about. I haven't changed. it's all I think about. All day, all night all I think about is the voice, the song. It's all I think about, I am trapped, dedicated, call it what you will, but it's my life.
You'd say it's your meaning then?
It's my purpose, really. You won't see me on a golf course or on a horse somewhere... I don't do anything, really.
Just all music...
People only ever see me running into, I don't know, the bread shop. But otherwise, I don't really exist and that's okay, that's okay.
Looking at everything that I've personally seen in recent years of the music industry, one thing I would say is actually how bland it's become. There's so few people that are willing to stand up and stand out for anything that they're almost standing for nothing and they're not really expressing anything, but you're the opposite of that. Was this just part of who you are? Or did you have a like a mental decision like I want to I want to get people challenged and thinking...
I don't really have a choice, but the thing is you have to make it interesting for people. You have to make music interesting for people and you have to make your position interesting. In the late 90s, I was interviewed a great deal and I constantly spoke of a dumbing down that was happening in England everywhere. Television, television commercials, everything to do with British life, it was just aimed at the moron. And that has absolutely happened now. If you watch British television commercials, they're insufferable. The noise and the content is always the same. People dancing in six million pound kitchens, that's all people do in Britain is dance, dance, dance, dance. They deliver a pizza, they're dancing, dancing, ... It's really now moronic and that shows everywhere and music really... not many people have faith in music anymore. And because a lot of things have changed financially in the music industry, labels now can just get rid of you if your album doesn't go instantly platinum. There are so many younger bands who have done really well with their first album, maybe they reach 23, 22, 21. It's not enough. they're dumped they're not allowed to make a second album. Whereas years ago, as you might know, people could make five flops and the label would stick by them. Now, the labels are quite bloodless they will just get rid of you if you say anything that they don't agree with.
They won't see you through the journey anymore...
No, no, they're not interested. Now they talk all about, "Oh, we must have diversity, diversity, diversity..." Which is diversity of people that you don't know and it just means, it's just another word for conformity. It's the new way of saying conformity. "Diversity." You don't see anything diverse anywhere, it's all conformity.
It's having the opposite effect, in fact...
It is, because when people talk about diversity, they don't think about the great things that we don't have in common. And those things are ignored and they always made countries very interesting. Because you could travel to Germany. you could see the most incredible culture. You go to Italy see the most incredible culture. Now they just want everything to be the same, the same, the same. So, diversity means conformity. It doesn't mean "avant-garde" or "Let's make really interesting, strange art." It means "box everybody." "Diversity," I think is a dreadful word. Pin it to anything and that situation is finished. It's a terrible word, terrible.
Do you have an opinion on social media? Because whenever I dip in and have a look, I think actually the the groupthink and the extreme opinions that are pushed there are actually part of this problem.
I think so, because now everybody is an expert critic. Everybody is an expert scientist, they know everything. They have the chance to review everything and destroy people. And if they can get their friends to join in and make a campaign of "Let's get rid of such a body." I think it more or less happened to Germaine Greer, J. K. Rowling, the two perfect examples. "We all get together and try and get rid of these people and don't stop harping on about how dangerous they are..." Then, it's pretty lethal. And I think there will be a way to control it eventually but nobody knows how, yet. And I don't think the political elite like it very much because if you notice politicians are going rapidly as well. And that's because of social media and people saying, "I don't like you." Which they couldn't do in the past, but now they can.
Those two sides to that coin, isn't there? I quite often look at some of the things on there and think the witch hunts aren't really over are they, entirely, in one degree or in a sense?
No, the thing is they desperately need to find a witch. They have to find a witch, they have to find somebody who is disgraceful and horrible and blah, blah, blah, blah... You can see the joy in people. Do you remember Mary Whitehouse?
The joy, so many people have turned into Mary Whitehouse, trying to cancel. "I'm offended!" As if you being offended means that you're intelligent, it just means you're an idiot. We're in a Mary Whitehouse culture now, where everybody must say, "Stop, I don't like that. Get it off the planet." People like that I think are dreadful people. Walk the other way... don't look... switch off... listen to something else... bake a cake.
You don't have to stop it for other people.
But also, we're also in a in a protest culture, like the late 60s when everybody loved to get on the streets and protest and be angry about something and to march up and down. Everybody wants to do that now, they want to be irate about something. Which is okay, but you might be wasting the time. (rolls eyes)
I wanted to touch upon animal rights. It's such a big thing to you, it's been a current theme in your music and you've spoken out about it in interviews. I personally have noticed a positive shift, going in restaurants and cafes it's much more commonplace to find vegan and vegetarian options. Do you feel like we're now on the right trajectory or are we too far to feel hopeful?
I think it's really fascinating, because I'm old enough to remember when it was a really stuck situation. You couldn't do anything about anything and if you said the word "vegetarian" you were ridiculed beyond belief. But now I'm just so happy about the changes everywhere. I'm really, really happy. I know I have spoken endlessly about this in the past but I feel almost justified now. Because there's a great reluctance but they're doing it anyway, They're reluctant to to give you any credence, but it's happening anyway because they want to make money. So if you have eight friends who go out to a restaurant and two of your friends happen to be vegan, then that restaurant is going to lose everybody if they can't cater for the two vegans. So everybody's just, "Oh God, we have to do it now." And everybody is becoming aware of animals as beautiful creatures who have done so much for us. They've done so much for us. Give them a rest. Leave them alone. They've done so much for the human race and they should be rewarded now and they should be allowed to live, I think.
That's a massive thing you've done Morrissey. I'd say what you're one of the leading figures that have actually highlighted the issue.
Well, I try, I try my best.
Thank you so much.
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