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Morrissey on My Back

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by Rene Williams, for outsideleft.com
originally published: January, 2005
Rave on from Morrissey's Grave

Morrissey came back in a big way in 2004, even for those of us who thought that a seven year hiatus between records wasn't such a bad idea. Celebrating the return, Alarcon dug through his back pages, and unearthed this, a chance meeting with Morrissey's guitarist, a couple of years back at the Coachella festival. Wearing a hidden back brace that looked more like Mae West's girdle and a handful of painkillers, Whyte that day, grimaced through a 45-minute set of Mozza classics. Then, just minutes after that set, he grimaced through another ten with your faithful editor, Alarcon...

It's really good that the band made it here tonight. I can honestly say that everyone backstage was radioing each other until your coach drove up. They didn't know whether or not you guys were going to show up.

Late entrances and all you know (grinning). You can say we're driven by drama.

Yeah, it would have gotten ugly if you guys didn't show.

Really, I thought it seemed a bit ugly anyway - - we were dodging water bottles and debris the entire set. They weren't upset were they?

Umm, I don't think so, just wound up. I thought they really enjoyed the set from where I was. Anyway, can I ask what happened in Vegas? Rumors have it that you had back spasms during (the House of Blues) soundcheck and were on the stage semi-paralyzed. Is that true?

Well, that's a half-truth. Actually, we never even made it to sound check. I've always had a bad back. This isn't the first time I've had problems.

Oh, I was just wondering because literally, everyone was subscribing to the theory that Morrissey was using you as a scapegoat to cancel the upcoming dates. You know, like the Bowie tour in 96?

No, no, no. It's really my fault this time, look (lifts his shirt and models his light blue girdle-like back brace).

Wow, how did you play with that on? It's like an iron lung.

Well, did you see me out there? (laughing) I was literally immobile.

No, you were great. The band was great.

Well, thank you for your sympathy. It's my job.

Anyway, I know you're probably not supposed to give interviews, but is there a chance I could ask you a few question for without getting in trouble?

Well, the only people that might get mad have left already so ask away.

Um, ok. Well, how would you sum up the last eight or so years working with Morrissey and the rest of the band?

Well, Boz (Boorer, guitarist), Gary (Day, bassist) and I knew each other because we all were in bands in and around London at the same time. We've always gotten on well. We're all good mates - we share a lot of the same musical roots since we've all played with each other at one time or another before Morrissey asked us to play with him - musicians in London can be quite incestuous.

And Morrissey?

He's just one of the lads, you know? Incredible wit, sharp, subtle sense of humor. It's always casually professional though. He lives in L.A. now and we live in England so anytime spent is precious. It's write, rehearse, record and play - in that order, so there's not much time to socialize anyway, but I think that works to everyone's advantage.

Have you been to his new house? It hear it was designed by Clarke Gable in the '50's.

No, he hasn't had me 'round yet - - he only exists in rehearsal studios, tour buses and the stages of venues to me (laughs).

Which reminds me, why did he come and go in a limousine while you and the band came in a coach?

He's the boss, you know...

You four should form a union.

Hmm. (something between a laugh and a grunt, at this point and at this point, I am dangerously close to wearing out my welcome)...

Ok, well, I read in a 1994 interview that you think Your Arsenal is your proudest moment. Does that still hold true?

I think so. I've always written simple three-chord tunes, but I had to grow quick for those sessions. I'm really proud that I wrote the music to eight of those ten tracks. It had a very hard edge to it that I love. Of course, some of it had to do with the [album's] producer, Mick Ronson.

How was it playing those old Smiths tunes tonight? (They performed Is It Really So Strange, Meat Is Murder, and Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me.) I know the band has performed the odd Smiths song since the Maladjusted tours, but it seems like Morrissey is finally embracing his past - do you mind dipping into the Smiths' past?

No, never. Those are still great songs. That would be a bit weird if I did mind though, wouldn't it? Like a jealous girlfriend. (laughs)

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