Andy Rourke (The Smiths)

When casting an eye over the last three decades of music, the sonic Parthenon is crowded with the track marked and burnt out masses of our race’s musical elite. However, there few seats in the gilded dome of aural expression that sit higher than that of The Smiths. Having almost single-handedly brought the guitar back from near extinction at the hands of 80’s synth bands, The Smiths defined the British indie sound long before it was even invented, and have been shamelessly ripped off ever since.

Having split up the year I was born (1987 if you care), the idea of getting to talk to the band always seemed like the misguided delusions of on overly feminine and sensitive teenage boy. However it would seem such a fantasy has come true as I was lucky enough to catch up the band bassist Andy Rourke last week before he heads down under to DJ as part of the Club NME Tour with Philadelphia Grand Jury. Now if only that dream about Kirk Cameron and Jonathan Taylor Thomas comes true…

Music Feeds: So what’s been going on with you, ready to come down under?

Andy Rourke: I think I come over on the 22nd so I’m not packed quite yet. My friend Junior Sanchez is getting married on Valentine’s Day so I’m going to DJ at his after party.

MF: Drop some John Paul Young maybe, some Love Is In The Air?

AR: Yeah, that or Lady In Red maybe?

MF: Cool, so what can we expect to hear when you’re behind the decks at The Club NME Tour?

AR: That’s a good question actually (laughs) I’ve about seven days of music on my computer, um, but I kind of just like to read the audience ya know, you can expect an eclectic mix of anything from The Stones through to the present day and everything in between, a lot of British music, a few Smiths songs, yeah good stuff (laughs).

MF: Any new artists you’ve been loving and want to share with us?

AR: There’s so many in New York and I can never remember the names of them. I get handed lots of CDs, I’m just looking a big pile of them now actually, and some of them I can just tell from the cover that I’m not going to listen to them. But I usually wait until a band is a little bit more established, you know at least until they have an album out before I get into them. Sorry, I’m not being very helpful am I? I’m just being ambiguous…

MF: Nah it’s all good man, I know what you mean about struggling to keep up with all the new music.

AR: Yeah, when I was at Xfm that was one of the responsibilities, trawling through all the music that got sent it, and I’m just out of practice is all, and if I’m going to mention a band I want to make sure it’s one I actually like, you know?

MF: Fair enough, are you still working with Freebass?

AR: Yeah, I was supposed to go back over there two weeks ago but I was ill, but they did the final mix of the EP and the LP which we’ll be shopping around to the record companies, so hopefully that should be out soon. Mind you I don’t know how long it takes, it’s taken nearly five years to get it together so it’s become a little embarrassing to talk about really (laughs).

MF: Sorry to bring it up

AR: No it’s fine. I mean I’m also working with Junior Sanchez, he’s got a new band called Team Facelift (laughs) and I’ve been playing on loads of their stuff. What else was there, there was something else I was supposed to mention… oh yeah. With Junior Sanchez I’m going to be doing something with Joel Madden from Good Charlotte. Apparently we’re going to DJ together at a club in NY, but I haven’t met him yet.

MF: Getting onto The Smiths, I wanted to ask about the infamous story of you getting fired from the band via Morrissey leaving a note under your windshield? Is that true or is it just one of those rock n roll myths?

AR: Yeah, I made it up…

MF: Oh well, it’s always good to add a bit of infamy…

AR: No, I was joking. I was just trying to be ironic.

MF: Oh.. Sorry

AR: Don’t worry about it. But yeah pretty much I came out one morning and it was on the windscreen wiper, I thought it was a parking ticket (laughs) but it was one of Morrissey’s plain postcards with his infamous writing. Now he says ‘oh yeah my writing is easy to imitate’ but whatever, it actually happened and an hour later I was asked to leave the band.

MF: What was it like in the band, especially as the tension between Morrissey and Johnny was building? Was it difficult working with them?

AR: It was a little intense, I mean never with Johnny, but with Morrissey it sometimes felt like you were walking on egg shells. But you know, you find your place in the band and you just try and keep everybody happy. That worked for a few years but in the end people just get more frustrated and stop being so polite.

MF: Were you surprised when the band broke up?

AR: Yes and no. I was surprised at how quickly it all happened, considering we had just made Strange Ways and we had had a lot of fun making that record. I thought things were getting better at that point but, I guess I was wrong (laughs).

MF: But you’ve worked with Morrissey again since the band broke up, you and all the other members of the Smiths bar Johnny really, what was that like, a bit weird?

AR: It was a bit surreal, especially as Mike was taking him into court at the time, that was a bit weird, but I suppose we were all clutching at straws just ’cause nobody really wanted it to end and we thought you know, that we could just carry on. But it worked in a way, and I think some of the songs are great and still stand up today, but there is that gaping hole where Johnny should have been.

MF: What do you have planned once you wrap up the Club NME Tour down here?

AR: There’s a solo project I’m working on called Jetlag, which is kind of electronica but with me playing live bass and guitar. We might have just put up a Facebook page or something, but yeah otherwise I’m pretty much doing a mini world tour till the end of March, so the world and elsewhere is what awaits me.

Andy Rourke will be playing DJ sets at Club NME at the Hi-Fi Bar in Melbourne on Friday 26th February and the Manning Bar in Sydney on Saturday 27th February. Head to the website for full details.

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