Perrecy & Mexrrissey: When Love Turns into Revulsion
The pain many fans feel about Morrissey’s political development is deep-seated. We are giving two people, who are not just fans but also artists who have dedicated cover projects to Morrissey, a chance to speak: The Bavarian Perrecy and Camilo Lara (Mexrrissey) from Mexico City.
Let’s look on the bright side. If you want to learn something about the relationship between artists and fans, there is hardly a more interesting case than that of Morrissey and his followers. A relationship that has never been free of conflict, always one-sidedly fueled by him.
It all started so harmlessly. In The Smiths´ day, all you had to deal with was that he was an eccentric who didn’t have sex and didn’t eat meat. Absolutely no problem. Unless you were part of his circle of acquaintances in Manchester. After all, he was only to be addressed by his stage name Morrissey, which naturally irritated everyone. Mark E. Smith of The Fall made fun of him and called “Steeeeven” after him every time he saw him on the street.
After the split of the band it soon stopped to be humorous. It started with two songs that, on closer inspection, could be understood as xenophobic: While “Asian Rut” tells a little more ambiguously about racially motivated violence, does Morrissey clearly indicate in “Bengali on Platforms” the direction in which he is going with the text line “Life is hard enough when you belong here”.
Despite the line “England for The English”, “National Front Disco” could be understood with goodwill as the sad story of a young man drifting to the right. Today we know that it is Morrissey himself, who at the age of 60, has arrived on the far right.
That’s how my interview partners Perrecy and Camilo Lara see it as well. Both of them excoriate Morrissey’s political statements. Nobody even tries to find any excuses. “He is extreme right-wing,” says Perrecy and Lara agrees with him: “Whatever he says, it’s regrettable and I couldn’t agree less”.
Perrecy is living in Ingolstadt, a small town in the Southeast of Germany. He has built up his own small fan base with German ukulele versions of The Smiths and Morrissey songs. Especially on the net. He got on the stage via Myspace and later on with his album “Du bist das Opfer” he also got on the radio and into the press. His way of performing is quite similar to that of his role model, his translations are full of wit and charm. He turns “Half-A-Person” into “Halb-E-Person”, “All I Saw on Channel 4” on “Shoplifters of the World” – “Alles was ich seh, in der ARD”. A very likeable, amateurish project, which got more professional thanks to the support from the band Slut.
Camilo Lara’s case is quite different. He is well known in Mexico as the one-man project Mexican Institute Of Sound and has already played in front of large stadium audiences (Coachella, Loolapalooza). With a transgressive sound between Latin American music and beat-heavy electronics, he has already released six albums. A professional with a past in the music industry – he was the head of EMI Mexico – and a popular man who worked on projects like the Oscar-winning film “Coco” or the hit game GTA.
He shares his passion for the Mozzer with Perrecy. A few years ago Camilo Lara and Sergio Mendoza (Orkesta Mendoza, Calexico) founded the seven-piece cover band Mexrrissey as a side project. They translated the lyrics into Spanish, the arrangements into Mexican, “No Manchester” is the fitting title of this great album. The versions work so well that you forget that the originals are from England. The band toured mainly through the USA, UK and Ireland – and was celebrated everywhere. The only thing Lara regrets in retrospect is that he never got the approval for the Smiths songs from Johnny Marr, so he had to limit himself to Morrissey’s solo work. Marr probably didn’t like the band name. The release from Morrissey was no problem, he even invited Lara to play with Mexican Institute Of Sound as his support in Santa Barbara. If you consider that there is hardly a country in the world where enthusiasm takes on such fanatical proportions as in Mexico, then this was a very special honour for the man with the bowler hat (“It was fantastic!”).
Perrecy has known Mexrrissey since 2016 and he thinks that it’s all very well done musically, but for him personally it’s too far away from the original. Lara heard Perrecy for the first time because of this interview and finds him “pretty cool”.
I talked to both of them because I was interested in how artists, who at the same time are big fans, deal with their hero’s drift to the right. Thanks to them you can get an idea about how the rest of the still big, but daily shrinking, Church Of Morrissey is doing. Partly because it’s also a personal concern of mine. At the age of 18 I became a fan of Morrissey and his band through the debut album “The Smiths”. And like so many others, I have emphasized again and again in recent years that artist and work have to be separated. After Morrissey gave an interview last year in which he described Hitler as a leftist and advertised to vote for “For Britain”, not even I can manage this separation anymore. For many, the last red line was crossed when the Mozzer appeared in front of an audience of millions on Jimmy Fallon’s TV show with a pin from the party that emerged from Pegida England. Badge-Gate is what some fans call the affair.
However, Badge-Gate does not have any effect on Perrecy and Mexxrissey. Perrecy just keeps going. Last event: July 20th, city festival Ingolstadt, with band for free and outside.
Camilo Lara has buried Mexrrissey long ago. The last show took place last year in Berlin. Not because of the recent development. From the start it was a temporary side project for him and he likes to stress that he doesn’t want to be reduced to it. Would he accept another invitation to play support? “I don’t think so.” Perrecy, who has even attracted the attention of major labels with his versions, has to think long and hard about this question, and can’t give a real answer.
The emotional contrasts are stark in both musicians when comparing their enthusiasm for Morrissey with their dismay at his political foolishness. Perrecy speaks of “great gratitude” because it was his music that allowed him to get on stage and made him a musician. Lara’s tone is similar:
“I did the project for the songs. Those songs saved my life when I was a teenager. They helped me finding my own voice and my place on earth.” There can hardly be a greater declaration of love. And yet Lara only brings in the big guns in the next sentence “I feel this in the same way I feel related to Wagner or Carl Orff, both Nazi supporters with some remarkable body of work. Do I support their point of view? Absolutely no. Have I enjoyed Carmina Burana? Yes.”
Perrecy even bothered to read the complete party program of “For Britain” to understand Morrissey. “The only reason I could have found is their attitude to animal welfare. However, they are not against slaughter per se, but only against halal slaughter.” Inconsistent for a radically thinking vegetarian like Morrissey, thinks the ” Bayer mit Preußisch Blut” (“English Blood, Irish Heart” in his translation). But the programmatic Islamophobia of “For Britain” fits into the questionable picture of other statements made by its prominent supporter.
In the meantime many fans have drawn consequences. Some went as far as to sell their CDs and LPs. However, there is a general consensus that scandals and interviews do not affect the heritage of the Smiths. “You can’t change history”, says Johnny Marr, who has clearly distanced himself from Morrissey, like many of his contemporaries and companions such as Billy Bragg, Stuart Murdoch (Belle & Sebastian), Tim Booth (James) and Damon Albarn (Blur). For Perrecy the early solo records are also part of it. His records also got worse with his drift to the right. “The newest song I play is “Ich werfe meine Arme um Paris” – the original is already ten years old. The quality of the lyrics also went downhill.” As an example Perrecy mentions “The Bullfighter Dies”: “At first I thought: what a great title! But the lyrics are so dull and banal.” Another low point for me was: the musically beautiful single “Spent the Day in Bed”, which could have been a charming hymn about doing nothing, hadn’t Morrissey joined in with the “Lying Press” choirs of the new right wingers in the same song.
Do they have any advice for depressed fans on how to deal with the disappointment and perhaps find a new relationship to Morrissey? Lara says: “It’s all up to them. It’s their right to hear what they want and what they don’t.” Perrecy can’t really help either. “As I said, I only listen to the old stuff. “You are The Quarry” was a fantastic album. After that it just went more and more downhill. I probably won’t see him again if he plays in Germany. But I won’t give anything for it.” Currently a US-Canada-Tour is coming up. In the past the concerts would have been sold out in no time, now you can still get tickets for every show. His album “Son Of California” entered the British charts (on number 4), but after only four weeks it had already dropped out of the Top 100. The damage is not only emotional, but probably also economic.
Personally, I still haven’t given up the absurd hope that Morrissey will one day run into a lamppost, that there will be a loud Bam! and that he will suddenly realize what a load of nonsense he has launched over the past 25 years. In former times, he was still smart enough to let time pass after statements like “The gates of England are flooded” and to distract with good records and shows. But in recent years his transformation into a singing enraged citizen progressed faster and faster. In many cases the relationship between fan and star can’t endure this anymore. Only those who followed him politically remain in the fan forums. Sad individual cases that react to the growing criticism with aggressive defense and hatred. The majority has a lot of other options. Camilo Lara and Perrecy are leading the way: Stay a fan, distance yourself from the star and prefer a differentiated analysis of the simple separation of art and artist. That’s possible.
Translation by Denise Oemcke.