The Guardian: Rick Astley on his Smiths covers gigs: "I’ll use a karaoke machine if I have to’" (September 21, 2021)

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Ahead of his two Morrissey-channelling gigs with Blossoms, the singer talks Twitter, his London pub and how he once followed Andy Rourke around the Arndale centre


Excerpt:

“Obviously, after the whole Rickrolling thing,” – the internet bait and switch prank that fooled you into landing on the Never Gonna Give You Up video – “people are going to see Rick Astley Sings the Smiths and think: yeah, right? So this was our way of saying: this is actually happening.”

So, where did this unfathomably unlikely idea come from? “I performed with Noel Gallagher, the Courteeners and Blossoms at Manchester Arena in 2017,” he continues. “We were backstage, having a drink, which led to me appearing on Blossoms’ Pubcast podcast, chatting about the music we loved growing up.” (Blossoms are from Stockport, Astley from Lancashire.)

“My older brother Mike introduced me to the Smiths. We’d been busking in Manchester, saw [bass player] Andy Rourke with his girlfriend and I’m ashamed to say followed him, because it was an actual, live human, from Manchester – a stone’s throw from us – who made music we loved. We shouldn’t have followed him around the Arndale centre … Christ knows what would’ve happened if we’d seen Johnny Marr or Morrissey …

“So I confessed: one day, I just want to do a gig where I sing my favourite Smiths songs, walk off stage and go: ‘Ticked that box. Thank you very much.’ A few weeks later, they sent a message: ‘We can be the other part of that equation …’”

Covid has obviously delayed matters. But why are they only playing two smallish venues (one each in Manchester and London – which sell out in minutes later that week), when they could fill Wembley … or Knebworth?

“It just seems like the sort of thing you’d want to see in a small venue,” reasons Astley. “I do understand that the Smiths mean an awful lot to people, so I don’t want to tread on that history. I know the words to pretty much every Smiths song. I’ll sing them in the shower, but it’s another thing in front of 2,500 people … Plus, the arrangements don’t go: intro, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus. They’re unconventional. I’ll have the words on a monitor. I’ll have a karaoke machine if I have to …”

This isn’t Astley’s first side project. His band, the Luddites (Astley sings and plays drums) have been pleasing crowds for charity since 2008. “Yeah, my punk rock midlife crisis dad band. Our philosophy is: if we can’t learn it in the time it takes to listen to it, we’re not doing it. We do the Sex Pistols, bit of Clash, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon … and of course Radiohead, Creep.”

The thing with Rick Astley, I realise, is that his “tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be …” Stars in Their Eyes moment doesn’t take much effort …

“I’m 55, so wear glasses most of the time,” he says, fiddling with his pair on the table. “But, I’m sorry, Morrissey can’t claim the quiff.”

To compare – both quiffs stuck up to the left, as it happens – Astley appears on cover of Morrissey’s The Last of the Famous International Playboys 2013 rerelease. The photo was taken, Astley tells me, backstage on Top of the Pops in 1989, at Morrissey’s request. Apparently Mozzer (who’s smiling in the photo – smiling!) wanted to use an unseen photo of him and Bowie, Bowie said no, but Astley happily obliged.

“Plus we haven’t even discussed what I’m going to wear on stage yet …”

Gladioli, frilly shirt and a hearing aid, surely …?

“That won’t work, cos I’ll have monitors in my ears.”

So, before we go, back to those tweets: “Can we now elect Rick Astley to take over all of Morrissey’s duties?”

“No. I’m not going to rehearse things that he used to say on stage,” adding his views on the current Morrissey, which, although most will agree, we won’t go into here. “I’m just paying homage to some amazing music that still means so much to a generation that I could be their dad.”

And does that mean Morrissey is now legally entitled to perform Never Gonna Give You Up, I ask?

“He always was,” Astley smiles.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Johnny M acted so gross about this.

I think it will be nice.

I also think Moz has become much more well-adjusted than Johnny M (which is an interesting fact), so I think he’s probably flattered
 

NealCassidy

FREE SPEECH #FBPB
they didnt manage to find any insults?
 

Gregor Samsa

I straighten up, and my position is one of hope.
How can you not LOVE Rick Astley? He seems to be a genuinely kindhearted, sweet guy, doing what he loves, and now he gets to pay homage to his favorite band. There is no reason for Morrissey not to endorse this. The fact that it’s a tribute is glaringly obvious.
 
S

Skinnyyyyyyyyyy

Guest
Rick isn't the problem. It's the neanderthals on twitter etc who are claiming The Smiths are better with Rick than Moz, unable to understand the irony that Moz was primarily the force behind one of the most unique bands in history they are celebrating. If you like The Smiths, you like Moz's art. There's no escaping that, however the self-righteous might like to spin it.
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
That's a sweet article, but what a strange little piece of journalism this is:

"...adding his views on the current Morrissey, which, although most will agree, we won’t go into here."

It's not like the Guardian to be so coy...
 
T

The Irish Hare

Guest
That's a sweet article, but what a strange little piece of journalism this is:

"...adding his views on the current Morrissey, which, although most will agree, we won’t go into here."

It's not like the Guardian to be so coy...
He probably didn't have a bad word to say about Morrissey so all they could do was infer the views they would like him and everyone to have. It's called mainstream "journalism" these days.
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
That's a sweet article, but what a strange little piece of journalism this is:

"...adding his views on the current Morrissey, which, although most will agree, we won’t go into here."

It's not like the Guardian to be so coy...

Doubt is setting in.
 

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