Mojo, August 1997
Johnny Rogan, Mojo, August 1997
As the gladioli blossom and wilt, so the days of a rock'n'roll band are numbered. In our series of splices and splits, Mike Joyce recalls his first and last days with The Smiths.
A friend named Pete Hope, who I'd shared a flat with, knew Johnny Marr - I'd seen him around town. I was in a punk band, The Hoax, then worked with Victim for 18 months. Pete said Johnny was looking for a drummer. I met Johnny and went down to the audition with Dale [Hibbert] on bass. We played What Difference Does It Make? and, I think, I Want A Boy For My Birthday [sic]. I didn't hear an audition tape, I just went down there.
At the time, I was having a bit of fun with the old experimentals. It was all a bit hazy. As far as I was concerned I was meeting people. What I do remember is that I'd had some mushrooms before I went in for the audition. I started playing. I was looking around at Morrissey and I saw this dark figure in a long overcoat, kind of walking stealthily around the room. By the time we finished, I was pretty out of it. I was playing away and it started to come on. At the time, it wouldn't bother me to take loads of mushrooms and go out and meet somebody. I wasn't a mess and I could still converse. The fact that I could even play the drums was probably quite a plus. I think I said to Johnny afterwards: "What happens now, I'm out of it!" I don't think Morrissey noticed. I didn't speak much to him. I had the old sideways glance. All I can remember is Morrissey like a leopard, quietly moving around. I thought it was very grown up at the time. He wasn't the archetypal singer with the microphone stand singing into the mic. He had the microphone out of the stand, walking around the room. You felt like you had to watch what he was doing. It was very intriguing. That's why I decided to join them.
I had the audition and went back to a friend's house and said, "They're going to be the next big thing, they sound fantastic." I was so into what they were doing, but it was very difficult to judge what a group could do. I remember saying to my flatmate:"I think they could be the next Psychedelic Furs!" I was well into them. That was as big as I could see then. I thought that was huge.
I had to make a decision and it took me a week or two. I remember Johnny saying:"Come on! Join the band! Don't be daft! Go for it, now!" I said, "Oh, I don't know. I'm not really sure if I should." Then The Church played the Gallery in Manchester and Johnny and Angie were there. I went down and said:"I've decided to leave Victim and join The Smiths." Johnny said, "Yeah, fantastic!" The next day I saw Victim's equipment for sale down at A1 Music.
We were out of contact. Everything ground to a halt. I was so concerned around that time for my own well being... I wanted to keep my feet on the ground. I didn't know what was going on myself. We'd always kept in contact and somebody would phone somebody else and we'd get together, but the whole thing seemed to fall apart really. When Johnny went off in the spring it was obvious that was it. I kept on trying to convince myself it was OK, and that once Johnny had a week or so off, we'd carry on. But, obviously, he'd given it a lot more thought than we had anticipated.
Me, Andy and Morrissey came to the conclusion that just because Johnny was gone it didn't mean it was the end of The Smiths. It's like you have four quarters of something you adore and someone takes one quarter away - there's no reason to throw the rest away. Rough Trade announced in the NME that we were carrying on. Maybe the announcement was used to scare him. I never put a release through Rough Trade. The only press release I put in was at the very end when myself, Andy and Mozzer were going to work together, realised that it wasn't going to happen, and I called it off. Yes, we did a final session with Ivor Perry [ex-Easterhouse]. The new songs sounded OK, but it was clutching at straws. The real beauty of The Smiths had gone.