While the debate continues to rage around Morrissey’s view on racism and his controversial political stance, Interpol lead singer Paul Banks is shying away from the subject as his band prepare to tour with the former Smiths frontman.
It was recently announced that Interpol will be touring as special guests with Morrissey on his upcoming tour which kicks off in September and stretches to 14 dates in total. With major performances in New York, Austin, San Francisco and more, Interpol have taken the opportunity to perform tracks from their latest album, A Fine Mess, to an even larger audience than usual.
However, murmurs of discontent began to rumble among the underbelly of loyal Interpol fans given the eyebrow-raising views of their touring partner, Morrissey, a man who has recently decided to side with the extreme far-right.
While Morrissey’s political stance has been quietly discussed for decades, his recent decision to publicly support the far-right political movement ‘For Britain’ has edged pushed fans of The Smiths into the abyss. The ‘For Britain Movement’ is a political group—often described as extremist—founded by the anti-Islam activist Anne Marie Waters after she was defeated in the 2017 UKIP leadership. Morrissey was asked outright if he supported the party to which he answered in no uncertain terms: “Absolutely, yes.”
Morrissey clarified: “I think Anne Marie Waters is the only British party leader who can unite the left and right. I don’t know any other party leader who even wants to do this. The UK is a dangerously hateful place now, and I think we need someone to put a stop to the lunacy and to speak for everyone.
“I see Anne Marie Waters as this person. She is extremely intelligent, ferociously dedicated to this country, she is very engaging, and also very funny at times. We thought it would be a good show for our band. That’s how I’m looking at it. I don’t get too much into the other stuff.”
This clear position comes after months of flirting around the conversation. After wearing the badge of For Britain while performing live on US television, defending the likes of Tommy Robinson, suggested that Hitler was left-wing and hitting out at London mayor Sadiq Kahn in a slur about his speech, Morrissey has been letting his feelings known to full effect.
The final straw, however, if we haven’t experienced the final one already, came when Morrissey emphatically branded the term racism as “meaningless” and claimed that people generally prefer their own race. “If you call someone racist in modern Britain you are telling them that you have run out of words,” he said in a recent interview. “You are shutting the debate down and running off. The word is meaningless now.”
He added: “Everyone ultimately prefers their own race… does this make everyone racist? The people who reduce every conversation down to a matter of race could be said to be the most traditionally ‘racist’.
“Diversity can’t possibly be a strength if everyone has ideas that will never correspond. If borders are such terrible things then why did they ever exist in the first place? Borders bring order.”
When this conversation was put to Paul Banks, the lead singer of Interpol who is currently readying his setlist and pre-show drinks with Morrissey, he simply answered: “We thought it would be a good show for our band,” in an interview with Hot Press. “That’s how I’m looking at it. I don’t get too much into the other stuff,” he added.
The debate around ethically and morally appropriate stance will rumble on in the music industry, a business so fickle that riding the wave of live shows following the release of a record is imperative. However, for Interpol, a band that has been active for more than 20 years and have a huge fan base, the premise that extra exposure is required is a farfetched one.
A fine mess indeed.
Recently, Morrissey has been thanked by For Britain leader Anne Marie Waters, thanking him and the Daily Mail for their support: “Thank you so much for your support since the UKIP leadership election,” Waters said in a new YouTube video. “Thank you for giving us so much publicity.”
Perhaps more concerning, Waters went on to suggest that the popularity of the political movement has grown substantially since Morrissey’s show of support: “I can tell you that the traffic to our website exploded with the story breaking of you wearing the For Britain button badge, which you have been wearing everywhere from what I can see. We have sold out of those, but the good news is we have more, and they have been selling like hot cakes, so thank you very much for doing that,” she added.
Signing off her YouTube video, Waters thanked both Morrissey and the Daily Mail for spreading the word about For Britain: “Thank you, Morrissey. I hope to meet you one day,” said Waters. “Thank you, Daily Mail. Keep up the hysterical smearing. It’s having the opposite effect. You are driving people to us.”