‘Wrestle with Russell’ | Watch Morrissey playfully interviewed by Russell Brand, 2009
Before he became a mouthpiece for the Far-Right Morrissey was, seemingly, a fairly nice enough bloke. The Smiths frontman had many friends, expressed himself artistically, and generally went about his day being one of Britain’s foremost rock stars. While we pine for those simpler times, when we could thoroughly enjoy a Smiths album without the pang of guilt, we look back at a very enjoyable interview of Moz conducted by one Russell Brand.
The comedian is a long-time friend of the Mozfather and, in 2009, he was invited to interview the singer as part of the bonus DVD extras for the expanded edition of Morrissey’s 2009 album Years Of Refusal. Brand duly accepted the invite and in an interesting, jousting, and all in all an amusing interview took place.
The conversation is a wide-ranging one. Morrissey is clearly quite inamoured with Brand, you can tell by the sheer volume of nonsensical questions and tomfoolery that Moz allows him to get away with. Morrissey, after all, is a notoriously difficult interviewee, but Brand is allowed to figuratively dance around the room, weaving language and jokes throughout each question and sharing the spotlight as much as humanly possible.
Brand, interviewing here in 2009, was hot off his own scandal. A recent star in the tabloids, Brand had become a favourite of the red-tops as they chronicled his bedroom conquests with glee. But all their Christmases came at once when Brand, along with Jonathan Ross, made a series of prank phone calls to elderly actor Andrew Sachs, regarding Brand bedding his granddaughter. It was an event which would see both Brand and Ross chucked off the BBC roster but seemingly had pleased Morrissey with its scandalous nature.
The two’s relationship is jovial, playful, even flirtatious at points—it makes for an interesting watch. In truth, Brand probably gets more out of Moz than any interviewer has before or since. The pair talk about their relationship with vegetarianism (Moz compares an abattoir to the Holocaust), Morrissey confesses why he is so difficult to interview, they talk about Morrissey’s hair (which Brand suggests was worse than his), about his work, about his life as ‘Morrissey’, and all delivered with a plethora of rolling ‘r’s and meandering language.
The real engaging moments of the interview come, not necessarily with Morrissey’s answers nor Brand’s questions, but the intensity that the two combined generate—both provocateurs, both are serial agitators and both are confident and assured enough in their own application to take on anyone. It makes for a truly interesting bout.
It’s a stark reminder of the icon Morrissey was to so many. His recent change from obtuse and opulent royalty of indie to the paranoid and putrid bigmouth has been distressing for most of his fans, let alone Brand. The comedian spoke out against his friend back in 2017 arguing that his values had been irreparably changed and that he was “rude”. That’s probably putting it lightly.
While we can’t stand back and admire Morrissey for all he is anymore, we can still look back and enjoy what he was. Watch below as Morrissey is interviewed by Russell Brand.