Morrissey and Henry Rollins are just about as far apart sonically as you can conceive. Rollins fronted the pioneering hardcore punk band Black Flag, while Morrissey found fame and fortune as the head of jangly indie heroes The Smiths.
Yet, in some ways, both Rollins and Moz are cut from the same cloth, not least because they have had some utterly controversial opinions over the years that they have not had the decency to keep to themselves and out of the public realm.
In light of Robin Williams‘ tragic suicide in 2014, Rollins shockingly wrote in an LA Weekly column, “I no longer take this person seriously. I may be able to appreciate what he or she did artistically, but it’s impossible to feel bad for them. Their life wasn’t cut short – it was purposely abandoned. It’s hard to feel bad when the person did what they wanted to.”
Meanwhile, the list of controversies coming out of Morrissey’s mouth is seemingly endless. For instance, “You can’t help but feel that the Chinese people are a sub-species,” or, “[Eating meat] is really on the same moral level as child abuse.” Yet, perhaps most simply, Morrissey could be summed up by his statement, “I nearly voted for UKIP. I like Nigel Farage a great deal.”
Given Morrissey’s dour mood, controversial opinions and the fact that he was the poster boy for miserable teenagers living in 1980s Britain, Rollins once also turned his cruel tongue towards the Manchester-born, LA-living, quiffed buffoon, as well as to the English in general.
“In my opinion, Morrissey just embodies every horrible trait that a human can possibly possess,” Rollins once said. “I mean, he’s British; he doesn’t have to work very hard; they have a handicap anyway. But you notice all the great musicians who are English moved, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and Bill Ward, the members of Black Sabbath – who are one of the world’s greatest bands, even though they are English – they moved to America which is great.”
Rollins had been introducing the music video for Morrissey’s ‘November Spawned A Monster’ on an Australian music programme. Why he chose to play the track given his hatred of Morrissey remains to be seen, but he clearly expressed his views on how the music video may have turned out with Rollins in the director’s chair.
“I just love this video because it captures our hero, Morrissey, lounging about on lonely isolated terrain in this hilarious shirt,” Rollins said. “Whenever I see the video for ‘November Spawned A Monster’, I’m always here with a twinge of regret that it was not I that got to direct this video because, in the last scene, Morrissey would be doused in gasoline and set on fire, and then we would get a sound mic up and catch the sound of his hair and the polyester shirt burning into his skin and his last cries on earth.”
Ruthless stuff, as expected from someone as historically vitriolic as Rollins. The Black Flag singer did, however, show some excellent business acumen in the clip, coming up with an excellent idea to make a bit of extra cash from the likes of the English youth that he so despises.
“What we could do is put a house beat behind it, put it on a 12-inch and sell it to all these emaciated kids with bad teeth who don’t have enough vitamin C, who never get outside,” Rollins ingeniously devised. “It’s like Morrissey; cheer up, it’s not that bad. When you have as much money as that guy does, I’d be happy. David Lee Roth once said that ‘money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a boat big enough to sail right up next to it’. The guy should cheer up.”
Rollins teases us with the potential of an apology at the end of the clip before dousing our hopefulness in the same gasoline that Morrissey would find himself drenched in: “I know this might be a little cruel, that I might have bashed our beautiful friends over there in Britain and you know… I really don’t care.”
This comes in just before letting Moz off the hook a little when Rollins says, “Personally, I wouldn’t want to burn him up; I’d like to tie him to a chair and tease him ’til he pees his pants and promises never to do it again.”