Artists who have collaborated on Morrissey’s forthcoming covers album have responded following concerns about their involvement with the outspoken musician.
Earlier this week the former Smiths frontman shared details of his new record, ‘California Son’ (dropping May 24) which features contributions from members of bands including Green Day, Grizzly Bear, and Broken Social Scene.
Now, vocalist Ariel Engle, who performs with Broken Social Scene, has told The Guardian that she was ignorant of what the paper has called Morrissey’s “embrace of the right over the past decade” and only learnt of his political views after the collaboration when her friend challenged her about it via email.
Engle said: “It’s a very weak argument to claim ignorance but it is my argument. It’s not an excuse but it happens to be the truth.”
The Canadian singer added that American producer Joe Chiccarelli had asked her to contribute backing vocals for a cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow’. “I thought, ‘Oh the Smiths, sure,'” she said, adding that “it was $500 for two hours’ work”.
But Engle pressed that she opposes Morrissey’s political views: “The inflammatory things he says are not my politics. I think he’s completely out of line. I grew up around multiculturalism and I am the product of multiculturalism and immigration. I feel like I’ve been had, but it’s my fault.”
Morrissey has made headlines in the past by comparing Halal meat and ISIS. He’s also referred to Hitler as ‘left wing’ and said that London Mayor Sadiq Khan “can not talk properly”. On another occasion he referred to Chinese people as a “subspecies” because of the nation’s track record of animal welfare.
Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear declined to provide a comment for The Guardian, as did representatives for Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, whom they said was occupied with studio work. Those representing Lydia Night of the band The Regrettes did not comment.
American singer LP, who also collaborates on Morrissey’s covers record, offered a statement through a PR representative: “As I’m a huge fan of his music and poetry, I was honoured to be asked to collaborate on the album.”
All the collaborators on California Son are North American. Morrissey’s manager, Peter Katsis – himself American – suggested that Morrissey’s US audience might not understand the full extent of his views, as as The Guardian writes.
“I don’t feel knowledgable enough to comment on British politics, therefore it’s probably not as important to me or the international fans as it is to UK fans. This whole thing has had me perplexed. The subjects are very complicated and dividing,” Katsis said.