Morrissey’s solo career has involved many labels and a few disagreements. The singer fell out badly with Harvest soon after the release of 2014’s World Peace Is None Of Your Business, which was then deleted (it remains unavailable on iTunes and Spotify). In fact, Morrissey’s disappointment with labels goes back to his days in The Smiths – his 2013 autobiography isn’t always flattering about Rough Trade.
But there’s a good feeling about his comeback with BMG, who announced they had inked a deal with the mercurial singer last month. “I’ve tried to sign him a couple of times over the years, the first time was at Warner,” said Korda Marshall, EVP, new recordings at BMG. As the label gears up for the release of the Low In High-School album on November 17, Marshall spoke to Music Week about the Morrissey campaign.
What can we expect from the album?
It’s a beautiful collection of songs. He’s on really good form. I went over to the studio in Rome, they were in Ennio Morricone’s studio [Forum Music Village] where they were recording it. The band are absolutely on fire. It’s tremendously exciting. We are just coordinating all the plans for this autumn. There are going to be some more American tour dates announced. It’s an amazing album.
Are there any particular themes for this Morrissey record?
He certainly has a view on what’s going on in the world, and that’s reflected in the songs. There’s quite a strong personal side to the record as well. In many ways it’s classic Morrissey. There’s a perspective on all the sort of things that are happening in the world. It’s lovely to be involved in an album that has an opinion. In all my years working in music, it’s the strongest collection of songs that I’ve ever been involved with – I wouldn’t say that lightly. He’s spent a lot of energy and emotion making the record. He’s very excited about it. He’s really looking forward to going out and playing the songs.
Morrissey has spoken of health problems in recent years…
He’s fit, he’s healthy, and he’s really enjoyed making the record.
The album is being released on the newly-created Etienne imprint, what will that be used for?
Etienne is Steven in French. We wanted to give him a vehicle where he could do other things, to give him a platform of his own. We felt that was important and he wanted to do that. We had conversations about it and we think it’s a really good approach that he’s got his own label identity, so he can do other things if he wants to.
Is he planning on releasing other acts via Etienne?
That’s not really part of the discussion. We’re just really happy that he’s happy. We’ve got a collection of labels at BMG, we had a discussion about what label he wanted to be on and he wanted to do his own label. It’s a vehicle for whatever he wants to do. It’s part of the process of giving him the creative freedom he deserves and needs.
In all my years working in music, it’s the strongest collection of songs that I’ve ever been involved with – I wouldn’t say that lightly.
Korda Marshall, EVP, new recordings at BMG
What else does his partnership with BMG cover?
We have also signed the publishing going forward as well [worldwide for future releases]. It’s a long-term relationship.
How are you preparing for the campaign?
We’ve handpicked and assembled a very unique, boutique press, promotions, radio and TV team, who are all individually focused to work this record.
What are your expectations for BMG’s first Morrissey album?
I think we are his 15th record label over his career. The dual approach that we’ve both agreed is that we’d like to kick up some dust – that was his [expression] that he’d like to come out and kick out some dust. It’s a very strong album. We’d like as many people to hear it and enjoy it as we can get. We honestly believe he’s made a great record. In my 30-odd years in A&R, I’ve been involved in some amazing talent making unbelievable music. This is a really, truly special record.
It’s interesting timing with the biopic England Is Mine out now…
The zeitgeist’s an amazing thing isn’t it? He’s a culturally significant artist and it’s really important that these artists are looked after, cherished and supported.