Have you ever wanted to see The Smiths, but, you know, you aren’t 40 (they broke up in ’87)? Well, here’s your chance. Frederick’s premiere (read: only) Morrissey and The Smiths tribute act, Girlfriend In A Coma, is set to sad-rock The Faux School on Friday night at 8 p.m. So, theoretically at least, you could check out Old Indian over along the creek with us for a little while and then head across the water to see what some dudes from The Reagan Years like to do in their spare time. We recently had the privilege of exchanging a few emails with Sy Seyler and Christopher Quinn (the former plays the drums while the latter is Moz himself) and asked them about their love for the singer, what they might ask him if they had the chance, and what we can expect from Friday’s show. It should be noted that kicking things off will be I’m The Man, a Joe Jackson tribute act, and it should be noted that yes, all of this sounds amazing. You can find out more about Girlfriend In A Coma here.
What led you to start a Morrissey tribute band?
It was (a) proverbial pebble in (Christopher) Quinn’s and Sy’s shoe. We tried to do it in the late ’90s and couldn’t find the right people. It was really difficult because the only tributes were based on The Rolling Stones, KISS, The Beatles, AC/DC, Elvis, big arena rock bands. We thought classic new wave was just as big but we were alone. We knew that any band Quinn was ever in would always be compared to Morrissey or was labeled Smith-esque. There are many Smiths Fans that have never had the opportunity to see The Smiths. When Morrissey toured, he didn’t perform the hits that Smiths fans longed to hear. We knew our tribute could fill that void if we could get it together. Sy and Quinn have been friends for many years so they tried to assemble an act again in mid-2000s, this time this thing came together relatively easy.
What’s your favorite Morrissey song and why?
Quinn’s is “This Charming Man.” Quinn says, “It’s a rare gem! I remember Johnny Marr saying early on that they could have written 100 ‘This Charming Mans’ but they intended to grow and continue to bring fresh ideas to the public. From my perspective, rather like hitting a walk off (a) home run, they could have dropped their bat, trotted round the bases and straight in to a victorious club house after that one. It’s really the perfect pop song!”
How does this differ from your other musical ventures?
Seyler (drums) and Glenn Riley (guitar) perform in The Reagan Years ‘80s tribute band. The Reagan Years performs pop, rock, hair metal and new wave hits from the ’80s. … Riley is a guitar instructor, has written several guitar instruction books for Alfred Publishing and released a CD of original progressive instrumental music earlier in 2014. Quinn was in an original alternative music act, The Treading Lemmings, that recently disbanded. He is now writing with former Lemmings bassist, for the Pumpichank record label. Bryan Kimes is in two other bands, Nightsbridge and Dirty Deal. Bryan performs as a session musician and was also in 23 Rainy Days that earned accolades from MTV2 a few years ago. Which do you prefer — Morrissey as a solo artist or The Smiths? And why? We prefer The Smiths since those are the tunes that fans love and were cheated from seeing live when The Smiths broke up. Morrissey performs several of the same songs from his solo career however those tours seem to get canceled and we still get to satisfy disappointed fans.
Which do you prefer – Morrissey as a solo artist or The Smiths? And why?
We prefer The Smiths since those are the tunes that fans love and were cheated from seeing live when The Smiths broke up. Morrissey performs several of the same songs from his solo career, however those tours seem to get cancelled and we still get to satisfy disappointed fans.
How much of an audience is there in and around Frederick for this kind of project?
Honesty, we are not sure. Sy, Glenn and Bryan have a strong presence in Frederick area from other projects. We are hoping to reach the people that don’t know about the band. When we see someone with a Smiths-influenced artist like Oasis, The Killers, Death Cab For Cutie, The Decemberists or Arcade Fire, you can strike up a conversation and they don’t know that we have a Morrissey tribute band. They swear they would come to a show if they only knew the date. We’ll see Sept 19.
What would you ask Morrissey if you had one question?
Have you ever grown a beard? I mean a big proper one – the size of a Rhododendron – just see what it looks like?
How much emphasis do you guys put on appearance? Do you feel it is just as important as the performance aspect of your show? Why or why not?
The appearance matters where Quinn is concerned! I mean, what’s the point, going to see some of these Smiths tributes where the focal point of the band doesn’t look or sound like Morrissey? Quinn looks, acts, talks and moves like Morrissey. Sometimes, he is in character even when he orders a donut (and that gets interesting looks). The rest of the band doesn’t try to look like The Smiths; Bryan doesn’t bleach his hair and wear jean jackets, Sy doesn’t wear Smiths T-shirts and Glenn doesn’t have the shag or a horizontally striped shirt. Frankly, NONE of that is necessary. Quinn may be the only one in the world playing Morrissey who actually saw The Smiths (three times).
Quinn: “The June, ’85 show at Warner Theatre is still the greatest concert I have ever attended (although the Mott The Hopple reunion concerts in 2009 were pretty close). Why? Well, great songs, of course but, possibly more important, The Smiths were an assault on the senses. It was the music, the energy, the power of the best elements of a live rock show coming together at once, completely without pretense – this was REAL! They KNEW they were the greatest band at that time and it oozed out of every pore. It hung on every note. Every move they made, every note they struck, though not necessarily orchestrated, had purpose. Great live bands bring that every time they play and sometimes the composition of that band can’t be planned. Sometimes, it simply falls into place, even in the form of a tribute.”
And finally, what can we expect from your show at the Faux School?
Live versions of The Smiths classics with the Morrissey solo songs that you still hear today on Sirius 1st Wave. Seriously, this is the setlist that Morrissey fans would love to hear at a live show today. Typically, there is an enthusiastic audience that erupts into huge sing-alongs. The FAUX School provides an intimate venue to see the guitar wizardry of Johnny Marr as recreated by Glenn Riley, an uncanny Morrissey reenactment by Quinn, and an energetic rhythm section delivered by Bryan and Sy.