by Martin Hall
As the drummer with The
Smiths, Mike Joyce was part of one of the greatest British bands of
all time. After they disbanded, he drummed with The Buzzcocks
and Public Image Limited. Swine caught up with him for a chat
shortly after Manchesterís In The City festival. Hereís his storyÖ
What are you up to these
Iím working with a guy
called Vinny Peculiar and have done for about the last year or 18
months. We did some gigs last year and put out a single on our own
record label. It was really well received and got a lot of
good reviews but we released it ourselves so it didnít have much
machinery behind it and it was only a sampler really.
Was it a good experience
Not particularly good because
we had to do a lot of it ourselves. We had a press agent and a
plugger. We did a few radio sessions and they went down very
favourably. Weíre just about to go into the studio and
record an album, looking forward to that and once we get the album
out, weíll probably do a short tour in the New Year.
What did you think of In
The City this year; see any bands that you liked?
I didnít see that many
actually because I had other commitments that weekend. Sonic
Audio- I wanted to see them and was really looking forward to it.
We got down to the gig and they cancelled at the last minute.
There were some other bands on instead and they were alright.
Afterwards, we went to see a band with Andy Rourke playing bass
except he wasnít actually playing so that was a bit disappointing.
He was supposed to be playing but he went to
and DJíd . He came home and I saw him at the gig but not in
the right position! It was a good night all in all. I
really wanted to go and see Arctic Monkeys but I didnít get the
chance. I want to go and see Nine Black Alps as well. I
saw them doing an acoustic set in
in Night & Day for John Peel day. I like their album and I liked
their acoustic stuff as well.
You were one of the guest
speakers at the From Mates to Management seminar. Has that
made you think about possibly moving into that area?
I have thought about it but
itís just so tough. It really is because itís one of those
things where itís an absolute breeze because the band are one in a
million or you have to trudge up that hill with everybody else.
I have thought about it and itís really difficult because you can
have a band that you believe in and not many other people will and
thereís all different kinds of permutations. You can have a
band where two of the guys are really rocking and another couple of
them arenít. Or you can have a band where one of them is
absolutely brilliant. Iím not that mercenary. Iíd like to
work with an established band and take them on. I do immerse
myself into everything I take on- absolutely massively so and Iím
one of those people that if I was working for a band Iíd die for
them. Some people go into management to make money whereas
everything Iíve ever been involved in itís been for the love of
it. I didnít join a band so I could become famous and make loads
of money. I wanted to be in a band to play the drums and luck
kind of helped me along the way. Managementís very tough.
) was talking about a lot of big established acts like The Mondays,
the other chap was talking about U2. I think it was a bit out
of the league of the people that were there. It just didnít
seem particularly relevant to somebody starting out in a band.
Wilson said ďYou go in there and you tell that label what you
want, if you donít get what you fucking want just fucking walk
outĒ (laughs). Iím afraid youíre going to have to go a
long way before you can start doing that. Liam and Noel can
and Iím sure Bono can but not your average band. Theyíd
just tell you to piss off!
How did you get into
I was born in Chorlton-on-Medlock,
just by the
. A lot of back-to-backs there, the old style terrace houses.
When I was about seven, I moved up to Fallowfield to a Council
Estate there. I know it sounds mad but it was like ďOoh,
thereís an indoor toilet!Ē Wow, modern! It was
modern though, it wasnít what we were used to. By the time
we got there, my oldest brother had left so it was okay. When
I was living there I started playing the drums. I first
started playing on the couch with a pair of knitting needles.
I had to put a cover over it as Iíd started to wear the couch down
and my Mum saw it one day and gave me a clip round the ear! I said
ďWell, if I get a drum kit, that wonít happen.Ē I got a
second hand one and played it in my little tiny bedroom upstairs.
I played for a little bit, left home, took my drums with me and
played in a couple of punk bands. I moved to Hulme and lived
there for about a year. I moved from there to
and lived there for about six months. I then moved to Chorlton-cum-Hardy
which is a kind of enclave, a bit of a bohemian place. I lived
with a guy called Pete Hope who knew this lad Johnny Marr who used
to work in X-Clothes in
. Johnny asked Pete if he knew any drummers and Pete said
ďYeah, a lad that Iím living with at the moment.Ē And
that was it really. We just did our rehearsal and a bit of an
audition. There was a different guy playing bass. We had
a bit of a play in Spirit Studios in
and I was in.
What were your first
impressions of the rest of the band that day?
Johnny was very cool.
Iíd seen him around
anyway. He was a player, shall we say, around the
scene. He was right in there. And I was a bit like that
with my scene. I wasnít prepared to sit on the outskirts, on
the periphery of it, I wanted to get myself noticed. So Iíd
seen him out and about and in X-Clothes which was a hip clothes shop
. He was wearing a three-quarter length jacket and had a
quiff. He looked very cool. I was a bit more punky at
the time. I didnít really get Morrissey at all, I hardly
spoke to him; just furtive glances, nothing more than that. It
was just another band. Honestly, I didnít attach any great
importance to it but obviously I wanted to make a good impression of
myself. I didnít consider it a seminal moment because at the
time it wasnít. I was just going to play with a few lads.
It was alright, the rehearsal was okay. They were perfectly
happy with it and so was
In the early years
particularly, John Peel was very important to The Smiths. How
important was he to British music in general?
Itís very difficult to put
into words. Every band that has been successful in the last 30
years, John Peel probably had a hand in, in one way or another.
Thatís unprecedented. Thereís nobody else that can see
that: big managers, big record companies, big artists- nobody has
been so instrumental in the history of British music. Thatís
an amazing feat- thatís how important he was. Because he
didnít shout his mouth off and he didnít court publicity, the
only people that knew were the people that were involved so your
Average Joe on the street would just think ďHeís that weird
bloke who plays mad music.Ē They donít realise just how
important he was. He played a big part for us because of the
Peel sessions as well because we got invited down for about four, I
think. And every time we went, it really helped us get used to
What are your favourite
moments of that time?
gig. Couple of American gigs that we played, the larger
venues- playing to 15,000 people. A buzz. A lot of bands
now do it - bands like The Manics and Stereophonics - whereas at the
time, you either played in a club or a theatre. There wasnít
that much scope for bands to play bigger places. Getting our
first gold disc. The first Top of The Pops. I could just
go on and on. Going to
for the first time. Iíd never been there before so to go
there under those circumstances was pretty special. Itís a
great place to go and explore.
Were you surprising when
The Smiths were named the most inspiring band of all time by the NME?
Yeah and really flattered.
Itís an accolade that speaks for itself. I donít really
take much notice of opinion polls because it depends on the
readership. Iím sure a list of the top ten bands of all time
in Smash Hits and the same poll in The Telegraph are going to be
pretty different. Whether you like it or you loathe the NME
(and after that was put in there I loved it!) itís an amazing
accolade. I saw a piece about it on Granada Reports. The
Beatles came second in that poll so they went to
where they interviewed a load of Scousers about what they thought.
You can imagine their responses!
Whatís your favourite
Smiths song and you favourite Smiths album?
I can tell you whatís my
least favourite: Golden Lights. They all have different
reasons for being right up there. Hand In Glove, obviously,
because it was our first record. Thereís not a feeling like
in the world. The belief that you have is then actually
something tangible- itís something somebody can actually have a
listen to and see whether they like it or not. That Joke
Isnít Funny Anymore is right up there. Meat Is Murder, How
Soon Is Now, This Charming Man. Favourite album is Strangeways Here
If you fast forward a few
years to the court case, it was very high profile and must have been
pretty difficult for yourself. What are your strongest memories of
that particular time?
The horror of it and the
feeling as if I wasnít really there. It felt like it was
happening to somebody else and I was watching it. It was a
really horrible experience. Morrissey put it very succinctly.
He said it was like watching a car crash. Thatís exactly
what it was like. I wanted to prove I was right in my beliefs
and the judge accepted that I was.
Did you feel confident
throughout the case that justice would be done?
You never know. I
wasnít confident that justice would be done, I was just hoping it
would be. I kept asking my legal team all the time: ďWhat
are the chances?Ē They said: ďYou never can tell. It
depends on how everything pans out.Ē Obviously we had a very
strong case because of all the evidence that we had. I think
if they told me they were confident of winning it and if I went in
really confident and things hadnít panned out, I would have gone
mad at them. They never do, solicitors. Even if itís
an open and shut case they never tell you youíre going to win in
case anything happens. Iím sure Morrissey and Johnny were
told the same. The last couple of days I started to become
quietly confident because the truth started to come out then.
More of the picture started to become a bit clearer. The
things that Iíd said in the past were took by independent
witnesses and backed up. When that started to happen, the
judge started to lean towards me. A couple of Morrisseyís
witnesses helped us out quite a lot with the information they gave.
That last night before the actual verdict was probably the worst
night of my life. I canít really explain what it felt like.
My wife had gone home. It was just me and my solicitor.
We were sat in the bar in
and we just looked at each other. There was nothing to be
said. It was a really strange feeling. I went to bed
about half-ten. I looked at my watch and it was
quarter-to-five in the morning and I just realised Iíd been
staring at the TV.
I suppose your reaction
was one of relief and vindication?
Yeah. It was in
December and I was pouring with sweat because the stakes were so
high. I wasnít even celebratory. I was just glad the
whole thing was over. There was no kind of triumphalism or
jumping around with clenched fists.
After The Smiths split up,
you toured with The Buzzcocks for a while. How did that come
I got a phone call from the
original bass player, a guy called Steve Garvey. I think
heís from Middleton or Prestwich. This bloke phoned me up
and said (adopts American accent): ďHello, is that Mike Joyce?
Hi, itís Steve Garvey here.Ē I said ďYouíre from
Prestwich?!!Ē He said ďIíve been living out in the
states for a while now.Ē Heíd been out there for seven
years and had a completely American accent. They did a bit of
touring and they used John Maher for that tour. He wanted to
leave and they wanted to carry on so they asked me if I fancied it.
The reason I started playing the drums was because of The Buzzcocks
so I was ecstatic. It was a mind-blower. It was a dream
come true. During the first rehearsal they were asking me if I
knew this track or that track and I was like: ďYeah, I know
everything youíve ever done. Iíve got everything youíve
ever released!Ē The great thing about working with The
Buzzcocks is not only are they are a great band, theyíre really
good people, great people. It was like playing the soundtrack
to your own party.
What was it like being on
the road with John Lydon during your time with Public Image Limited
after being used to touring with Morrissey?
singers, arenít they? Thatís whatís so great about
working with people like that. These people are singers, they
act accordingly and itís great. Itís entertaining for
everybody- not just for the fans but for me as well. Whether
it be in interviews or just their on-stage persona, itís all
brilliant. Itís very interesting to be around them.
Theyíre very charismatic. Youíre part of it. Iíve
met a few of my heroes and itís great just to be in the same room
as them. To be hanging out with them and going on stage with
them was fantastic. Iíd recommend it to anyone!