The devotion of Morrissey’s Mexican and Hispanic fan base has become a curious and often commented-on aspect of the former Smith’s frontman’s career.
So it’s almost a surprise that it’s taken this long for someone to adapt his songs into Latin musical styles in a full-blown project.
Mexrrissey’s debut album, No Manchester, released last month, was recorded in Mexico City and Tucson, Arizona, under producer Camilo Lara.
‘No Manchester’ is a Mexican slang phrase meaning ‘No Way’ or ‘Are you kidding me?’ but now it means that these songs, born in Manchester, have grown up, changed their hair and the clothes they wear and moved abroad.
Live, the band performs as a seven-piece with a revolving and evolving line-up of the who’s who of the new Mexican music scene, which includes underground legend Chetes (Zurdok) on guitar, Jay De La Cueva (Moderatto /Titán) on bass, Ceci Bastida (Tijuana No) on keyboards, Adan Jodorowsky (Adanowsky) on guitar, Liber Teran (Los de Abajo) on guitar, Alejandro Flores (Café Tacuba’s favourite violin player), Alex Gonzales on trumpet (Twin Tones), Ricardo Najera on drums (Furland), Sergio Mendoza and Jacob Valenzuela (both from Calexico) on vibes and accordion and trumpet respectively and always Camilo Lara adding his trademark sampling and electronics.
Andy Wood, director of the La Linea Festival in London, approached Camilo Lara with the initial idea to put together Mexrrissey. Andy says: ‘It just felt like time. I had a sense of the feeling for Morrissey in Mexico and the way that his music could connect with so much in Mexican music.’
I always thought that there were these invisible lines between what Morrissey and Manchester represents and what Mexico City and Mexican pop culture hasCamilo Lara
Camilo continues: ‘I always thought that there were these invisible lines between what Morrissey and Manchester represents and what Mexico City and Mexican pop culture has. And if these are tiny coincidences, we’re making them a little bit bigger on this occasion with a concert of broken hearts and forgotten dreams.’
Sergio Mendoza worked on the arrangements with Camilo: ‘I think we took a really big risk with all these arrangements and the way we’re really flipping these songs.’
One starting point was to either find a song with a Mexican connection or something that Camilo and Sergio could imagine recasting with a Mexican flavour. There are some obvious selections like Morrissey’s paean to the country Mexico. Another starting point was to simply select a song that they were big fans of such as, Every Day Is Like Sunday.
Camilo adds: ‘I think for the people that know the songs, I’m sure that they will be amazed that the songs can go into these directions of cumbia and boleros and sound actually as if they were written in that style. Though it’s the words, the playful turns of phrase, and the sighs that are the trickiest to translate into Spanish. We try to get a glimpse of the poetry in Morrissey’s work and to capture the irony, the anger and the happiness at the same time – that has been a challenge.’
The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea
Sunday, April 10