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Monday, 25 June 2012

Interviews I found down the back of the cooker - Patricia Morrison.

It's 2005, creeping into 2006, and at a casual glance it would appear that women have managed to kick down the last of the barriers in the music world.
In fact gender seems to be an irrelevant issue, or is it?
There are plenty of ladies up front in the mainstream charts, but backing bands, record producers, record execs etc are all still predominately male.
If you look closer, peel the lid back, then it's obvious that the men still far outnumber the women by a very wide margin.
As you obviously have first hand experience of the often entrenched attitude that rock and roll is for the boys can you tell us how you think things have changed since the late seventies to today, and what do you expect the future will hold?

Patricia Morrison – I think it's become different, but not necessarily easier.
There used to be a wider choices available to women, but now it's ninety percent 'pop' singers with histrionic voices and wearing very little clothes. This is what the industry (run by men) wants, and this is what women give them to succeed.
There are a few oddballs out there, thank God, but for the most part the big picture is that the music business is the same as it always was.
I have done festivals and been one of only a few women performing. The Warped Tour had only two women on the main stage, Bridget, the violinist of Flogging Molly, and myself.
I don't call that very equal.
Even more condescendingly there was a stage for 'girl bands'.
It would seem segregation is still alive.
Ironically some of them were excellent, but they were sidelined which is a pity.
Not sure whose fault that is, but it's what I have always seen.
In the early punk days it was different, and it WAS equal, but that disappeared.
I don't personally consider that bands like The Spice Girls have done anything to help women advance in the music industry, and instead it is acts like The White Stripes who fly the flag for women as the equality is right there to see.
Meg has more power than fifty riot girls, or whatever they are now calling themselves.

Strong women have always pushed the boundaries, but paid heavily for it. Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin are two that spring to mind. Courtney Love seems obviously a casualty waiting to happen, and although I'm loathe to mention her alongside Holiday and Joplin, it does illustrate that chipping away at the male dominance that's prevalent is hazardous for your health. Do you agree?

PM – Billie Holiday had a hell of a difficult life, and it made her music wonderful and real. Janis Joplin sounded like no one else.
They say Joss Stone is the new Janis...what a crock.
I wouldn't even think to mention Courtney Love in the same breath as them.
Doing drugs and being obnoxious is one way of getting attention, but it doesn't necessarily make you anything more than a celebrity.
The way she is now is the way she was back in LA, and as a matter of fact she has gone amazingly far and been a huge success despite being a fuck up.
The last time I seen her, in the early eighties, she was lying in the gutter with no underwear on.
She always wanted to be somebody and now she is. Mission accomplished
So no. Lets not put her in the same bracket as Billie and Janis.
Is it hazardous to the health of a woman to push for a career in music on an equal basis as men though?
Maybe it's down to the persons own personality and not gender.
It's possible that there are equally the same amount of casualties.
I don't see women as the weaker sex. For every Janis there's how many male equivalents?

You have had an illustrious career.
Starting off in The Bags as far back as '76 before moving on to 'Legal Weapon', and then the hugely critically acclaimed 'Gun Club'. Then 'Fur Bible' prior to spearheading a movement as a member of The Sisters of Mercy, and currently you playing bass for The Damned.
Do you ever consider that your involvement with these bands (Gun Club/Sisters of Mercy) has been glossed over with the front men/singers, Pierce and Eldritch being the focal points, as it does seem that as a female bassist you have been reduced to a footnote in the bands histories.
It would appear that a degree of respect from the music press has been less than forthcoming.
Would you consider that this was because both men had larger than life persons, or is it simply inherent sexism at work?

PM – Looking back I think I did pretty well in holding my own with those two particular egos.
The Gun Club I was always proud of. Jeffrey was a special talent and he has also been glossed over which is a real shame.
I guess I have so many boxes of newspaper cuttings that to me I made a mark that I'm happy with.
The Sisters was different.
We had success due to the image and I was one half of that, and that's just a fact whether anyone likes it or not.
Floodland was a good record, but I think the image sold it as much as the songs.
I had a horrible time when I first joined the bands, and the press initially treated me like shit, but by the time I left I was well respected and many publications wanted to interview me by myself.
Which was frowned upon I might add.
When I went to Germany once and met the record company there I was surprised to find out that I had been sent lots of fan mail that I was never told about, including a three foot tall gothic teddy bear.
That bothered me because all those people sending unanswered mail would have formed a false impression of me. Maybe aloof, arrogant, and that's not the case.
I was just unaware of the mails existence.
This was near the end and I had started to realize just how much I was being screwed over.
The Damned is the opposite of that.
I'm playing songs that I grew up with and love, and I think I've held my own in a band that is very, very male.
They weren't afraid to have a female bass player though.
I was shaking at the first few gigs as the audience can be a bit rough, but they were great and I was accepted virtually straight away and since then I've had lost of good tours.
The Damned audience is the best I have ever played in front of.

From previous interviews it's apparent that your enforced departure from The Sisters of Mercy was conducted in a very unprofessional manner.
Did you feel that the public perception of you as an individual was skewed?

PM – No, I've found that anyone who has ever had any dealings with Andrew can understand what I went through.
I don't think there's that many people who really care about those days now.
No one mentions him to me any more. I do sign Floodland albums which I am always happy to do, and Captain draws a Hitler moustache on Andrew which seems fitting.

It's generally felt that if someone is in a successful band then they must be financially affluent, and probably living a fantasy style rock and roll lifestyle, limos and coke on tap so to speak.
Yet the reality appears to be that you were initially unemployed and had an uncertain future ahead of you.
Was it difficult for people to empathize with you due to their misconceptions?

PM – Now that's a good question.
Yes. People thought I was loaded so wanted huge sums to work with me. This resulted in me trying to do everything myself which turned out to be impossible.
If I'd had the back up that most 'girl singers' have it would have been great, but I didn't.
I was lucky in a sense though as I never had a drug problem to deal with, I did drink too much, but stopped when I felt I needed to stop.
I never had the insecurities that I find rampant in the music industry, I'm not arrogant either and just never felt desperate to prove myself.
If I had any of those problems on top of the perceptions people had as I tried to start again it may not have turned out like it has.
Instead I moved on, just did my job and tried to do it really well.
Maybe if I had been more cut-throat I would have been more successful, but that isn't me.
What people think is rarely a true reflection at all.
What some people may think were the good times weren't, and the times they may think are the bad times are often the best.
I've travelled the world for decades, seen places and done things that I will always treasure.
That's what I would rather focus on. I've been a lucky bass player.

On a lighter note do you still feel people hold onto misconceptions. I would imagine that a surprisingly high number of people think that Dave and you probably live in a Gothic castle. Possibly have cats called Morticia and Wednesday and employ a manservant called Fester?

PM – Fester left after David tried to test him in the lab, and the cats are Pubert and Cat, and the castle is cunningly disguised as a small house, but we have each other, our little girl Emily, and our health so when you get to my age that is pretty darn wonderful.
That's the real story, but people will think what they want wont they?
I feel I've been really lucky to get to where I am now. I've been able to support myself by working as a musician for uh...yikes, nearly thirty years.
That in itself can feel unreal.

Finally, as a last question. Do you have any plans for another solo album, or maybe a project outside of the Damned?

PM – No. My life right now is pretty much taking care of Emily. I have very little time for anything else right now.
I was asked to sing on someone's new CD, but I am just unable to do it right now, although it was lovely to be asked.
I would hope that as Emily gets older that I will do more music, but she is my priority just now.
I've been thinking of asking David to get my bass down from the loft you never know.

(This has been pieced together from an old email and a part of the original fanzine that it was printed in. Minor missing text has been rewritten from memory)

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