DRUMMER MIKE JOYCE WAS A QUARTER OF ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT BANDS OF THE LAST FOUR DECADES.
In their day The Smiths seemed to sit at spiritual odds with the times, their aesthetics not so much to do with grasping for anything material, but about holding on to the very essence of life itself – human connection. The Manchester quartet released four studio albums, two essential compilations and eighteen hit singles in their half-decade lifespan. All of them had a deliberately northern tone – at once realistic and romanticised – and they seemed to sing out from box-rooms on rain-sodden monochrome backstreets, calling to not just the dispossessed, the lonely and the miserable but the clever, the arch and the funny. The lyrics were wonderful snapshots of the human condition, delivered by a kitchen-sink drama-queen. His truly unique vocal style was married to a tour-de-force set up rooted in the classic pop of the beat groups of the late 1950s and early ’60s.
In recent years Mike Joyce, his former bandmates and their notorious singer have hit the headlines for all of the wrong reasons – with ‘difficult business matters’ occasionally threatening to undermine the great integrity of the music The Smiths made between 1982 and 1987. In this specially extended in-depth edition of The Mouthcast, Mike Joyce reflects on personal differences, and the sometimes misunderstood and sometimes misrepresented legal troubles which have taken place since the demise of the group. But – most fittingly when considering the sheer beauty of the music they made and the ‘us-against-the-world’ attitude The Smiths used as fuel to succeed in their day – he talks with great affection about the influential and iconic band’s five years of brotherhood.
Original portraits of Mike Joyce by very kind permission of Niall Lea photography