Morrissey and PAWS Shows Go on Despite Alleged Cancellation Threats

But Scottish band claims further drama involving the Smiths singer's camp

Morrissey, PAWS, Orange County
You'd think Morrissey would love a band called PAWS, wouldn't you? PHOTO BY WILSON LEE FOR SPIN
Marc Hogan WRITTEN BY
Marc Hogan

UPDATE: Pitchfork cites a representative for Morrissey as saying: "Morrissey had nothing to do with this. As long as there was no sound bleed, Morrissey was completely fine with another show going on inside the same complex."

Morrissey's current U.S. tour is off to a two-set streak without any cancellations, but according to a band that played in another part of the same venue last night, it almost didn't happen that way. The former Smiths singer kicked off the jaunt on Wednesday night in San Jose, California, and, as Morrisey-Solo reports, he played the same three new songs at the next night's show at The Observatory in Orange County. SPIN interview subjects PAWS, who were booked for the all-ages space's indoor Constellation Room, ended up playing a 30-minute set opening for We Are Scientists. Whew.

The fact Morrissey and PAWS actually played a couple of Southern California shows they were scheduled to play is worth mentioning because there was reason for doubt. In a since-deleted Facebook post before the show, PAWS accused Morrissey of demanding, hours before the show, that they cancel (they may also have called him "a rich, has-been, ego maniac acting like a baby throwing toys from a pram"). Now the band has written a very lengthy Facebook post to explain.

Basically, PAWS say they got a call from the "promoter/venue" on May 8 telling them that Morrissey didn't want other live music bleeding over during his set and so, due to curfew and scheduling realities, their show would be canceled. The band "felt frustrated, angry, undermined, and totally helpless," especially to find out on the day of the gig, and they decided to tell their fans; as for that "has-been baby" stuff, "Whatever else was said in that post was purely driven by the emotional intensity of the situation." But it doesn't stop there.

According to PAWS, as news of the earlier Facebook post spread, the promoter for Morrisey's show called saying that Morrissey might cancel and this would horrible for the venue. So the band took yesterday's post down. They somehow ended up getting their set rescheduled to just after Moz's set, rather than being canceled altogether. But they say Morrissey's promoter then called again, now insisting PAWS apologize, which the band considered "absurd."

Finally, PAWS claim the Smiths icon's tour manager "confronted" the band's Phillip Taylor and Josh Swinney in the dressing room, "ten minutes" before they were to go on stage.  He allegedly screamed at them about all the attention being given to this story. Then PAWS went out and "did our best to kill it for the 30 mins we had in the lights."

Neither Morrissey's camp nor the Observatory have put out any official statements on the matter. Morrissey's new album World Peace Is None of Your Business is due out in July, and you can stream PAWS' thrilling new album Youth Culture Forever, which came out this week.

We Are Scientists also slammed Morrissey on Twitter; check out their tweets below, and scroll down to read PAWS' full note.

PAWS' Facebook post:
OK…

So, in light of unexpected media attention, please allow us to explain what happened to us earlier today. It might be a little long, but we appreciate your patience as we feel it needs to be said. 

Early this afternoon (Thursday May 8th) as we were travelling from San Francisco to Santa Ana to play a show tonight at Constellation Rooms with We Are Scientists, we received a call from the promoter/venue telling us that Morrissey, who was also due to play a show tonight in the larger room at the venue, had requested that no live music be heard during his set. SO, in order to adhere to curfews, this would mean that we couldn’t play our opening slot as it would clash with Morrissey's and We Are Scientists’ headline show would be cut short and heavily delayed (until after Morrissey’s show). We were then informed that in respect of this cancellation, we had been offered to be paid double our guarantee for our troubles as per a clause in the contract for the show, but it was also asserted that we didn’t really have a choice in the matter; for example, we didn’t really get any sort of option to try and make the show work, it was just very cut and dry. So in short, we were essentially getting paid not to play.

We were instantly very confused. Many, if not all, bands we have met, played with or seen, have most certainly played a show in a venue with two rooms without incident, much less threat of cancellation. The idea that sound would bleed.. well it’s always seemed apparent that this is a risk if you plan to run/play a venue of this type, but there are usually measures in place to prevent there being any disturbance to either show. We’ve played shows like this quite a few times, so it seemed excessive. We felt almost like we were being bribed - not by the promoter it should be said, but by the show's production - and for a reason that seemed a little overdramatic. 

Although all bands in our situation could very much do with the extra money, it didn’t sit right with us that we were essentially, very much literally, being silenced; being bought out, and for reasons that, when explained to us as above, not only seemed trivial but seemed to fit the unfortunate egotistical stereotypes that Morrissey has come to embody in recent years, not least as we had been informed that he has already been noted for cancelling several shows . 

Now, far from wishing to start a cheap fight, we felt outraged, naturally. We felt frustrated, angry, undermined and totally helpless as, to our knowledge, a reason outwith our control was threatening to ruin a (sold-out) show we were really excited about and we didn’t even have a choice. We felt that we would’ve felt dirty taking the money. It didn’t feel right to just be bought out; we would like to think that what we do is worth more that a quick bit of cash, so we decided to fight it. We naturally felt like we wanted to scream it out loud, we felt like it was complete bullshit, and that no one, regardless of their standing as a performer, and associated crew, should be allowed to dictate what goes on with such lack of disregard to the logistics, not to mention the feelings of other people. What’s more, there seemed to be a real blunder in terms of ‘chain of command’ as our slot was officially pulled before we knew about it, before We Are Scientists knew about it, before our booking agents knew. What we ended up getting told seemed more like cold hard fact - you’re not doing it, end of story. This made us even more angry, as it felt very disrespectful.

After sitting on it for a while, we decided to relay the information we’d been given, which we did, as fact, to our fans, through our channels. Whatever else was said in that post was purely driven by the emotional intensity of the situation, but to be fair, at the time, we said what we felt like we wanted to say based on what we got told, which we think is fair enough; although in hindsight, perhaps that may have been misconstrued as some sort of ‘attack’; which it wasn’t, we were just pissed off. 

And from here, shit gets fucking crazy.

The post went crazy. We received several calls from lots of different people, perhaps the most important being the promoter for Morrissey’s show. He informed us that - in light of the exponentially-increasing web traffic, there was a possibility that this could shine badly on the entire operation and that if anyone from the Morrissey camp was to see this, there was a very high chance that he could threaten to cancel. This was insane to us. We already weren’t playing, and then there was even the slight possibility that what we wrote could still impact on his show?? That’s insane. We just said what we got told - and to be completely 100% honest, we were only intending to spread the word to ‘our’ fans and friends, because we thought they were the only ones watching. Oh how wrong we were…

The promoter, genuinely upset, told us that there had already been a sizeable six figure sum deposited to Morrissey and if he cancels the show, that will be completely gone and that would be disastrous for the venue, which we were told could potentially go under. This guy was terrified and genuinely appealed, in light of him potentially ‘losing everything’, that we try to contain the situation, which had escalated as the post went viral. In respect of his genuine testimony and in fear that our action would result not just in the cancellation of the show but in the serious financial chaos for the venue and all involved, we felt it was only right to remove the post. At least until the show was over when we could clarify the situation properly. 

After hours of calls back and forth in a McDonalds car park at a service station - free wifi - we realised that news sites had picked up on the story and the whole thing went apeshit. Eventually, after much talk, and much back and forth, a few options were brought to our attention and weirdly, after it seeming like a cut and shut case, we eventually, somehow managed to negotiate a slot immediately following Morrissey’s set. This was insane, we thought we were fucked, and then after all that it was just sorted. Whether the Morrissey camp realised it was bullshit, or it was the strength of the attention this whole damn thing was getting, who knows, but eventually it seemed like things might be straightened out. Relieved, we posted that the show was back on.

After this, as more sites started to pick up on it, we got more frantic calls from the promoter for the Morrissey show, telling us that his representatives had flipped and insisted the whole thing was not the actions of Morrissey himself, but that of his own security, and that we 'need to apologise' and set this straight. We felt that, regardless of who had actually said this, this was still done by someone in the Morrissey camp, on behalf of the man himself - who, notoriously organised and fully in control, would surely not be entirely unaware of - shedding light on an extremely poor and disrespectful attitude. The fact that this would not only need to be considered by anyone but in fact enforced, suggests a mentality surrounding performance and production that is selfish and unreasonable. To make sure that your show is not impeded by sound pollution IS reasonable, but it’s a purpose-built venue that books double shows all the time, has measures in place to stop such a thing, and to just call the show/slot off, HOURS BEFORE THE GIG, with disregard to the smaller show, felt very petty and unnecessary. Not only that but the fact that there was even the slightest notion that he would actually cancel his OWN show in light of this seemed utterly ridiculous to us. Considering how much this was going to impact on the promoter’s personal financial situation, let alone the venue, allegedly to the point of bankruptcy, we felt this was absurd. 

As we hightailed it to Santa Ana, running late now after all this bullshit, we were genuinely concerned for the welfare of the promoter and everyone at the venue. We felt personally insulted and beaten down by bullshit beyond our control, so we stood up for ourselves. We NEVER wanted to cause anyone any trouble, so we were genuinely worried about Morrissey cancelling the show. Thankfully, moments before we arrived, we were informed that the show was most certainly on and that all was well.

However, after we got here, ten minutes before we were about to go onstage, with the show seemingly in full swing and in good health, Phillip and Josh were confronted by Morrissey’s tour manager in our own dressing room. After thinking that everything was FINALLY sorted, this man started screaming at them both, practically squaring up to them and trying his hardest to tear us apart for how big this story was getting, doling out blood-curdling screams to the effect of “I AM THE BOSS OF YOU!” Frankly, beyond being insulting, unreasonable, and to be honest a little hilarious, we simply couldn’t believe that this situation had escalated to this point. Far from a reasonable conversation or settling of differences, this seemed like a ‘telling off’ and to be honest put pretty much everything in context. To feel like you’re being demeaned, disrespected and almost bullied by ANYONE feels terrible but to feel like this is happening and that are hands are tied purely because of the perceived stature of a celebrity, seems utterly ridiculous and frankly, unacceptable. 

Pissed off and fired up, we jumped out and did our best to kill it for the 30 mins we had in the lights. We burst ourselves trying to bring it, and after ALL that, we came off beaten, sweaty but elated. In our minds, this is over. Fuck this shit. 

Tonight belongs to everyone who came to see us tonight, everyone who waited for HOURS to see We Are Scientists and us; to We Are Scientists themselves who killed it tonight, as always, and totally got our fucking backs! To Brendan, Ian, Jeffrey, and EVERY goddamn person who was down the front, we made it in the end...it was all thanks to you.

Fuck the Grapevine. 

We love you all.

Ryan, Joshua and Phillip.
 
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