There are more new twists in the ongoing saga involving Morrissey’s upcoming album, Bonfire of Teenagers. In a pair of messages posted on his official website the past two days, the former Smith singer revealed he’s cut ties with his latest record label, management company, and, apparently, Miley Cyrus too.
A Dec. 23 post entitled “Roll on 2023” stated that “Morrissey has voluntarily parted company with Maverick/Quest management. Morrissey has also voluntarily withdrawn from any association with Capitol Records (Los Angeles).”
Today (Dec. 24), a new post entitled “Miley Is A Punk Rocker” said “Miley Cyrus now wants to be taken off the song ‘I Am Veronica’ for which she volunteered backing vocals almost two years ago. This comes at a time when Morrissey has disassociated himself with Capitol Records (Los Angeles), who control the hidden album Bonfire of Teenagers.” The post also includes a photo of Morrissey and Cyrus during the original recording session for the song.
The latest news is another hurdle in the release of the album, which was intended to be Morrissey’s follow-up to 2020’s I Am Not A Dog on A Chain. An update from the singer in November hinted at some discord with Capitol, when he shared that there was no longer a planned February release date for the new album and added that “its fate is exclusively in the hands of Capitol Records.” Oddly, Capitol still released one of the Bonfire songs, the heavily Smiths-indebted “Rebels Without Applause,” as a single.
Quest’s Scott Rodger, who also manages Paul McCartney and Arcade Fire, added context about Cyrus’ inclusion when replying to an angry Morrissey fan yesterday on Twitter. “Morrissey’s album was due for release [o]n Feb. 23,” he said. “It will come out, but Morrissey himself put out a statement in his blog that the album ‘featured’ another artist who didn’t want to be credited and thus the artist’s label blocked the release. Nothing to do with Capitol.”
When the fan pushed back and asked why management wouldn’t “fight” on Morrissey’s behalf, Rodger replied, “The artist who did backing vocals will be taken off and replaced. That takes time, especially as you hit Christmas. When you say fight, sadly it doesn’t work that way. The other label, Columbia, legally blocked it. They’re within their rights to do so.”
Capitol has repeatedly declined comment about the situation from SPIN, and Morrissey is not currently listed on the label’s artist roster page. This is not the first time the two parties have had an acrimonious relationship, as Capitol imprint Harvest previously dropped Morrissey in 2014.
Cyrus was set to be part of a long list of guest stars on Bonfire of Teenagers, which was helmed by Grammy-winning producer Andrew Watt and features his familiar collaborators Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and that band’s former guitarist Josh Klinghoffer. Flea and Iggy Pop are also set to appear on the album, which was been done for nearly two years but continues to hang in the balance.
That hasn’t stopped Morrissey from debuting several songs from Bonfire of Teenagers live in concert this year, including “I Am Veronica,” “Rebels Without Applause,” “Sure Enough, the Telephone Rings,” “I Live in Oblivion,” “Kerouac’s Crack” and “Saint in a Stained Glass Window.” The tour has also been marred by a variety of cancelations due to illness and Morrissey walking out on a show in L.A. after just nine songs due to “unforeseen circumstances.”
Amid the turmoil around Bonfire of Teenagers, Morrissey is heading back into the studio in January and February to work on yet another new album, Without Music The World Dies. When sharing the announcement Dec. 8, the singer also alluded to the fact that he was label-less, stating, “There is no record label as yet for the project, and ways to attain global distribution are being researched.”
Additional reporting by Jonathan Cohen.