Sweet and Tender Hooligans Interview   5.9.01


The Indie Shop welcomes Sweet and Tender Hooligans to the studio.  The Smiths and Morrissey cover band that started as a one off for a Morrissey convention back in 1992 has now become one of the best tribute bands we’ve ever seen! 


Jose - singer
Dave - guitarist
Jeff - guitarist


Charles: Welcome to the Indie Shop - if you’d like to tell us a bit about yourselves to start off with.       

Jose:  Sweet and Tender Hooligans are known as the ultimate tribute to Morrissey and the Smiths we are essentially a Morrissey and Smiths tribute act.  We cover all of the songs from his entire career, his work with the Smiths and also his solo effort.  We like to think that we do it as painstakingly.... as close to sounding as a Morrissey or Smiths live show and that’s what you get when you come to see us.       

Dave: And some of us are actually vegetarians.....       

Jose: This is true... So when you come to see a typical Sweet and Tender Hooligans performance expect to hear all the hits like “Ask” and “Bigmouth Strikes Again” and we love to throw in songs like “Lucky Lisp” and “Asleep”, “Please, Please, Please Let  Me Get What I Want” the whole spectrum.  Coming up on June 16th at the Roxy in Hollywood we’re going to be celebrating the 15th anniversary of the release of The Queen is Dead.  June 16th, 1986 was the release of the quintessential Smiths album if you will the Queen is Dead.   To commemorate that event we’re going to be performing the entire album from side A to side B the whole way through we’re going to be performing that live and then taking requests afterwards. Tickets are on sale at Hot Rocks in Covina, Rhino Records in Westwood and Vinyl Fetish in Hollywood.       

Charles: And also Sounds Like in Riverside       

Jose: That’s right       

Charles: Ok I’ve got the list here.  You just performed a show last Saturday.       

Jose:  That’s right - Cinco de Mayo at 14 Below in Santa Monica.       

Charles: How often do you play?       

Jose: Lately it’s been about once a month.  We’re based in Los Angeles but we’ve been fortunate enough to play Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Tijuana and coming up in September we’re flying out to England.  They’re anxious to see us so we’re anxious to be in Manchester where it all began.       

Charles: That’s going to be amazing.       

Jose: Yeah it should be a lot of fun.       

Charles: Just the thought I mean.  It’s amazing enough that you have a chance to say meet Morrissey.       

Jose: Yeah, he’s larger than life.       

Charles: Sorry we’re working out a key issue here at the station at the same time.       

Jose: If all goes well in Manchester if we get city permits, work schedules permitting and all that business we would like to perform a show right in front of the Salford Lads Club. Smiths fans know that the inside cover of the Queen is Dead - that’s where all four band members are standing in front of to have their photo taken.       

Charles: That big brick building...       

Jose: Yeah that’s right - right in front of that big brick building.        

Jeff: It’s the most famous picture of them.       

Jose: Yes it’s the most famous picture of them, almost like the Abbey Road picture for the Beatles.  We’d love to cap off that entire trip - do a show, maybe a little acoustic show right in front of that brick building.       

Charles: Yeah that would be nice.  How long have you been around?       

Jose: Sweet and Tender Hooligans has existed since 1992.  Started out as an original band.  One time for laughs and giggles we decided “oh lets do a show and just do Morrissey and the Smiths” that was way back in 1992.  It was the first ever Morrissey/ Smiths convention which is held every year and as its progressed its gone from a little tiny club to every year now at the Palace in Hollywood. It’s a blast, I recommend it for anyone that’s a fan of Morrissey and the Smiths.  Even if you’re out of town, out of state it’s worth the trip out just to meet other fans and celebrate Morrissey and the Smiths.       

Jeff: What really broke our fame in the LA area was our showing on Judge Joe Brown the television show.  That’s really what did it for us.       

Berny: That’s not just LA though - that’s nationwide.       

Jose: That’s true but the entire world saw us for what we are I guess.       

Dave: It was so good that it got reruns.       

Jose: That’s right but anyway it was just a funny court case that we decided “oh hey we can get on TV too!”       

Charles: When was this?       

Jose: Gosh it had to be like 1997 or 1998 I think.       

Jeff: Yeah it was a couple of years ago.  It was a joke we had a show on New Years Eve that got cancelled at the last second.  So as a joke we decided that we’d try to get on Judge Judy so we kind of had this case and we ended up being picked up by the producers of Judge Joe Brown.  We were on and it was incredibly embarrassing but we won and that’s all that matters.       

Jose: I don’t think it was embarrassing at all.  I mean I knew it was a slam dunk to begin with.       

Dave: No I mean it was embarrassing watching it when it was on repeat over and over again.       

Jose: That’s true       

Berny: Were there regrets afterwards then?       

Jeff: Not really regrets it just came off looking really goofy.  It looked a little staged.  For all of you that are wondering out there it was real.       

Jose: It was real.  It was in fact a real case.  We did have to take someone to court.       

Berny: Did you go fully dressed as you would to a gig though?       

Dave: Jose’s hair was fully up.  Actually we did.  Jeff had on his little see through top.       

Jeff: My nipples were on national television.       

Berny: Did you have one covered with a band aid though?       

Jose: Yes, he was wearing a band aid over his nipple too.       

Berny: Sorry I missed it.       

Jose: Well they rerun it every once in a while.       

Charles: It’s got to be archived somewhere.       

Berny: Perhaps I can go to the Judge Joe Brown site.       

Jose: There you go.       

Charles: Now you guys do have a Yahoo Club.        

Jose: That’s right.  You can visit us at Yahoo Clubs.  Just type in “Sweet and Tender Hooligans” it’s that simple.       

Charles: And there were plans for a real webpage the first time we spoke.       

Jose: Yeah there’s always that plan.  In the works though.  In the meantime the Yahoo club page serves us more than well.  I mean right when you pop into it - it tells you when the next show is.  There’s pictures in there, people leave messages and post stuff.  You know comments and that type of thing, it’s served us pretty well.  People who have never seen us they can see pictures of one of our shows.       

Jeff: And Jose is the game show host on Monday nights.       

Jose:  Periodically on Monday nights from time to time what I’ll do is do a live chat  where it’s a trivia game I call it the lyric game.  Believe me it is as dorky as it sounds.  You type in a Smiths or Morrissey lyric and everyone in the chat room tries to guess what song it is, the first person that gets it gets to type out the next song lyric.       

Charles: I would die on that.       

Jose: For example “share some greased tea with me”       

Berny: That’s too easy - that’s Everyday is Like Sunday       

Jose: There you go.       

Jeff: Although you took too long to reply.       

Berny: I know I would have lost.  There would have been some 14 year old that typed in Everyday is Like Sunday first thing and I would have lost.  I’ve got old arthritic hands I wouldn’t have been able to type that fast.       

Jose: But see now you know how to play.  It’s that simple to play.  And just because you guess it right you can pass it off to another player.       

Berny: Is it just the pride of knowing that you were the first one?

Jose: Of course       

Berny: It’s bragging rights then       

Jose: Exactly       

Jeff: Although nobody knows who anyone is though because it’s like “Mozhead2000”       

Berny: I assume there are a lot of like “Moz” names in there then       

Band: Oh yeah like all of them.... Suedehead, Mozgirl, Lil’ Moz, Girl Drowning       

Berny: Mozette?       

Jeff: There’s even some guy named “LawyerLiar”       

Jose: Oh this guy posts all the time - I want to meet this guy.  Because he’s just .......       

Jeff: He’s a little dodgy I hear       

Charles: Well if you’re out there “LawyerLiar”, get in touch.       

Berny: Maybe he’s from Salford       

Jose: Maybe he is       

Berny: Yeah people from Salford are a bit dodgy so he could be.  I was going to suggest that if you do end up playing in Salford to lock the equipment cases up.  I’ve been to Salford it’s not pleasant.       

Jose: Yeah that’s what they’ve told us.       

Jeff: We’ve all actually been there individually.       

Jose: Individually we’ve all been in front of the Salford Lads Club.  Everyone leaves little pieces of graffiti and leaves a little memento       

Jeff: What did you write Jose?       

Jose: I wrote a line that just sums it up for me.  It’s a line from “Speedway” it’s the final line that says “In my own sick way I’ll always stay true to you” - Jose Maldanado, Burbank California.  We’ll see if it’s still there in September.  We’ll look and see if it’s been buffed out.       

Jeff: Actually I looked for it when I was there and hmm it was gone. Sorry about that.       

Berny: Well you have to make room for new things.       

Jose: Just broke my heart       

Charles: Do they white wash this wall every six months?       

Jose: They must have to.  Because certainly when I was there it was really covered.       

Berny: Did they have the sign up when you went?  Because when I went the sign had been stolen again.       

Jose: Oh really?       

Berny: Yeah the sign has been stolen like ten times.       

Jose: Are you talking about the big sign?       

Berny: The Salford Lads Club sign       

Jose: But it’s on the top       

Berny: It’s been replaced about ten times already because people keep stealing them.       

Jose: I know that the city sign from the back of Strangeways Here We Come was lifted years ago.       

Berny: Yeah but the Salford Lads Club sign has been stolen as well.       

Jose: That’s one thing I would love to ask Morrissey though like “Hey Dude what do you think of that?”  I mean how cool is that, everywhere that you stand now becomes historic.       

Berny: It becomes hallowed ground now.       

Dave: Like Reardon street in London.       

Jose: Yeah Reardon street in the East End of London, everything's been taken. Everything but the fire hydrant.  We’ll see if that’s still there.       

Charles: I don’t doubt someone has tried.       

Jose: I’m sure       

Charles: Well one of the things we like when we have a band come in is to play some of the music that you’re listening to now or has influenced you and this is an obvious choice.  We’ve got the Smiths with......       

Jose: “Sweet and Tender Hooligan” our namesake.       

Charles: We’ll be back in just a few minutes.  If while we’re playing music and you want to talk to the band or get a comment in you can call us at 562-985-2282 you can also send us e-mail at Indieshop@hotmail.com or join us in one of the chat rooms go to Indieshop.org and there’s info on the website as far as how to get in touch with us and the chat rooms.  So we’ll be right back, play a couple of songs and we’ll be right back with the Sweet and Tender Hooligans.  Just let us know if there is something you want to ask.       

(Break for Music)      

Charles: We have the Sweet and Tender Hooligans here in studio - a Smiths tribute band.  I’d rather say tribute than cover, I don’t know how you guys feel about that.       

Jose: You know for me it really doesn’t make a difference.  I don’t really see a difference to be honest with you.  I mean I like to say tribute band because that just sounds more glamorous doesn’t it?  We’ve been billed as the ultimate tribute to Morrissey and the Smiths.       

Charles: But I think when you have the two you have a cover band who basically doesn’t matter who they are, they’re just a band that can play your music.  As opposed to a tribute band where there seems to be more of a personal attachment.       

Jose: And an impersonator may be in it.       

Charles: Well not just an impersonator but someone who actually appreciates the music.       

Jose: Ahh ok so maybe tribute is what we are then.       

Berny: There doesn’t seem to be much dedication when you hear cover band.  As far as tribute bands it’s like ok they’ve dedicated their performance to this.       

Jeff: Yeah cover bands are like when you go into a bar on a Sunday night and they’re playing like Love Shack and the next band they’re playing is like J Geils band like Freeze Frame.       

Jose: (to Dave) Do you know Freeze Frame? Because I’d love to......       

Dave: Yeah but ......... not now       

Berny: Maybe as an encore some night       

Dave: Some other time yeah       

Charles: Well you know if the whole Morrissey/Smiths thing peters out you can always go to a J Geils cover band.       

Jeff: There’s a huge demand for that we hear       

Jose: I tell you man if it ever petered out I’d look at ... I think my first choice would probably be and I joke about it  I’d go into either a Depeche Mode or Erasure type of tribute thing because hey I sing those songs anyway.       

Berny: You know with J Geils though you could probably actually get J Geils into your band.       

Jose: That’s funny       

Charles: Imagine trying to push him away from the mic all the time.       

Jose: We did a show once where we had a Neil Diamond impersonator on before us and then before him it was Blue Oyster Cult but it turned out it actually was Blue Oyster Cult.       

Berny: Ahh no really?       

Jose: No I’m kidding.       

Charles: And nobody knew.       

Jose: Right nobody knew, oh hey it’s a cover band.       

Charles: Well let’s go back for a bit when you guys first started you started as a regular band right?       

Jose: Yeah, back in 1992 I was just writing some songs and decided oh what the heck let’s see if I can be a legitimite band type of thing.  It’s nothing I took too seriously.  I’m very very happy with my day job and it just gets better and better.  And I don’t just say that sarcastically I do live quite comfortably with the day job I have.       

Charles: Can I ask what you guys do?       

Jeff: Exotic Dancing       

Berny: That’s more of a night time job       

Jeff: When you do it as well as we do it, it’s day or night.       

Berny: I guess we would miss work if it was really good.       

Jose: I’m an LA County Lifeguard and I’m proud to say it.  So that explains it, I love my work.  It would have to be something really life changing for me to ever leave.  Because I just enjoy it that much.  And Sweet and Tender Hooligans it’s a wonderful hobby.  It’s a great thing.  Some people bowl on Tuesdays, this is what I get to do and I have a great time doing it.       

Charles: You actually make good money as a lifeguard?       

Jose: Oh yeah.  A lot of people don’t know this but LA County Lifeguards... well maybe people do know this but we are the highest paid life guards in the world.  Not the highest paid in the county or whatever we are the highest paid in the world.  We set the standard for life guarding worldwide.       

Berny: Well you’d think you’d have to get sort of like the best life guards just because we have so many people coming with tourists and they might not be the best swimmers.  The Pacific Ocean is kind of rough.       

Jose: You have to be a good swimmer.  You can’t just you know apply and fill out the application.       

Berny: So you can’t just sort of look good in the suit then?       

Jose:  It’s a thousand meters in eighteen minutes or less. - that’s a whole kilometer.       

Berny: Do they make you at some point drag back four people with you?       

Jose:  You do that type of thing in the training but let’s talk about Sweet and Tender Hooligans.       

Charles: Well that would explain why you’re able to drag people across the stage.       

Berny: It’s good training for the shows.       

Jose: One thing about that - it truly is the ultimate compliment.  Here we are, well here I am impersonating Morrissey and people are impersonating Morrissey’s fans.  Jumping up on stage and getting into the show which is what we do.  It’s fun people, don’t take it so seriously.  We wouldn’t do this if people didn’t keep asking us to keep coming back and do shows.  We’re going to keep doing it as long as people keep asking for us.  If people don’t ask us we’ll just be in our garage or at our drummers house wherever just performing songs.       

Charles: Does it ever get a bit scary? You’re up on stage and people are acting as though you’re Morrissey.       

Jose: It does.  I won’t lie to you.  It does get scary sometimes but it’s all gentle, it’s all in love and it’s all in the fun spirit of the moment.       

Dave: I think the biggest threat to you is me.  Haven’t we collided a few times?       

Jose: This is true.  He’s spiked me in the face a couple of times with his guitar.       

Dave: I stand on Jose’s right and my guitar is pointing right at his face and they collide every now and then.  I’m surprised your eyes are still intact.       

Jose: Particularly with some of the smaller stages.  But you know in the middle of a show I just don’t feel it.  I’ll wake up the next morning with this giant bruise on the side of me or smack in the middle of my forehead. It was scary the first time it happened.  The first time that people actually ran up on stage there’s that moment where it’s like “hey this is cool” then there’s “(gasp) they’re not letting go!” then I wonder if security knows that I really need security at this moment.       

Berny: You need to get that guy that Morrissey has on the side of the stage that pulls people off.  That guys been with him forever he’s kind of scary.       

Jeff: The bald guy?       

Jose: Yeah big heavy set football player type of guys.       

Berny: Just get one of those.  Perhaps if you’re in the LA area and want to volunteer to be a personal bodyguard just come on by.

Charles: (to Dave and Jeff) But how did you guys feel?  You’re performing behind him and then suddenly....       

Jeff: Well people step on my pedals and it changes my sound or I get unplugged that’s my only gripe but it’s not really a gripe because it’s all part of the show.       

Jose: Lee our bass player sometimes gets a little nervous because he plays an upright bass for some of the rockabilly tunes that we do and it’s standing up pretty precariously on a stand and well if that thing gets knocked over we’re doomed.       

Berny: They’re not inexpensive       

Jose: Right, but it’s all part of the show.  We’re happy to have that happen, it’s all part of the show.       

Charles: How has it changed?  You were fans of Morrissey and the Smiths and as a fan it can change your life, it can change the way you look at things, the way you approach other music.  How has being in a cover band changed this?  Has it changed at all?  Do you look at the music differently now?       

Jose: Tribute band....       

Charles: My apologies...       

Jose: That’s alright.  For me it’s increased my love of Morrissey and those songs.  What can I say.  People even ask me if I get tired of it and I can honestly say that even after a rehearsal on the drive home in goes Vauxhall and I or Meat is Murder.  It has not gotten old for me.       

Dave: Actually for me I went from being sort of a Smiths fan and knowing of just a couple of Morrissey songs and now I like the whole thing, I like all the Smiths, all the Morrissey.  That’s what it’s done for me.  I probably wouldn’t have been a Morrissey fan today if I wasn’t in this band and Jose sort of forced these songs down my throat to begin with.  Now it’s the whole package.  From the Smiths first album to Morrissey’s most recent album.  And we play songs now that are like the last things five years ago that I thought we’d ever play and they’re my favorite songs to play now.  I find myself listening to some of the more obscure songs and liking them.       

Charles: Do you find that you’re more appreciative of the technical aspect?       

Dave: Absolutely.  Because I’m the guitarist.  I have to figure out what Johnny Marr is doing.  When you realize this guy was eighteen or nineteen years old when he was doing a lot of this stuff it’s baffling.  Trying to undo that guys brain, it’s a pretty tricky job.  Even musically I appreciate it much more then say if I were just an outsider not really trying to figure it out and learning how to play the parts.       

Charles: Is there a song that you were never able to really grasp?       

Dave: Not yet       

Jeff: The first chord of Hand in Glove.  We’ve not managed to decipher that one yet.  But songs that we’ve set down and said ok we’ve got to do this, like Some Girls are Bigger Than Others, that was a little challenging but we got through it.       

Dave: I’m confident with the whole band that each of the members of the band can figure out what they need to do to make it sound authentic because we’ve done it consistently so far when we play.       

Jose: One of the problems that we run into is narrowing down which songs we’re going to perform.  Keep in mind there are seventy two songs by the Smiths and over two hundred now in the Morrissey solo work.  Naturally it would be impossible to get every single song out there but David’s goal is to eventually have covered the entire catalog.  I hope we do it.        

Jeff: With the exception of Golden Lights       

Dave: No, even Golden Lights, the whole thing.       

Jose: Wait, I draw the line at Oscillate Wildly ok, we don’t do that.       

Dave: It’s alright you can go backstage and have a beer       

Jose: For those of you that don’t know Oscillate Wildly is an instrumental.       

Jeff: The Draize Train?       

Jose: All joking aside, I really wish we would cover those songs.       

Dave: My goal to is one day do a show where all we do is instrumentals.       

Berny: It’ll be great it’ll be a nice little vacation for Jose       

Jose: Thanks       

Charles: Jose’s sick this week......       

Berny: As he’s back in the dressing room with a little duct tape over his mouth.       

Charles: Is there any song that you’ve feared covering?       

Jose: No.  I say “bring it on”       

Dave: I’m waiting for all the guys in the band to be vegetarians before we do Meat is Murder.       

Jose: You feel that it’s a personal thing that ....       

Dave: Well yeah, because I’m a vegetarian, Jeff’s a vegetarian.  We’re working on the other guys here.  That’s the only one I’m kind of putting on the back burner until we’re all right.  It will happen.       

Jeff: Some day soon.       

Charles: Ok so say that I’m in the crowd and I’m watching Morrissey perform and you can feel that every emotion is coming from Morrissey himself. You know the the words he wrote are just what he was feeling at the time. Is it hard to get that across when you’re performing those songs?       

Jose: I’ll tell you what.  All of us can relate to his songs some way or another.  I was just mentioning to Jeff how singing “I Know it’s Over” there’s that moment for everybody.  Just that moment of feeling that the world is coming down on you and the soils falling over your head. No it’s not difficult for me to figure out what kind of emotion that I need to be because those songs do mean a lot to me.  Particularly a song like “There is a light that Never Goes Out” everybody has that kind of a moment where in that darkened underpass when you had your chance and you just didn’t have the guts.       

Jeff: But that’s the fun thing.  To be in a band with Jose, like Morrissey said you can spot a fake really easily.  And I think that the audience and the reason that we are as good as we are is that the audience sees Jose and they know it’s really genuine and that he really does love it.  We’re not up there for any other reason other than to celebrate the man and it really comes through and that’s why I think we have the reactions that we get.       

Charles: Do you have favorites?       

Jose: This is a question that I get often.  The honest to god answer is they’re all my favorites.  Every single song in the entire catalog is my favorite.  There isn’t a particular song or album that I always go back to or anything like that.  Now there’s the question of is there a favorite song to perform live.  That one I can narrow it down.  Mute Witness is a fun song to do, so is Lucky Lisp.       

Jeff: Those are the recent ones, but there have been times when like the first time we did You’re the One For Me Fatty and I was just thinking oh my god, let’s do that again.       

Jose: “Lost” is another song.  We’ll have these moments in rehearsal where it’ll be the first time we run through a song and we’ll say what took us so long?  That happened recently with Seasick Yet Still Docked.  It’s great to be able to figure out which songs we’re going to do this time around that we haven’t done yet.  Favorites for you Dave?       

Dave: It changes.  Right now since we’ve been doing Seasick, I’ve been listening to that song a lot and I like it.  Before it was like it was just sort of one of the album tracks.  But now that’s one of the ones I’ve been listening to a lot lately.      

Charles: Speaking of Fatty, we’re going to play another song now and they’ve decided to play that track.  We’re having the bands play tracks that they like to hear, stuff that’s influenced you and what not.  This is from Vauxhall and I...      

  Everyone: It’s from Your Arsenal       

Charles: There are like fifty people out there going (shakes head) I’m scatter brained tonight so you’ll have to excuse me as people know already.  We’ll be back in a few seconds.  If you want to try calling us - we can’t find the phone in here so call us on the outside office number 562-985-1624 and try to call while we’re playing music so we’re not inside the studio.  We shall be right back.       

Charles: You’re listening to the Indie Shop here on K-Beach radio.  We just heard the Smiths “Handsome Devil” to an audience of 5 or so at the Hacienda. We actually started the show with that as well, that’s from the Hacienda in Manchester probably around 1983 I’d say.  We played some Morrissey before that “You’re the one for me fatty”.  We’re here with the Sweet and Tender Hooligans.  Continuing on, you started in 83?  Ummm, 1993?       

Jose & Berny: 1992       

Charles: Oh this is so embarrassing.       

Jeff: Yes the Smiths are a tribute of us.       

Berny: That’s so cool.       

Charles: Morrissey should be so happy.  It’s just amazing to me to think that not only as an artist you have all these people that follow you but live and breathe the thoughts and words, music that you create.  But to have someone actually put so much attention and detail into what you guys do.       

Jose: It’s a labor of love.  That would be a good way of saying it.  It’s easy.       

Charles: How was it to actually meet him?       

Jose: Wow.  Well for the first time, I’m one of the lucky ones I’ve met him four different times.  The first time was quite emotional, I make no bones about it.  Fortunately for me it was a situation where he was at a club and no one knew who he was and he was just hanging out like an ordinary schmo. It was the perfect opportunity for a fan to meet him.  There he was just enjoying another band playing, I finally just got up the courage to just tell him - I’ve always rehearsed this.  I said “Every single day of my life is always just that much better because your songs are always a part of it”. That’s when I broke out in tears.  He looked back at me and said “The feeling is entirely mutual because everyday of my life is that much better because I know that there are people out there that are listening to my songs” and with that he signed an autograph and to date it’s still one of my prized possessions.  It’s my Morrissey at KROQ cd he had signed (rustling through a bag of cds) well I have it right here - “To Jose Good Luck Forever Morrissey”       

Jeff: And the third caller in will get it.       

Jose: No that’s not true       

Berny: We’ll sneak it out of the bag, don’t worry about it.       

Jose: Good luck forever Morrissey, wow that just said it all. This was 1991-92 since then I’ve had the chance of meeting him again but I’ve never quite told him that by the way I’m the lead singer of....       

Berny: But you did this last time though didn’t you.       

Jose: That’s right.  He did a show, his last tour around in Arizona and before his band comes on, before he even utters one word or strums a guitar anything like that he gets right up to the microphone and he says “Hello we’re the Sweet and Tender Hooligans” and that for me right there said wow, ok he knows who I am, he knows who we are.  So I finally decided that the next time I met him I would finally say hey by the way and sure enough he interrupts me before I even start to tell him who I am.  He said “Oh I know who you are.  You’re from Sweet and Tender Hooligans” and I said “Well, great thanks” and he asked me how the show went last week.  We had just done a show at the House of Blues and he asked how it went.  I was very surprised that he even knew about it, although not too surprised, we send him flyers all the time.  One day we hope he’ll be there.  He did jokingly say though and I hope people realize that I don’t take him seriously when he says this “Oh it’s as if I’m looking in a mirror”.       

Charles: Well it must be to some small extent.       

Jose: It’s funny.  He did mention that he has a VHS copy of one of our concerts and he’s seen it and I was so scared to ask him if he liked it and he said it was fantastic. So to hear it from him, that was fantastic.       

Dave: Didn’t he like our version of “Lost”?       

Jose: That’s right.       

Dave: And he suggested that we release it as a single.       

Jose: He did and that’s another one of those things that I don’t take him seriously, but that’s sweet of him to say.       

Berny: But you could end up on Judge Joe Brown again.       

Dave: Morrissey vs. The Sweet and Tender Hooligans       

Berny: Just battle of the pompadours, it would be fantastic.       

Dave: That would be the angle they would take.       

Jose: Friends of mine who are close to his circle have told me that he finds it amusing that he has an impersonator.  Because only people like Elvis, Cher and Madonna have impersonators.  He thinks it’s just hilarious that there’s somebody out there, not just one of us, there are a couple of us out there.       

Jeff: Even Pee Wee Herman has an impersonator.       

Charles: But what Pee Wee?  You mentioned that there are other tribute bands. Do you feel that you’re competing with them in any level?       

Jose: In the past we had a show with the Salford Lads from New York.  We flew them out here to Los Angeles to do a show with us at one of our regular venues.  That was one of the greatest shows that I’ve ever been a part of because they did a set before us then we did a set then they did a set.......       

Dave: It was so different.  The styles were so different so there wasn’t really a whole lot of room for competition.       

Jeff: They sounded to me like the Ramones playing Smiths songs.       

Jose: What I thought was particularly fun was swapping lead singers for a song. It was me singing with their band and their lead singer Jesse singing with us.       

Dave: So instead of being competitive about it we try to embrace it.       

Jose: Don’t take anything too seriously.       

Jeff: We tried to swap groupies with them too but they were not into that.       

Jose: I wouldn’t want to swap groupies though because ours are the best.       

Berny: Yeah yours will fight for you.       

Jose: Exactly       

Berny: We saw the pictures it was pretty impressive.       

Jose: Sarah if you’re out there we love you.  Thank you San Gabriel Sarah.       

Jeff: Although we haven’t forgiven you for jumping on stage with These Charming Men at that last convention.       

Jose: These Charming Men from Ireland are superb.  They put a lot of heart and a lot of feeling into their set, I’d love to do a type of thing like that where they come out here or we go out to Ireland to do a show with them.       

Dave: We’re actually trying to make something like that happen now.  We’re in the process of putting something like that together.       

Jose: Boy talk about swapping lead singers there.       

Dave: We’re going to be in England and we’re going to have like 3 or 4 days off between a couple of the shows and we’re trying to put something together then.  It’s coming together.  There’s no real reason I think to be competitive when we’re just tribute bands.        

Jose: None of us are going to be retiring off of this.  it’s just like I said earlier, it’s just a hobby.  It’s just something that we do for fun.       

Dave: We do work pretty hard at it though.       

Jose:  Sure, but even if you bowl on Tuesdays, you want to be the best bowler you can be.       

Berny: Just envisioning like a battle of the Smiths band night somewhere.       

Jose: I would never think of ever calling it a battle.       

Berny: But it would be so cool, last band standing sort of thing, clashing with guitars.       

Jose: If we wanted we could make it like a WWF style where it was totally fake and trash talk each other but then we’d have to make up at the end and we’d have to sing “We are the World” together.       

Berny: No it would have to be a Smiths song.       

Jeff: We should do that and have Morrissey be the only judge.       

Charles: But he would leave five minutes into the show.       

Jeff: He would say he was going to show up and then not show up.       

Berny: I’m going to hear about this later, I just know it.       

Charles: How long are you going to be in the UK?       

Jose: We’re there for 10 days and we’re doing 4 shows.       

Dave: 4 possibly 5, possibly 6.       

Jose: We’ll see how much my voice can handle.       

Berny: Hardest working band ever....       


We have 4 so far.  We’re starting in London and we’re going up so  far as Leeds. We’re capping it off in Manchester, then we’re playing in Leicester which is in the Midlands.       

Charles: I wonder if the Smiths fan in the UK are going to look at you guys and think “Oh no, they’re American”       

Jose: Who knows, we’re there to do our tribute set and certainly when These Charming Men came out here people were quick to embrace them with open arms and I think as long as people understand that it’s all for fun that’s all it is.       

Dave: We’re treading on sacred ground though.  This is the Smiths.  We’re going to Manchester, these little upstart Americans, it’s going to be interesting to see their reaction.       

Charles: You kind of wonder if they really know about how much of a love for this music actually exists over here.       

Berny: I think they are aware of it.  I think they realized that he’s sort of carried on, Morrissey had sort of no solo success in the UK but it seems as though America has truly embraced him especially on the west coast. Plus they love Americans in the UK, I think you guys will do wonderful.       

Dave: They just don’t like to admit it.       

Charles:  Speaking of shows, you have a show coming up at the Roxy on June 16th. The 15th anniversary of the release of the Queen is Dead.       

Jose: What we plan on doing is a tribute to that album.  That legendary album that everyone talks about.  That was the first album that got them into the Smiths.  It was Jeff’s idea.  He wanted the cover the entire album all the way from “The Queen is Dead” all the way through “Some girls are bigger than others” just track by track.  Then when we’re done with the album we’ll be taking requests.       

Charles: We’re going to play another song.  We’ll be back in a few minutes and talk a bit more with the Sweet and Tender Hooligans.  We’ll play “Girlfriend in a Coma” that’s from Strangeways, finally got that one.       

(break for song)       

Charles: You’re listening to the Indie Shop here on K-Beach radio on Kbeach.org we are the official student station here at Long Beach State here in Southern California coming to you here with Sweet and Tender Hooligans in studio. Just heard “Lost” that’s a b-side from “Roy’s Keen” and Smiths “Girlfriend in a Coma” from Strangeways Here We Come.  One thing I wanted to talk to you for a little bit was you had an article in the LA times magazine section which is a Sunday supplement.  I was really surprised, I had not known about you before and to see that article was just like, wow they’re covering something that actually deals with music that I like.  The LA times is known for ignoring certain facets of the industry.       

Jose: We were rather surprised that they would do an article about us.  I’ve had interviews with Select magazine in the UK, we’ve appeared in Spin and I think Rolling Stone had a picture on us, oh wait that was Spin.  Every once in a while I’ll pop up but this was the first time it was a 3 or 4 page article about us.       

Charles: Large color photos.....       

Jose: That was quite an accomplishment I guess.       

Charles: How did that change the band itself?  The opportunities that you have?       

Jose: They were beating down the door after that, trying to book us and trying to get us to do more shows.  People who had never heard of us before suddenly wanted to see what all the hubbub was about.       

Charles: Do you imagine you’d be going to the UK had that not happened?       

Jose: I have to give credit where credit is due.  A young lady by the name of Toshi Harrison (apologize for any incorrect spelling) is responsible for booking us in England.  She started out as a fan and now she books shows for us like nobody’s business.  She is fantastic for us.  Toshi if you’re listening your hard work, we love you for that, thank you for booking these shows and for getting us out there.       

Jeff: This whole thing in England was booked through a now defunct tribute band and that’s how it worked out so there’s already sort of the base there.       

Jose: But the LA Times article certainly gave us a little more credibility, there’s places that have never even heard of Morrissey and the Smiths and to sell them on the idea.  We have to sort of give them a whole 80’s music history lesson. Then they’re shocked and surprised at how many people show up.       

Charles: The article really seemed to focus on not just the fact that you’re a tribute band but on the whole Mexican American lure to Morrissey the connection there and the fact that you are a Mexican American.       

Jose: The article did focus on that specifically and that’s a question I get often.  Why are there so many Mexican American, Latino American Morrissey and Smiths fans in Los Angeles?  The only answer I have to that is there’s just so darn many of us here!       Berny: We have to like somebody.       

Jose: I mean just by the sheer numbers.  Maybe it’s just by default it’s just why it is.  It does seem odd that 85%of the audience when we do shows is Mexican American.  We don’t do songs in Spanish or anything like that.        

Charles: Have you ever thought about it?       

Jose: Every once in a while I’ll change lyrics into Spanish.       

Berny: Well Morrissey tried it that one time and it really didn’t work out that well when he tried it with “Manana”       

Jose: Actually his songs have been covered by an artist in Spanish, he’s covered “There is a light that never goes out” and “Everyday is like Sunday”        

Berny: That was a huge hit last year.       

Jose: So they’ve been covered.       

Dave: I think that was one of the goals though of this article to find out what’s the reason or an explanation but I don’t think it succeeded.       

Jose: It didn’t succeed in finding out what’s the reason for that.  All I can tell you people  is that it is what it is.       

Berny: But it’s grown so much over the past years.  I remember getting into the Smiths back in junior high and when I was in high school, it was like me and my one friend we were like the only kids in Montebello listening to this and now it seems you go there and every house is playing it.  I don’t know if it’s spread because you turn your little brother onto it and then they let their cousins listen to it and it just spread.  But it’s grown by leaps and bounds.       

Jose: One thing that I do want to stress because people do often confuse, that article we didn’t mean to single anybody out.  We want every single person that wants to come see a show to come see a show. That goes for whoever, whatever ethnicity you are.   

Charles: It kind of seems odd in light of some of the trouble Morrissey had in the UK with some of his comments and a few of the lyrics.  Like with the National Front Disco.  It’s an odd difference there between the two countries.  Which I guess is kind of nice because he can come over here now and I guess prove that he’s not like that.       

Jose: With true fans there never was any doubt.  Look at the songs they’re talking about.  For example songs like “Asian Rut” it’s merely telling a story about an Asian fellow who’s friend got killed and what’s racist about that?       

Jeff: What about Bengali in Platforms?  He only wants to embrace your culture and to be your friend forever       

Jose: There’s the National Front Disco which is again another story and
listen to the lyrics it talks about “we’ve lost our boy” hey it’s a sad thing because where has he gone?

Dave: It’s like Sunny.  Sunny doesn’t advocate using heroin it kind of laments it.       

Jose: I think people misunderstood that unfortunately.       

Berny: It’s more just like his comments just because Morrissey coming from England because race is such a huge issue over there.  Especially with the Asian population and there’s so much tension there between the white people and the Asian people, it’s just incredible.  I think it was just his comment there with those two songs.       

Jeff: It’s so ambiguous though when he sings “England for the English” how are you to take that?  Are you to take that as him writing it from the perspective of someone telling a story or someone doing what Morrissey does quite often and writes from his own heart?  How do you construe that?       

Jose: And I’ve always wanted to tell Morrissey that I take no offence to “Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning” I take no offence to that at all, I think it’s a great song.       

Dave: Didn’t he write that song for you?       

Jose: (to Dave) You know you’re going to have to learn to play the clarinet if we’re ever going to do that live.  I know David, he’ll learn to play the clarinet just so we can do that song.  He really wants to do the entire catalog.       

Berny: I think it’s an oboe, I don’t think it’s a clarinet.       

Jose: Ahem, check the sleeve.       

Berny: Oh ok, never mind.  It just sounds more like an oboe.       

Jose: Sleeve check!       

Charles: Trivia wars here on the Indie Shop we’re going to play one more song...       

Berny: Oh no he’s getting it out       

Jose: Oh just go on       

Charles: We’re going to play one more song then we’ll come back and you guys will perform a few.  One question someone had e-mailed me, they want to know if you guys have anything available on CD.       

Jose: No, certainly not.  When people ask that we say go to the Warehouse and look under “The Smiths” look under there.  That’s what you do.       

Charles: Are you afraid to....       

Jose: No, not afraid it just wouldn’t be right.  We perform his songs in concert and that’s it.  That’s what we do.       

Charles: So it’s about that one moment where you can embrace with the audience and celebrate Morrissey.       

Jose: Just see the show       

Dave: We’re trying to recreate the buzz live.  Live guitars actually performing the notes and feeling like you’re there.       

Jose: Much the way say the LA Philharmonic will say perform selections by Mozart or Beethoven.       

Dave: Yeah nobody in the audience there gets too frustrated.       

Jose: Yeah no one says “Oh they didn’t write the music”       

Dave: We see Morrissey in sort of the same vein.  We see his music as worthy of being performed if he’s not doing it.  We’ll revive it and play it and the Smiths will never play again live. That’s debatable but...       

Jose: Abba are no longer together but there’s a musical out there now and that is how people can see that music being performed live.       

Dave: It’s an art form worthy of reenactment.       

Jose: I like to think that’s why we do what we do and again and you know people just keep asking us to keep doing this and that’s what we’re going to do.       

Charles: I’m going to play a live version of “Trouble loves me” and the original is on Maladjusted, his last cd.  After that we’ll have you perform, we’re coming to the end of the show.  We’ll be right back, don’t go away, coming up next the Sweet and Tender Hooligans live in studio.      

(break for songs)       

Charles: Thanks once again for coming in, I really appreciate you making the effort.       

Jose: We had a great time, thanks for having us.       

Charles: We’re definitely going to have to be at that June 16th show.       

Jose: We’d love to have you, so please get your tickets early so you can save a few bucks because the Roxy charges a lot for parking anyway.  Visit our Yahoo Clubs page, just go to Yahoo Clubs and type in Sweet and Tender Hooligans.       

Charles: It’s amazing, and of course if you’re in the UK go check them out. When are you going to be there?       

Jose: Week of September 6th through 16th.  Look for us, read your local trades and they’ll have it all down.  We do know for a fact that the Star and Garter, that’s the one confirmed date.       

Charles: The Star and Garter?       

Jose: Those are two confirmed dates.       

Dave: Actually there are four confirmed dates.       

Jose: Ok       

Berny: Check the website       

Jose: Yes, check the club page, check Yahoo Clubs.       

Charles: If you do want to win a copy of the interview and performance cd e-mail me at Indieshop@hotmail.com.  We’re done for the night.  We’ll be back next week and thanks again.  Diane is coming right up so if you have any questions or personal problems in your life give her a call.  Once again, thanks again.


The author reserves all rights for the above interview. Please notify us with any intentions or desires to re-broadcast the above in any manner.