This morning brings news of bad behavior from two white-dude titans of middlebrow rock: in the British, effortlessly sophisticated, and possibly racist corner, we have former Smiths frontman Morrissey; his Oklahoman, cosmically disheveled, and possibly racist opponent is Flaming Lips ringleader Wayne Coyne. Who’s the bigger dick?
If you’re the type to closely follow the inter-band squabbles of main-stage festival acts, you already know Coyne’s story. After Flaming Lips drummer Kliph Spurlock publicly criticized the headdress-wearing antics of noted white person Christina Fallin — singer of the band Pink Pony and daughter of right-wing Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin — Coyne dismissed him from the band. The singer was unapologetic, posting an Instagram photo of himself and some friends donning headdresses in solidarity with Fallin, and allegedly mocking Native American protesters at a Pink Pony show where Fallin and bandmates performed “war dances” to make light of the controversy.
Spurlock later published a long statement about the incident, calling his joining of the Lips the “the proudest moment I’ve had in my life thus far,” but also accusing Coyne of racism and “endless” verbal abuse over the years. Now, Coyne has responded in a bizarre interview with Rolling Stone, calling his former bandmate “an abusive, compulsive, pathological liar that will do anything he can do get attention,” who is “not creative,” “a lazier and more close-minded musician,” and a “a horrible, hateful person.”
For some reason, he also takes time to defend the “famous Instagram dog” that appeared in his headdress photo, and slips in a smarmy, backhanded apology while he’s at it.
Kliph and others were upset that you Instagrammed the photo of your three friends and the dog in headdresses. Do you regret that now?
I regret that some people took it wrong, and yeah. The dog isn’t our dog, the dog is a famous Instagram dog that we happened to be in the presence of – Mayor B is an Instagram dog. And he wears everything. He only wears things that obviously his owners must think are cool. One of them is a John Lennon New York shirt with glasses. I don’t think Mayor B is saying, “Look how stupid and hateful I am” to John Lennon. I got the feeling that Mayor B was wearing [the headdress] for the same reasons that Gwen Stefani or anybody else would wear it, because it’s cool-looking. I think they’re saying, “These things are awesome.” And all I was saying to Christina was, “Here we were with this famous dog and everyone was having fun.”
All anyone can really hope for in this cold, unforgiving life is to have a little fun with a famous dog, so perhaps we should forgive this particular transgression.
To refute Spurlock’s allegations of racism, Coyne invokes the “some of my best friends wear headdresses” defense, claiming that though he doesn’t speak about it publicly, “there’s cases of me helping Native Americans.” It’s a heartbreakingly sincere and not-at-all condescending sentiment that should convince any and all internet haters to buzz off.
I am sorry. I realize now that it goes deeply to the heart of some Native Americans. And I definitely regret it. I don’t publicly ever say it, but I live in a neighborhood that was predominantly Native American in the late Seventies and Eighties. I haven’t done it publicly, but there’s cases of me helping Native Americans. It’s all just Internet hate, you know?
What about Morrissey? Though he hasn’t done anything overtly racist lately, he did once call Chinese people a “subspecies” and has made questionable claims about immigration dissolving British identity. But that’s not what we’re hear to talk about.
Last night, This Charming Man was scheduled to play The Observatory in Santa Ana, California, where the bands We Are Scientists and PAWS were also slated to perform in a smaller room. Worried that sound from the other room would bleed into his performance, Morissey tried to have PAWS cancelled and We Are Scientists moved to a later time.
PAWS eviscerated Moz on Facebook, as reported by Stereogum:
Morrissey is currently trying to have our slot at tonights show in Santa Ana, California cancelled because he is playing in another room in the same venue and wishes for their to be no other artists performing in his vicinity.
This is an unbelievable act of complete and utter selfishness that should not be tolerated. This rich, has-been, ego maniac acting like a baby throwing toys from a pram. To satisfy his little power hungry brain. A complete disregard for others and a baffling lack of support/respect for young, hard working musicians.
People like this, with attitudes like this displays a classic example of why the music industry is still awash with disgusting garbage that should by now have been snuffed out. Pedestals, self righteous entitlement, disrespect and “competition”. Geez. It’s not like we’ve come all the way from Scotland to play for nothin’.
The band ended up securing a slot after Morrissey played, as they explain in another Facebook post, but not before they were hassled and chewed out by a series of Moz’s representatives. We Are Scientists took aim at the singer in a series of tweets:
The @itsmorrissey show was the laziest, most milquetoast piece of shit I've ever had the misfortune of suffering through ten minutes of.
— We Are Scientists (@wearescientists) May 9, 2014
Turns out the reason @itsmorrissey doesn't want competing noise is that it might clue people into what singing in tune sounds like.
— We Are Scientists (@wearescientists) May 9, 2014
So, dear readers: who’s worse? Spaced-out hippie dingbat with a penchant for tasteless cultural appropriation and unimaginative insults, or entitled jerk who lets his tour manager fight his battles for him (also probably a racist)? You decide.