Interview with Howard Devoto of Magazine
Right: Magazine in 2011
EC: Give me a reason to buy a CD with a one-eyed monster on the cover?
Howard Devoto: Robert, you're obviously a cheeky bugger so you're bound to love it.
EC: How much of this monster is in you?
Howard Devoto: All of it. And a tiny, particularly obscure bit more.
EC: What has inspired the album title "No Thyself"?
Howard Devoto: Mortality. And the little homily usually credited to the Oracle at Delphi in ancient Greece: "know thyself".
EC: What triggered the reunion of Magazine?
Howard Devoto: Dave Formula telling me it was my last chance to be venerable.
EC: What are Magazine version 2011 about?
Howard Devoto: Pornography, sacrilege and an awful lot of bluster.
EC: Some of the songs sound like they developed out of jamming around. How was the writing process?
Howard Devoto: A few songs developed that way. Others developed out of editing around.
EC: What means success to you?
Howard Devoto: Peace of mind.
EC: Is there something you regret from your past with Magazine?
Howard Devoto: No. I don't do regret, I do philosophy instead.
EC: How is it to talk to yourself in the song "Of Course Howard (1979)"?
Howard Devoto: Quite extraordinary. The words are derived from my written introduction to 'Thirty Lyrics', a booklet of my lyrics published in 1979.
Right: Magazine circa 1977
EC: What inspired the song "Hello Mister Curtis"?
Howard Devoto: The suicidal feelings I enjoyed as a younger man.
EC: What are the pros and cons of being named as an influence by Radiohead, U2, Muse or Morrissey?
Howard Devoto: I think I like all of those acts, so it’s all pros. There are no cons.
EC: Magazine inspired Radiohead, U2, Muse and Morrissey. What inspires you?
Howard Devoto: My sort of survival inspires me.
EC: How come you worked with Pete Shelley again?
Howard Devoto: Are you referring to the lyrics for the song ‘Do The Meaning’? If so, I didn’t work with Pete on them. I simply found on the internet something he’d said about Linder Sterling and the process of making a montage. “It gets a meaning, then you do the meaning.” I built my lyric for the song around this phrase.
EC: Looking back what do you think about the songs you did with the Buzzcocks and their material afterwards?
Howard Devoto: The songs I did with Buzzcocks were a long time ago and sometimes had a bit too much testosterone. But some of them are good.
EC: Jeremy Vine wrote "Howard Devoto was a total pop genius, but he was a slightly misshaped pop star and I think nobody got him." Is there a way that leads to your universe (through the lyrics for example) or are any explanations useless?
Howard Devoto: I can’t help trying to make the songs mean as much as possible, but sometimes it seems this isn’t always helpful to other people.
EC: Looking back what do you think made Manchester such a hot-bed of musical activity in the late 70's and early 80's?
Howard Devoto: Musicologists know the answer to this. Unfortunately I’m not a musicologist.
EC: Any plans for the future?
Howard Devoto: Not really. Stop and smell the flowers today.
Magazine “No Thyself” (Wire-Sound) is available at: