EAR CANDY MAG - February 2012

Interview with Howard Devoto of Magazine

By Robert Pally

Right: Magazine in 2011

After 30 years the influential English Post-Punk-Band, Magazine (Which existed from 1977-1981) returns with a new, fifth album called “No Thyself”. In this interview singer Howard Devoto gives sharp answers to questions about Monsters, being influential, success and talking to yourself.

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: