Pioneering U.K. modern rock band the Smiths have frequently turned down lucrative offers to reunite since their split in the late 1980s. The latest, to perform at the upcoming Coachella Valley Arts &a

Pioneering U.K. modern rock band the Smiths have frequently turned down lucrative offers to reunite since their split in the late 1980s. The latest, to perform at the upcoming Coachella Valley Arts & Music Festival, was the highest yet, according to the band's former frontman, Morrissey.

"If people must know, it was 5 million [dollars]," he told journalist David Fricke today (March 16) during an interview at the South By Southwest Music & Media Conference in Austin, Texas. After gasps from the fans in the audience subsided, Fricke asked Morrissey if he had considered it. "No, because money doesn't come into it," a response that drew applause from the crowd.

Of the critically adored act, he said, "It was a fantastic journey. And then it ended. I didn't feel we should have ended. I wanted to continue. [Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr] wanted to end it. And that was that."

Discussing his forthcoming album, "Ringleader of the Tormentors," due April 4 via Attack/Sanctuary, the notoriously gloomy singer/songwriter admitted that he's writing songs from a good place these days.

"I'm just seeing lots of joyful things in life, which I didn't in the past," he said, adding slyly, "Which maybe you noticed."

While still provocative, the outspoken singer/songwriter said he has found inspiration in the environment. "Politically the world is ridiculous," he says. "But there's still a lot of beautiful things ... Nature saves us, nature calms us down."

Morrissey will first support the album with a European tour that includes a six-week run of sold-out shows in the United Kingdom. A North American leg is also expected. Morrissey will perform tonight at the Austin Music Hall on a bill with Goldfrapp, Richard Hawley, Corinne Bailey Rae and the Zutons.

A warm-up show earlier this week in Tulsa, Okla., found him dusting off such Smiths chestnuts as "Stop Me if You Think You've Heard This One Before," "Girlfriend in a Coma" and "Still Ill," plus the solo catalog obscurities "Reader Meet Author" and "Trouble Loves Me."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print