Diego Garcia (Elefant) on the Night He Opened For Morrissey
Morrissey is someone who has always had something to say; he has a unique voice — and that makes him a treasure on so many levels. I had the opportunity to open for him in Los Angeles when I was first starting off with my band Elefant back in the day. We were part of that whole post-punk explosion that came out of New York that also included the Strokes, Interpol and all those guys.
Morrissey handpicked me to open up for him at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. He has always been a champion of new artists. We opened for him Thursday and Friday, and then the Killers opened on Saturday and Sunday — to give you an idea of just how fun things were back then. The Killers were just starting out as well.
I’m not sure exactly how Morrissey knew my band or me, but the press was comparing us to the Smiths. The Strokes were getting the whole Velvet Underground thing. Interpol was getting Joy Division. We were the Smiths.
Funny story: When I first released Sunlight Makes me Paranoid in 2003, we were playing the Mercury Lounge, which is like a rite of passage in New York. My mom was in town; she’s this amazing Argentine woman. I heard this afterward, but apparently the DJ started playing the Smiths. I’m not sure which song. But, apparently, my mom turned to someone and asked, “Is this Diego?”
Anyway, arriving in Los Angeles to open for Morrissey blew me away. There was almost this cult-like phenomenon that is Morrissey in L.A. The Latino demographic, the sort of first-generation kids of Mexicans, adored him. I’m definitely not an expert on the why, but I saw it. I saw the crowds and the adoration. I feel like his crowd gave me a chance. And from that experience, I developed a really special relationship with Los Angeles. I owe it in large part to Morrissey.
I remember going to the Wiltern and watching his back-up band do the entire sound check and wondering, “When is he going to show up?” But he never showed up. He came straight from his car to the stage. He doesn’t sound check. The whole venue was shut down for vegan food only. And not only on-site — I feel like even within a hundred yards of the venue, you weren’t allowed to even have a hot dog stand. He has an air of mystery. I never met him, didn’t even shake his hand, which is the only time in my life I’ve ever shared a space and didn’t even say hello or get a thumbs-up.
Not only did we do those two shows, but we were also then invited to play at the Royal Festival Hall in London. That was a huge honor. That sort of kick-started my career — it put me on the map.
I think one of my most proud moments as Elefant — really, in my career — is when we sold out the Wiltern two years later. And in the crowd that night, many faces looked familiar from that night I opened for Morrissey.
TIDAL is proud to announce the world's first music service with High Fidelity sound quality, High Definition music videos and expertly curated Editorial.