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The Smiths' Andy Rourke Finds a Home on East Village Radio

By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

EAST VILLAGE — While seminal '80s band The Smiths won't be reuniting any time soon, all fans have to do to get their fix of the highly influential British alt-rockers is tune it to East Village Radio each Monday afternoon.

Andy Rourke, the group's bassist and a recent East Village transplant, has been hosting a two-hour weekly show on the online station for the past year, featuring an eclectic playlist of his personal favorites — including a smattering of tracks from his former band.

"They're curious about The Smiths connection and what I'm going to play," said Rourke, 47, of what attracts listeners to his two-hour afternoon segement. "They certainly expect a couple."

But his weekly show hasn't become one of the most popular among the station's dozens of broadcasts by Rourke simply reliving his days with the English quartet.

"Basically, it's just music that I've grown up with and collected over time," he said, navigating everything from The Rolling Stones and Elvis Costello to De La Soul and MGMT during his most recent Monday show.

"It's quite selfish in way — I play what I like."

Rourke's weekly "JetLag" broadcast — the name is inspired by his travels around the globe as a DJ — started as a guest spot but quickly became one of the station's highest-rated segments, in part due to a loyal listener base back in the U.K.

"His show has been performing incredibly well," said EVR general manager Peter Ferraro, noting it ranks in the top-3 off the station's 80-plus broadcasts. "He's a legend."

Rourke was living "bored and frustrated" in his hometown of Manchester, England, before deciding to relocate to New York City two years ago, recently settling in a fourth-floor walkup on East 13th Street.

"There's definitely more opportunities to do things and collaborate," he said of the New York scene. "People seem a lot more driven, and that kind of rubs off on me."

Recently, he's been working with musician Ole Koretsky on a new project, also called JetLag, remixing tracks and writing new ones.

Rourke recently remixed a song for London five-piece The Riff Raff, and he plans to join them on stage in New York one night this week before the band sets off for Texas to play the South by Southwest music fest.

"You have no idea," said Riff Raff singer Alex Thompson, who stopped by the station to drop off some tracks for the show Monday, of the prospect of playing with someone he grew up listening to. "He's prolific."

Since East Village Radio operates out of a tiny storefront space on lower First Avenue, all that stands between Rourke and any die-hards who want to wax nostalgic about his former band is thin wall of glass.

"It freaked me out a bit initially," he said, noting that fans have tried to get inside the studio before. "You see some interesting people walking by. … When people have had a few drinks, they get a bit more daring."

Of course, the question of whether The Smiths could one day reconcile after years of battling among its members is inevitable for Rourke, even as he focuses on other projects.

"It definitely comes with the territory. It's unavoidable," he said of speculation over The Smiths, who last played together in 1987. "As long as people don't try to get rude or spread dirt."

He still keeps in regular touch with some of his former band mates, including drummer Mike Joyce, who also broadcasts a show for East Village Radio from Manchester.

"I speak to Johnny quite a lot," he added of former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, who continues to find mainstream success.

"Morrissey — no."

Listen to Andy Rourke's "JetLag," every Monday, 2 to 4 p.m., on East Village Radio.