Johnny Marr in Daily Telegraph (AU)

Pretty nice interview with Johnny in the Telegraph (Australia, subscription required). I find his interviews a pleasure to read. Looks like a solo album in the works for him next year?


Transcript provided by kissmyshadestoo in the comments.

Excerpts:

This year was the 30th anniversary of The Queen is Dead, next year is the 30th anniversary of Strangeways Here We Come. Yet there’s never been anniversary reissues. Is there anything left in the vaults?

There are songs in the vaults, they’ve come out on bootlegs which is a [email protected]#ed up really. There’s a whole slew of out takes, quite a lot of instrumental tracks that were really decent music in their own right. As a fan, myself, I’m fairly reliable when it comes to quality control. I don’t like when I get a load of crap from my favourite band stuck on the end of the CD. But I’m really happy when I hear great alternative takes and demos that are a good valid listen. I’ve assumed the role in the band of the custodian, I guess, which happened mostly when I remastered all the catalogue. That was a bit of a legal and technical and political battle. I would have been happy to have done a decent job of the remaining tracks, like the original take of There Is a Light (That Never Goes Out) before I put the strings on that really holds up as almost an unplugged version, the instrumental versions of William I Was Really Nothing and Please Please Please (Let Me Get What I Want), those kinds of things. As usual with the Smiths there was a fair amount of bullsh — in the background and people being difficult with the result that it ended up being leaked. Fans got a fairly substandard version of it. It’s a shame but nothing changes very much.

Morrissey said there’s a cover of Elvis’ A Fool Such as I the Smiths recorded in their final days. Does that exist?

Yeah. It’s a good job no one’s heard it. I never liked the song in the first place. I love Elvis, but that really wasn’t one of his better tunes.

What do you think of Morrissey’s solo material?

I’ve really never heard it, that’s the truth. There’s so much music out there. I’m forever playing catch up. I try to avoid being that guy who’s manically trying to keep up to date with every new band who’s around for two months. I’ve always been someone, one way or another, gets to hear the good stuff that’s knocking around. That’s a long way away from sitting down morbidly listening to what my ex partner is doing musically. That seems a little mawkish to me. I don’t really have an opinion on it. I remember years and years ago it sounded like my sound, that was a little weird. I don’t know what has happened in the last 20 years with his sound.
 
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kissmyshadestoo

Cheeky Defendant
I couldn't get the links to work here in the States so instead of everyone chasing it down:

JOHNNY Marr was the man behind the music in iconic British band The Smiths.

After their messy demise he worked with other bands (The The, Talking Heads, the Pretenders) before forming Electronic with Bernard Sumner of New Order. After stints in Modest Mouse and the Cribs, Marr became a belated solo act and frontman with 2013’s The Messenger.

Ever since Smiths frontman Morrissey wrote his Autobiography Marr has been constantly asked when he’d write his memoirs. Set the Boy Free has just been released, tracking his youth and passion for music, as well as finally telling his side of the Smiths story — and demise.

You shirk nostalgia and always move forward, how was writing an autobiography?

I’m someone that’s pathologically looked forward and kept moving forward. It’s just in my nature, it always has been. That’s a slight drawback when you’re writing your autobiography. I took the process of writing — and it’s quite a big book — as a new challenge, a new endeavour. So paradoxically, I felt like I was doing something new. I’d been made offers to submit an autobiography for years and years. The option of a ghost writer just wasn’t on for me. It might be OK for other people, I’ve got no interest in that at all. And I’m glad I’ve written it at a time when I’ve still got lots going on. I’m in the middle of a fairly energetic career with stuff to follow. I wasn’t sitting in a dressing gown sat overlooking the Italian countryside thinking about my childhood 70 years ago. So it was nice, actually. The timing was right. I can look back on it without being terribly reflective or nostalgic. The book’s pretty pacy. I fit pretty much everything in without hopefully being too indulgent. I’m not that young, but it’s got some energy in it. I think I picked the right time to do it.

We know a lot about some of the key relationships in your life, but the book is the most you’ve ever spoken about your wife Angie.

She’s not only the constant, she’s there all the time. When the Smiths started it was me, Morrissey and Angie. And the bands I was in before that. We met so young. Because she was creative and kinda kick-ass, the opposite of the demure little indie housewife standing by the sink while I walked down the lane with my guitar she played a big part in everything. She was there for the recording sessions, when the Smiths missed the plane, missed soundcheck, when we were in the tour van. She could hold her own, she often kept everything on track even though she was younger than everybody. In terms of events, she was a big player. And she’s the most important thing that’s ever happened in my life. I can say that without getting sentimental, it’s a very straightforward sentence. At 15 I met this person who not only was I in love with, but she said to me ‘You’re a guitar player, I’ll be a guitar player’s girlfriend, let’s go this way, I’m by your side’. I was very lucky to find someone like her and someone so smart. She’s the most important thing in my life.

Morrissey is obviously militant about animal rights and plays Meat is Murder in each solo show with graphic footage from abattoirs. You’re now vegan and play the song as well — are you also proud of how many people stopped eating meat after hearing that song and doing research into meat-free diets and how animals are killed?

I’m absolutely proud of the impact that song has had. I gladly wrote the music for that song almost to order. Morrissey suggested the title to me. Most of the time the music came first in the Smiths or Kirsty MacColl, not so much with my solo stuff, I tend to start with a title or lyrics these days. In the case of Meat is Murder I set about trying to write really appropriate music for that subject. And it worked. Essentially it’s a horror soundtrack, the horror of an animal being killed for food. The first thing I did when I got the tune together was put this little piano motif on top, that was a device used by horror movies when they wanted to portray menace or fear. It’s a nice thing to be able to describe that process in the book. I was aware it made a difference to people, the hardcore fans were influenced by it. When I started to live in America 2005 I met so many people whose introduction to the Smiths was through the (1985) album Meat is Murder, and they’d become vegetarian because of the song. As an adult and an older guy it had even more resonance to me. I realised the achievement of the song. I’m happy on behalf of the animals.

In the book you talk about how you and Morrissey met in 2008 and discussed potentially reforming the Smiths for a tour and a new album. That fell through, on Morrissey’s end, but after years of trying to avoid being asked about getting the band back together has this given people fresh ammunition?

It has made it worse, but I understand it. The simple answer is for me to write my autobiography and leave out the fact that Morrissey and I got together as recently as 2008 to discuss reforming the band and if we were to do it how it would be done would be absurd and really cheating fans. However I’ve found that telling it like it is has demystified the whole thing. It’s a basic human story. I wasn’t going to leave that out.

Morrissey said a few years ago Coachella had offered to make the event totally meat-free if you and he would play as The Smiths with a new bassist and drummer. Did that offer come to you as well?

I think that’s what we were discussing. I heard about that second hand. We’re probably both in agreement now, what we were agreeing on at the time was more where our passions lay. That’s the absolute truth of it. I can only speak for myself, but during that period when I was making a record with the Cribs and writing what was to be my first solo record, things were going pretty well artistically, I was excited about that. The idea of turning the clock back 30 years really goes against that artistic input. It’d make you very very wealthy, but for me personally the artistic input is always going to win out.
https://www.google.com/search?q=Dar...0ahUKEwiOru2a1OPQAhWpLcAKHbdWCPUQmxMIzwEoATAi
 

kissmyshadestoo

Cheeky Defendant
It’s exhausting reading about Morrissey constantly battling with management in the Smiths, either making you do it or making you sack a manager he didn’t like. There’s a life lessons for bands there — have good management.

It’s impossible to run a band without management. If you’re one of the biggest bands in the world and your guitar player is the manager of the band and he’s only 23 you’ve got a problem. Especially when the guitar player wants to play guitar and make great music and not manage the band. That’s an absurd situation. Our absurdity made us what we were but it was definitely absurd.

You’ve long said you never read Morrissey’s book. Did that change considering you were writing yours? If only to see what he did or didn’t write about?

I didn’t read it. I didn’t really feel like I needed to. I’ve got about five books on the go I’m trying to read now. I’m always like that. Then I started to think about writing mine and I genuinely didn’t want to react to anything. The only thing I will say about that is I did get to redress an awful lot of bullshit written by so-called Smiths authorities who’ve made a lot of money out of cynical cash-ins. One in particular, the famous one Morrissey and Marr — the Severed Alliance which is a book that openly seems to despise the two main members of the band. It’s full of erroneous nonsense and is very mean-spirited and it’s just not the way the band was. I’m happy to put that straight for a lot of people who’ve been conned out of their $10. Morrissey’s book I didn’t really need to read. I don’t know, I heard enough about it, I kinda know what the vibe is.

Morrissey doesn’t go into too much of the Smiths’ creative process in his book, but you tackle that, including writing about something I presume musicians often ask about — how you got that guitar sound on How Soon is Now?

I made a definite decision to include, where I could, the more interesting details of the creative process and how some of the songs were written and recorded and conceived. Not just by myself, but the entire band. That moved across to Getting Away With It and Get the Message by Electronic, Slow Emotion Replay by The The, it wasn’t just the Smiths. The continuous moments of fortunate inspiration crossed with craft, I figured people who are interested in me and my life would want to know those things. I had the reader in mind all the time. I didn’t want to get bogged down in technical details but I assumed people are smart enough and interested enough to follow that. The most technical thing is talking about the way How Soon is Now was recorded, which is a landmark in my life and one of the things that is going to define me, it’d be weird not to put that in my autobiography. The man or woman on the train is smart enough to follow it. I’m glad I’ve been able to let everybody know about that. They were really good things to write about, particularly writing about the Smiths’ Hand in Glove, I really enjoyed that. It was a really nice experience writing about it, it was easy because like most things in life it was a joy to remember so it was a joy to write. Some other things were a little more difficult, but they needed to be addressed too.





This year was the 30th anniversary of The Queen is Dead, next year is the 30th anniversary of Strangeways Here We Come. Yet there’s never been anniversary reissues. Is there anything left in the vaults?

There are songs in the vaults, they’ve come out on bootlegs which is a [email protected]#ed up really. There’s a whole slew of out takes, quite a lot of instrumental tracks that were really decent music in their own right. As a fan, myself, I’m fairly reliable when it comes to quality control. I don’t like when I get a load of crap from my favourite band stuck on the end of the CD. But I’m really happy when I hear great alternative takes and demos that are a good valid listen. I’ve assumed the role in the band of the custodian, I guess, which happened mostly when I remastered all the catalogue. That was a bit of a legal and technical and political battle. I would have been happy to have done a decent job of the remaining tracks, like the original take of There Is a Light (That Never Goes Out) before I put the strings on that really holds up as almost an unplugged version, the instrumental versions of William I Was Really Nothing and Please Please Please (Let Me Get What I Want), those kinds of things. As usual with the Smiths there was a fair amount of bullsh — in the background and people being difficult with the result that it ended up being leaked. Fans got a fairly substandard version of it. It’s a shame but nothing changes very much.

Morrissey said there’s a cover of Elvis’ A Fool Such as I the Smiths recorded in their final days. Does that exist?

Yeah. It’s a good job no one’s heard it. I never liked the song in the first place. I love Elvis, but that really wasn’t one of his better tunes.

What do you think of Morrissey’s solo material?

I’ve really never heard it, that’s the truth. There’s so much music out there. I’m forever playing catch up. I try to avoid being that guy who’s manically trying to keep up to date with every new band who’s around for two months. I’ve always been someone, one way or another, gets to hear the good stuff that’s knocking around. That’s a long way away from sitting down morbidly listening to what my ex partner is doing musically. That seems a little mawkish to me. I don’t really have an opinion on it. I remember years and years ago it sounded like my sound, that was a little weird. I don’t know what has happened in the last 20 years with his sound.

The book also explains your role in the early days of Oasis, and lending Noel Gallagher guitars and hooking him up with your manager.

What’s great about Noel is that you only have to say Noel now. Everyone knows who he is. He’s like Bowie or Madonna or Elvis, you say Noel and everyone knows who you’re talking about. That’s quite funny. He’s someone I respect, he’s a friend and he’s managed to pull off a really amazing feat in making new music that takes him forward with his fans but still sounds like him. Which is easier said than done. The thing with Noel is that he gives off the vibe that what he does is easy, but it’s not easy. I respect him for that. We’re in touch a lot, we see a lot of each other, I’m happy about that. The story about how he and I got together is pretty funny, that was nice to write about in the book.

There are also nice anecdotes about working with the late Kirsty MacColl.

She was a really unique person. There’s a lot of joy in the book and a lot of fondness and happy memories, but like anyone’s life there’s some tragedy in it. That was probably the biggest tragedy to happen, I don’t know how you ever get over those things, you just have to live with them. Kirsty was so important to me. And so sadly missed. I was glad to pay tribute to her.

You’re now vegan, you don’t drink alcohol or coffee and you’re a regular runner. How has that changed your life?

It’s probably helped me make solo albums and movie soundtracks and go on tour with Hans Zimmer and the orchestra and do what I did with Modest Mouse and the Cribs, a fairly full on work rate over the last ten years. I wouldn’t say it was down to my lifestyle but it was part and parcel of it. I believe that for me being teetotal, running marathons, being vegan has made me more productive and more progressive than I might have been otherwise. I don’t know what the alternative is but I feel like I’ve got a similar attitude to what I’ve always had. I never really slipped into any kind of abyss but I got to a situation where the rock and roll lifestyle was going to stop working for me in a big way. Anything that gets in the way of how I feel about what I’m doing has to be thrown by the way side. If I thought that taking drugs and partying would make me a better musician, I’d do it. My lifestyle isn’t part of some contrived old rock star regret or anything like that, I just do whatever I think is going to make me the most productive. When you become an older musician that kind of rock and roll lifestyle is pretty f—ing corny.

Is there a third solo album in the works?

I’m about to start a new solo record next year. I’ve just written a new song for Blondie which was very exciting. It’s called My Monster. Who isn’t a fan of Blondie? They were an influence on me, particularly on my solo stuff. Debbie Harry is a really great writer of pop lyrics. That’s something that has always been overlooked, whether it’s Union City Blue or Call Me. Their whole catalogue, Atomic, Picture This, great pop songs with really good lyrics. It was a real honour. It’s the first time someone has recorded one of my songs and I’ve written the lyrics. I’ve had plenty of songs that Kirsty (MacColl) or Morrissey has written lyrics for my music, but this it the first where I’ve had someone do my lyrics and music and to have Blondie do that is high up my list, it doesn’t get much better. I’m also working on a lot of music and words with the actor Maxine Peake, who is well known in the UK, she’s a phenomenal person. I’m yet to work out how I’m going to present it but I do want to bring it to the stage. It’s fairly theatrical, I’m trying to cross theatre and a gig in a way that’s not been done before. It’s within my grasp. The autobiography is a good full stop to a certain part of my life. Then new things can happen afterwards.

Set The Boy Free (Penguin Random House) out now
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Thanks kms. Interesting that he starts with lyrics. I would never have guessed that. Hard to believe he's not heard more of morrisseys work than he lets on though I can understand why he would say so. I mean who wants to go into that conversation but some songs were just played a lot on radio and various other outlets so I imagine that unless he's actively turning it off or shutting it out he's heard more than he lets on. Glad to hear about another solo album as well. It's been good so far and I'm curious the direction a new ones gonna take
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Morrissey said there’s a cover of Elvis’ A Fool Such as I the Smiths recorded in their final days. Does that exist?

Yeah. It’s a good job no one’s heard it. I never liked the song in the first place. I love Elvis, but that really wasn’t one of his better tunes.

He really doesn't get it sometimes. With most covers there is a reason behind it which goes beyond how good or bad the song is and I think it's true for A Fool Such As I. It has emotional worth. Same goes for their original composition I Keep Mine Hidden, certainly no high point of their songwriting but a very important and emotional song for Moz.
 

gordyboy9

GAME OF DEATH.
so jonboy is saying hes never heard anything of mozz solo stuff.find that hard to believe.i find in these interviews that he will not give Morrissey any kind of credit for what hes done since the smiths,,meat is murder, the only thing that's murder is jonboy trying to sing smiths songs.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I’ve really never heard it, that’s the truth.

FFS, does he think we're all retarded? Okay, Johnny, you've never listened to Morrissey's music. I know he doesn't want to discuss Morrissey's music, or book (which he may have not read), and that's why he gives these answers, but he's taking us for fools...
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
What do you think of Morrissey’s solo material?


I’ve really never heard it, that’s the truth.

hahaha! yea, just like you didnt read his book either.

i dont even know what to say. whatever.
 

AztecCamera

Well-Known Member
Blimey! I reckon I will read this interview over and over again for the next 8 years fantasizing that Morrissey will come to my hobbit town and there will be a Smiths reunion at Albertsons Hall in 2020.

P.S.-I reckon does anyone know where I can get a Chicago Cubs cap up here in Whalesshire United like Ferris Bueller wore?
 

King Leer

Leering since '97
I believe that's the longest reply Marr's ever given about Morrissey's solo work, and it still amounted to bugger all.
Sounds like he's referring to Vauxhall, which was heralded as the most Smiths-like album Morrissey had done.

To be fair, Morrissey hasn't ever commented on Marr's post-Smiths work either, except for taking some pleasure in Marr being kicked out of his pal Chrissie Hynde's The Pretenders. But imagine how hard it'd be for a Luddite like Moz to keep track of Marr's endless bopping around.

I enjoy hearing the musical anecdotes like his approach to writing MiM, though.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
By "I've never really heard it", I presume he means he hasn't gone out, bought an album, sat down and really listened to it - which quite frankly would be very freaky. It would be like splitting up with someone you're in a relationship with, then sitting down to watch a sex tape of them boffing someone else. You'd have all kinds of emotions - why would you possibly want to do that?

Obviously he will have heard various songs on the radio etc, as that would be pretty hard to avoid - hell, didn't he tell Alain he liked 'Ouija Board' when he met him? In the same way, I'm sure Moz heard 'Getting Away With It', but didn't run out to buy the album!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Sounds like he's referring to Vauxhall, which was heralded as the most Smiths-like album Morrissey had done.
I dunno - most of that album doesn't sound anything like The Smithse to me (though Alain admitted to nicking the run-off riff from 'Pretty Girls Make Graves' for 'Hold On To Your Friends', so possibly he heard that one?).

If there was ever a Moz period that sounded like The Smiths, to be it would be 'Bona Drag' - though I guess as loads of those tracks actually had Joyce, Rourke and Gannon on, it's not surprising!
 

countthree

Well-Known Member
so jonboy is saying hes never heard anything of mozz solo stuff.find that hard to believe.i find in these interviews that he will not give Morrissey any kind of credit for what hes done since the smiths,,meat is murder, the only thing that's murder is jonboy trying to sing smiths songs.
Agree. It's very hard to believe he never heard Morrissey's solo stuff, and that statement stains with lack of credibility the rest of his words and maybe the book he is intending to promote in all these interviews around the world.
If he does not want to give an opinion about Morrissey's material he shoud say so, like "I don't want to comment about that topic" or something similar. Of course you need bullocks and personality to say that to an interviewer when you are promoting something through the press. That's why people lie: they don't want to face consequences. Then they end up trapped in a web of lies.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Yeah vauxhal doesn't sound much like the smiths to me. I'd say viva bona drag and bits of arsenal more so. Songs like Piccadilly parle yes I am blind girl least likely November hair dresser on fire Margaret tomorrow etc all sound more like the smiths. The more you ignore being the exception for me from vauxhal
 

Jamie

Bluff, Ardour & Assoc.
Morrissey said there’s a cover of Elvis’ A Fool Such as I the Smiths recorded in their final days. Does that exist?

Yeah. It’s a good job no one’s heard it. I never liked the song in the first place. I love Elvis, but that really wasn’t one of his better tunes.

He really doesn't get it sometimes. With most covers there is a reason behind it which goes beyond how good or bad the song is and I think it's true for A Fool Such As I. It has emotional worth. Same goes for their original composition I Keep Mine Hidden, certainly no high point of their songwriting but a very important and emotional song for Moz.
JM's association with "A Fool Such As I" seems colored by the charged atmosphere of the Streatham session. His unhappiness with those days comes through loud and clear in the book. It probably could have just as easily been any other song and it would likely have been tainted for him by the acrimony of those days.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I wonder when this interview was done? It's hard to square Johnny's downbeat talk here regarding things never changing as far as Smiths rarities being blocked, whilst over on TTY Moz is claiming there is unreleased 7" single on the way?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
JM's association with "A Fool Such As I" seems colored by the charged atmosphere of the Streatham session. His unhappiness with those days comes through loud and clear in the book. It probably could have just as easily been any other song and it would likely have been tainted for him by the acrimony of those days.
Yes, this is true. Since Moz' autobiography I always ask myself if the time he describes, when he was "scum-wrestling with this hideous mood pill for a few dreadful months", includes the Streatham sessions. Because I remember many people who said that Moz was unhappy and strange during that time.
 

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