“Me and Morrissey were very very close” – Johnny Marr exclusive interview

It´s the 25th anniversary of The Queen Is Dead and our tribute goes with this exclusive interview of Johnny Marr about the album and The Smiths

While composing The Queen Is Dead what artists were you listening the most?
Do you feel they had a direct influence in the album sound ?

Johnny Marr: Velvet Underground, also I think The Stooges influence is in Never Had No One Ever 

Things happened so fast to The Smiths. When producing The Queen… did you feel it was so special to last so long as one of the greatest albuns ever?

J.M.: I was just trying to make the right record for us at the time. That was a big enough job I just thought it was great when it was finished, but you don’t consider things like “of all time” or anything like that.

Did you ever feel, with the late composers you´ve worked, some kind of a “synchronicity” close to the one that there was between you and Morrissey ?

J.M.: I don’t know if there was “synchronicity”, we were very very close and we worked very well together. 

Can you name some actual artists that shows smiths influence ? Not only musically, but in the discourse, with the mix of irony and criticism that smiths presented ? There are still rebels in rock and roll or just videoclip bands ?

J.M.: I don’t think it’s the job of musicians to critique other artists in public. I’m not a critic. I think there are rebels about but perhaps not in the mainstream. Isaac Brock from Modest Modest Mouse is one of a few. He’s an artist. 

Did you hear some of those various tribute albuns (including Smiths Is Dead) ? What did you like in it ?

J.M.: I’ve heard some cover versions over the years. I don’t know if they’re off tribute albums or what. I like Low’s version of Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me, also The Treepeople’s version of Bigmouth Strikes Again was good when I heard it.

Smiths were kind of a gang. Did you feel some fear or loneliness to face your early solo career ?

J.M.: Are you kidding ? I’m always surrounded by people. Too many people sometimes. 

You came to Brazil with Pretenders to a big festival (1988). What memories do you keep about it ? Do you know/like some brazilian music ? Are we in your plans ?

J.M.: My trip to Brazil was a lot of fun. I met some good people and heard some great music. I will definitely be back. 

In my opinion, your playing style has it´s trademark in the opposite to a lot of distortion. How would you briefly describe it ?

J.M.: I suppose the sound I’m best known for is clear and ringing, melodic. I try to express a strong emotion and sometimes it’s joyous and sometimes sad and often it’s both. I like when it’s both because that’s how life is…I try to play how my life feels.


(With special thanks to Mr. Will Ryan)

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