Johnny Marr feels good about singing old Smiths songs on stage, but it’s just like performing solo songs. “I’m not nostalgic, it’s important that people love what they hear,” the English guitarist told MTI ahead of Tuesday’s Sziget festival concert.
A guitarist with the Smiths-based indie rock band Smiths, which continues to this day in the eighties, has been involved in numerous successful projects (The The, Electronic, Cribs) over the past three decades and is currently working as a solo artist. He has been singing on his albums for quite some time, though he was previously unknown on this side.
“I started singing at the age of forty, but that was a foregone conclusion. Before the Smiths, at the age of 16-18, I sang in a few starting bands, then in the eighties I was vocal in Pretenders and Electronic, and much later when Modest Mouse- I’ve always been focused on playing guitar, I never wanted to be a frontman, but when my first really own band, the Healers, was formed in the early 2000s, I thought I didn’t need anything else, I can sing my own songs, “Johnny Marr recalled in an interview with MTI in the backstage.
The Smiths existed between 1983 and 1987, with singer-songwriter Morrissey, guitar-composer Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke, drummer Mike Joyce. The audience is still primarily interested in the Smiths numbers on Johnny Marr on stage. His repertoire includes the Smiths classics including Bigmouth Strikes Again, How Soon Is Now? And, in addition, a leased space for There Is a Light That Never Goes Out. Along with the Smiths period, songs from his latest album Call the Comet, released last year, are in the spotlight on his current show.
In addition to the Smiths, he has released three albums and a major success with his project, Electronic, with Bernard Sumner (New Order). Sumner sang the hit hit electronic hit Get the Message at Marr’s Athens concert in June this year. The guitarist noted that this has happened several times, but there is no question of reviving a joint project, whatever social media writes. “If they ask me if I want to work with Bernard again, I say yes, but for me it’s no more important than the next solo album.”
This year, two new songs have been released, Armatopia and The Bright Parade. As he told MTI, he plans to release another new song, but he is still in the process of performing the Call the Com album, so he won’t start recording a new album before November.
In a recent story, he talked about not remembering that Tony Wilson, the late manager of legendary Manchester record label Factory Records, invited him to play guitar for the Durutti Column in 1981 (before the Smiths).
“I didn’t think it was, but I remember Tony wanting to be a guitarist for another Factory team, Section 25. At the time, I was really craving for a record that I was playing, but I didn’t like that everyone was dealing with Factory. (they included the Joy Division and then the New Order). The Smiths took a different path and did it well, “Johnny Marr said.
One of Marr’s 55-year-old children, 21-year-old Nile, also became a musician, and even a guitarist, with his own band (Man Made) and played on the tour of famous film composer Hans Zimmer, but has also played live with his father. “He is at the beginning of his career and it is not easy for him because of the huge competition on the rock scene, but I was not afraid because he is talented, has the willpower and can achieve what he wants.”
He told MTI: he is happy to play music again in Hungary; nine years ago he performed with Cribs on the Island. “Now I spend an extra day here in Budapest and look at the city and its surroundings, everyone says it’s beautiful.”