theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Johnny Marr - theartsdesk
The former Smiths guitarist reflects at length on a life of musical wanderlust
Had things changed by the time of the final Smiths album, Strangeways Here We Come, in 1987?
We were very serious about what we were doing, and there was a weightiness about the group by then, which makes sense. We’d made a lot of records. I think we transcended being a pop band at that time. We meant something different. We were established and I’d say heavy - which I’m pleased about. I don’t play any records that I make, but Strangeways was always my favourite, because I think that it’s a brave record. There was an atmosphere that needed to be captured on that record, that I wanted to capture, and the way to do it is to leave some things open, and not to cram it with too much stuff, and I think that takes a certain sense of purpose, and bravery. So the production doesn’t have tons of overdubs, and the songs breathe a little bit, and it has a slightly unresolved atmosphere. There is space in it, and that was a conscious thing. I knew that the record was good at that time.
But at that distance, how do you feel about the way things ended? Is there still any sadness attached to it?
Err…no, it’s so long ago, it’s just part of my life story now. It would have been so much better if it had happened in a different way. But we were all very young, still. And there was a lot at stake, and so you can always look back 30 years later on a break-up and see that it was a shame the way things happened. But that’s understandable.