Johnny Marr interview at askmeaskmeaskme (3 parts); to join Bryan Ferry in concert and on new album

Discussion in 'General Discussion archive 2012 (read-only)' started by lindsey1151, Jul 11, 2012.

By lindsey1151 on Jul 11, 2012 at 5:35 PM
  1. lindsey1151

    lindsey1151 Member

    Nov 25, 2011
    Johnny Marr - part 1, part 2, part 3 - Ask Me

    This interview was conducted over the course of several sessions, May – July 2012.


    Also posted by !Viva Hate!:

    Johnny Marr to perform with Bryan Ferry

    Legendary guitarist Johnny Marr will perform on stage with Bryan Ferry at Ferry’s headline show at Guilfest this coming weekend. Marr will play the entire show with Ferry on Sunday 15th July, adding his unique musicianship to a set that will include material from both Ferry’s solo and Roxy Music catalogue.

    Also posted by helen661:

    Busy boy indeed. Johnny has also recently been in Bryan Ferry's studio working on a new Ferry album.

    Related item:

    Last edited by a moderator: May 15, 2016
    1. Amy
      What a great interview - really enjoyed reading that. Nice to hear Johnny talk about his family, and be candid about drugs and the less savoury aspects of his youth. I'd wondered for quite a while why he never seems to mention "Electronic" anymore, despite all the years he was in the band, and from the interview it seems he now thinks of that project as a misfire, along with the original Healers formation. "People may look back at photos or videos or some of the music I was making and wonder where I was going with that. I just didn’t want to live an obvious life and make obvious music.". He seems to have quite an ambivalent attitude towards fame.
    2. myboyracer
      Nice read. Thanks Lindsey. Cheers!
    3. 123xyz
      That was a good read, lindsey1151. Especially so as Marr spoke about his personal/musical background without the usual Smiths/Moz this & that. Also the acknowledging of his chameleon-esque habit of becoming what others had already decided he was...

      Looking forward to reading the follow-up to this piece...
      Last edited: Jul 9, 2012
    4. Anonymous
      "You got your degree, and you flew to Mars..."
    5. Uncleskinny
      That is really excellent. Congratulations to the site, interviewer and Johnny.

    6. Worm
      Great, great interview.

      Something stood out for me about Johnny in this interview. When he talks about changing his name, I hadn't realized he had done so for show-biz reasons. He says he had a couple of reasons, but the "main" reason is that he wanted to be a glam rock guitarist, like Marc Bolan. The interviewer astutely caught on to this, and (in my reading) slipped in an oblique allusion to Morrissey:

      "People who change their names are a certain kind of person, don’t you think?

      Yes. People who are aware of their identity. A lot of people don’t care about their identity in that way. They’re not objective about it. Also, a lot of people would never dream of it because they think it’s a disloyalty to their family. None of that ever occurred to me. Everything was just about being a glam rock guitar player, and then later it was about being a new wave guitar player… and I’ve never shut that off."​

      I've never thought of Johnny and Morrissey as being two people who both chose to change their names when they went into the music business in order to present themselves in a totally new light. And yet here Johnny is saying he just wanted to be a "glam rock guitar player", so in a sense his choice to change his name was similar in spirit to Morrissey's. They were becoming different people.

      But Johnny only changed his last name. Morrissey lopped his in half. Interesting contrast. Morrissey vanished into a persona, however genuine and honest that persona may have been, while Johnny only slipped halfway into a glamorous persona. Pretty much falls in line with who they are as people, doesn't it? Morrissey's all in, Johnny gives equal time to "the real world". Morrissey is a single, almost suffocatingly monolithic person containing a multitude of contradictions, whereas Johnny seems to be different people at different times, almost a bit of a split personality.

      That split is reflected earlier in the interview. I found it very interesting that Johnny saw pop music as an escape:

      "I always wanted to escape.

      Escape from what?

      I wanted to escape the world. I wanted to escape what I was around and what I was hearing… the conversations I was having with people… people’s personalities — life. I wanted to escape my consciousness, my feelings, what I was seeing. It’s like how Wordsworth wrote The World Is Too Much With Us. I had a love of music and a love of melody and rhythm and sounds and all the things that make up pop music. I needed it to escape normal life. I still do, but I really did then. It’s more of a need than just an attraction."​

      This is quite different than The Smiths' early ideals, which I recall as being staunchly opposed to escapism. Johnny was very vocal, along with Morrissey, in denouncing peers who wanted to avoid what was going on in the world. Supposedly "Panic" is all about that. Tellingly, the song is a Bolan rip-off, too, so you can hear this weird mixture of facing the world directly, to see it as it really is, but doing so in the context of an escapist pop song. It's all right there: the glam rock guitarist who wants to be of his time and place, making timely music, addressing the world as it is, but couching his mockery of the escapist Lotus-Eaters in the ultimate form of escapism.

      Also, he talks about how Manchester is the best city, but he acknowledges it has changed a lot and he's got "mixed feelings". "Mixed feelings" sums it up well. The guy is nothing but mixed feelings, it seems, and I mean that in the best possible way.

      You're really seeing the different sides of Johnny's personality in the interview. It's wonderful to read this, because it helps explain why Morrissey and Marr were tight creative partners for five years, and also why they split up.
      Last edited: Jul 9, 2012
    7. Oh my god. it's Robby!
      Oh my god. it's Robby!
      I learned a lot from that, thank you
    8. 123xyz

      Wow ,Worm , the thought of contrasting Marr's name change with Morrissey's never even crossed my mind while reading this interview. Lovely extrapolation by you regarding their respective degrees of immersion and how the name alterations may reflect ( suggest ? ) this...
    9. Amy
    10. VivaGil
      Both parts were good. Looking forward to tomorrows portion. He seems very content. No wonder he wouldn't reform the smiths. He seems perfectly happy.
    11. Amy
      If the opportunity arose, I think Marr would 'reform' The Smiths (sans Joyce?) without a moment's hesitation - but realistically, he knows that Moz would never do it, so instead he's decided to let it go and get on with his life. Wise decision. He sounds like a man at peace with himself. I only wish Moz did.
    12. Cornflakes
      I think you're reading between the lines too much. He doesn't actually say anything even close to that.

      Great interview, well done Lindsey.
    13. VivaGil
      I guess what I meant is actively pursuing it. Not that he is opposed or doesn't desire it. I'm glad he's happy.
    14. 123xyz

      Thanks for posting the link to the second bit - I didn't know it was up yet. The story about the crows was, indeed, touching and, unusually for an animal welfare tale, came complete with happy ending ! It certainly makes for a nice change from the usual ... you know ... "Adult female pig exhibits obvious grieving behaviour when separated from young prior to slaughter " or " A billion chickens spend a few months held in conditions so ghastly as to induce compulsive self-harm and are then crushed up into nuggets" .... that sort of thing...

      Oops, I appear to have accidentally hit the "Well intentioned diatribe" key...
      Last edited: Jul 10, 2012
    15. Amy
      He said that his Electronic strategy - not touring, not doing any promotion - didn't really work, and he said a similar thing in his Pitchfork interview a few months ago; the main gist being that he valued Electronic because it gave him the chance to have some fun experimenting in the studio, and because he had a good friendship with Bernard Sumner, but that musically the project was no great shakes. I sensed the same spirit in this interview, and that's all I meant, really. From Pitchfork:

      And I've also read him saying that 'people weren't interested' in the first Healers formation and that he had high hopes for the band that were never fulfilled. I hope they get some greater success 2nd time round, because some of his new songs are genuinely brilliant.
      Last edited: Jul 10, 2012
    16. Worm
      I think Johnny's very proud of Electronic. Certainly there were problems surrounding the group, and the project never took off the way he may have wanted it to, but on the whole he seems to regard Electronic pretty highly. This quote sums it up pretty well:

      "With Electronic, our ambition with every song was to have the beauty and drama of Ennio Morricone, the innovation of Kraftwerk, the attitude of a young British rock band and be super-catchy and modern too. I’m super-proud of Electronic but we tied ourselves up in knots, day after day and week after week, developing ideas to fulfill that ambition. I don’t agree that Electronic was an out-of-time oddity – The Best Of is a really great record – but we were never going to be able to sit with New Order and The Smiths. The weight of our history meant we were always going to be judged as second best before we even played a note. Let me see someone cross The Smiths with Joy Division, in all its forms, with all the characters involved. It’s not going to happen. But I’m alright with that.”

      The Word, September 2007
    17. Amy
      I still read quite a lot of ambivalence in that statement, and a big gulf between personal and objective value. On one hand, he's proud of Electronic because of the effort and ambition that went into it (wanting the drama of Morricone, innovation of Kraftwerk etc), but disappointed that they struggled to put those ideas into practice as grandly as they were conceived, and were to some extent doomed by their legacies etc. "The Best of" is a really great record" is faint praise for a band you gave ten years of your life to - but as always with Johnny, the musical side is only one aspect of the whole process. He's a man strongly influenced by other people, and by the atmosphere of the time.

      What I'm getting at is that Johnny obviously had fun during Electronic; writing, hanging out with a bunch of friends, tinkering with tech all day and partying all night - but that doesn't mean that the end result was automatically a work of pop genius, and I think he's come to acknowledge that over the years. Just look at The Queen is Dead - he was a miserable, sleepless, drunken nervous wreck during the making of that album and it's gone down in history as the greatest thing he ever put his name to.
    18. Worm
      Good post. I don't find much to quibble with. Your observation about the way his view of Electronic is colored by his personal feelings is right on the money, but for that very reason I think his answers come across as more wishy-washy than they really are. Electronic was wrapped up inside so many other outside issues that he can't comment objectively. But I think his opinion about the songs remains very high. It's the same with "Strangeways". He'll talk somberly about the tangential stuff relating to The Smiths' demise but when he speaks narrowly, about the music, he gushes. He separates the final product from the process of creating it, and I'm pretty sure that he's extremely proud of what he and Bernard did in Electronic.
    19. Oh my god. it's Robby!
      Oh my god. it's Robby!
      the crow story was awesome and oh my god! when he mentioned the cutting in line that reminded me of so many times in Georgia
      when people would try and cut in line in front of me and I would always say something and they would be shocked until they realized I was an American
      it always struck me as odd that they needed to be reminded of "the right way" to behave by knowing an American was present
      & I want to see his drawings now...

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