Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr says he feels ‘let go’ after finally letting go of any ‘baggage’ he once felt about people expecting him to play a certain way.
Speaking to Sky News about the release of his double album Fever Dreams Pts 1-4, the musician – who is widely regarded as one of the greatest modern guitarists of our time – explained that he finally feels free to write whatever songs he liked now.
“I think you come to a certain point in your career and life where maybe at a certain age, you know, drop your bags, hopefully.”
Easier said than done when your former bandmate is a Steven Morrissey who recently published a somewhat sulky open letter asking Marr to stop mentioning his name in interviews.
Ironic given that, Marr admits, he spent decades trying to actively distance himself from how he sounded during the Smiths’ days in his collaborations with The Cribs, Modest Mouse and the likes of New Order’s Bernard Sumner, to name a few.
“Nobody really wants to be branded with a ‘this is what your sound is – you play a Rickenbacker jingle jangle guitar and you always will be…'” he jokes.
“Who knows, in the future I might turn left and do something crazy, but I feel a little let down with this album.”
While others were busy baking sourdough, for Marr the product of the lockdown was 16 new tracks, his fourth solo album.
“I wasn’t going to write about vaccinations and store closings or anything like that. But pretty quickly, as we got into it, the sentiment in society and about being a person and what the time meant, and all those aspects of what that time period did for us definitely played out in the songs.”
He is still struggling, he says, with what little he thinks Downing Street has done to help the live music industry during the pandemic.
“People in the arts world, especially musicians and festivals, have been left to their own devices to see what happens, you know, there was no protection there. So you kind of have that took the measurement there.”
More recently, Marr has collaborated on film scores with composer Hans Zimmer – notably working with Billie Eilish on the latest Bond, No Time To Die.
“Hans and a couple of my other friends that I’ve worked with, we all tend to be workaholics anyway, that’s why we get along.
“We’re quite similar in that regard. I think it’s probably as much about coming from a working-class family, a working-class Irish family, having a work ethic.”