The Smiths, the Pretenders, the Healers, The Cribs, The The and Modest Mouse — all bands in which Johnny Marr took lead guitar duties.
The Smiths, of course, are the quintessential British alternative rock band that Marr formed with singer Morrissey in 1982.
After that band broke up, he played in the above-mentioned groups before finally putting out a solo album, “The Messenger,” earlier this year.
Marr sees it all as a journey that began when he was 14 or 15 and played in such bands as the Paris Valentinos (his first, he told us), The Spirit and the Agenda.
“So, the bands that I was in before I got known — which would have been The Smiths — took themselves pretty seriously and were the most important things in my life and were very good apprenticeships for what I went on to do,” he told The World-Herald on the phone from Liverpool. “I just see what I'm doing now as being the next thing.”
Luckily for fans, the next thing is as good as any of the past gigs on his rťsumť.
The Smiths fans will immediately hear the layered, jangly guitars they love. And anyone who follows Marr will hear that his vocals have more muscle than his record with the Healers.
Infectious riffs pepper the album, including the strummy chords on lead-off track “The Right Thing Right” as well as the driving, woven melody of “Generate! Generate!” “Upstarts” has a garage guitar sound (similar to Marr's time with The Cribs) and a head-bobbing beat, while the title track sounds more like something you might have heard while Marr was with Modest Mouse.
“I think that a lot of people say they can hear a lot of different things I've done on the record, and I'm very happy about that. If there are things that remind people of what I did in Modest Mouse or the Electronic or The The or any band, that would make sense because it was me playing it,” Marr said. “Because I was trying to be as natural, certainly from a guitar playing point of view, then there is sort of echoes of what people will recognize from what I've done with other bands. I think that's cool. I've learned more things about myself and life and touring from the bands I've been in, I guess.”
As he came off of a tour in 2010, song ideas came to Marr, which got him very excited. One song after another developed, and soon he had an entire album. It got to where he was excited every day to get into the studio.
“That's why my name's on it. The Healers record was very important for me, and there are some songs on there that I still really like, but I was leading a gang there,” he said. “On 'The Messenger,' I'm pretty much singing for myself and the audience. I went into making it with only a few considerations, shall we say.”
His audience was the chief thing on his mind, Marr said. He wanted songs that were going to sound good performed live, but he mostly wanted something that his fans would like. He didn't think about critics at all, and they ended up loving it. Now he has a new motto: “Don't give a (care) other than your audience.”
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