Interview: Johnny Marr On ‘The Messenger,’ Morrissey & Writing For Teenagers

Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr was lauded by NME this year as a Godlike Genius, but he considers himself more of a “messenger” to aspiring artists.

Marr started playing music around his native Manchester at a very young age, getting into mischief with Smiths bassist Andy Rourke.

“Who I am is the product of having been a musician since a teenager onwards,” Marr said in an interview with KROQ. “I just wanted to say from my vantage point: I can recommend that it’s a great way of life. I try to be a bit conscious of what I’d like to hear if I was that age. I think I would have liked to hear, ‘Don’t give up.’”

Marr himself didn’t give up when he was rejected during an impromptu audition for English new wave band The Only Ones, where he performed their only hit, “Another Girl, Another Planet.” One of his most memorable mischievous moments alongside Rourke, the two snuck into the band’s dressing room while The Only Ones’ guitarist was in the bathroom. Marr thought, “Now’s my chance to join the band.”

“Andy was always very good at sort of encouraging me to do stuff and then conveniently disappearing once he set the wheels in motion,” Marr said.

How did he do on the audition? “They should’ve hired me,” laughed the guitarist. “It might have been a good idea to wait until I was out of school uniform and my voice had broken.”



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