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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > Jul-18 > Close to the Edge

Close to the Edge

AS A RESTLESS, FORWARD-THINKING MUSICIAN, THE EXPERIENCE OF GOING BACK OVER HIS LIFE FOR HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN 2016 LEFT JOHNNY MARR FEELING BURNT OUT. NOW, THE LEGENDARY GUITARIST OPENS UP TO CLASSIC POP ABOUT HIS TRIUMPHANT RETURN AND HIS LATEST ALBUM CALL THE COMET… POSSIBLY THE MOST DRAMATIC RECORD OF HIS CAREER.

JOHNNY MARR

A warehouse on an industrial estate just outside of Manchester isn’t the most obvious location for the genesis of a modern classic album. Johnny Marr’s recording studio nestles among the more likely suspects for an out-of-town estate.

As soon as you reach the top floor, however, the open-plan expanse so clearly belongs to Marr that it’d be rejected as too easily recognisable by Through The Keyhole. Not only are there original billboard adverts for The Smiths singles, including That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore and The Boy With The Thorn In His Side next to recent solo tour posters and a stack of guitars and amps, but Marr’s passion for Manchester City is on display, too, most notably a signed photo of the iconic overhead kick by Dennis Tueart which won City the League Cup final in 1976 – a then rare trophy before the team’s current wellfunded glories.

It’s a day of promo for Marr, so he’s laid out a selection of vegan M&S sandwiches and cookies for visitors, who are also invited to make a cuppa from an extensive selection of teas, including from a barrel marked with a Post-It as simply “Tea – posh!” To complete the visual clues that, yes, this is definitely Marr’s studio, the accompanying mugs include one with a cartoon likeness to one of the world’s greatest living guitarists.

Widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest guitarists, Johnny Marr’s playing style has influenced generations and he has continued to push boundaries and evolve

“I LOOK THE SAME AS I’D PROBABLY DO EVEN IF I WASN’T ON STAGE

AT HOME IN THE STUDIO

Racing to complete a photo session, Marr strides past looking gloriously like that cartoon mug: high peacock hair, black fake-leather jacket, crisp white t-shirt, wide and inquisitive smile. Having given up alcohol several years ago, “when it was just starting to get a bit much”, Marr has always looked enviably trim, a poster boy for the vegan lifestyle.

He admits that he feels a sense of responsibility to rock’n’roll to keep himself in shape. “I look the same as I’d probably do even if I wasn’t on stage”, he says with that welcoming smile. “But it’s true that everything about being a musician is a calling to me, and that includes the way musicians look. So there was no getting out of staying healthy for me! As well as the actual business of making music, part of a musician’s life is their identity. From a kid, I wanted all of it to be my life, and looking like it is my job. If I’d not passed the audition to be a musician, I’d have been fucked.”

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About Classic Pop

In the new issue of Classic Pop magazine we catch up with Johnny Marr to hear about the former Smiths and Electronic star’s superb new solo album Call The Comet. Tom Bailey tells us why he's returning to pop with a new album after years exploring dub and world music – remarkably it’s the former Thompson Twin frontman’s first solo LP. Also making a much-anticipated comeback is Swing Out Sister – Classic Pop talks to 80s icon Corinne Drewery and other half Andy Connell as they break what is effectively a decade of studio silence with Almost Persuaded. Elsewhere, we tell the story of the legendary Factory Records label and serve up a buyer’s guide to the work of Blondie and Debbie Harry. The ever-industrious Neil Arthur tells us about his new project Near Future and gives us details of a new Blancmange album plus we also catch up with Jaki Graham for the inside story on her diverse new album When A Woman Loves. New albums from Tom Bailey, Erasure, Years & Years and Let’s Eat Grandma get the once-over alongside reissues by David Bowie, The Cure, Public Image Limited and George Michael. We also jostle our way to the front to review live shows including Beck, Echo & The Bunnymen and Blossoms. Enjoy the issue!

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