“Johnny is literally the best, and he doesn’t mind talking about his time in The Smiths, or his relationship with Morrissey, but please try not to dwell on it,” warned Marr’s publicist in advance of our chat.
Marr’s early days as the guitarist and songwriter in the seminal, foppish (read: gayish) ’80s indie band The Smiths, and the subsequent fall-out with frontman Morrissey nearly eclipsed his career, and I vowed not be the type to broach the subject.
Despite the undeniable impact of being one half of one of the greatest songwriting partnerships of all time, Marr’s career following his time in The Smiths has been far from dismissible. Before endeavouring an official solo career in the early 2000s with his band The Healers, and a brief stint as a member of The Pretenders, Marr was involved with projects like the indie-dance super-duo Electronic with New Order’s Bernard Sumner. His covetable versatility as a musician led to pop-leaning collaborations with the likes of Pet Shop Boys, Talking Heads and The The.
A longstanding working relationship with the legendary film composer Hans Zimmer lead to what might be Marr’s most unexpected partnership yet, a collaboration with Gen-Z poster girl Billie Eilish. Marr worked closely with Zimmer on the score to 2021’s No Time To Die, which included Eilish’s theme song to the film.
Marr’s official solo third album, Fever Dreams Part 1–4 (pre-order the album here), is already garnering critical praise in advance of its February release. The conceptually forward record has been released in four parts—3 EPs culminating in a full-length record, and finds Marr leaning into newfound territory as a songwriter.
I was excited to speak with him about the record, and seconds before an affable, and candid Marr joined me on video chat from his studio in London, I realized that in the top corner of my frame was a limited edition box set of The Smiths complete biography—a rather deep collector cut if I do say so myself—and it seemed my intentions to stick to paths less-Smithsy were defeated before we even got out of the gate.
But as his publicist suggested, Johnny remained chatty and bright on the subject and dug right into some juicy behind the scenes details on the album’s art work. We managed to move swiftly beyond the past and talk about the lofty intentions for his new record and some highlights from his storied and thriving career.
Read the full Q&A with Johnny Marr after the jump!