Johnny Marr On The Smiths’ Black Roots

Johnny Marr tells Quietus ed John Doran about the influence Chic and Lovebug Starski had on The Smiths and deciding to say "fuck it" and put a heavy metal solo on Shoplifters Of The World

Noisey have just released the fourth chapter in their British Masters film series, which sees the Quietus’ John Doran talking to Johnny Marr.

In the video, they discuss Marr’s first solo album The Messenger, released yesterday, and the sonic imprint of the Manchester new wave on the record, as well as talking about his place as an atypical rock star, how he aimed to make ‘How Soon Is Now’ sound "paranoid… intense and druggy" and the lingering possibility of a reunion with Matt Johnson for The The.

Significantly, Marr talks about the primary influence black music had on The Smiths: "’Boy With The Thorn In His Side’, from the second verse onwards, if you listen to it, it’s just Nile Rodgers playing guitar – ‘How Soon Is Now’ has got a hip hop thing in it from Lovebug Starski."

He also says that he shares an unanticipated similarity to highlife guitarists, a comparison he can’t fully explain: "The first time anybody said I was influenced by or sounded like highlife, I was very surprised and I completely disagreed with it. The truth of it is that I do disagree with it, but it’s been mentioned so many times that I understand, but purely I obviously have the same mentality as some of the highlife guitarists, because I’d never heard highlife music in my life."

Finally, he talks about how the metal solo in ‘Shoplifters Of The World’ came about: "I think what I did there was I just went ‘fuck it’, to be honest. I thought ‘if someone wants to give me stick for it, let them give me stick for it, they won’t’. Well, within about a week I was getting shit for it" (but not from a certain bunch of in-car rocking Waynes World-alike metal fans – watch above).

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