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Johnny Marr

Friday, 4:15pm, Orange stage

By Tim Stegall, Fri., Nov. 8, 2013

Johnny Marr

"I was almost too comfortable in Portland, Oregon," muses quintessential British rock guitarist Johnny Marr about his new solo release, The Messenger. "I needed to get a bit uptight, and Manchester is a good place to get a bloke uptight!"

He laughs. Marr revisited the city where he grew up and formed arguably the best of UK Eighties acts, the Smiths, with his now long-estranged partner Morrissey. He'd been living stateside most of the last decade, but upon his return to native soil, he shook off both bands he'd played in during that period – Modest Mouse and the Cribs – to work on his own.

"I just had a lot of ideas of lyrics and a lot of concepts of what I wanted to sing about. I started to set them to music, and there was just no need to invite someone to collaborate, no need to invite someone to sing. It was personal to me."

Part of his process was to return to the music and environment of his youth, though not out of any sense of nostalgia.

"I wanted to reconnect with a certain attitude in the music that I was playing before the Smiths. I was around 17 and writing in a certain way, inspired by the bands after punk rock – the way those bands did things."

Interestingly, the bands Marr cites are American: Blondie, Pere Ubu, and Television. The latter play the same stage as Marr the next day.

"Brilliant," he says.

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