Tag Archives: Johnny Marr

New Johnny Marr: Somewhere

Video: Johnny Marr – “Somewhere”

From Spirit Power: The Best of Johnny Marr, out November 3 on BMG.

Johnny Marr is 59 and looks fantastic. What’s his secret? I don’t know but I’ll bet being a vegan and running marathons don’t hurt.

He’s released four solo albums since 2013 and now he apparently thinks he’s done enough to warrant a greatest hits collection. Throw in a couple non-album singles and a couple brand new tracks — including this one, “Somewhere” — and you’ve got yourself a double album.

Marr says, “For a song to work, it has to be a banger. I know it’s almost uncool to think in those terms, but I grew up in a house where my parents listened to Motown, where you couldn’t get a song released if it wasn’t full of hooks.”

I’m not sure if “Somewhere” is totally a banger but it’s definitely full of hooks!

Johnny Marr: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Johnny Marr: Spirit Power and Soul

Video: Johnny Marr – “Spirit Power and Soul”

From the Fever Dreams Pt 1 EP, out on October 15.

Johnny Marr is still as cool as ever, but man, these are some dopey lyrics.

When we all turn to gold
When make believe is in your eyes
That’s when I realise
The dawn has come.

That is some Bernard Sumner-level nonsense right there.

Marr’s solo material has the tendency to veer toward generic 90s britpop and this is no exception. Sure, it’s fine. The guitars sound great and glammy, and the groove is dancey enough, I guess. But overall, it suggests that Johnny Marr is a better songwriting foil to a creative partner.

Then again, he’s Johnny fuckin Marr — he doesn’t need me or anybody else telling him what to do. I’m glad he’s still out there, running marathons, eating vegan food, showing off his incredible collection of guitars, never saying racist garbage, and generally being a decent human being.

New Johnny Marr video: Spiral Cities

Video: Johnny Marr – “Spiral Cities”

Directed by Mat Bancroft and Johnny Marr. Single is out now on New Voodoo with new b-side “Spectral Eyes.”

Brian: I’m not the Messiah!

Arthur: I say you are, Lord, and I should know, I’ve followed a few!

Crowd: Hail, Messiah!

Brian: I’m not the Messiah! Will you please listen?! I’m not the Messiah, do you understand?! Honestly!

Woman: Only the true Messiah denies his divinity!

Brian: What?! Well, what sort of chance does that give me?! All right, I am the Messiah!

Crowd: He is! He is the Messiah!

Brian: Now, fuck off!


Arthur: How shall we fuck off, oh Lord?

Brian: Oh, just go away! Leave me alone!

–Monty Python’s The Life of Brian

That was basically Johnny Marr in the 80s. As one of the two leaders of a band so proudly anti-hero, it’s interesting (and even a bit fun) to see Marr step out, and into the role of front man in his solo years. Clearly healthy living does him well as he looks like he was frozen in time in 1996, and this song sounds like it was too. It’s a catchy little piece of Britpop with an appropriately vanity video to accompany it.

Jake has said that Johnny Marr needs a foil to really tap into his brilliance, and that’s probably true. So while you may not find anything revelatory in this new single, it is a nice little jam and maybe a slight reminder of a time before Brexit when England was proud, but not belligerent. Maybe Johnny Marr just needs a new messiah? Maybe we all do?

Johnny Marr: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Riot Fest 2018: Whole Lotta Shakin’

I’ve been attending big music festivals in Chicago every summer since 2005, but it’s been many many years since I arrived anywhere near early enough to see the opening wave of bands. There’s always bands I’d kinda like to see who play before 2:30pm but 3-day music festivals are work and you have to make sacrifices for your health and sanity.

Riot Fest scheduled Liz Phair to play at 2:10 on Friday this year. That’s early. Especially for a Friday. And even more so since I no longer live in Chicago. But I love Liz Phair, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen her in concert. In fact, I had tickets to see her in Detroit on Thursday but once the Riot Fest lineup was released, I decided to skip it. But that made it mandatory to arrive in Douglas Park in time.

I didn’t need to worry. Getting in to the park this year was easier than ever before. In fact, we made it inside with plenty of time to see festival opener Speedy Ortiz, who coincidentally is opening up for Liz Phair on her current tour. They were fun and cool. And their 30-minute set flew by.

The best thing about Riot Fest is that it’s got a small enough footprint that you can run around from stage to stage in no time. Five or ten minutes is all you need to get from one to the another. Unfortunately, this also means there’s soundbleed from other bands if you’re not standing directly in front of the stage. But it’s great to be able to skip around and get a sampler platter of everything that’s happening.

Continue reading Riot Fest 2018: Whole Lotta Shakin’

New Johnny Marr video: Hi Hello

Video: Johnny Marr – “Hi Hello”

From Call The Comet, due June 15 on New Voodoo.

How great do Johnny Marr’s guitars sound on this song? Got a bit of that “Money Changes Everything”/”Draize Train” vibe going on. The instrumental track would have fit nicely on a b-side in 1986.

Johnny Marr has always worked best when he’s writing with a foil, and unfortunately a lot of his solo material comes across as the kind of second rate British indie that would’ve been included on a cassette given away with Vox magazine in 1991 between Chapterhouse and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. Sure, you’d put the song on a couple of mixtapes, but a few years later you wouldn’t even remember the name of the band.

Oh well. I’m glad he’s still around. And he’s probably going to live forever because he’s vegan and he runs. There’s plenty of time for him to join or start a new band with a good lyricist and singer.

Johnny Marr: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Johnny Marr video: The Tracers

Video: Johnny Marr – “The Tracers”

From Call The Comet, due June 15 on New Voodoo.

We open with Marr and mates driving around what could be “the edge of the world” referenced in the opening lines of the song.

They’re driving a Corsair, a car built by Ford in the UK between 1963 and 1970 and marketed with a tagline that could have been a Smiths lyric, “I’ve got a V in my bonnet,” a reference to an optional V6 engine.

Where are they going? It doesn’t matter as long as you look good getting there.

But the references to overlapping times and places throughout the song and video are made more interesting with the musical choices. There’s a very Stones-y “Woo Woo” tag punctuating the lyrics and some new wavey noise. Underlying the whole song is a drum beat that could have been lifted straight from “Queen is Dead,” which I have to imagine is some sort of intentional call back to the band that made him famous. But what do I know?

Recorded at Manchester’s Crazy Face Studios, where it just so happens The Smiths also spent some time in the earliest days. Marr told Rolling Stone that he’d spend a lot of time wandering the old, empty building just getting lost in his own thoughts as the world outside was falling further into chaos with Brexit and a Trump election coming into full swing.

“It was a very unusual and creative environment,” he said. “I often lost track of the outside world. I’m glad that I’ve come out of it now, to be honest. It was quite taxing.”

Taxing, indeed. But by the looks of this video, Marr isn’t fully out of it yet…and neither are we.

Johnny Marr: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Johnny Marr and Maxine Peake video: The Priest

Video: Johnny Marr and Maxine Peake – “The Priest”

This is a cool spoken word piece about living on the streets of Edinburgh based on Joe Gallagher’s diaries that were published in The Big Issue under the pseudonym James Campbell.

“Arite there pal, what you doin’ here?”
“Tryin to sleep.”
“I’ve missed ma train n ma pals huv all fucked off n uv got naewhere tae kip… You homeless then?” he asks.
“You look oot ay it,” he says. “Are ye kitted up?”
“No, I am just very tired and it’s after two in the morning.”
“I hud a bit o’ coke earlier on.”

Oh for fuck’s sake. It’s gonna be a long night.

Johnny Marr provides the instrumentation, Maxine Peake narrates, and Molly Windsor stars in the video that was shot in Manchester. Johnny Marr’s third solo album is due in the spring.

Johnny Marr: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Forever Summer

I’ve been in bands my entire adult life. For most of that time, it was the most important element of my identity. Being in a band was not only a crucial creative outlet, but also a social space; it was how I met people beyond what is now the GLONO crew.

The first band I had–or at least the first group of guys who tried to get a functioning, performing band together–was The Silence. We were really only together for a summer, but we played a couple of shows, if you count basements as venues, and wrote and recorded eight songs. The best of these songs was a perfect little piece of electro pop called “Forever Summer,” written by Rick Grossenbacher.

The Silence, from top going right: Dan Terpstra, Mike DeRuiter, Derek Phillips (Author), Rick Grossenbacher

Rick was our keyboardist and sequencer. He loved electronic dance music way before there was anything called EDM. His flavor was more in the vein of Camoflage, Front 242, New Order and Depeche Mode. Man, he loved Depeche Mode. He and Dan, our lead guitarist, would go on and on quoting videos, interviews and studio banter I can only assume came from outtakes and bootlegs.

“Start the tape, Mart.”

At least I think that quote is from Depeche Mode. I don’t really know because that wasn’t my scene. I came from the Brit Pop school and was specifically focused on the Madchester sound of The Stone Roses. Happy Mondays and The Charlatans. The most important Manchester influence for me though was Johnny Marr and he was then in his dance band project, Electronic, with New Order’s Bernard Sumner. So if keyboards, drum machines and sequencers were good enough for Johnny, they were good enough for me.

Continue reading Forever Summer

New video from The The: We Can’t Stop What’s Coming

Video: The The – “We Can’t Stop What’s Coming”

This song was released in the UK for Record Store Day as a 7″ single. It features Matt Johnson, Zeke Manyika, Johnny Marr, James Eller, Meja Kullersten, Chris Whitten and Iain Berryman.

The basic track was recorded live for one of Johnson’s “Radio Cineola” broadcasts a year ago. Overdubs by Johnny Marr and other former members of The The were added more recently.

Much of the video was filmed at the original broadcast session, and it will be included in the new documentary film The Inertia Variations, directed by Johanna St Michaels. I’m really hoping this is only the beginning of new material from The The.

The The: web, twitter, fb, amazon, apple, wiki.

Continue reading New video from The The: We Can’t Stop What’s Coming

Photos: Johnny Marr at Brudenell Social Club

Photo by David Wala www.davidwala.com

Brudenell Social Club is a workingman’s club in Leeds with an old function room that was used previously for bingo and cabaret style acts – it still has brass fittings and seats and tables at the back on the elevated section – while the dance floor in front of the stage is all standing. It still has another room adjacent which is full of some interesting local “characters” that you would not normally find at a gig. In keeping with it being a working men’s club it still has dirt cheap drink prices.

It is a regular on the circuit for touring bands – I have seen Jesse Malin, Dan Sartain, Constellations Festival (headlined by Ariel Pink). At the end of the gig Johnny mentioned how much he loved the venue – I am guessing he would have played there with the Cribs as it is one of their favourite venues. The capacity is about 300. The audience last night was a mix of ages from diehard Smiths fans from way back in the day and new fans coming to see what they have missed.

He played a 70 minute set with mainly new songs and a few old songs (his description). Most of the set is here on video.

Photo by David Wala www.davidwala.com

Photo by David Wala www.davidwala.com

Photo by David Wala www.davidwala.com

Photo by David Wala www.davidwala.com

Photo by David Wala www.davidwala.com

Photo by David Wala www.davidwala.com

Photo by David Wala www.davidwala.com

Photo by David Wala www.davidwala.com

Photo by David Wala www.davidwala.com

All photos by David Wala. See more of his work at davidwala.net.