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Johnny Marr Wants to Have the ‘Best Live Band in the World’

Jason Kempin, Getty Images
Jason Kempin, Getty Images

In a more than 30-year career as a member of the Smiths, a sideman for hire or a frontman of his own band, Johnny Marr has rarely slowed down. Last night, he said that he’s working on his third solo album, and described what he’s looking to achieve with it.

Speaking to NME from venerable publication’s annual awards ceremony, Marr said, “I definitely want it to go somewhere. I’m not very keen on repeating myself. I mean, me and my band have got a sound and I just want to be a better lyricist, be a better singer and a better frontman and for my band to be the best live band in the world. Having done it man and boy for so long, I’m happy that I’ve still got some ambitions. It’s very good for you, I think.”

Lyrically, he added that the songs he’s written for it so far describe “a certain kind of attempt at making a connection with an overwhelming barrage of seemingly surreal events and information and how we’re all dealing with it – and how I’m dealing with it really. It’s a psychedelic world out there, whether we like it or not, and not in a good way.”

Marr understands that there’s a delicate balance than any artist must maintain when writing topical material. He disagreed with the notion that “pop music, culture or any of the arts shouldn’t tamper with politics. If you’ve got something to say, you should say it. If you’ve got a platform, and a way of saying it then by all means do so.”

Still, he understand that in speaking up, he runs the risk of alienating some fans. “I don’t really believe in hectoring people,” he continued, “but things are so serious and so extreme that a little bit of hectoring and a little bit of passion might not be such a bad thing. It’s not really a time for being meek and sitting on the fence, but that’s everybody’s own personal choice.”

When it comes out, it will be Marr’s first solo studio effort since 2014’s Playland and fourth — including 2003’s Boomslang, which was credited to Johnny Marr and the Healers — overall.

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