Tuesday, 19 February 2013

LISTEN TO: Johnny Marr - The Messenger

'The Messenger', Johnny Marr's forthcoming debut solo album is released on February 25 in the UK through Warner Bros and on February 26 in the US through Sire. Scroll down to listen to the album in full. Marr says the album grew out of the guitarist's urge to return to Manchester, the place of his youth. 

Marr rose to fame in the 1980s as the guitarist in The Smiths, with whom he formed a prolific songwriting partnership with Morrissey. Marr has been a member of Electronic, The The, and Modest Mouse. In 2008, he joined The Cribs after touring with them on 2008's NME Awards Tour, a group in which he would remain until 2011.

"It was very important to me that I got away from the U.K. for a while, for musical reasons. You can start taking things for granted too much," Marr tells Rolling Stone. The album, technically his solo debut (his 2003 release was credited to the Healers), is due in February.

"I felt if I was going to make the record I needed to make, then I had to go back to the environment that shaped me musically. It was just about reconnecting with a certain energy that shapes you as a musician – almost picking up where you started off, not where you left off. I'm not a nostalgic person. I tend not to look back, which in my case is not always easy," he adds with a laugh. 

His new album was inspired in part by the music he fell in love with before he became a working musician. "This record is a little more rooted in the New Wave shows I used to sneak in to see when I left school – not directly, but in terms of the energy, the shadow of the memory of that." He's also attended "quite a few" Northern soul all-nighters over the past couple of years: "Anything to make things rock without actually being rock," he says.

While recording, he kept in mind the styles of three of his favorite guitarists: the Stooges' James Williamson, Pentangle's Bert Jansch and Chic's Nile Rodgers. "Those three guys have always been the constants. All three always serve the song."

Rather than writing with another voice in mind, for The Messenger Marr felt compelled to write for his own voice.

"I started to be haunted by these ideas for songs and titles, images and notions," he says. "There seemed to be a lot of ideas of what I wanted to say, a lot of melodies. And that feeling sort of stockpiled to the point where I started to visualize a group, really. Lyrically, I'm not thinking about the Union Jack. There's just something in the air being around the place where you started out . . . The Kinks could have only come out of London. Kraftwerk could've only come out of Dusseldorf." 


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