Former lead guitarist for pioneering UK indie band gets back to his roots with The Messenger
By Alex Baker
As a member of the influential Eighties British indie group, The Smiths, Johnny Marr pioneered the alternately jangly, alternately jagged guitar style that is such an integral part of what we now regard as the indie rock sound.
The Smiths were regarded as one of the definitive British indie bands of the Eighties and although their career was a brief one, they are almost singlehandedly credited for ending the dominance of post-New Wave synth groups like Depeche Mode and New Order; paving the way for the guitar-based Britpop sound that would define UK indie music in the Nineties.
But while former Smiths frontman Morrissey, has had a prolific and high-profile solo career dating back to the band’s demise in the late Eighties, Marr has maintained a relatively low profile over the years; touring and recording with The The in the Nineties and along with Bernard Sumner of New Order, playing in the “indie supergroup” Electronic.
Most recently the Manchester-born indie guitar hero appeared on the Modest Mouse album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, and toured with the band as a member. Marr actually made his debut as a vocalist on a 2003 release by his short-lived project, The Healers, a band that also featured ex-Kula Shaker bassist Alonza Bevan and drummer Zak Starkey. However The Messenger will be his first release simply as Johnny Marr.
After spending several years living in Portland, OR, Marr returned to his native Manchester to record the album.
“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,” said Marr, speaking to Rolling Stone. “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.”
The Messenger isn’t due to be released until February of 2013. But if you want a preview, just take a look at the above newly-released video for the album’s title track.