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An Extremely Short Interview with Johnny Marr

We were told we could only talk to Johnny Marr for five minutes and couldn't ask him about The Smiths, so we asked him what he thought about Skrillex instead.

by Drew Millard
17 April 2013, 3:05pm

The résumé of a man such as Johnny Marr precedes him, so it’s kind of pointless to explain why you should care about him at this stage in his career, because you probably definitely do. I interviewed the legendary guitarist backstage at Coachella in the press area, and was explicitly told by his publicist that I could only interview Marr for five minutes, and I could not ask him any questions about The Smiths, the possibility of a Smiths reunion, or Morrissey (and I couldn’t try to fake him out by going, “What do you think of Morris… Day and the Time?” or anything like that). I managed to stretch the interview to six minutes, and instead of asking about The Smiths I asked him what he thought of Skrillex. Then, we talked about normal Johnny Marr stuff and I think he dissed Morrissey a couple times.

Hi Johnny Marr! What do you think of Skrillex?
Skrillex… uh, why? Why did you ask me that question?

Because he's playing tonight.
Uh, he’s okay. Skrillex is okay. I think that the culture from a few years ago, Skrillex has transcended and developed the culture from beyond that. He's pretty good. He’s developed over the few years, and has gone somewhere to be creative. It's not something that I would play, but I respect it. I think there will be some great records coming from Skrillex.

I think he's done a lot for the spread of electronic music in America.
I think that's right. I think I prefer where Skrillex is at now than he started out. He got better. When Skrillex started out, I didn't think he'd be doing what he's doing now.

When you create art, do you do it with an eye towards history?
No, that would be the enemy of creativity as far as I'm concerned. I think it's a valid question. I think one of the great things about pop and what pop meant when it started out with say, Andy Warhol, he was taking a snapshot of the current culture, whether it be the visual arts or the movies or in my case records, in an irreverent way. I like that. I think that things should date. I think one of the things with rock culture as it became in the 70s and carried on throughout the 80s and 90s that it was too overly concerned with its place in history and became too self-referential and too self-reverential. I like things that kind of blow a hole in that whole scene because it's just up its own ass.

Can you try to describe when you first realized that you have done something that deeply affected a stranger?
Well, the first time that would have had happened was when a stranger told me. If you're lucky enough to be around a long time, those things happen often. I feel really unable to analyze it because if you did you'd have to have an ego that was out of control. The answer is connection, though. If I see something in a painting that really does something to me with its color or whatever the form is, I'm making a massive assumption that I really relate to the person who made it. I like it if people make that assumption with me. That's a beautiful thing, but it's beyond my being to be able to analyze it because I know it's not from my own brilliance. There's more things going on than that. Without sounding like a big hippie about it, it's great evidence that there are a lot of connections being made between people.

Drew Millard was kinda sweaty when he conducted this interview. He’s on Twitter - @drewmillard

The Smiths
Johnny Marr