Marr is a man hitting his stride

Johnny Marr
Johnny Marr

You wait 26 years for a Johnny Marr solo album, and then two come along at once. Well, that’s not quite true - his firstwas released last year - but you get the point.

After a long period of working with other people - The The, Electronic, Modest Mouse and The Cribs - Marr’s now entering a new, assured phase of life, and with it comes a sense of urgency that’s rare for someone at his stage in a career.

Playland, his second solo album, was released recently, and very much sounds like a man hitting his stride

The ideas are better executed, the songs sharper and, as is the case for Easy Money, the first single released from the album in September, more memorable.

“I wanted to write a song about money, but because it’s been done before so many times. It was a tricky proposition,” says Marr.

“It clicked when I decided to be upfront about it, although I hope there’s some sort of hidden ambiguity. It’s not a complaint about money, nor is it a complaint about greed, that’s been erroneously reported.”

Marr, who has just turned 51, left The Smiths, the band he founded in Manchester in 1982 with singer Morrissey, in 1987. Astonishing by the time the band came to end, Marr was still only 23.

He says he’s been asked about the band, and more specifically, the chances of them reforming, almost every day since they broke up. He’s not hugely forward when it comes to discussing The Smiths, although he will hold court for hours on the actual music, and is still happy including Smiths songs in his sets.

“It’s a great privilege to play those songs when I tour now,” he says. “As much as I want to explore my own songs, and that’s very exciting, I’ll never stop playing those Smiths songs. I love them, and I’m so happy they still go down so well with the crowds.”