Johnny Marr Says New Solo Album Intertwines Serious Themes with Pop Music


Story by Anne Erickson

Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr says some weighty themes are buried in the pop-tinged tunes on his upcoming solo album

Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr is getting ready to release his sophomore solo album, “Playland,” on Oct. 7. The new release arrives just one year after his solo debut, “The Messenger,” hits fans’ fears, and Marr recently told Rolling Stone his goal with the new tunes was to “take the energy of the band I was touring with and put it into the new songs. I kept on writing as soon as ‘The Messenger’ came out… I didn’t want to change what I was doing.”

Marr also explained that although some of the songs on “Playland” sound very poppy – such as “Back in the Box,” “Easy Money” and “Dynamo” – there’s actually a serious message behind them. “If you were to ask anybody in the City [London’s financial district] what they’re after, essentially the root of it is money. It’s the age-old thing of people thinking that it will make us happy… I like the idea of sneaking a serious concern into the mainstream, disguised as a big pop tune.”

The overall theme of the album, Marr explained, is the negative effects of partying, drugs and alcohol abuse in an effort to escape from your life. “Are drugs and sex and adrenaline something people are pursuing or are we trying to run away from something?” he asked. “They’re themes that can be celebratory, and you can hear the music that way, but at the same time it could also be symptoms of mental illness.”

Marr is also working on a memoir and says he has about 18 months of writing ahead of him before publishing the book.



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