Yesterday morning I had the good fortune of eavesdropping in on a conversation between Duff McKagan and Johnny Marr. McKagan—GNR’s founding bassist and a Seattle Weekly columnist—was interviewing the former Smiths guitarist who is promoting a new album, The Messenger, and an April 15 stop at Neumos. An extended version of the interview is running in Wednesday’s paper, but I wanted to give you all a quick peek at a conversation that ranged in topic from “Rebel Rebel” to raising teenagers to … reunions.
McKagan: You were sort of the anti-guitar hero. I’m just so fascinated by your guitar style. I try to picture you guys in 1979 or whatever. I don’t know what he was listening to to get that sound.
Marr: Joy Division were rehearsing in the room above my band. They were scary guys just to look at because they wore old man’s clothes. With haircuts like they just came from the second world war. And that was much scarier than looking at someone who looked like the New York Dolls, or one of the Rolling Stones.
My own role around that time around town was, I was just a very young kid who was being invited to play with different bands because I had a knack, a certain kind of facility. Certain things came easy to me. Everyone would be trading riffs, it was almost like currency. If you could play “Rebel Rebel” without sticking your tongue out that was impressive stuff.
As a little boy, my main toy was a little toy guitar. I’d been thinking about the guitar longer than any of my mates. When I got to about 9 or 10 or 11, I was very keen to write some songs on it and put some songs together. That happened at the same time I was able to buy 45s with my own money. I still am obsessed with 45s.