Johnny Marr: The Smiths 'Invented Indie'

"I'm glad I didn't spend 35 years in the same band," says the revered guitarist, whose first solo album arrives Feb. 26.

Perhaps justifiably so, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr is taking credit for shaping today's musical landscape.

"We invented indie as we still know it," he told The Guardian of his former band during an interview to promote his first solo album, The Messenger (out Feb. 26).

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"We were of that generation that came after punk and post-punk," he explained. "We're grateful for the revolution, but there was a bit of homophobia there, and sexism. There wasn't in indie. People don't talk about it now, but it was non-macho. If you were an alternative musician, you were political, because of the times [Thatcherism and the Falklands war]. It was taken for granted that the bands you shared a stage with had the same politics. I'm not sure you could say that now."

Marr's motivation for recording The Messenger: "I felt something was missing from pop…When you hit it right on, guitars in pop, it can be vivacious and exuberant and shiny. I've fond remembrances of bands like Blondie. Without being retro, if I'm really in the mood for it, that's what the guitar is for me. If people say parts of the record sound like The Smiths, I'm OK with that, because hopefully it's got the same exuberance."

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After leaving The Smiths in 1987, amid inter-band conflict that has kept him and singer Morrissey from talking much to this day ("We don't have any reason to, to be honest," he said), Marr has weaved in and out of many musical projects, including Electronic, The The, Modest Mouse, The Cribs and Johnny Marr and the Healers.

"I'm glad I didn't spend 35 years in the same band," he said. "It's just not me."

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