Johnny Marr receives praise from fans all the time for his work. Whether it’s with The Smiths, Electronic, Healers, Modest Mouse, The The, Neil Finn or his solo material, the love is deep. So it’s nice to hear the inverse and listen to Marr rave about something. And it’s something made here in North Texas.
Marr makes no secret about who his favorite football club (“soccer team,” for us silly North Americans) is: Manchester City. He even devotes an entire chapter to them in his memoir, Set the Boy Free. Marr has plenty of nice things to say about the Noisy Neighbors podcast, which is voiced and produced by two longtime City fans who live in the North Texas suburbs, Mark Mulvanny and Joey McCune.
“They’re just two stars,” Marr says after a long day in the studio. “I’m an all-out fan of those guys. They’re knowledgeable and funny. They have some nice humility there.”
Marr discovered the podcast after sampling a few City-centric podcasts. Noisy Neighbors stuck out, and he listens to every episode.
“They’re smart and funny,” Marr says. “One day I hope I get a chance to hang out.”
Marr understands fandom, and he’s appreciative to have the kind of career he has had, whether as a band member, a session player or a solo musician. He’s currently touring off his latest solo LP, Call the Comet.
Marr played Dallas only once with the Smiths, back in 1986 at the Bronco Bowl. That time was so long ago for him and his ex-bandmates. Fans around here haven't forgotten.
“The Smiths tours — in ’85 and particularly ’86 — were so kind of manic,” Marr says. “In my mind now, they’re like something from a dream.”
People still call out for Smiths songs when he plays solo gigs. And the Smiths are a band that a lot of people know could get back together — as all the original members are alive — but won’t. If you want to know the reasons, there are books devoted to this topic.
Fans even yell out for obscure songs Marr has done with other artists, like “Too Blue” from a collaboration album with Neil Finn and members of Radiohead and Wilco called 7 Worlds Collide.
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“That happens every show wherever I go,” he says. “It’s partly someone wanting to let you know they really know about your stuff. I always appreciate it, but I get the most bizarre stuff.”
With this tour, he plays the majority of (and sometimes all of) Call the Comet, which came out earlier this year. He also plays a few Smiths songs, as well as Electronic songs. That approach seems to make everyone happy.
“Playing live has become such a big part of my life now,” Marr says. “It’s got to a new level for me, in terms of importance in my life. Just a great activity. Now I might sound incredibly obvious to somebody hearing that. ‘Well, you’re a musician. Duh. That’s what you’re supposed to do.’ But in some ways my career has gone backwards because I never really cared for playing live when I was younger. Mostly because I was more focused on the creative side of learning about recording. I didn’t really like the lifestyle. Whereas now I’m into it for the reasons that anyone would think, which is the show.”
Johnny Marr and Belle Game play tonight, Oct. 9 at the Granada Theater. Tickets are $42.