Johnny Marr: “The Smiths never fell out over politics, but we probably would now”

"I don’t know whether you can separate the band from the man, but I can separate myself from the man and what I did"

Johnny Marr says that The Smiths “never fell out over politics,” but that they “probably would now.”

Marr and songwriting partner Morrissey have had a number of high-profile beefs in the press since the band split up in the late 1980s, with Morrissey most recently asking Marr to stop mentioning him when giving interviews.

In a new interview with The Guardian, Marr was posed questions by fans and celebrities about The Smiths, his solo work and beyond.

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In the interview, Marr was asked by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham: “Did the Smiths ever fall out over football or politics?”

Marr replied: “We never discussed football so that’s that. And we never fell out over politics, but we probably would now.”

A subsequent question from a fan then said: “Morrissey’s recent political views have cast a shadow over the Smiths for me – reaching back into the past and tainting something that was very important to me. I’m so disappointed in him. Has it impacted how you feel about the Smiths or are you able to separate the past from the present, the band from the man? I find it very difficult to do so.”

To this, Marr said: “It hasn’t impacted how I feel about the Smiths. That’s all I can say about that. I’m certainly able to separate the past from the present. I don’t know whether you can separate the band from the man, but I can separate myself from the man and what I did, so when I do see how disappointed people are, it really does make me sad. But it’s completely out of my control. And I can only really do what is in my control.

“So I play Smiths songs for reasons that I think are real. And over the years I’ve tried to take care of the catalogue and the releases as much as I was able to. As I would have done anyway. So, you know, I see it the way everybody else sees it. I don’t have any answers. And I don’t want to have any answers.”

Morrissey
Morrissey and Marr. CREDIT: Brian Rasic/Getty Images.

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In a post on his Morrissey Central website last month, the controversial singer-songwriter and former Smiths frontman asked Marr to refrain from discussing him in the press, writing: “This is not a rant or an hysterical bombast. It is a polite and calmly measured request: Would you [Marr] please stop mentioning my name in your interviews?”

“Would you please, instead, discuss your own career, your own unstoppable solo achievements and your own music? If you can, would you please just leave me out of it?”

Morrissey continued: “The fact is: you don’t know me. You know nothing of my life, my intentions, my thoughts, my feelings. Yet you talk as if you were my personal psychiatrist with consistent and uninterrupted access to my instincts.”

In response, Marr took to Twitter and directly addressed Morrissey, writing: “An ‘open letter’ hasn’t really been a thing since 1953, It’s all ‘social media’ now. Even Donald J Trump had that one down.

“Also, this fake news business… a bit 2021 yeah?”

It comes after Marr shared the reason why he’s not “close” with Morrissey in a recent interview, claiming that it’s because they’re “so different”.

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