Blossoms on how they “hugged it out” with Johnny Marr after Smiths covers band fall-out

"How do you turn around to one of your heroes and go, ‘I’m starting a covers band with Rick Astley playing your songs?’"

Blossoms have revealed how their unlikely feud with Johnny Marr over forming a Smiths covers band was put to bed.

Last year, the band teamed up with Rick Astley to cover The Smiths. While playing a gig in London, they invited Astley on stage to perform ‘Panic’ and ‘This Charming Man’.

The artists subsequently announced two Smiths covers shows in Manchester and London the following month, with Blossoms becoming Astley’s backing band for a full set of theirs and fans’ most-loved Smiths songs.

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At the time, Marr gave her verdict on the covers, writing on Twitter: “This is both funny and horrible at the same time”. He also added: “Well, I met The Blossoms a few weeks ago and they elected to not mention it. Nice.”

He later told NME about his thoughts on the stunt and surrounding drama, saying: “I didn’t ask for that, but sometimes stuff like that happens when you’re in the public eye. There was an M.O. there that just wasn’t very cool – but I’ve dealt with it. I think I’m a pretty reasonable person, and I’ve dealt with it.”

Speaking to NME for this week’s Big Read cover story, the band were asked about the influence of The Smiths and Marr on their new album ‘Ribbon Around The Bomb’. “Well, we’ve made no secrets about our love for them…” frontman Tom Ogden said referring to their collaboration with Astley.

On the cover band fall-out, drummer Joe Donovan continued: “I mean, we were expecting the opposite. It is what it is – you can understand both sides. The thing Johnny got upset with was the fact we didn’t say anything, which we fully accept and apologise for… It was meant to be a bit of fun and a laugh – especially after such a shit year. We got that, and the crowds absolutely buzzed off it.”

NME Cover 2022 Blossoms
Blossoms on the cover of NME

The band later shared a stage with Marr when supporting The Courteeners at their massive homecoming show at the Old Trafford. When asked in the NME interview whether there was any awkwardness backstage, Ogden said: “We knocked on his dressing room door and said, ‘Look… We probably should have told you, but we were just too scared.’

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“How do you turn around to one of your heroes and go, ‘I’m starting a covers band with Rick Astley playing your songs?’ There’s no easy way to say that. Even the most fucking confident person in the world would struggle to say that. He was like, ‘It’s water under the bridge – let’s hug it out’.”

Read the full NME Big Read cover story with Blossoms here. 

Morrissey, meanwhile, thanked the band and Astley for forming the covers band via a statement on his website: “My sincere thanks to Rick and the Blossoms for their recent recentness. Anything that generates interest in that tired old Smiths warhorse is testimony to the wallop it packed. THANK YOU!”

The Stockport five-piece’s fourth album is set for release on April 29, and has been previewed by the singles ‘The Sulking Poet’‘Ode To NYC’‘Care For’ and its title track.

Earlier this month, Blossoms announced details of a new film based around the album, and a premiere event where they’ll perform live.

The band will also showcase the record at a series of UK live shows this summer, including headline appearances at Y Not and Truck Festival, as well as support dates with The Killers.

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