It's not easy to be the ex-guitarist and founder from The Smiths (especially when the ex-singer Big Mouth can't stop act like one) or to look like a slimmer and healthier version of Trent Reznor, but Johnny Marr does very well these days and his brain is evidently clear and sharp.
A bit of history: Johnny Marr is a brilliant guitar player/composer, he put together one of the best rock band in history (The Smiths), then went on to play with one of the most underrated UK songwriter who's new work we miss a lot (Matt Johnson from The The), formed and played in the superband Electronic (Bernard Summer from New Order/Joy Division, joined by Karl Bartos (ex-Kraftwerk) for some songs) and has more recently enjoy success with Modest Mouse and The Cribs. He's currently working on a solo album but do find time to make very interesting university lectures and this is where we join him thanx to an article that came out in the Irish magazine Independent News.
In his lecture, Johnny (who i played soccer table against a few years ago and he did beat me, bastard ;)) goes back in memory lane to serve his point: if you want to have a real success (in my book it means being able to live from your music, being able to promote it and play it and compose new work without having to wonder how to pay for the mortgage or the next meal) you better do it from the outside of the business and not care one second how things are supposed to be done according the inside rules and codes.
And he has some perfect angles and exemples, and reminds us of the ways of several bands and managers that did very well well but were in fact really on the fringe, if not outside, of the music business, didn't play it by the rules and obtained good deals and eventually global recognition and success by doing things their way...Andrew Oldham (manager of the Rolling Stones), Georges Martin (an engineer at EMI studios who produced The Beatles), Brian Epstein (manager of The Beatles), Buzzcocks (one of the punk pioneers), Geoff Travis at Rough Trade (a label/record shop that launched the idea for hundreds of indie labels), Andy Warhol, etc...All these people made it 'big' but weren't from "The Establishment", they did it their way, they didn't follow rules books, they instead launch their carreer by being unorthodoxal and free-minded...
Johnny Marr who, I remind you, still owes me a return game at soccer-table, shares also very true and respectable rules of thumbs about why and how to make music as a band.
1/ you do music for your friends in the band. That's the sole reason: you want to be having a good time and please them and yourself.
2/ trust your friends advice and taste to tell you if the songs are good. But be sure they have good taste !
3/ make sure none of your friends work inside the music business: stay an outsider.
I can live with that.
And a hundreth of Johnny Marr's talent.
The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Kollector.