Johnny Marr | Johnny Marr’s theory on why singers are so difficult…
The former Smiths guitarist and New Order frontman created the supergroup Electronic – which also featured Pet Shop Boys stars Neil Tennant and CHRIS LOWE – in the late 80s and their debut single ‘Getting Away With It’ was a major chart success in 1989.
Marr insists their collaboration worked because, Bernard started off as the guitar player in his first band Joy Division, which was fronted by the late Ian Curtis, before taking on singing duties in New Order meaning that he didn’t have an out-of-control ego like most singers.
Discussing the creative atmosphere in Electronic, the ‘This Charming Man’ hitmaker – who worked with singer Morrissey in The Smiths – said: “It worked because Bernard and I both started out as guitar players in bands, not lead singers. So as successful and established a lead singer as Bernard Sumner is, he doesn’t have that w***** mentality – that has to hog the limelight all the time.
“And in New Order, as well as being the lead singer, he’s a musician. So when we got together, we worked together as musicians – almost to a fault, in that we would have such elaborate backing tracks waiting for vocals to happen last.”
“Guitar players are very into collaboration. So that’s Bernard’s first instrument. So I’m working with someone who is not like a regular lead singer … So there’s that love of music for music’s sake, and lack of crazy ego.”
Marr – who eventually embarked on his own successful solo career, beginning in 2013 with his album ‘The Messenger’ – was delighted when Electronic had a string of hit records because there was so much interest and pressure on the group because of his and Sumner’s bands.
In an interview with MusicRadar.com, he said: “A slightly different agenda was put on us that was different from some of the other groups because of who we were. And because we had hits. That was the other thing that sort of that fed into the rest of Electronic, because ‘Get The Message’ was a hit, ‘Getting Away With It’ was a big hit.
“So quite early on, not only was it made obvious to us that we were never going to escape who we were, in interviews or otherwise, but then when we started having hits.”