Johnny Marr on grassroots venues: 'They were always the best shows'

Johnny Marr on grassroots venues: 'They were always the best shows'

Johnny Marr has lauded the UK's small venues network, saying the circuit acts as a "lifeblood" for emerging acts.

The Smiths legend, who releases his third solo album Call The Comet via New Voodoo today (June 15), returned to action in May for intimate gigs at Leeds' Brudenell Social Club and Islington Assembly Hall in London. 

“In ‘82, when The Smiths started playing live, there were places like Moles in Bath, Rafters in Manchester and a ton of places in London," Marr told Music Week. "There was a real circuit that not only gave a lifeblood to bands but created a culture of likeminded, usually young, people.

"With my band, often it was a student population so they had to be cheap to get in and the beer had to be cheap. Even before I got to make a record we were slugging it around Manchester and going to see bands - and they were always the best shows."

However, Marr, who tours the UK in November, believes more needs to be done to protect the grassroots scene. 

“Unfortunately I don’t think it’s in the economic interest of a lot of towns and cities these days to keep those spaces available," he said. "It’s such short-term thinking and it makes me wince a little bit.

"There was also a pay to play culture that developed in the early 2000s that is a little bit unpleasant. It's really hard for young bands starting out but it'll never stop young bands or new bands and it'll never stop people going out to see bands.

"There's a great place in Manchester called The Night & Day Cafe, which has been going for 20-odd years. And the Brudenell's a fantastic place and if you speak to anyone who goes there they have so much affection for it and one thing that I tell people about places like the Brudenell is that they will sound great in there."

Read Marr's agents Marc Geiger and Russell Warby of WME wax lyrical about the guitarist hereTo revisit our cover story with Marr, featuring contributions from associates such as Warby, Sire Records legend Seymour Stein and Rhino, East West and ADA president Dan Chalmers click here.  

PHOTO: Paul Harries

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