Johnny Marr on his fourth album Fever Dreams

Johnny Marr on his fourth album Fever Dreams

Fresh from playing on the last James Bond soundtrack, Johnny Marr returns with his fourth solo album, Fever Dreams Pts 1-4 (BMG) on February 25. The new single Night And Day has just dropped.

Here, the legendary guitarist reveals all about a project unlike anything he’s done before…

Fever Dreams Pts 1-4 is a double album due in February, though Part 1 has already come out as an EP. How does it all fit together? 

“When I was a teenager I bought The Human League’s The Dignity Of Labour Pts 1-4 and it just stayed in my mind. I had a whole slew of songs, but once I got the idea for parts one, two and three, I tried to finish them in order. It became an art construct. I was then able to write specifically for Part 4 as the conclusion. Part 2 will definitely come out as an EP, but it depends on how the releases go after that. I never saw it as a collection of EPs, it is very much a double album, but when I wrote [lead single] Spirit, Power And Soul it all came to me. It’s an old-school album, but it happens to tick all the boxes in an age when people can get music from their favourite artists in parts too.”

It is big-sounding, yet made during lockdown. How did that impact you? 

“I wanted the music to be expansive, but when I started thinking about the lyrics the pandemic hit and you couldn’t help but be affected by a kind of global feeling. I wanted the words to connect with people, but there’s something in me that won’t let me sing, moaning under a tree. I had a feeling that if I was going to look inside myself, then the way soul singers express those feelings could be good. They didn’t do it like some drippy acoustic troubadour. I was messing around with machines, so I got really excited about this idea of ‘electro-soul’. That’s what got me into the studio each day.”          

You signed to BMG for this album, how did that come about?

“I’ve worked with [UK president] Alistair Norbury before and we really got along. I knew they were all music people, first and foremost.”

As a celebrated guitarist, is it nice to have four solo albums behind you so you can measure your growth as a songwriter?

“It is, to be honest. After those 60, 70 songs I’ve written as a lyricist, there is a thread that runs through everything that I think is pretty good. I like the idea that every album I do has a sense of discovery about it.” 

Talking of catalogues, you have amassed an enviable one across your career. Have you been offered a super-buck publishing deal yet? 

“A few years ago, someone made an enquiry through a friend of a friend but that’s about it. So, no. I’ve heard about those deals, but I haven’t done one. I’ve been too busy making double albums, mate [laughs].”

Interview by Paul Stokes

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