'I'd have said, "Put me in a time machine, right this minute"': Johnny Marr talks the digital revolution

'I'd have said,

Johnny Marr has given his thoughts on streaming and the pitfalls of new technology in a wide-ranging new interview with Music Week.

The guitar great graces the cover of this week's issue, in which he discusses his storied 35-year career and upcoming third solo album Call The Comet, which comes out on June 15. 

As part of The Smiths, Marr helped create some of the most acclaimed LPs of all time and admits to having mixed feelings about how the digital revolution has impacted on the popularity of albums. 

“People seem to have a problem with focusing on one activity for 45/50 minutes without being distracted," he said. "And I don’t say that as a judgement, I can see why that is.

"As much as it saddens me, the fact is that if someone had offered the 15-year-old me the opportunity to walk down the street with a device in my pocket that could stream any music I wanted, at any point, I would have said, ‘Put me in a time machine, right this minute.’"

He added: "The digital revolution has made it very difficult for our attention spans - not just in the matter of listening to a record, but just having a conversation, sitting on the train looking out of a window, watching a movie... It's just a matter of the human race adapting to these, let's say, benefits that are coming into our life.

"Certainly where music's concerned, it's made some things not as good. If you're on stage and half the audience out in front have got their phones out, either filming the band or texting, you have to get used to a whole sea of people looking at you through their screens. I'm used to it now, but I wonder what it is that makes people actually miss the event. And it looks shit on the phone." 

Marr is relaxed in his expectations for his third solo offering, which follows 2013's The Messenger and 2014's Playland, both of which charted in the Top 10, and will be released via his New Voodoo label. 

“Commercially, you never know,” said Marr. “I’ve made records that were really good but people’s ears weren’t open at the time, and I’ve made other records that have been surprisingly popular. But it’s important for me that the audience think [Call The Comet] is at least as good as the first two solo records – and I’d like them to think that it’s better.”

Marr hits the road next week for two intimate gigs at the Music Week Award-winning Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on May 14 and Islington Assembly Hall in London on May 16. A full UK tour, to be confirmed, will take place later in the year. 

To read the full interview with Marr, featuring contributions from associates such as Sire Records legend Seymour Stein, Rhino, East West and ADA president Dan Chalmers and WME agent Russell Warby, click here or see the latest issue of Music Week.  

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