A thoughtful, in-depth interview with Johnny Marr is on Ask Me, a new site devoted to interviewing artists to reveal “their unique perspective and document their perceptions of themselves and their world.” Conducted over several months, this insightful three-part interview touches on Manchester, school days, family, twitter, Americans, his tattoos, The Healers, playing Smiths songs and his autobiography. Well done!
Why did you legally change your name to “Johnny Marr”? Was your family upset about that at all?
I was so young when I decided to do it. It didn’t really occur to me at that age that it might hurt my parents’ feelings. I’m not sure whether it did, but when I got to be well known, at first, I think it was a bit awkward for them having to explain that I had a different name. It’s very simple – the first time I thought it would be cool to have a different name was when more people started to call me “Johnny”. My parents still call me “John”. It’s kind of endearing, really. It makes them different from everybody else.
Do you ever look at your tattoos and think about the symbolism?
I do. I’m glad I got them when I did because when younger people get them they don’t really consider whether they’re going to be that significant when they’re older. When I was playing with Modest Mouse I wanted to make a definite statement to myself about being a musician – being a rock guitar player. It’s kind of the opposite of what most people would do. Most people would get to their 40s and think “Wow, I escaped my 20s and 30s without getting any tattoos. Now I’m looking at the second half of my life and it’s kind of good that I don’t have these reminders.” I thought, just in case I ever stop being a player, I want to make a commitment to the fact that I was a rock guitar player. Also, I was around some pretty cool tattoos in Modest Mouse.
Ask Me, July 2012