TOTP CHAT WITH JOHNNY MARR & BERNARD SUMNER April 22 1999
© BBC Worldwide Ltd.
Manchester music legends Bernard Sumner of New Order and Johnny Marr of The Smiths first started working together in 1989 as Electronic. Inspired by the success of their debut single, Getting Away With It, Johnny and Bernard have continued to produce records and collaborated with many other musicians. They chatted live from TOTP before performing their latest single Vivid.
Bernard Sumner & Johnny Marr live on beeb.com
pete23 asks: "Does being on Top of the Pops still mean something to you?"
Bernard: "It means getting up at 9 in the morning and hanging around for 12 hours."
Johnny: "So...yes...it means the same as it's always done!"
Bernard: "This time we're playing live which is more exciting than before. The format is that some bands play live over a backing track but I think it should be all live."
Johnny: "I grew up watching the show religiously so it would be nice to think that the show means the same to teenagers now as it did to me. We've got a guy in the band called Phil Cunningham and this is his first time and he's really excited."
Sara6 asks: "Whats the new album like?"
Bernard: "It's not very good, it wasn't worth making."
Johnny: "We're not really on it, we got our friends to do it."
Bernard: "It's rockier than the previous ones. It's more of a group based sound."
Johnny: "It's still more melodic but more guitary."
Bernard: "In the past the tracks have mainly been written using a computer and keyboard with the guitars added at the end. On this album we reversed the process by writing the songs on guitar first. A by product of that is that this album took 3 months to record and the previous one took 2 years."
Johnny: "The most conscious thing on this album was the choice to use a co-producer. This gave us more time and energy to focus on being songwriters. That's not to say we had a problem with this in the past...but we just fancied a change. Having a band to pull together made the atmosphere different as well...even rehearsals are good fun, it's great to make a racket."
Hailey23 asks: "Youve probably been asked this a load of times, but come on guys, how about some live dates soon?"
Johnny: "We're trying. Both Bernard and myself are looking forward to playing live, our main consideration is the rest of the band."
Bernard: "We want to do some festivals but the rest of the band play for other people so we have to make sure they're free and available. The Label would like us to tour but we'd rather do a set of festivals. Even if we're going to play one gig, we have to rehearse for a month, which is really expensive."
Johnny: "Jed Lynch, the drummer who played with us on this album, is with Black Grape. Astrid Williamson who sang backing vocals on the album is also in the band. Phil Cunningham is in a Manchester band and it's difficult getting them all together."
mojo asks: "The Happy Mondays reunion how long do you think itll last?"
Johnny: "No one knows the answer to that question...two songs."
Bernard: "They're obviously friends of ours so we wish them good luck for the Manchester gig. Hopefully they've learnt from this period of being apart. Speaking from my experience with New Order, it was great that we stopped being silly. I believe the real reason the Monday's split up wasn't drugs...but Sean's feet. If they invest in some 'odour eaters' they could go on forever."
edgetolife asks: "Johnny, in the future would you like to play in more bands and write more material or would you enjoy producing material of other artists?"
Johnny: "I don't really fancy either of those things. I've been very fortunate to be involved with a few respected groups and I don't really want to repeat what I've done in the past. The problem with production is there's no distinction between what's my input and the artist's input."
"When I've worked with other artists, my first thought in the morning is fretting about the production and if I'm going to do that then, then I might as well do it for myself. I'm thinking of doing my own solo stuff. I've got a collection of songs. When Bernard does his stuff with New Order I'm going to kick that off. I'll be singing and I'll get a band together."
"I'm not giving it too much thought at the moment as Electronic's album's not even out at the moment. I'm very proud of this record and I want to promote it as much as possible."
Bernard: "We'll definitely work together again as well."
Johnny: "There's a sound I can only get with Bernard, the way he works and the way he writes. People can hear it and I think it's something unique."
Happy Jack asks: "How much online surfing do you both do? Have you seen any of the fans Electronic, Smiths and New Order sites (trust me, there are thousands)."
Bernard: "I just use it for porn...No, I'm joking...I'd rather go out and buy a book and hold something in my hand. The last thing I want to do after all day behind a computer in the studio is do it at home. We do use the net for graphics and sleeve designs. I get all the artwork emailed to me before it goes out."
Johnny: "I've checked it out fairly extensively. I've found it to be quite inspiring in some areas. I've got some quirky interests like Carl Jung, the history of native Americans and the history of Tibet. But I did check out a few fan sites. At first I was impressed and then under whelmed because every time I went back to them they didn't update them. I tried to help out an unofficial website by telling them what I was up to. If anyone has any ideas they can email my management (Ignition management) or the record company and I'll get to see them."
Bernard: "The new Electronic website is a great site. The last one wasn't so good so I hope it goes well. What would be great is if we could do something like this every month."
JK22 asks: "If I sent my young brother down to hang about outside the TOTP studios with my Smiths, New Order and Electronic records, would you sign them?"
Bernard: "Yes but don't let everyone else get the same idea."
Johnny: "It depends, is he a nice guy?"
ManC asks: "Johnny, do you reckon Manchester City will be promoted this season?"
Johnny: "I'm always nervous about getting my hopes up. It's looking good though. I really hope Bernard doesn't say anything cos he's so smug this morning about Man U's victory. I'm sure Man C would agree, that because they're from Manchester and England and they're competing in Europe, I honestly hope with all my heart they get stuffed. That's how twisted Man City fans have become."
Bernard: "City have done so badly lately that Man U fans don't even take the mickey anymore. We find it pitiful. You'll be playing Salford Grammar School next."
Johnny: "I don't care. The band has just split up, thanks Man C!"
Gav Fuller asks: "Johnny, whats the story behind you launching your own clothing line? Where can we buy the clothes from?"
Johnny: "At the moment there are shops everywhere taking orders from Elk. But we're funny about who we'll send it out to. If you live in London you can get it from Fletcher in Covent Garden or Brown's...there are going to be a couple of adverts in The Face over the next few months."
"It's stuff I've done with Nigel Lawson, a very talented fashion designer in Manchester that I know. The stuff he does is much more interesting than the stuff available in the shops."
Bernard: "It's native American based stuff isn't it?"
Johnny: "It's a weird mix of native American, outdoor wear, Mod and other bits. It's been a labour of love for 2 years. It's an ideological experiment because it's like a band. If you keep the ideas pure and the enthusiasm up, then people realise it's not a corporate thing."
Ric Romo asks: "Do you have any plans to tour the US? Most notably, the state of Texas? We would love to see two legends down here."
Bernard: "It all depends on whether we can afford to do it is the honest answer. It costs a lot of money to do it. I love Texas, I've played there a lot with New Order but it all depends on the money."
Johnny: "I really enjoyed playing Dallas and Houston with The The. It would be great to play there again."
Davor Croatia asks: "Which songs or albums, that you've heard lately, have you thought were really good?"
Bernard: "I bought five albums the other week. Placebo's new album, Faithless, Beck, Serge Gainsbourg and a very old Fleetwood Mac featuring Peter Green. I really like Peter Green."
Johnny: "He's got a great voice."
Bernard: "My favourite album is Fatboy Slim."
Johnny: "I really like Mogwai and Badly Drawn Boy."
Bernard: "I liked the UNKLE album, particularly the Ian Brown track."
Johnny: "I like the Blue Note re-issues, The Nugget Psychedelic Box Set and also Celine Dion."
Dave Briggs asks: "What's the story behind you using a picture of Rasputin on your album sleeve?"
Bernard: "We're big fans of Boney M. I've always loved Ra Ra Rasputin. We liked the photograph and that's the only reason. We're not that interested in Rasputin. We just like the intense gaze he has. I saw a film about him and I reckon the guy got a bum rap. He cured the Tsar's son and spent the rest of the time having intimate relations with all the ladies in waiting...and what's wrong with that."
Dan 55 asks: "Bernard, how about a repeat gig at Alexandra Palace for the millennium? Last year was storming!"
Bernard: "The next priority for New Order is to write some new material which we'll be doing in the mid to late summer, that'll come out in the year 2000. That's the priority at the moment, although I really enjoyed the Ally Pally gig."
Johnny: "I'm staying in to watch the telly. I may go to Northern Australia for a couple of weeks."
Bernard: "The Ally Pally gig...we almost pulled it when Steve found out we were going on stage at midnight and he wanted to be in bed!"
Dave Goodwood asks: "A question for Johnny what are your personal feelings about the court case with Mike Joyce?"
Johnny: "I feel that it was ugly and unnecessary. A real shame that over the last few years I've been asked more about that case than the songs I've produced. Midway through the case, I really did feel that I wanted to stop the case and get everyone to agree that we did have a good time in The Smiths after all."
"I don't hold an animosity to anyone but it was such a shame. On a personal level, I wish them luck, but they've got personal agendas that I can't relate to."
pank-art asks: "What do we have to do to get you guys for an interview for our radio station in Turkey?"
Johnny: "If it's on a boat and it's two weeks long then sure."
© BBC Worldwide Ltd.