Ask A Silly Question... Johnny Marr

Time Out Jun8-15/2005 * Interview : John Lewis * Translated by MAKIO

We like Johnny Marr. He'll be joining an intriguing bill of US and UK folk Guitarists for Patti Smith's Meltdown on Jun.24, along with his heroes Bert Jansch and Roy Harper.

Favourite city in the world?

San Francisco. I've always found the West Coast exotic and alluring. The mountains, the climate, the glamour, the music, I went off London a few years ago and I now live in the countryside, in cheshire. But I'm still a city boy at heart. I get my city fix by staying with friends in San Francisco as much as I can.

What's the best thing you can you cook?

A Maverick, all-encompassing, vegetarian stir-fry, with tofu, bean sprouts, fried onions, peppers, garlic. Maybe even some black-eyed beans for a bit of weirdness.

Are You vegetarian?

Of course. Since about 1983. It's a bad idea to have a Number One album called "Meat Is Murder" and to eat meat. I'm very proud that so many people became vegetarians after that record.

Were Andy and Mike Vegetarians?

They were when they were around us! But you'd sometimes see Andy sneaking off with the road crew...

What was the first gig you went to?

My uncle took me to see Rod Stewart at the Belle Vue In Manchester. I was 12 so it would have been about 1976. I somehow got to talk to Britt Ekland. I thought that you got to meet a glamorous movie star at every concert you went to.

What's the best ever single?

"Eight Miles High" by The Byrds. It's symphonic, ambitious, sonically and lyrically interesting and it delivers its message beautifully, I've always seen the seven-inch single as a rather mysterical and magical object.

What would surprise me in your record collection?

"The Crunch" by The Rah Band. You'd probably think that a bit naff. It goes dum-der-DUM-der-dum-der-DUM! In my defence, it is rather glammy. Another guilty pleasure is "Amoureuse" by Kiki Dee.

The Meltdown gig seems like a conference of US and UK folk acts...

Yeah, it looks great. There's a real heaviness to folk. I don't see it was twee, finger-in-the-ear stuff. Tobe heavy and lyrical and petic with just a voice and an acoustic guitar is incredible. If it gets psychedelic then that's a bonus.

Your guitar style sounds very African...

Yes, The Edge said that once. He said my sound was very 'high-life-y'. It's probably because I play very high melodies with a clean sound. Without much of a blues feel. Actually, I never knew much about African music then. But there are some guitarists from Ghana, Madagascar, Zimbabwe and South African that I've since got into.

How many pairs of shoes do you own?

About 40. I never get rid of them, that's my problem. Actually, I raved about Birkenstock desert boots in a few interviews and Birkenstock gave me a lifetime supply. So I've probably got about 60 pairs of shoes now.

What's the weirdest thing that you've been sent by a fan?

I used to get lots of clothing, especially from American fans, "I was wearing this when I saw you play live, " they'd say, "and I want you to remember me." Actually, one girl sent me a very nice blouse which I wore on stage.

Hmm, kinky...

Do you think so? I suppose it is, actually.

Do you believe in God?

Yes, Not as a guy in the sky with a white beard. But I do believe that there is a force that created us and that we will return to.

Weirdest story you ever heard about yourself?

Well, apparently, I've been in rehab 15 times and I've joined Oasis three times. But I'm used to hearing that.

What makes you laugh?

Pathos. And inventive word play. Eddie Izzard is great. So are Matt Lucas and David Walliams. And I'm a big fan of black humour. There's a Scorsese film called "After Hours" which I find absolutely hilarious.

What the coolest thing in your house?

A giant oil on canvas by a New Zealand artist called Dean Buckley. He paints forests and mountains and hydroponic visions.

What does hydroponic mean?

Go and look it up. That's your homework for the evening. Don't ask your mum for help.