On the eve of his new double album, the songwriter takes questions from Observer readers and celebrity fans on being a style icon, marrying young, and 20 years without booze
Johnny Marr calls himself “a lifer”. It’s a fair description of someone who started playing guitar in bands aged 13, founded the Smiths at 19, departed the band five years later, and went on to become an integral part of the sound of the Pretenders, Electronic, Modest Mouse and the Cribs. Latterly, Marr has contributed to soundtracks with Hans Zimmer, including the Billie Eilish song No Time to Die for last year’s Bond film, and made four solo albums. His latest is Fever Dreams Pts 1-4, a terrific, vigorous double album of 16 tracks that swoops from moody introspection to rousing anthems. So, yes, after 40 years in the business, it’s hard to deny Marr’s zeal and commitment.
“When you get older, you learn that no matter whether your work is in or out of fashion, it’s all about whether you can stand behind it,” he says, “because you can’t do anything about the trends and fashions and the way you are perceived too much – that’s a really secondary load of baggage that just gets in the way. So there are definitely some advantages to the mentality of being older: you don’t really care too much about being liked, certainly not as much as how much you like the work.”