I’m Inspired By Johnny Marr Being Inspired By Naughty By Nature
How the famous “O.P.P.” rappers literally changed the life of The Smiths’ founding guitarist.
When it comes to truly iconic artists such as founding Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, it’s easy to think you’ve heard every interesting story and fact about them possible after a while. Marr has just thrown that theory straight out the window with a new tale that is one for the ages.
During an interview with HipHopDX, Marr detailed the very New York moment that occurred more than twenty years ago when he was working with UK act The The.
“In the ’90s, Matt Johnson [of The The] and myself were making a video in New York and we were in some pretty gnarly parts of town during the song,” Marr said. “A couple of Naughty By Nature crew were with us to take care of us. I really liked the late ’80s, early ’90s hip-hop scene, you know, where there was 3rd Bass, basically East Coast and West Coast.
“I spent a lot of time watching MTV and I found the best stuff around at that time,” he continued. “I was interested in asking a couple of the guys from Naughty By Nature, ‘How come in a lot of your videos and interviews, you guys are always working out all the time?’ Coming from British indie rock, I’m nothing if not curious [laughs]. I wanted to learn, and they sat me down and went into this really good explanation.”
While Marr hasn’t revealed who, exactly, from the Naughty By Nature camp was speaking, what they laid out had a life-changing effect on the pioneering guitarist.
“It was about this whole philosophy around young black men needing to be strong and as together as you could possibly be and educating yourself, because today, particularly the government, was flooding the projects with crack, and the last thing you need is to be the effect of that,” Marr revealed. “You need to be on top of your game. That philosophy sounded so empowering to me and positive. It just made me want to make myself as strong as I could. I also quite liked that it was the opposite of the cliché of indie rock musician.”
It was enough to get Marr to start running and working out, which has become an integral part of his life. He applied his obsessive artistic nature to his physical well-being.
“I was sort of a Mancunian rock guitar player who wanted to stay up late watching YouTube videos and then getting up at noon and fucking around,” he admitted. “But because I know myself pretty well, and I wanted to break out of that usual rock same cycle, I used my obsessive nature in a way that was kind of good for me.”
Enjoy a video of The The performing “Uncertain Smile” live with Marr on guitar in 1990 below.