Johnny Marr ends 2014 with one of the year’s most buzzed-about rock albums, the vivacious and aptly titled Playland, and the announcement this fall that his former band The Smiths are among the 2015 inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame clearly doesn’t compare. What’s old is not new for the 51-year-old Manchester, U.K., native—he is focused on the present, which includes his Playland world tour and getting started on his autobiography.
Despite playing guitar for five years in one of Britain’s most celebrated bands, which split in 1987, Marr has recorded as a solo artist for almost as long, creating two lauded albums: last year’s The Messenger and the just-released Playland. In between, Marr joined The The, The Pretenders, Modest Mouse, and The Cribs, and also helmed Electronic, a non-guitar project with New Order’s Bernard Sumner. Marr also worked on the Inception and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 soundtracks. (The latter included a songwriting collaboration with Pharrell Williams.)
EW caught up with Marr after he’d stepped off stage and clambered onto his tour bus, far from exhausted. “We just played a show in Glasgow,” he says excitedly in his heavy Mancunian accent. “We’re all sitting here in the post show glow, which is a very nice place to be.” If The Messenger brought Marr out of the sidelines, Playland, with its driving riffs and melodies, and strong, soaring vocals, seals the deal: Johnny Marr has something to say and he’s just the man to sing about it.