Thursday, September 24

Words with: The Cribs

. Thursday, September 24

The effect Johnny Marr has on people is as noticeable as it is amusing. Everyone gathered at the offices of Wichita - home to Marr’s new band The Cribs - is speaking about his arrival and when a white transit van pulls up and the man who wrote ‘The Queen Is Dead’ when he was 18 jumps out, eyes dart in his direction over menus, newspapers and friends' shoulders. It’s no surprise he garners attention what is surprising however is the humility he shows and the passion for music that still burns strong in his stomach.

With this state of agitation teamed with a love of pop music, it almost makes sense that he has now joined The Cribs. I say almost as it still takes a while to adjust to hearing a lone Manc voice in amongst the famous Wakefield drawl of the Jarman brothers, especially when that voice belongs to the ringing sound of one of the greatest British bands of all time.

Speaking to Johnny Marr is not to speak to an anachronistic, eighties throwback though; he is all about living for the future and his commitment to writing songs is how he bonded with the brothers Jarman in the first place. He explains: “We wrote some songs together that were really good and the band made me feel as if I was wanted.” Ryan then interjects, “It was all about the songs, once it started to go well and we knew we could continue to write songs we didn’t want to put a stop to it. it was never a case of ‘let’s get Johnny Marr in, this’ll be a good story’ it was just that it felt right and we wanted to see where it went.”

Plus as Johnny explains, “They didn’t need me in the band and I didn’t need to join a cool, happening band because I was already in one (Modest Mouse) but we were led by the music. I just want to be the second best guitarist in The Cribs and that’s more than enough to be getting on with”.

Perhaps in many ways the real story behind the now trans-Pennine band is that they have broken the family mould, how does an outsider come into such a tight knit group? Ryan pipes up, “We’ve always been inherently close through being brothers but things never felt strange with Johnny because we shared a lot of the same values about music and what it is to be in a band. Music can be so transient now because of how easy it is to get access to but we all enjoy the romance of making records and getting excited when someone’s album is released and waiting to go buy it.

Johnny then expands on the groups musical similarities: “When I met Gary we both seemed to understand exactly what punk is and more importantly what it isn’t. The word punk has become so many things nowadays but when it started it wasn’t aggressive, it wasn’t macho or exclusively male it was funny and about clever lyrics.”

For someone like Johnny, who has tasted success in the 1980’s and is now a member of a successful indie band in 2009, what are the noticeable changes in the music industry? “It’s mostly different because of the internet which is a double-edged sword really. Back in the 80’s though there were lots of little indie labels like Rough Trade and they’re still going to an extent but…”. As Johnny discusses indie labels the band as a whole agree on how important it is to them to call Wichita home. Johnny continues. “I never thought I’d be on an indie label in the UK ever again so it’s brilliant to meet cool people who are willing to out their necks on the line for good music.” Gary adds: “We wouldn’t be the and we are today if we weren’t on this label so subconsciously it must have been one of the reasons Johnny liked us as it’s responsible for how we carry ourselves.”

The problem with being a fiercely independent band like The Cribs is that success brings a myriad of problems with it. The cries of “Sell out!” are a cliché and not as rife as people make out, after all success is merely large amounts of people loving your music and that is what all bands want for their music. The issue that bugs The Cribs, as is audible when asked, is that despite building their band slowly and in an old fashioned manner they regularly get mentioned alongside the likes of careerist major label ‘indie’ bands. The lack of attention to the fact The Cribs operate in a very different fashion to many of their contemporaries is something they feel strongly about as Gary makes clear: “We have a reputation for being pretty outspoken from things we’ve said in the past but we feel that as a band we were being badly misconstrued. It was galling to be held up alongside certain bands when we were going about things radically different because it wasn’t a level playing field”.

This is clearly something Ryan agrees with, “We were never slagging specific bands off we were just making sure that people knew that we weren’t aspiring to what other bands seem to be aspiring to. It’s not just being on a major label either. A lot of these bands are embraced by commercial media and that is something we’ve never had and have shunned any opportunity to get involved in, yet you see some bands on things all the time and you can’t just lump us all in together because we’re not like them.”

With a new member and a brilliant fourth album under their belts The Cribs prove that if you have the passion, drive and dedication to get somewhere fans will recognise that in you and become devoted. As anyone who has seen The Cribs live will tell you these devoted fans are legion and it’s no wonder why. ‘Ignore The Ignorant’ is the bands new album and sounds as fresh and vitriolic as their lo-fi debut released at the turn of the decade - you can ignore the ignorant but you mustn’t Ignore The Cribs.




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