The term “legend” is frequently tossed around with the carefree abandon of a Frisbee on a Spanish beach. However, there are certain times where it also seems inadequate to praise the true giants of their genre. And so, myself and Simon Catling were practically beside ourselves in June at Manchester’s excellent Parklife festival when we were offered the opportunity to sit and talk guitars, music and collaborating with two icons of late twentieth-century guitar playing: Johnny Marr and Nile Rodgers.
Nile Rodgers is the pioneer of innovative, multi-layered guitar parts acting as true counterpoints to the unique and era-defining melodies and grooves of Chic. He followed this with a tremendously successful producing career. Johnny Marr should equally need little introduction: conjurer of subtle, intellectual and beautiful tapestries of guitar sound (Or “guitarchestra” as he terms it during the interview) in creating the timeless sound of The Smiths, as well as countless playing and production credits with Modest Mouse, Electronica, The Pretenders and The Cribs amongst them.
Earlier in the day, Marr joins Chic on stage during their blisteringly tight Saturday afternoon set, adding a terrific series of driving, taut and deftly interwoven rhythmic guitar lines that mesh perfectly with Nile’s chopped, funky and intoxicatingly melodic lines. The band are tremendous; a unisex wall of intense playing and supreme musicianship, seeing classics like ‘Le Freak’, ‘He’s The Greatest Dancer’, ‘I Want Your Love’ and ‘Good Times’ enthusiastically received by the sell-out crowd. But the arrival on stage of Marr – a hometown hero – brought one of the biggest cheers of the day from the mainstage crowd.
After the show, we’re originally offered ten minutes with the duo, but the interview quickly develops into a glorious 45 minutes of friendly, witty and fascinatingly enlightening chat at the top of the press centre bus, with Rodgers coming over as one of the most likeable, witty and enthusiastic people I’ve ever met: laughing loudly, slapping his leg and frequently taking thirty seconds to mime and vocalise songs, riffs and drum fills - the guy clearly loves music. And Marr is equally fascinating to listen to and speak to: intelligent, profound and full of tantalising glimpses into the mind of one of the most influential guitar players to ever pick up the instrument. But more than anything, it’s obvious and touching just how much respect and admiration he has for the music and influence of Rodgers: not only on his playing style, but also on his whole approach to music, production and collaboration.
And so, we kick off an interview with such lines as “When I was playing with Bowie” and “When we were recording ‘There is a Light that Never Goes Out’” mentioned almost as casual asides.
DiS: To kick off with the obvious question, what brought you together as musicians; what was the mutual attraction?
Nile Rodgers: Well, when the dude names his son after you, you’ve got to, really! (laughing)
NR: Yeah, it’s an amazing story
Johnny Marr: Well, Nile and I, we first spoke on the phone about twelve years ago. And I mean, first off in 1978, '79 when I was first getting my guitar style together, I was turned onto Nile’s music and his songs and it was a game-changer for me, really sent me down a road that has really stuck with me. So he’s been a massive influence since then and that’s been on record over all the years of my career., which I think used to surprise people somewhat. And then, years would go by and I’d meet people who knew Nile and I think occasionally he’d hear about…”Who’s this guy? ” (Nile laughing) And then I think when Chic-ism came out, people were saying “Oh, you’re an influence on Johnny Marr” …”Who is this guy?!” So we spoke on the phone through mutual friends and then with the wonders of modern technology, we started emailing each other which was fantastic! But yeah, when my son was born, we named him Nile. And he’s turned out to be a pretty good guitar player and he’s very, very happy to be named after him!
DiS: He’s got some great influences!!!
NR: Last time I was here, we met each other for the first time and he said “Wow, it’s so weird to meet the dude I’m named after!” [both laugh].
JM: I was thinking tonight, he was stood at the side of the stage and I was thinking “Ah, thank god he loves Nile’s music!”... So that’s lucky. But yeah, the time I grew up with for my generation of musicians – myself and what became of post punk generation – we were done with the old rock clichés. And people who loved guitar culture…Nile was a real guiding light for everybody because he was about songwriting. He wasn’t about showboating and he had that beautiful technique in there. And it was totally unique: No one had heard…I’d never heard guitar playing like Nile’s. And there were a couple of things that drew me to playing. One was Bohannon, who as a little kid I was really into…Hamilton Bohannon. And the other thing was these beautiful, romantic songs. And everyone liked it: punks liked Chic, rockers liked Chic. Everyone who had ears liked Nile’s songs.
NR: It was one of the strangest experiences; the first time we came over to the UK….it was maybe 78/79. And we went up to Scotland and there were all these skinheads. And they all had this plan that they were going to throw rocks and bottles and shit. And they’d bought out the first couple of rows…it was like “that was clever planning!” [laughs] And the first Chic tours, we had more girls than guys in the band! I mean, both of our horn players were girls, we had the four string players, the two girls up front and another girl singing with Luther Vandross! And so those dudes were like “Fuck!” And we were funky, they couldn’t believe it – we were out there killing! And the next thing you know, these guys, they ended up becoming our roadies! And so they came from Scotland all the way to Brighton and they were hanging out with us; partying with us. And they were saying “Man, I didn’t know you guys played like that!” And I kept thinking “Well, what were you so pissed off about?!” So, like Johnny was saying, they all liked the music. But there was this weird political thing, because no-one knew that we were such good players. They just sort-of lumped us in with something…I’m not even sure what they lumped us in with!
DiS: But then ultimately, surely it was the songs that won it out? I mean, here today you’re playing the classics and you here people singing along to the samples that people have sampled over the years - Notorious B.I.G, Mariah Carey. I mean, the legacy is quite incredible, how it’s reached over the years. I mean, how do you think that legacy developed as it did?
NR: The thing is, whatever we say about politics and identifying with an affinity; we all love each other’s music and we all love songs. I mean, yesterday he [nods at Johnny] came to my room and we were playing and I was going: “So that’s what you played on that record?” And see, we like the effect. And people don’t realise that creating live music, that’s something musicians make from nothing. There’s nothing before you go in and then you collaborate and then there’s this beautiful thing that’s made of all these different components and different elements. And we were talking about this yesterday…I gave a speech the other day and I said “The greatest artistic motivator in music is one of the seven deadly sins - it’s jealousy”. You hear somebody doing something and you think “I want that, I want to play like that, I want to do that thing that they’re doing” And so you sit there and you study it and you figure it out. And even if you get it wrong, what happens is that it influences you in such a unique way that it becomes part of an original thing. What happened to me was that I heard Giorgio Moroder’s first album. And I thought “I want that”. I didn’t know what he was doing or how he did it, but I tried to imitate it. And that’s how I came up with that totally staccato style for ‘I Want Your Love’. I was trying to go “dit-dit-dit-dit, dit-dit-dit-dit”. And I just wanted that so bad. And so I figured, this is the way I can achieve it: to practice, practice, practice doing that thing.
JM: Also, I think what I responded from was not just Nile’s guitar playing, but was that all those songs were really emotive. And that’s in Nile’s chords, Nile’s piano. And it’s emotive and it’s romantic. But in so many of those songs, people hear it and respond to it. And much as Nile’s into the groove, there a whole load of beautiful melodies on top of it.
NR: You know, Ellie Jackson from La Roux was chatting to me last night after Johnny left and what she was saying was that “What the music is Nile; It’s actually sexy, without talking about sex…”
JM: Yes! [vigorous head nodding]
DiS: And it’s sexy without any misogyny or anything discomforting…
NR: Absolutely. But yeah, she put it so perfectly: “It’s sexy without actually talking about sex”. And I said to her “It’s interesting that you say that, because we were all OBSESSED with sex back then!” And as a matter of fact, the song ‘I Want Your Love’ lyrically, I actually wrote because I was totally obsessing over my girlfriend’s best friend!
JM: But there’s an unrequited thing in there. It’s so beautiful; it’s got some heartache in it…
NR: It was loaded with angst! I mean… “I want your love…grr!” [laughs]
JM: But I think people, when I first came out talking about Nile – and I’ve always cited Nile as an influence right from 82/83. And I think people were thinking: “A band like The Smiths? How does that work?” But people who know the band, they know that for example, the second verse of ‘The Boy with the Thorn in His Side’ have chords just like Nile’s. But there’s such a sense of beauty as well…it wasn’t just about the rhythm. There’s a romantic aspect to the music and a sense of melancholy. I mean, ‘At Last I Am Free’ is one of the most affecting songs I’ve ever heard sung…
NR: Now when we wrote that, we were a rock and roll band who called ourselves The Boyz. A really hard, hard punk band. And I wrote that because I had literally just dropped acid. And I’d written that song years ago in 1969 or 1970 when I was just a young guy starting out playing. And I’d dropped acid and the cops had just beat up my friend. So we were going to try and help him and each time I took a step, the buildings took a step too! And I was walking for ages and I could never get out of Central Park. And so finally, I got to the edge of Central Park and I was like… “Phew – at last I am free!” So I wrote this cool rock and roll song (Nile performs the song vocally, drums and all for about 20 seconds). And we were trashy, so when we met Tony Thompson – our drummer - who had just left Labelle, he was the perfect drummer for me. I mean, Bernard (Bernard Edwards: co-founder, producer and bass player with Chic) was like “Man, let’s take away his cymbal” [laughs]. But if you listen – and I know I’m being circuitous here – If you listen to Bowie’s album, if you listen to Let’s Dance, it’s all of us guys who all were in black rock and roll bands. And everyone was frustrated and now it’s our chance – now we get to play with Bowie! And we’re SMASHING those songs, we’re killing it! And it’s all that frustration from having all those rock and roll bands and never getting signed. And now we get to play with Bowie! But it was desperate, it was a desperate record. I mean, Bowie was dropped…he didn’t even have a label.
DiS: But for you, how desperate was desperate? I mean, Chic had been so successful over the preceding years…
NR: Well, we had a track record and Bowie obviously had a track record but we were both dropped. I mean, after our last record [1983’s Believer], they dropped us. And thank god we did the record with Diana Ross [1980’s Diana] because that saved us a little bit. But all the subsequent Chic albums never really sold. And we thought they were really interesting records because we were developing. I mean: Disco’s over so we’re gonna do something else. And right when we broke up, we did this film soundtrack: Soup For One. And that wasn’t even on Atlantic; they had actually fired the president! It was like a clean sweep – let’s get rid of the entire Chic organisation. And we did Soup For One, we wrote this incredible record – from our point of view - for Carly Simon called ‘Why’. And that was after I’d heard this record called Pass the Dutchie (Nile sings the chorus). And I said “Fuck man!” - there’s that jealousy thing again, see? I was like, “I’ve gotta do that!” So we did this song and we thought it was great. But what had happened, over in America, was that Carly Simon had done something to piss off the rock hierarchy…we don’t know what this was! But me and Bernard were guest DJs at WNBW FM, which was the big rock and roll station in America. And they said “Ok, you can play anything you like”. So we were like “Great, we’ll play the new Carly Simon record!” And they said – we didn’t believe it – “Oh, we don’t support her at this station”. So that’s why people in the UK know that song but in America, it’s an obscure record.
JM: And it’s Carly Simon!
NR: See, I didn’t know her too well before that. What happened was that I had a house in Martha’s Vineyard. So that’s where I met her, and we were just friends before we recorded. And almost every record in my life – because I’ve never had a manager – every single record I’ve ever made is because I’ve met them, made friends and then made a record. I mean, I met Bowie at an after-hours club. I met Madonna opening for an act I was interested in and she was more interesting than them! Every single artist…Diana Ross happened to come to our show, we hung out and then we did a record. We had no manager. It just happened.
JM: It’s exactly the same when I’ve played with people; I’ve had to explain so many times….I give the same answer as Nile. You meet up, you form a bit of a friendship, you have something in common. That’s what musicians do, you know?
DiS: In terms of guitar style, what I’ve always been struck with about you both is that there’s so much going on in terms of almost ‘playing the song’ without the need for showboating. Which I think is quite unique in guitar playing, because it almost seems like since the likes of Clapton and Hendrix came out, it’s kind-of “you’re the lead guitarist – you’re the star”. And what I’ve always loved about both your styles is that they’re so supportive, so creative of the sound. Almost selfless...
JM: It serves the sound, that’s the most important thing. As a musician, if you’re inappropriate, you’re just being a dick…that’s what I think. You have to be appropriate to the song – serve the bigger picture. Because you’re a musician…
NR: You’re part of a team.
DiS: But that still seems to be quite a unique view among guitar players…
JM: We love songs. Far more than we love showboating.
NR: Though I have been known to showboat! [all laugh] But when it’s the right time, you know? I mean, I did this thing with Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin and I was like [grins broadly] “Let’s go guys!”
JM: That’s the time to do it!
DiS: But isn’t that more the talent? When you’ve got the skills but you’re holding back?
NR: But you’re not actually holding back. You’re actually creating. The way we view music is a very holistic concept…you’ve got to look at the big picture. And there are some Chic records where it’s all guitar solos from the beginning to the end. But that’s not what we’re about. I do that every now and again time because that’s what the song it; that’s what the composition is. But I’m part of a unit that stands for a concept. And what happened, I saw Roxy Music in London playing at some venue called the Roxy Theatre, or the Roxy Auditorium or something. And I had never seen a band named after the joint they were playing in. And the audience were so beautiful and I was like, “Wow, this is so cool!” So I called Bernard and I said “We’ve got to figure out how to do the black version of this, we’ve gotta figure this out”. And he was like “What are you talking about?” So I bought the first couple of records…with those beautiful models on the cover. And at the time, those funk and soul bands like The Ohio Players, they always had a sexy girl on the cover! So anyway, at that show, Brian had these girls on stage in military outfits, doing this stuff… all sexy on stage. So we were like: “Yeah, let’s do that. Let’s put them in the band”. So we copied the Roxy concept. And then now, when you see Roxy, they almost took what we thought they were doing to a higher level. I mean, I played with them recently and they had a million girls or something on stage with them! So it was just part of this thing we made up – this sophista-funk thing. And I remember the first time we played with Slash, and it was the coolest thing – he took a solo and we were jamming; playing Le Freak like me and Johnny were just doing before. And he came over and he whispered to me: “I’ve never been on stage with chicks before!” How weird is that?! But then, they’re all smoking. And I always have amazing musicians in my band. I do not play with people who can’t kill the game. And we hired them in the beginning for a concept and a look, but they still had to be able to play. They still had to smoke.
JM: I was thinking about that question, the one about the guitar playing. I think what Nile was talking about, that string part, that counterpoint in ‘I Want Your Love’ [ad-libs the melody] Now, because Nile is a record maker as well as a guitar player, he thinks “I’ll do that on strings” because that’s a great string part. He doesn’t want to put distortion or make it a lead line. And when The Smiths did ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’, what’s now known for the strings and flutes part at the end, that was originally the guitar line.
JM: Yeah. And it’s a dead cool guitar line! But right at the death I thought, I’m making a record here. I’ll make emulate flutes and strings because you do what’s best for the record. And that’s a cool thing.
DiS: That’s the true musician’s understanding again. That holistic thing - that self-sacrifice for the record?
NR: I think we come from the era when, in the late 70s and early 80s, it was still really about the craftsmanship of recording. Everything we did was a work around. I mean, when I did ‘Notorious’ with Duran Duran, we were still cutting tape! And the way that I got that effect on it was, after we made that two-track master, I measured from one beat to the next. And I cut it across the centre and it’s going across the heads and it’s going: “NO-NO-NO-NO-NOTORIOUS!” That’s how we did it!
NR: That’s the only thing that does that is that two-inch tape, that two-inch master! And I think that if you try to do that now, that same sort of thing on a laptop, you don’t have the same sense of fulfillment, I guarantee that. And it’s like, there’s this great Earth Wind and Fire record called That’ The Way of the World and there are these keyboard sections; these segues from track to track which are just like…wow! But now, if you heard that, you’d just think somebody just programmed it. You wouldn’t say that these incredible virtuoso guys sat around, thought about this. You would just think they’d taken that off another record because it’s totally extraordinary to think that somebody thought that up.
DiS: [to Johnny Marr] How did you and Stephen Street used to go about the recording process with The Smiths then?
JM: Well, we used to record the band and when we got the tape down and it felt that like was sitting right-that I could make a record out of it, we’d get a vocal on it really quickly and then I’d get the guitarchestra on it! And I’d do what I always do: I’d overplay, put a load of delay on it and get all my melodies on there. And I’d think, Ok, I’ll do that on a slide, I’ll do that bit on the high strings. And then I’d deconstruct it, so it sounds like one guitar with thirty-eight strings on it or something!
NR: It’s funny; we talked about that last night. And I was saying, the reason that I can never play ‘Le Freak’ the way it really goes live is that it’s actually the inner strings that I just played…just picking various notes. And then I’m chucking on top of it. Same with ‘I Want Your Love’: there’s one track where I’m just going “tsch-tsch- tsch- tsch- tsch“. And on another, I’m just sorta freakin’ out! And because the records are basically mono, with stereo drums: the rhythm section is basically dead up the middle. And I was saying to Johnny, you know – clubs are always wired in mono: the speakers are left-right, left-right, left-right. So if you did it in stereo, you’d have this weird sounding record in the clubs: half of the club would hear part of it and think: “Wow, what’s going on?!” So we knew when we started that most of our records would be played in clubs, because we didn’t have any record label behind us – we went right to DJs. And when they would play it, the dance-floor would just load up with people, because that sound would just hit ‘em – that rhythm section was right down the middle. Now when you hear it now, it’s kinda laughable! But in those days: man, was it pumping! Because they didn’t have subsonics; they didn’t have subwoofers. And they would roll off anything below 60 cycles because they’d want to get it on the radio.
DiS: These days, when it comes to studio recordings and live, the emphasis just seems to be on getting louder and louder. Do you think there is a big section of music where the contrast of the dynamics is just getting lost?
JM: Well, in mastering I think it’s very interesting. You talk to some mastering engineers and they understand that now, the emphasis is on just getting to max-out. To dial up and turn the volume right up. I mean, that (Smiths) back catalogue I re-mastered last year – about seventy songs – I just said, look, we don’t need to be as loud as the latest Green Day record. And I think musicians who are involved closely with their own records; they’re starting to say that, you know, we don’t have to be the loudest. Because some records now, it’s a technicality, but when you get to the chorus, because of the limiters are going like that, when it hits the chorus, sometimes the chorus is actually the quietest bit of the record! Because the intro has taken up all of the limiter.
NR: And you can even see it!
DiS: So would you say the development of modern studio technology has, for guitar bands at least, led to a decline in quality control?
NR: I think it changes the aesthetics. I think what it does is that your appreciation level is not based upon the clever work around it. Which you could feel – I guarantee that. If you listen to an old Who record, you appreciate it and go “Wow, I wonder how they do that?” Whereas now we don’t do that. Now we appreciate the cleverness, you say to yourself “Wow, how do they make those thirty records work all at one time?” And I cannot tell you how many royalty checks I get where I’ll only have, like a tenth of something. Because they’ll have taken one single and made a whole record out of it. I mean, I have two records on the new Black Eyed Peas album. And one of them, I get a really great royalty check, because the whole record is basically mine! They use my track ‘My Forbidden Lover’ and they get the dynamics by unbelievable bandwidth: lowering and sweeping and cutting. And that’s how they create the dynamics… “And I want to see you there…BLAM! BANG!” But uh, typically I’ll get a new composition credit and I cannot believe… You know, you sometimes look at the Billboard Top 100 and there are fifteen different composers credited. Because it’s basically taken six records to create one song.
DiS: As a link to that, obviously one of the lasting legacies of Chic is how widely ‘Good Times’ has been sampled, and used prominently in arguably one of the most influential tracks in music history – The Sugarhill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight’. With the legacy you’ve had on hip-hop, are you actually a fan of beats and bass culture in general?
NR: I love it! Because I’ve learned to appreciate the cleverness of how you work like that. I wouldn’t work like that because – and Johnny said this perfectly - because I’m a songwriter. I wanna go through the process of writing the song on my instrument. But the end of the day, I want to play guitar on that record. Even if I’m producing a band, I join the band for that record. When I produced INXS? Shit, I joined the band! When I did Duran Duran? I joined the band.
JM: That’s another thing we very much have in common actually. It’s very interesting, because when I was a kid learning Nile’s stuff, I didn’t know that. I mean, I thought that despite the fact that this guy I’m hearing is from New York and I’m from the suburbs of deepest, darkest Manchester, something was calling me: the chord changes, the melody and the guitar style. But actually, now that we’ve got to know other, that is a thing that we very much have in common. And that’s one of the reasons I’ve joined bands. I want to make the record, I want to be in that band, I want to collaborate with people who I have a friendship with; a spark with. But the other thing is, that we’re known for being guitar players and we love that; but as Nile’s just demonstrated, we love making records. We’re guitar players who make records.
And we want the whole thing. I mean, I would say when I’ve been asked about who influenced me, I was always influenced by records. And the three guitar players who influenced me were James Williamson from The Stooges. Bert Jansch, the folk guitar player. And Nile. And there are others I respect: Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck. But I wanted to play records. And one of things about my style is that when I try to play a song, I try to play the whole record. When I was a kid, I didn’t have the patience to wait through three and a half minutes of organ to hear the guitar solo. So for example, David Bowie’s record – All The Young Dudes? I wanted to play the intro…and it’s keyboards! So that’s how I learned - like a busker in a way. And Nile’s come from an R’n’B base and I’m coming from an early 70s British glam rock and Pop setup. But when we talk, we have the same thing. We want to make these records. And Nile’s songs…the bits that have been sampled: they’re horn parts, vocal samples. And they’re on so many records. And that’s because yeah, we’re guitar players. But we’re making records.
NR: It’s funny; I was working with Eric Clapton on a record. And I was figuring out the arrangements and it’s exactly what he just said. So I said to Eric “This is how I hear it”. So I played the whole song by myself and Eric looked at me and said “So what am I going to play on it?! ” [all laugh]
JM: A good example, at the start of ‘I’m Coming Up’ when it’s just Nile on his own and the hi-hats, it sounds like the whole band! But it’s a thing about loving harmony I think. Loving changes. Playing tunes within that. And it’s horses for courses: some of the other guys; what they do: that’s fine for them. But I think one of the things we have in common, what turns us on, is those beautiful changes, crossed with rhythm. We try to do all of that on the guitar.
NR: And we like voice leading. I mean, I could hear what he was playing before. And he does what I do – you voice lead. So, not only you like the harmony, but you don’t necessarily just jump from there. I mean, most guitar players; the only thing you ever hear them play is that G; or a G is only in that one position. But you learn different positions, and then you write songs that are complimentary to those voice leadings. So yesterday we were fooling around on guitar and we were playing ‘Spacer’ and he was playing the “durr, durr, durr, dee, da, da”. And Johnny knew that. He knew it’s gotta do that. And you can play other inversions of that, sure. But then it’s not ‘Spacer’. It sounds corny! So you have to sit there and learn the voice you need to get it right.
JM: But that’s great! And there’s always an element of “Oh wow…stop a minute, stop a minute! Oh wow! Yeah, I can do it…I can do it up here! ” And Bryan [Ferry] told me that when Nile has worked with him and when I’ve worked with him, we both do that exact thing! And that makes me really happy. But discovery is such as a beautiful thing when you’ve been doing it for a long time. I just feel really grateful that I have such a sense of discovery. And maybe if I was better technically, I wouldn’t have that. I like the unknown. Because I could be technically so much better and that’s great: I’m really happy about that, it gives you something to strive for. But my friend Bernard Sumner calls it “working with the lights off”. And I like that. I like that there are some things that I don’t know. Gives you a sense of mystery.
DiS: Finally, as guitar players, if you could have one piece of advice each to give to guitar players out there, picking up the instrument for the very first time or in the early stages of learning their craft, what would it be?
NR: Wow. I’d say “Love it”. Because if you don’t have love it, you will never have the discipline to stick with it and make it really great. So I mean, some people really like it and they can have a career just through liking it. Especially now with technology; if you just really like something you can do a lot because you don’t have to spend the time. But if you love it, you’ll spend the time.
DiS: But how do you learn to love it?
NR: Oh, you don’t have to. Either you’re that person or you’re not. I mean, I come from the age of hard discipline. And a person can drill something into you. But I already loved it: that’s what allowed it for it to be drilled into me! And it’s like in sport – if you practice like, a million backhands or a million sand wedge shots: it’s because you love it. When I was a kid, one of my most influential guitar teachers told me: “As a musician, you only need to understand one definition of the word discipline”. And I said “Really? Well then, what is that?” And he told me: “Discipline, in your case, is the ability to delay gratification”. And I said “Wow”. He said “Because what do you want to do?” and I said “I want go out and I want to play in front of thousands of people and make records: I want to do all of this stuff”. And he said “You will be. You will do that. One day, when you get better. But right now, you can’t have that”.
And the problem is that nowadays, you can pick up something and make those records and you can be in front of 1000-2000 people very quickly. I don’t think we come from the era where you could do that. You couldn’t just learn a chord or two. And I think if you did that, you may lock up but you wouldn’t have a real career. You wouldn’t last. And that’s why I say love is so important. You don’t necessarily have to love the guitar; you just have to love music, or being committed to it. And if you happen to play guitar. Well boy; it’d be great if you loved it. Because it’ll never leave you. It’ll be there for ever. And the trends may change, but if you play, it’ll stay with you. I mean, Johnny gave me a guitar last night, because I haven’t had a guitar in my room – my tech keeps moving it…fixing it and stuff. But it was so amazing to have a guitar in bed with me because I usually have one with me all the time! And that’s because I love it.
JM: And I totally agree with Nile. If you’re lucky enough to have a passion for what you do…I mean, neither of us were ever told to go and practice. I mean, I was told to stop…
JM: Because my brother used to share a bedroom with me! And he was just a little kid and it’d be 11.30 at night and I’d still be playing. They’d be “Turn the lights off, your brother’s trying to go to sleep, he’s got to go to nursery in the morning!” [Nile is falling about laughing at this point] And I’d be, Aww, ok. But I just loved it.
DiS: And that’s the trick then, just to love it?
JM: Yeah, absolutely. That’s exactly it. And you’re very lucky if that happens to you.
Photo by Joseph Denyer