Johnny Marr Talks Electronic at 30

Johnny Marr Talks Electronic at 30

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Johnny Marr & Bernard Sumner of Electronic. Photo by Jon Shard. 

Johnny Marr and Bernard Sumner were well established as legendary musicians in their own rights – coming from The Smiths and Joy Division/New Order respectively – when they decided to channel their complimentary creativity into a synth/guitar love-a-thon they called Electronic



This week, the groups debut self-titled smash LP –  featuring the hits "Tighten Up" “Getting Away With It" “Get the Message" & “Feel Every Beat” – celebrates its 30th anniversary. To celebrate, guitarist Johny Marr recently chatted with Apple Music, recalling what inspired him and Bernard to start a band together, and the entirely unexpected rapid rise that followed. 

Electronic came together in the late 80s following Marr’s acrimonious split with the Smiths. Around the same time, Sumner shocked his bandmates by announcing that he planned to take time out from New Order, keen to explore a more synth-driven sound. As Marr recalls, the pair were “embarking on a very exciting and kind of mysterious sort of adventure – the thrill of the unknown with Bernard.”

Electronic | “Getting Away With It”

The pair co-wrote much of their Electronic catalogue between 1987 and 1998, right about the time dance music exploded in Manchester, for Marr and Sumner, their “hometown suddenly became the centre of the universe”  and  they “just gathered momentum really, really quickly.” Adding to that meteoric rise was the addition of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe of the Pet Shop Boys; adjusting the band’s ambitions from releasing anonymous white label house music to stadium-sized hits with their first single, “Getting Away with It.”  

“We didn’t really have a plan about what we were going to be,” Marr said. “We certainly didn’t expect that we were going to be a supergroup. We were probably very naive. But what do you expect when you get Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe involved very quickly? And your first single is the biggest hit you ever had in America?”

Electronic’s self-titled debut album went to sell over a million copies worldwide and still stands up as one of the most important electronica albums of all time. It featured the top 10 single, "Get The Message" which was met with huge acclaim at the time of its initial release in May 1991 and is a “standout” favourite of Marr’s “without a doubt.”

Electronic | “Get The Message”

When asked how the band managed to successfully blend elements of commercial and underground music into an entirely new, and very successful project, Marr reflected, “Even though we were a pop group, and 808 State were in the charts, we had a fairly progressive mentality. We had – I wouldn’t say an indie mentality, but we still were the people who had been in Joy Division and The Smiths. So we had that kind of progressive – even if we were writing commercial music, Bernard and I never felt straight.”

Celebrate the 30th anniversary of Electronic’s indie-electro classic debut album by giving it another spin below. 

Listen to Electronic on Spotify:

Listen to Electronic on Apple Music:

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