An Interview with Nile Marr

Johnny Marr joins son for surprise set at Manchester gig venue Night and  Day - Manchester Evening News

For some artists, creating music is in their blood. It’s engrained in them. When your dad is Johnny Marr, guitarist for The Smiths, Electronic, Modest Mouse, The Cribs and more, it certainly can’t hurt either. At some point earlier this year, I became aware that Johnny Marr’s son, Nile Marr also played the guitar, and that he too was a fantastic player in his own right. Carrying on the tradition of what his father had done, but by putting an entirely new and personal spin on it. I immediately dove into his catalog, and fell in love with his music as well. To date, Nile Marr has established his own unique legacy by working with the likes of Hans Zimmer, Meredith Sheldon, with his band, Man Made and now with his solo work under his own name. If you’re into Indie Rock with killer rhythm guitar and amazing chord changes, then you’ve come to the right place.

So, if you haven’t figured it out, today I am “sitting down” with Nile Marr and I am really excited. Nile is at the forefront of the next generation of truly great guitarists, and is one I believe you will be hearing about for many years to come. Regardless of whether or not he chooses to continue on solo, or form another band, rest assured what he does will be worth hearing. On the subject of things worth hearing, Nile has a new album out. It’s called Are You Happy Now? and it dropped this past November. If you’re interested in checking the album out, you can head here and grab yourself a copy on vinyl. That being said, let’s do this. Cheers.

Andrew:
Nile, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. It’s been a very weird year, hasn’t it? What have you been doing to pass the time?

Nile:
I’ve been working on putting out as much music as I can. So, my album comes out this month on the 27th of December, and there’s also been an EP and a couple of singles. I helped do the music for this new Amy Adams movie that should be out now, and then built a studio and recorded the next album. So I’m not sure I could have been busier this year. Just goes to show what can be done if you don’t have live shows to worry about.

Andrew:
Tell us a bit about your musical origins. What’s your backstory?

Nile:
I started writing songs as a young teenager, and I just never stopped.

Andrew:
Your dad is guitarist, Johnny Marr. How much of an influence has he and his music had on you coming up?

Nile:
Well during my life he’s been in bands like Modest Mouse and The Cribs, so throughout my formative years I just got to basically live on tour with the best US band at the time, and then the best UK band. You learn a lot that way.

Nile Marr: Night and Day, Manchester - live review

Andrew:
As a guitar player, who are some of your biggest influences? How did you go about finding your own unique voice as a guitarist?

Nile:
I always loved guitar music, and American guitar music was always what I found the most exciting. So it was bands like the B-52’s, Built to Spill, and Hot Snakes that really got me going, still do. First and foremost though I love melody and chord changes, so if you mix those three with a kid obsessed with trying to sound like a one man Broken Social Scene, that’s me in a nutshell.

Andrew:
For a time, you were part of a duet with singer-songwriter Meredith Sheldon. How did you two meet? Tell us more about your time working with her.

Nile:
I love Meredith, she’s probably the only person I’ve been in a band with that if she called me today, and said “Wanna get the band back together?” I’d do it. She was touring opening for The Lemonheads in the UK, and at the time I was just showing up at venues with my gear, and asking to play first as doors opened. I walked in to a venue and she was sound checking. We were basically wearing the same clothes and had the same haircut. I heard her mention something about playing in tunings, and from then I knew we had to be best buds. Cut to a year or so later, she’s my favourite songwriter and wasn’t doing anything much, and I’d just left this band I was in that had stopped being fun. So, I picked up the phone and called her, and asked if she wanted to start a band. I got on a plane that week, and we met up in a friend’s house in LA to be a band. There was a lot of yoga and smoothies during those practices.

Andrew:
You’ve recorded with your dad on his albums The Messenger and Playland. What was it like getting to work with him in that way on those albums?

Nile:
I’d usually get the call in from the other room going “Nile, can you just come in here and make some weird noises?” It’s kind of my brand.

Johnny Marr on Twitter: "Tonight Middlesbrough Empire 9.00pm. Nile Marr  8.00pm @NileMarr Pic @LisaLovegood… "

Andrew:
You’ve toured with composer and producer, Hans Zimmer for some time. I am a huge fan of Zimmer’s work. Tell us more about your working relationship with him.

Nile:
Hans is great, he’s one of the best people to get to work with. I get to basically play my favourite chord changes night after night. Then for all the film score work I get to do with him, I basically get the call that goes one of two ways. Either I get the, “Can you come on this project and make weird noises, that no one else can make?” or, “I need you to be an Indie guitar player.” I’m pretty lucky to have found my thing and be good at it.

Andrew:
In 2016, you were a member of the group Man Made, and you released an album called TV Broke My Brain. Really good record. Tell us more about that project.

Nile:
I wrote an album that was born out of playing my solo shows for years. So I got a band together to play it, and we just toured relentlessly. That was the start of the van years, and I’ve never stopped. We’d play anywhere we could, and I mean ANYWHERE. We were so cost effective to run that we got to stay on the road a lot longer than other bands could. We played a lot of house parties in those days. I’m proud of that album. It’s a slice of Indie music that’s of its time, and I think for the people that know it, and saw us play back then, it still holds up.

Andrew:
Despite all the crazy goings-on in the world, you’ve had a busy year. This year, you’ve released an EP called Still Hearts and your debut solo album called Are You Happy Now? I’ve listened to both, and they’re excellent. Tell us about your new material. Where can we get it? What formats will it be available on?

Nile:
I’ve put out stuff on 7” this year for the first time, which was exiting. Everything has been delayed with factories getting shut down etc. But the full album came out on November 27th, and it’ll be on vinyl.

Are You Happy Now | Nile Marr

Andrew:
As an artist, where do you draw inspiration from the most?

Nile:
Other bands, other people doing cool stuff. You’d go to a gig and see a band you like, and if they’re really good, that makes you want to go home and try out something you might not have done before. I like that. I also like seeing shitty gigs too, ones you just happen upon. While I’m watching those, it’s like my brain runs on auto pilot, and I usually end up getting some good ideas. That’s actually what I’ve missed most about not touring. Not seeing your favourite bands, it’s just casually seeing shitty gigs at your locals mid week.

Andrew:
What does music, and more specifically, what does the guitar mean to you as a means of self-expression?

Nile:
It’s a way for me to express melodies. That’s why I do it, that’s the stuff that comes naturally to me. When I’m writing, I’m always getting off on the melody most of all. Again, I’m lucky that I’ve got something that allows me to express myself in that way.

Andrew:
Let’s talk gear for a moment. What equipment and guitars are you using these days?

Nile:
Always Fender. I play through a deluxe reverb, or two of them and it’s Jazzmasters all the way. I actually found my first Jazzmaster touring the states with Meredith. I had to get her to give me all my wages in advance when I saw it. It’s my red ’65, that I guess I’ve become known for. It’s the guitar that’s shaped my sound the most and I’ve grown with it. It’s my go-to on everything. Even the movie stuff.

Johnny Marr on Twitter: "Nile Marr stage time tonight 8.00pm @NileMarr… "

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music?

Nile:
I mean nowhere now as shops aren’t a thing. I’ve got a decent record collection from being in the states, and picking up records on tour is actually a thing I miss a lot. I just kinda fell out of the obsessive practice the past few years. But if I see a band I really dig, I’ll buy the vinyl from them.

Andrew:
What are a few albums that mean the most to you, and why?

Nile:
I mean I could just list every Broken Social Scene album here and I wouldn’t be joking. But You Forgot It In People is still the best record I’ve ever heard; going back to that one time and time again is just a well that never runs dry. From A Basement On The Hill by Elliott Smith was pretty seminal too, definitely hit me at the right time in my life. And there’s always the first B-52’s album that’s got the best rhythm guitar playing ever. Every song is brilliant.

Andrew:
2020 has been an odd year, but we’ve still seen a ton of incredible music released. That being said, what are some of your must have albums of the year?

Nile:
They didn’t release it this year, but what even is time right now? So, I’m gonna make everyone check out Goon’s album Heaven is Humming if they want to hear a flawless Jazzmaster record.

Andrew:
Last question. What advice would you have for young musicians trying to get started in the business? Is there anything else you would like us all to know?

Nile:
I get asked this a lot. Best I can come up with is just to write songs. As many songs as possible. A lot of them will suck, but that’s fine. Don’t get hung up on recording them properly, just demo them on garageband, or something quick so you don’t forget them. But don’t spend money or time trying to get “THE VERSION.” Songs change as you play them live, and the more songs you write, the more of an idea you’ll get of the kind of sound you want. If you spent a bunch of cash and time recording the first 4 songs you ever wrote, odds are you won’t wanna do much with them as they don’t reflect the sound or place you’re at now. But what do I know? Prove me wrong kids.

Nile Marr on Twitter: "Man Made back at Night and Day in Manchester this  Friday. On stage 8:10pm… "

Interested in sampling Nile Marr’s music? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full catalog of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, USA, Andrew has always loved writing, music, drumming and collecting music on CD, tape and vinyl. After losing his life-long vinyl collection in 2014, Andrew began his vinyl collection from scratch again when he met his future wife Angela in 2015. Andrew’s love of music only further blossomed as his collection spanned all genres possible. After amassing over 3,000 albums in under two years, he knew it was time to finally follow his dream of being a music journalist, and thus, Vinyl Writer was born.

Andrew’s not only the go-to friend for music trivia, but his intricate knowledge of the ins and outs of the music industry allows him to develop engaging questions that really tap into each artist and individual to deliver insightful and enjoyable interviews. He’s proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict, for fellow music addicts.

Andrew lives on Long Island, NY, with his wife Angela and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie and Kevin. Andrew’s collection of over 4,700 vinyl albums, plus several hundred tapes and CDs, tells the story of his passion for all that is music. Andrew works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer website by night. Andrew is also the admin of several Facebook groups dedicated to music.

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