Over the next five upcoming days 200% will profile each of the five members of the band – one per day. On vocals and guitar: Matt Johnson.
For this tour, I wanted to strip-down many of the songs and actually reduce the sonic palette. We won’t be using any samplers, click-tracks, sequencers or synthesizers. It’s just five musicians, performing reinterpretations of my back catalogue. The songs are not intended to be reproductions of the album versions, and many of them don’t sound like they do on the old recordings. Some of the songs do, but if people really want to hear the albums, they should just put on headphones and listen to the albums.
Intentionally, we have a limited amount of sounds at our disposal, and so we have to work a bit harder as we can’t rely on recreating the exact sounds from the album. A lot of the decisions are therefore based on creating new arrangements. It’s making sure there is space for everybody but that—most importantly—the emotional force of the songs continues to shine through.
I’m now a very different person to the one who wrote and recorded these songs. I’ve tried not to disturb their soul but rather just distill them to their essence whilst adding the flavour of this particular line-up. It’s important for me to be surrounded by people I like, trust and respect. Each one of these musicians is a band-leader or musical director in their own right. I’ve worked with many wonderful musicians over the years, and I always find the best ones to be the most humble and hard working. They deserve acknowledgement. What people might be disappointed to learn about The The, however, is that, contrary to our public image, much of the time behind the scenes is actually spent laughing, joking and playing pranks!
I also wanted the line-up for the 2018 Comeback Special Tour to be a representation of my career to date. I’ve only done three world tours—which is not much for a career of nearly 40 years—and so I thought I would choose one member from each of those touring bands. For this new tour I wanted to find a new member. I asked my friend Johnny Marr if he could recommend me a lead guitarist which he could.
Over the next four upcoming days at 10am, 200% will profile the other four members of the band – one per day. Stay tuned!
Interview by Thierry Somers, Photography by John Claridge.