Johnny Marr Says Billie Eilish Is a "Modern-Day Version" of the Cure

"I can imagine being really into her records when I was 16 or 17"

Photo: Johnny Marr by Andy Cotterill (left), Billie Eilish by Raph_PH (right)

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Nov 3, 2023

Johnny Marr's new greatest hits compilation, Spirit Power, is out today and features some pretty incredible album artwork. Likewise, the former Smiths guitarist spoke about the art of Gen Z pop supernova Billie Eilish, whom he likened to a "modern-day version" of the Cure.

In a new interview with NME, Marr opened up about working with Eilish and her brother, Finneas, on "No Time to Die" — the theme for the 2021 James Bond film of the same name. "She and her family are just so musical. She can pick up a uke and just write a song like that," the guitar hero said. "It was a pleasure being around Billie and Finneas. It was a very short project, but quite insightful for me."

Marr agreed with journalist Andrew Trendell that Eilish's music contains a "bittersweet quality," which the musician said is characteristic of "the best writers and novelists."

He said, "The Smiths were exactly like that — musically, for my part. There's plenty of New Order and Joy Division music that has got that human beauty in it. I heard 'Perfect Day' by Lou Reed this morning. That's an evergreen staple and you'd have to be made of stone to not like that song, but is it a happy song? I'm not really sure."

"Billie's got that in abundance," Marr remarked. "That's what attracts human beings to other human beings who are expressing it. It's tricky being a human being sometimes — no matter how long you spend at the gym."

Another melancholia-embracing act is the Cure, whose music the guitarist says "appears to be dark" but is "very beautiful." Marr said, "Disintegration is an amazing record. But I saw them as a kid when Seventeen Seconds [1980] came out. I just thought it was beautiful and modern."

"It's funny, Billie is definitely coming from a similar sensibility but I think it has a similar vibe to it, in a way," he added. "A modern version. I can imagine being really into her records when I was 16 or 17."

Notably, elsewhere in the interview, Marr said that his plans for the next decade revolve mainly around writing "some more bangers." He explained, "It's not to be sniffed at, really."

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