Johnny Marr Can't 'Ignore' The Cribs

Redferns
Johnny Marr performs on stage at The Forum on October 15, 2009 in London, England.

Mutual regard and geographic proximity were what led to Johnny Marr joining the Cribs for the group's just-released fourth album, "Ignore the Ignorant."

"I love the band, anyway," the Modest Mouse and former Smiths guitarist tells Billboard.com. "I was living in Portland, Ore. -- which I still do some of the time -- and Gary (Jarman) from the band lives there, too. We met and we just struck up a friendship and hung out together. We just got together to play as friends, really, to kind of see what would happen. We didn't have any 'Johnny Marr and the Cribs' kind of big agenda or anything. We got together and immediately we wrote the first song on the album, 'We Were Aborted.' The ideas came thick and fast. It was very organic."

Jarman, who started the Cribs eight years ago in England, calls Marr's interest in the group "flattering" and says that he "brings to the table...a whole different person to bounce off of." And though Marr is among the Cribs' influences and heroes, Jarman says the other three musicians managed to bring him into the band without freaking out too much.

"The first rehearsal we thought about it very briefly; we didn't want to be bad or f--k it up," Jarman recalls. "But as soon as we started working and making the songs, that all kind of went out the window. Johnny's quite a modest guy, and so easy to work with. In no time at all, this was the band."

Marr plans to tour with the Cribs in support of "Ignore the Ignorant," but he also hasn't given up his position in Modest Mouse, which he joined for 2007's "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank" and also played on this year's "No One's First and You're Next" EP. "The last I heard, Isaac (Brock) was in the studio working on something," Marr says. "The door's always open for me and for them. I would never use the word 'leave' when discussing that band. They're my brothers. That isn't flowery, hippie nonsense; there's a real brotherhood in that band...so we'll see what happens in the future."

Amidst all his band endeavors, however, Marr says he still fancies the idea of a solo album, though he isn't predicting when he'll put that into motion. "There's a bunch of them I'd like to do...at some point," says Marr, who also played on the Pet Shop Boys' "Yes" album this year. "I'd like to do something that's sort of experimental guitar pop, really. It doesn't even have to sell; it's just something I'm interested in doing. So that's always there in the background. I've got plenty of other work to do at the moment."