The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr has vehemently denied longstanding rumors that Factory Records, which boasted a number of renowned bands on its roster during the 80’s, refused to sign the band.
In a new interview with NME, Marr said contrary to popular belief, it was actually The Smiths that refused to sign with Factory Records: “If you were a musician in Manchester at that time, it was almost the law that you went on your hands and knees and begged Tony Wilson for his papal blessing to stick you in the studio, and I wasn’t about to do that.”
He added: “So much has been made of Factory apparently turning The Smiths down, but that’s a crock of shit.”
Factory Records developed an immense influence over the 1980s Manchester scene, largely thanks to bands like Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays, Durutti Column and A Certain Ratio. However, the company was criticized for insisting artists assimilate to a certain look and sound.
Marr explained that The Smiths quite simply refused to compromise any aspect of the band: “The Smiths would have signed to Factory over my dead body… I didn’t want to be assimilated into the Factory aesthetic. Before we knew it, we would’ve had side-partings and khaki shorts, with bongos round our necks… No disrespect to A Certain Ratio.”
The full interview with Marr can be found in NME’s current issue, which celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of The Smiths’ debut album, ‘The Smiths,’ which came out in February 1984. The issue also includes rare photos of the band from 1983-84 and interviews with famous fans of the group.