How we met: Johnny Marr & Bernard Sumner

Born in Ardwick, Manchester in 1963, Johnny Marr formed The Smiths with the singer Morrissey in 1982. The band had numerous hits before its acrimonious split, when Johnny returned to Manchester, and worked with, among others, The Pretenders and Talking Heads. He formed Electronic with Bernard Sumner in 1991. He lives with his wife, Angie, and their two children

Bernard Sumner was born in Manchester in 1956. A founder member and guitarist of Joy Division, he became their vocalist after Ian Curtis's suicide in 1980. The next year the band became New Order but later split up into various offshoot projects, of which Electronic was the most successful. Bernard lives in Manchester with his wife and two children

JOHNNY MARR: I first heard of Bernard through Joy Division's first album in about 1977 when I was 14. I'd not heard anything like it before. I didn't know where it was coming from, but I knew I liked it. It kind of knocked me for six really.

Bernard intrigued me because I was already really serious about playing guitar and I'd checked out a lot of rock guitar players and I just couldn't fathom what he was doing. He's a real original as a guitar player, a one- off kind of person, so that kind of makes sense.

I first met him in 1983 while doing a record for Mike Pickering (who's the "M" in M-People) which Bernard was producing. I thought he was a bit spacey but very street. It didn't take me long to work out that he was from Salford, just the other side of Manchester from me. He reminded me of the kids who used to ride scooters around when I was a kid. I sussed him out pretty quickly, but only to a point. I think anyone who knows him will tell you that he's not entirely fathomable.

After that I saw him around because of the Hacienda. Manchester being what it is, we used the same road crew and had mutual friends. Then I got a call asking if I'd be interested in working on a few songs with Bernard; who was going solo. I was in San Francisco and New Order were playing. I went down to see them and met up with Bernard. He summoned me into his office - the toilets - and I thought, well, this is as good a place to start a group as anywhere. As long as we don't end up here!

Bernand's very single-minded, he knows what he's about, but at the same time he's open-minded and non-judgmental. He's also got good control over his ego. Everyone in this business has to have an ego, but it's important to him that he has a life and values outside the music industry. That's really rare.

Bernard doesn't care about the past, or the future, he lives in the present. I'm sure he's got some principles but he hides them! He wants to be a bit more disciplined in his life and it pisses him off that he isn't. He kicks himself when he's gone out and partied too hard.

When he goes out he can be like the Pied Piper. I've seen him rock a little hut on an island in the Maldives. He got a family - little kids, grandparents, people who would never be seen dancing - whistling and whooping around to Technotronic until 4am.

Anybody looking at us would say that we're not very similar - as would Bernard. But there are some things which are really important to us both. It comes down to the music and the idea that, as good as things can be superficially, your sense of self-worth is completely wrapped up in what you create. We both give ourselves an incredibly hard time if what we are doing isn't right.

I never make a distinction between a friendship and a working relationship in terms of bands. Without the very close friendship I can't be in a band. While I'm most closely associated with Morrissey, Bernard and I finish each others' sentences (which is scary because I don't know what he's on about half the time).

We've only made three albums, but I've worked with him more closely, and for a longer period of time, than I've worked with anyone else. Our coming together was almost like finding a refuge from our earlier groups. With Electronic the friendship is more important than the music, which is unusual and a bit of a first for me.

BERNARD SUMNER: He doesn't know this, but I first heard Johnny playing in a multi-studio complex in 1982. At that time pop music was all synthesisers and electronics, guitar music was considered old-fashioned. So when I heard The Smiths' music coming down the hall I thought "What the fuck is that?" But I knew it was great. And then later on I was producing a record for the DJ Mike Pickering and he decided we needed a guitar, so I looked under G for Guitarist in the Yellow Pages and Johnny's was the first name in there. By then I was pretty familiar with The Smiths - or "the S-word" as Johnny calls them.

It was a while before I got to know him properly. New Order and The Smiths played a couple of concerts together and we moved in similar circles - we had a mutual hairdresser friend and he kept me up to date about what Johnny was up to - but all in all, our paths didn't cross too often. In fact, I never met Morrissey.

It's hard to remember what I first thought of John, and it's all mixed up with what I think of him as a musician. But I knew straight off he was a nice guy; twitchy, but pleasant. There were certain things I couldn't do with New Order without upsetting the rest of the band so I started to write some solo stuff. But music is a social thing so I was looking for someone else to work with. Johnny came along to a gig and we bumped into each other in the toilet. The Smiths had split and I asked if he fancied doing some stuff together.

I think Johnny always knew he wanted to be a musician, whereas I didn't even have a record player until I was 16. He's got natural talent. He can play guitar well and knows that it's his role in life. Whereas I'm still pretty clueless. I mean, I'm quite a successful musician but I'm not sure if it's my vocation.

I used to be a party monster, very into Acid House, which I saw as my weekend reward for working hard all week. But Johnny was never really into that. I had a great time doing all that but I don't want to do it any more and now Johnny probably goes out more than I do. Also, he smokes which I absolutely hate because my step-dad died from smoking and when you see that happen you won't go in a mile of a cigarette. He's very gracious with it, though - he always smokes away from you.

I can be a bit morose at times and when I occasionally get down Johnny's my perfect antidote. But it can be hard to synchronise or keep up with him. He'll be really into something, a book or a piece of music, and he'll really enthuse me, get me into his trip. Then the next time I see him, he says he's not into that anymore. Johnny gets bored with things quickly and he's hard to predict. You can't hold on to his shirt tails for very long.



Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.


Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower