Guitar World: "The Smiths’ How Soon Is Now? guitar secrets: producer John Porter reveals the exhaustive tonal sculpting behind the alt-rock anthem"

Guitar World, August 12, 2020.

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The Smiths’ How Soon Is Now? guitar secrets: producer John Porter reveals the exhaustive tonal sculpting behind the alt-rock anthem


Porter gives some interesting (very technical) details about the song's creation.
Regards,
FWD.
 
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carlislebaz

Guest
Interesting band dynamics, each individual just seemed to waltz in, do their bit then sod off....
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
Sometimes I thought Smiths tracks sounded as if Morrissey was singing the wrong song & he kind of was! Wayward genius.
 

Ketamine Sun

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Morrissey came in the next day. He had this book of lyrics. We'd put a track up and he'd open it and just start singing… he hadn't written it for the tune or anything, he would just try stuff.


"Quite often, his phrasing was so unconventional anyway that it didn't really make a difference. He found some words that seemed to work and sang it and I think we only did it one time and then he said, 'OK?' at the end and then went off.”



Wonder if this was the first time Morrissey did this? Not hearing the song first and just flipping through his notebook and in a way improvising with what he already had written.

I mean, Morrissey flipping through his notebook, singing words picked out on the spot and hearing the music for the first time and done in just one take?! o_O

Then again, it’s easier to do this when a song doesn’t have a lot of chord changes.



The Italian 12” version (original mix?)

Morrissey saying ‘OK?’ at 6:09 in ...


 
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Nerak

Reverse Ferret
Interesting band dynamics, each individual just seemed to waltz in, do their bit then sod off....

Although it sounds as if Moz was a little bit anxious that they might plot behind his back.

It's a shame they couldn't sort the management & paranoia situation out because Moz staying in his safe space & Marr going out & selling the band would have been ideal.
 

Ketamine Sun

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Although it sounds as if Moz was a little bit anxious that they might plot behind his back.

It's a shame they couldn't sort the management & paranoia situation out because Moz staying in his safe space & Marr going out & selling the band would have been ideal.

Because Porter was becoming so involved in the creation process, I’m thinking Morrissey probably sensed or feared that Porter might start asking for songwriting credits.


I think Geoff really wanted to get rid of Porter because Porter was right in making the call that HSIN should be an A-side single.
Geoff was just irked that he was wrong, just like he was wrong when he thought that The Draize Train was a musically strong song & would have been a hit if Morrissey sang on it.
 
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carlislebaz

Guest
Although it sounds as if Moz was a little bit anxious that they might plot behind his back.

It's a shame they couldn't sort the management & paranoia situation out because Moz staying in his safe space & Marr going out & selling the band would have been ideal.
From what I’ve learned over the years Johnny had everything to do, from recording writing, to ordering transport, while moz had little to do.. other than complaining when things never got to number 1. It’s evident from autobiography that management WAS the problem from day 1 even when they did move to a major, they were condemned to death, so they couldn’t win either way...
 
Morrissey came in the next day. He had this book of lyrics. We'd put a track up and he'd open it and just start singing… he hadn't written it for the tune or anything, he would just try stuff.


"Quite often, his phrasing was so unconventional anyway that it didn't really make a difference. He found some words that seemed to work and sang it and I think we only did it one time and then he said, 'OK?' at the end and then went off.”



Wonder if this was the first time Morrissey did this? Not hearing the song first and just flipping through his notebook and in a way improvising with what he already had written.

I mean, Morrissey flipping through his notebook, singing words picked out on the spot and hearing the music for the first time and done in just one take?! o_O

Then again, it’s easier to do this when a song doesn’t have a lot of chord changes.



The Italian 12” version (original mix?)

Morrissey saying ‘OK?’ at 6:09 in ...



Not sure if this was the first time Moz wrote like that.
Kinda wonderin' if he had the whole song wrote out,
or if he pieced the lyrics together once he heard the music.
This is the kind of stuff I wished more folks would ask
Moz about in interviews.
 

Ketamine Sun

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Not sure if this was the first time Moz wrote like that.
Kinda wonderin' if he had the whole song wrote out,
or if he pieced the lyrics together once he heard the music.
This is the kind of stuff I wished more folks would ask
Moz about in interviews.

Wouldn’t be surprised if it was pieced
together from separate lines.

Sometimes lines jotted down can sit a long time before they find the right home (chords,song,vibe) to bring them and the instrumental music to life.
 
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Ketamine Sun

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From what I’ve learned over the years Johnny had everything to do, from recording writing, to ordering transport, while moz had little to do.. other than complaining when things never got to number 1. It’s evident from autobiography that management WAS the problem from day 1 even when they did move to a major, they were condemned to death, so they couldn’t win either way...

‘Had little to do ... other than complaining ‘ ? Lol.

Being Morrissey 24/7 would seem to be a hard enough job for anyone to take on.


Though, I agree Johnny never should have been expected to take on as much as he did. Which, I believe was
the main thing that brought about the split.
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
Not sure if this was the first time Moz wrote like that.
Kinda wonderin' if he had the whole song wrote out,
or if he pieced the lyrics together once he heard the music.
This is the kind of stuff I wished more folks would ask
Moz about in interviews.

Same. It's such a waste. They've got a talented writer in the room & they don't ask him about his process.
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
From what I’ve learned over the years Johnny had everything to do, from recording writing, to ordering transport, while moz had little to do.. other than complaining when things never got to number 1. It’s evident from autobiography that management WAS the problem from day 1 even when they did move to a major, they were condemned to death, so they couldn’t win either way...

I think in a way Moz was the manager, but he didn't want to speak to anyone & Marr didn't have the freedom to agree to things or offer things without running it past Moz first - which is unworkable & incredibly embarrassing.
 

Ketamine Sun

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Same. It's such a waste. They've got a talented writer in the room & they don't ask him about his process.

From what I’ve read, I think his main processes is working with a instrumental and choosing the right words before he goes into the studio.

So, that’s why I was a little surprised with his almost improvisational approach for HSIN.
 

Ketamine Sun

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I think in a way Moz was the manager, but he didn't want to speak to anyone & Marr didn't have the freedom to agree to things or offer things without running it past Moz first - which is unworkable & incredibly embarrassing.

Yes, unworkable after a while. But why ‘embarrassing’?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Porter should've produced much more of their work, with Street as engineer. Underrated!
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Think this might be the first time I've read a detailed account of the process that led to that Italian 12" version.

Morrissey's jealousy and axing of Porter was a real shame. The band still ended up doing some great stuff with Street, but it always seemed crazy to cut off what was clearly a good working relationship so soon. But hey - that's Morrissey.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
It's blatantly obvious that this song should have been credited to, at least, 'Morrissey/Porter/Marr'- but then Rourke should also have received a credit for most of their songs. As far as I can see, the creative process went something like this:

1. Marr played Rourke and Joyce a chord sequence, and Rourke played along and worked out his bass line.
2. Basic backing track was laid down
3. Morrissey added the vocal melody/words
4. With Morrissey's unconventional phrasing, and his vocal melody, having now defined the structure and tune of the song, Marr then added layers of guitar harmonies

And in case such as this one ('How Soon is Now?') and others like 'William, It Was Really Nothing' and 'This Charming Man', Porter was of course much more directly involved in the creation of the music than, literally, he was credited for.

Marr spent years blathering on about how he didn't want to keep repeating himself, and harking back to a cliched 'jangly' sound, when it's blatantly obvious, not only from the records he has made since purportedly being willing to re-embrace his Smiths sound (i.e. in his latter solo career) but even from the later recordings of the Smiths, after Porter was out the picture, that he simply can't make records like 'How Soon in Now?' and 'William, It Was Really Nothing'. As big as his input was to those records, they were collaborative works, and the collaboration wasn't just Morrissey/Marr, it was wider than that.

I wish he would acknowledge that.
 
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pooDoo

Guest
John Porter needs to do this for every one of his Smiths produced songs, much more informative than anything Moz or Johnny have written.
 

reelfountain

Well-Known Member
John Porter needs to do this for every one of his Smiths produced songs, much more informative than anything Moz or Johnny have written.
Porter could do a whole book on this.

The worst thing about Moz's autobiography is that he never talks about the "making" of the songs or lyrics.
 
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