The secrets behind Johnny Marr's tone on The Smiths' How Soon Is Now?

Johnny Marr
(Image credit: Kieran Frost/Redferns)

Johnny Marr said he wanted the intro to the Smiths’ How Soon Is Now? to be as potent and recognizable as Layla. But instead of writing a catchy melody or bombastic riff, he took an entirely different approach by crafting a hypnotic, pulsating groove by running his rhythm electric guitar track through four amps to generate a lush, complex stereo tremolo effect. 

That trippy tremolo rhythm track along with several inventive guitar parts throughout helped make How Soon Is Now? one of the most memorable and enduring alternative music recordings of the '80s.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.