The band talks about recording “How Soon is Now?” and representing the ’80s alternative underground
JOHNNY MARR: I think “How Soon Is Now?” is unusual because it sounds really, really good in a club when you’re fucked up — and that’s okay. “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” is a really loved song also, and “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” has a different kind of love for it. But “How Soon Is Now?” sounds really good in American clubs, and it was made late at night with a kind of swampy, sexy vibe going on. I don’t think I’ve ever said “vibe” and “sexy” in the same sentence — the song must have something good going for it if it makes me use those words!
It was written over a three-day period. On the Friday, I sat down around noonish with my little Portastudio and wrote “William, It Was Really Nothing” and recorded it on a little four-track for the A-side of the next single. Because that was such a fast, short, upbeat song, I wanted the B-side to be different, so I wrote “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” on Saturday in a different time signature — in a waltz time as a contrast. I was kind of happied out after writing “William.”
On Sunday night I kicked back and treated myself to writing something completely different from both those songs. I had a short, upbeat one and a short, sad one, so I decided to write a long, swampy one with a groove. I always wrote songs in batches of three and usually still do.