The Cribs: Englishmen in the Northwest

How Johnny Marr made Gary Jarman's rock-and-roll wet dream come true.

Growing up in the small town of Wakefield in northern England, Gary Jarman dreamt of two things: Being in a big-time rock-'n'-roll band someday, and visiting the U.S.'s far-away, mysterious Pacific Northwest, where the music (from Nirvana to Beat Happening) and the culture that was defining his early teenage years came from.

The Cribs made it happen. The indie-rock outfit the singer-bassist has shared with his twin brother Ryan (guitar) and younger brother Ross (drums) through loads of positive press and years of nonstop gigging is an arena-headlining act in the UK and a fast-rising band in the States. And not only did Jarman finally make it to the Northwest on tour, in 2007 he became a permanent resident of Portland, where he lives with his wife, Joanna Bolme, who plays bass in Quasi and in Stephen Malkmus' band, the Jicks. (Jarman's brothers still live in England.)

But Jarman never imagined that one day he would be making music with his idol: ex-Smiths (and Modest Mouse) guitarist—and fellow Portlander—Johnny Marr, who struck up a friendship with Jarman over compliments concerning the Cribs' 2005 record The New Fellas and became an official full-time member of the band in 2008.

"To step back from it and think, 'I'm in a band with my two brothers and my favorite guitarist ever...'—it's insane, man," Jarman, 29, says over the phone on tour in Boston.

Their chemistry comes through on the Cribs' tremendous new fourth LP, Ignore the Ignorant. There are certainly echoes of the band's established sonic approach—a marriage of angular, scrappy post-punk and craggy Strokes-style riffs—but with Marr they've gone bigger, grander, more layered and epic, yet retaining their soul and punch.

For the Cribs, having Marr in the band is a no-brainer on all fronts. So what's the guitarist getting out of it, aside from helping craft some great tunes? "He was only 19 when the Smiths blew up almost, like, overnight," says Jarman. "But he always wanted to be in a punk band, and the way we operate, touring in a van and scraping and clawing to build things up—Johnny never really got to do that, so I think it's all really exciting to him."

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