JOHNNY Marr first appeared at Glasgow’s Barrowlands in June 1984, arriving late after The Smiths recorded Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now for the following night’s Top of the Pops.

Since then he’s played the venue countless times with the likes of The The, Electronic and The Cribs. He returns in November under his own steam and it’s apparent that Marr has got to know Glasgow’s east end more intimately than most of the acts who flit in and out of the lauded venue.

“When you come out of Barrowlands, turn right and keep on going along the Gallowgate it gets interesting. It reminds me very much of Manchester in the 1960s and 70s where I grew up, which was almost entirely Irish. There’s loads of pubs which have been there for the longest time – it’s a really vibey place. When you run around a city for an hour or two you have a different relationship with it, it becomes more intimate.”

At 54, sitting in the very different surroundings of a five-star hotel in London, he still resembles the puckish 20-year-old guitar hero performing This Charming Man on Top of the Pops in November 1983.

Marr returned to Manchester from Portland, Oregon, to record his forthcoming long-player, Call The Comet. “I’ve still got a home in Portland and sometimes I miss it but I moved back to Manchester to be inspired by a British feeling in the air. If I stayed in Portland I might have grown a beard and no one needs that.”

It’s the Manchester of his pre-Smiths life that continues to provide context, values and sensibilities. “The Hacienda, swaggering in parkas or even national health glasses”, as Marr suggests. “The Manchester of my teenage years was modern, tough, androgynous, exciting, underground but also successful; that's the template for a lot of Manchester music.”

By allowing the environment, atmosphere and architecture of the city to infuse his third solo album by what he calls “psychogeography” Marr has delivered his most complete and epic offering.

“People think it's more high concept than it really is,” he explains. “A lot of people will understand the basic tenets because there’s so much of it in literature from Walter Benjamin to William Blake. I find it a great thing to write songs about; the streets and buildings talking to you. It’s the memory of the streets and these amazing old structures which have incredible stories.

"In a way that isn't even esoteric because people are working in these places year in, year out. They’ve started families, brought them up on wages made from those buildings, they’ve made and lost friends there. All their lives and loves have been invested in an area and you feel it in cities like Chicago, in parts of Scotland or Ireland and in Manchester.”

After relocating to Manchester, Marr got to work in a former factory, the custom-made Crazy Face Factory studio named after the clothes shop where he first met Joe Moss, who managed The Smiths in their first year. Described as a “father-figure” by Marr he also managed the guitarist from 1999 until his death from cancer in 2015.

“I moved into the studio on the day Joe died which was a strange coincidence. It’s a big industrial space and you can really hear it in songs like Actor Attractor before the singing even comes in.”

There are shades of Joy Division in the foreboding electronic stomper which uses stabs of hook-laden guitar sparingly. “I can’t imagine that song would have been written in any other place. It came about on a foggy winter night in the north of England in this big open space with glass windows and no curtains looking out over the Manchester skyline.”

At the peak of The Smiths' success Marr would think nothing of writing and recording through the night. As he became more absorbed by the process of writing Call The Comet he fell back into old habits. “I thought I was done with that kind of thing but it seemed to be working and I guess it added a sort of emotional quality. I found a couple of weeks into the writing that I was on a roll so rather than go home and reset I’d sleep in the studio.

"That kind of solitude and introspection is a far cry from standing on a stage with an acoustic singing confessional songs. This is very much a rock record and I definitely mean rock as opposed to pop.”

Marr took a starkly honest approach on tracks such as Day In Day Out. “Its about dealing with obsession. I’ve celebrated my peculiarities and that’s kind of saying I know I’m hyper and proud of it but I’m confessing that sometimes being obsessive can be difficult, confusing and wearing. It can leave you emotionally frazzled. Rather than setting that to something confessional with plaintive guitar or introspective piano it became something more celebratory and upbeat.

This Tension from Marr’s previous album Playland gave a subtle nod to what he describes as the “beautiful melancholy” of The Smiths. His new single Hi Hello summons their most renowned torch song There Is A Light That Never Goes Out. “I’ve spent so much time avoiding the past. With Hi Hello it felt so natural, when something has a feeling of honesty you should just go with it and that one just poured out. It’s a song of unconditional love, it’s that thing that all of us know unless we are very unlucky.”

It seems that Marr has taken on a protective role of his former band’s legacy. In 2011 he remastered their entire back catalogue which spread out over eight albums. “I was there for every second of that. I had been on a mission for a few years to get it done and was rubbing my hands before I got going on the first album. It felt like putting my feet in the Atlantic before swimming until New York because it was such a massive job. I had kicked up such a fuss about it over the years that the label were like ‘shut the f*** up and get on with it’”.

In a recent interview Morrissey distanced himself from The Smiths, one of the most influential British bands, saying his pride lies with solo output. In contrast Marr talks about the work with palpable warmth.“I’m really proud of the songs we wrote and the records we made and nothing will ever change that.”

Does he feel a sense of carrying on the band’s political legacy as one of the few obvious left-leaning musicians happy to discuss his beliefs in public? “I’ve been asked about this stuff over the years, partly it’s about coming from a socially conscious band and time. There’s not a lot of us around now but when I started in The Smiths we were around at the same time as people like George Michael, Billy Bragg, Aztec Camera and Everything But The Girl.”

Marr suggests it’s “an added bonus” being able to express his views and offer an opinion “that stands for the underdog” but adds that “it’s not enough to have a righteous position. I’m careful to remember that my job is to provide good rock music.”

Recent years have seen him deliver a best-selling autobiography Set The Boy Free while working with Hans Zimmer on the score for films such as Inception and The Amazing Spiderman 2. A collaboration with the actress Maxine Peake on The Priest also featured the work of Edinburgh writer Joe Gallagher. “I’m happy with how that turned out, almost everything you hear on there beside keyboards is treated guitars – it’s the sort of thing I used to do with The The that I don’t necessarily get to do on my solo records.”

A long friendship with Noel Gallagher, who he has known since Oasis got going in the early 1990s, has also sustained. Marr contributed harmonica and guitar to Gallagher’s album Who Built The Moon?

“I genuinely believe you are what you play. A lot of people know the public Noel but as a person he is quite private, no-nonsense and down to earth. He’s also got a very idealistic streak and you hear that in his music. A lot of the words mention aspiration, triumph and a love of life.

"With a lot of his new record, but particularly If Love Is The Law, you hear this really uplifting, positive, wide-open epic vision of sound. I don’t think he gets enough credit.”

Like Gallagher, Marr has added frontman to his list of credentials with Call The Comet featuring his most convincing vocal delivery yet. “It comes from fronting and singing a lot of gigs and turning it up. I didn’t want to push it before and get in people’s faces. I was probably over-thinking it before but four or five years of doing this has taught me a lot. This is now another facet for me which I’m happy to take on. I’ll always be the guitar player who sings and I’m happy to be so but I’m less polite about it now.”

Johnny Marr’s Call The Comet is out now. He plays the Glasgow Barrowlands on November 15.