Blur’s Damon Albarn on using Iceland as musical inspiration
The four bands Oasis, Blur, Suede and Pulp have led musical trends, captivated the UK under Tony Blair’s New Raver, and unleashed a wave of creativity as the new millennium dawned.
Blur, who headlined the News at Ten in 1995 when they clashed with arch-rival Oasis for the #1 spot, are reuniting for two big shows this summer. And they are not alone.
Sheffield Pulp have also reformed for the tour. Suede never quite split, and Noel and Liam Gallagher continue to pursue successful solo careers, packing festivals and venues, albeit separately, playing their biggest Oasis hits.
But it was Blur above all who ignited the musical movement by shedding light on the 90s with a string of classic hits like Parklife, Girls and Boys, Song 2 and Tender. They probably bore the brunt of the backlash against the label’s cartoonish tendencies.
Hailed as one of the hippest bands to achieve mainstream success, they will reunite after seven years to headline Wembley Stadium in front of nearly 200,000 fans in July. and is set to perform the biggest show of his career. It can be said that the country desperately needs their joyful anthem.
“Blur live is always great,” says guitarist Graham Coxon. “It’s a great guitar, the amp is in top shape, and it’s got a lot of smiles on its face.”
Despite believing he could have enjoyed more of the band’s success, Graham admits to being frustrated with the popular culture of the time and its portrayal of Blur.
Blur reunite for two big shows this summer
He cites the infamous Blur vs. Oasis fight as an example. At the height of the Britpop boom, their rivalry was on the news agenda when their respective singles “Country House” and “Roll With It” were released in the same week.
When the two bands collided, accepted wisdom stated that Oasis were more gritty, working-class musicians, as opposed to middle-class, artistic Blur. However, Graham had met singer Damon Albarn at Steinway Comprehensive School in Colchester, Essex. His father Bob was an Army bandleader and his mother Pauline worked for Nestle.
“The class struggle between Blur and Oasis was unfortunately a simplification,” he told the Express. “Our differences were not due to class, but how it was communicated. It’s not.
“Our band’s portrayal of working class and middle class was part of a simplification of the North and South.”
Blurred group photo taken in a photo studio in Tokyo, November 1994
The fact that it pitted Blur and Oasis against each other on a slightly tongue-in-cheek country house song didn’t help. To match the mood of the chart-topping single, artist Damien Hirst directed a video for Knockabout featuring models including Joe Guest in a parody of a Benny Hill sketch. I admit to I’d like to say that this video was ironic, but I don’t know if it was. I still can’t get my head around it. ”
While Blur won the singles battle, narrowly beating Oasis to number one, cultural critics tend to suggest the Oasis album it was based on, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? , which eventually surpassed Blur’s own LP, The Great Escape.
Graham is optimistic about everything. The humble star doesn’t believe himself to be a great musician, even though his charming riffs have helped propel his band to the top.
“I’m still pretty limited with the guitar. As a guitarist, I have a lot of bad habits,” he laughs. “Often I don’t use the guitar, as if I should. I just want the sound to go along with the song I’m playing, so the technique is weird.” It was broken.”
Graham Coxon admits to being drunk on much of Blur’s success.
Despite his self-criticism, Graham found his style reflected in Blur’s songs on chart-topping albums such as Modern Life Is Rubbish, Parklife, The Great Escape, Blur, and 13. I admit it. He explains: He brought to mind the guitar playing of the 1950s, thus creating humor in Blur’s songs. ”
Graham’s understated demeanor is what makes his new autobiography, Poetry, Chorus, Monsters! He also gives an honest description of his illness.
The guitarist admits to being drunk for much of Blur’s success.
Today, he reveals his frustration that the band has gotten caught up in the business side of the industry instead of being left behind in making music. Graham says: But my reaction to that might have been different.
“I could have been more receptive to what this was like in the business I was in. My question is: I wish I had worked a little harder and tried to have more fun.”
Despairing at the sexist attitudes of the time, he said: It was a shock to me that we were in the mainstream alongside all of that. I had to participate in the country house video. I couldn’t help but attend. The women in the lead roles weren’t victims, but some of the edits in portraying women were a little pretentious.”
At the time, Graham was dating Joe Johnson, the bassist for the New Radism-fighting punk band Huggy Bear. The video caused problems in friendships and his relationships. At the time, Graham’s struggle with alcohol was beginning to take hold. He was a heavy drinker even before Blur was formed, and even got run over by a car drunk the day the band signed a record deal with his EMI.
The guitarist finally entered rehab in 2001, the day after his daughter Pepper’s first birthday. Graham, 53, explains: In 2017, I think I was desperate.
“That relapse was enough to make my anxiety really bother me.
“I don’t want to overstate the AA’s 12-Step Program for Sobriety, but it has worked for me and many others. and self-evaluation.”
Write poems, choruses and monsters! Graham appreciates: I am much more sane and emotionally intelligent than I thought. ”
However, the guitarist believes his relationship with Blur Damon, bassist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree will remain the same. Blur is no longer a matter of life and death. That said, now that we’re older, all of our quirkiness is magnified, but we’ve come to embrace them.
As well as creating a string of solo albums and the soundtracks to the successful sitcoms The End Of The F***ing World and I Am Not Okay With This, Graham has worked with his partner, singer/keyboardist Rose Elinor Dougall. Started a new duo The Waeve. .
The couple began writing songs together in 2020 when Graham returned to London from Los Angeles after his marriage to artist Essie Said fell apart. Rose and Graham, 36, are getting serious and have a 3-month-old daughter. Graham reveals: We were pretty cautious about being a couple. We have great mutual respect and being together is just a laugh. ”
Graham, who used to think that “housework equates to boredom,” said, happy to have found happiness with Rose. I wasn’t ready to spend the rest of my life smoking a pipe in an armchair by the window. I am grateful that all of that can now become a reality. ”
As Graham smiles, couples can happily work together, too. I’m a bit fickle and would rather have the song last 10 minutes he than commit to editing. Rose is good at that. She will keep my songs richer and shorter and she likes to make her voice stronger than previously advised. ”
In his busy life, Graham only cares about one thing.
- Verse, Chorus, Monster! By Graham Coxon (Faber, £20) has been released. For a free UK P&P visit expressbookshop.com or call 020 3176 3832. The Waeve’s self titled debut album will be released on his February 3rd.