Blur enjoyed 13 UK top ten singles including ‘Country House’ in August, 1995 which alongside ‘Beetlebum’ was one of 2 numbers.
Blur have had 6 number one albums. The first was Parklife in May, 1994 and their latest Magic Whip in May 2015.
22 years in, I have no idea how to write a hit single. I genuinely don’t. I may never write another. I’m sure Paul McCartney secretly feels the same way… just one more.
I’m a nine-to-five musician. I like being with my family at weekends and during the school holidays. If an idea comes to me during those periods of not-work, then I’ll sneak away in between roasting the potatoes, satisfy my compulsion and put it away again.
I think I wrote Parklife as prose. It sounded really weird to me when I did it. Graham (Coxon, Blur guitarist) and I had a childhood obsession with Meantime and Quadrophenia so we chanced it and contacted Phil Daniels. It was so natural and immediate when he did it. It was fantastic.
When we did Some Kind Of Nature for Gorillaz, Lou Reed met me in the morning at the studio. We talked it over. He got in a cab, went uptown, did something, came back downtown, got out of the cab and did the thing. He’d written it in the cab journey up and down: a very Lou Reed, New York thing to do.
I need a healthy dose of loneliness and melancholy once in a while. It’s the fuel of music, though I love collaborating with people. It makes my job a lot less lonely.
My mum’s got a lot of my early demos still. I started in exactly the key I’m still in: depressing, miserable, melancholic, with just a little glimpse of hope. My first song was about nuclear power stations and acid rain.
I hope I don’t have to write another album like 13. It’s a miserable record, but it does have Tender on it, which is the opposite of that. It’s incredibly uplifting, as we realised at Glastonbury. It was extraordinary: to come out of something so dark and dismal to be such a celebration.
My daughter is my harshest critic. Absolutely brutal. Who do I play my stuff to? My mates. They’ve put up with far too many late nights listening to my demos over the years. I have mad thought processes when I’m writing and if I articulated them on paper I’d feel I’d let some of that tension go. It’s important to maintain some of that confusion in my head.
My version of Song 2 was a third slower: Graham sped that up. It’s definitely better the way it ended up. As soon as I hear myself doing anything I’ve done before I just do something else. I go the other way or I just go below or above. I can’t bear repeating myself. As soon as I’ve finished something I think, ‘That’s terrible. Right, I better start again.’
Damon Albarn by Linda Brownlee
Another line from “Essex Dogs” reminded me of Terry Hall: “the smell of puke and piss on your stilettos”.
Yes, exactly, very close.
The musicality of Jerry Dammers is evident in your work, particularly in Gorillaz.
Yeah, absolutely. There wouldn’t have been Gorillaz without Fun Boy Three or the Specials or Big Audio Dynamite, and obviously De La Soul and Tribe Called Quest.