Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Discussion about the band and related projects.

Moderators: tom_cas1, Caitlin, MrMagpie

Mark87uk
Posts: 140
Joined: 24 Jul 2015, 03:30

Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Post by Mark87uk » 23 Oct 2020, 16:52

Copy of article below, apologies if this has been posted already guys/girls..

Damon Albarn on cold‑water swimming, learning to drive — and making a new Gorillaz album

The musician has been holed up in a farmhouse in Devon with his family, cooking and swimming. He also made new music, he explains

by Ed Potton

Damon Albarn spent lockdown living in a very nice house in the country. South Devon, to be precise. He bought it in 1995 with his “ill-gotten gains from Parklife”, he says. “It was the first time I ever had any money and it was the first thing I ever bought. Everyone’s been telling me I’ve been mad for years. Why did you buy this remote farmhouse in the middle of nowhere? But now everyone thinks I’m a genius.”

REPORT THIS AD

Because it’s rather come into its own. “I would be lying if I said lockdown wasn’t anything other than a wonderful experience,” Albarn, 52, says via Zoom from his other house in west London. He was holed up with his wife, the artist Suzi Winstanley, their grown-up daughter Missy, his parents Keith and Hazel, who are in their eighties, and various siblings, nephews and nieces. “It was a chance to be a completely different person for a long period of time,” he says, apologising for the “muckiness” of his iPad camera. It presents him in romantic soft focus in jeans, white T-shirt and neck chain. “I’ve never really spent that much time in one place. Not since I was 22, 23. I’ve always moved with family or for work.”

He swam in the sea every day, watched box sets (he does an excellent impression of Brian Cox in Succession: “F*** off!”), practised for his driving test — he lost his licence 20 years ago and never bothered getting it back. He also cooked a lot. “Lunch and dinner for four months. I didn’t get people breakfast, but that was mainly because no one got up as early as me. I got to know all the local people — the butcher, the grocer, the fishmonger. To be honest with you that’s really where I see myself now.” Not as a fishmonger — he hasn’t gone all Daniel Day-Lewis on us. He means living in Devon.

We shouldn’t take this as a sign that Albarn is withdrawing from the limelight, though. Come off it. This is a man who, since the death of James Brown, has a decent claim to being the hardest-working person in showbiz. As well as being a key member of Blur, the virtual band Gorillaz, the Africa Express collective and two supergroups, the Good, the Bad & the Queen, and Rocket Juice & the Moon, he has created stage extravaganzas with English National Opera, the National Theatre and Manchester International Festival, plus a new show in Paris called Le Vol du Boli. He says he gets his creativity from his father, an artist, and his mother, a theatrical set designer. During his childhood in Essex and east London his parents “were always busy creating and doing things. And hopefully it’s rubbed off on to the next generation.” Missy, 21, wants to work in fashion, and his nine-year-old niece played “mad trumpet” on the new Gorillaz album, Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez.

Albarn recorded the bulk of it in Devon during lockdown, with guest singers completing their parts remotely and sending them in. I’m not meant to call it an album; it’s more like a conveyor belt of music that serves Albarn’s prolific way of working. Each song is released when it’s ready and accompanied by an animated video from Jamie Hewlett, his partner in Gorillaz for 20 years, featuring the cartoon members of the band: Noodle, 2D, Murdoc and Russel.

The first batch is collected together as season one and features Robert Smith of the Cure on a swirling lockdown anthem called Strange Timez and other guests including Skepta, Beck, Peter Hook, the Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara and Elton John, who duets with Albarn on a psychedelic torch song called The Pink Phantom.

REPORT THIS AD

“It came from a true story that I told Jamie about a year ago. And if you’d like,” Albarn says coquettishly, “I will tell you the story.” Please do. “Well, when I was seven, I was picked up from my primary school, George Tomlinson in Leytonstone, by Elton John’s pink Rolls-Royce Phantom V. I really was. It wasn’t driven by Elton. It was driven by his percussionist, Ray Cooper, who was a family friend of my mum and dad. So nothing strange about it. But the reason why he had this ridiculous car was because Elton had done a tour of the USSR and had only been paid in coal, I believe, and couldn’t convert it into money. He consequently had no money to pay his musicians, so he had to give them things and Ray, fortunately or unfortunately, got the pink Phantom. And obviously for a kid to be picked up from school in such a striking automobile was something I’ve never forgotten.”

Was this all news to John? “Yeah, and he claims it wasn’t pink. He might have said it was fuchsia. But for the sake of my sanity, it remains pink.” The numbers don’t quite add up either — John toured the USSR in 1979, when Albarn was 11. He has never let the facts get in the way of a good song, though.

His other lockdown project was co-creating Le Vol du Boli, a show featuring musicians from Mali, Congo and Burkina Faso, at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. Despite coronavirus restrictions they welcomed 1,000 socially distanced people for each of the three performances. Albarn says that he woke up every day and thought: “Right, today’s the day someone rings in sick, and the whole thing gets cancelled. But it didn’t happen.”

Given his dutiful Covid compliance, what does he make of his old mate Noel Gallagher’s opposition to wearing masks? “I’ve been wearing a mask for the last six weeks, every day everywhere, so that’s my opinion on that,” Albarn says. “I wouldn’t say I’m a complete conformist, but within reason I’m prepared to conform.”

Not that we should proclaim a second battle of the bands quite yet. Gallagher appeared on the last Gorillaz album and they have shared a stage several times in recent years. “I really like Noel,” Albarn says. “I randomly saw an interview he did on some Scandinavian TV show in 2019. He’s very good at TV, way better than I am. I really enjoy his company. Last time I saw him he nearly ran me over. He was in a car — not driving — and I was on my bicycle.

“Life is genuinely too short to hang on to these ridiculous things that came out of nothing,” he says. “We all probably had so much in common anyway, to do what we were doing. I discovered that with Noel and Liam. Liam’s just a silly old sod, isn’t he?” He catches himself. “I know you’re gonna use that — why did I say that? I like him as well, he always makes me smile. And he’s got something about him, real charisma. I look back on all that stuff with a very warm smile.”

He’s even willing to bury the hatchet with Brett Anderson. They fell out in the Britpop years after Albarn got together with the Suede singer’s ex-girlfriend, Justine Frischmann. Albarn was having a coffee in London last summer when Anderson walked past. “I smiled at him but he just ignored me. I was even ready to mend that bridge, but maybe he’s not ready yet.” Probably not, if the line in Anderson’s recent book about “witless, opportunist Mockneys . . . who had learned to drop their aitches” is anything to go by.

REPORT THIS AD

Albarn does sound like he could be a bit hard work in his Britpop pomp, a long way from the touchy-feely domestic god of today. He certainly didn’t hit it off with Hewlett when they met. “Throughout the Nineties every time I saw Damon at a concert he was an arsehole to me,” Hewlett says when we speak the next day. “And then one day we started hanging out. We were born ten days apart and we’re quite similar. He said to me, ‘You used to annoy me because you were successful at what you did.’ He’s always in competition. He’s a bit of an alpha male, the sort of guy who’d walk in a room and piss on a couch to mark his territory.”

They mainly work separately on Gorillaz. With Plastic Beach, their album of 2010, “Damon just said to me: ‘Plastic Beach.’ That was literally it,” Hewlett says. “I love Damon, he’s like my brother, but he also drives me f***ing mad sometimes.” They stopped talking to each other for a few years around the time of Plastic Beach. Albarn was annoyed that Hewlett left the UK for Paris during the development of their opera, Dr Dee, while Hewlett felt sidelined from Gorillaz.

Yet the cartoon dimension has been instrumental in their international success and longevity. There’s a new generation of American teenagers who are more familiar with Murdoc and Noodle than they are with Albarn. The Gorillaz channel on YouTube is the most engaged with on the site and they are well suited to gigging in a pandemic. Their virtual shows in December will feature cartoon performers interacting with human ones.

Still, it would be nothing without Albarn’s “endless ability to write f***ing great music,” Hewlett says. “He’s never strapped for a song.” The artist is envious of the sociability of music. “You don’t really do that with another artist, start sharing drawings and pens and stuff.”

Albarn is a collaboration junkie. He talks about all the people he’s worked with for Gorillaz. “Sadly, quite a few of them aren’t here anymore. Ibrahim Ferrer, Lou Reed, Bobby Womack, Tony Allen.” Then there are those with whom he’s almost worked. “Barry Gibb was entering the studio in Miami when he suddenly mysteriously developed an ear infection. I’ve been in the room with Dionne Warwick twice in a decade, and both times I didn’t manage to do it with her, so to speak. I’ve had some hilarious emails from Morrissey, as you would imagine. But I don’t think he’s a collaborator. And this was before his stupidness, just for the record. I still think I’ll do something with Sade — that wasn’t a no. The same with Kate Bush.”

How about a Blur reunion? He’s been on Zoom with Alex James and exchanged emails with Graham Coxon. “We definitely have a vague plan,” Albarn says. “Too vague to share. It’s all a bit of a blur!” Vagueness suits him. He’s been in bands since the late Eighties, he points out, and there’s rarely been a grand plan. Just work, more work and see where it leads.

vitekm
Posts: 259
Joined: 14 Feb 2016, 12:33
Location: Czech republic

Re: Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Post by vitekm » 23 Oct 2020, 19:04

Vague Plan is actually title of Blur next albun.

John_d
Posts: 133
Joined: 21 Sep 2014, 22:55

Re: Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Post by John_d » 23 Oct 2020, 23:24

That was great thanks. I wouls like to think he will Zoom Graham at some point soon!

Mark87uk
Posts: 140
Joined: 24 Jul 2015, 03:30

Re: Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Post by Mark87uk » 24 Oct 2020, 00:03

John_d wrote:
23 Oct 2020, 23:24
That was great thanks. I wouls like to think he will Zoom Graham at some point soon!
No danger John

idreamofpikas
Posts: 99
Joined: 05 May 2015, 16:02

Re: Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Post by idreamofpikas » 24 Oct 2020, 04:06

Mark87uk wrote:
23 Oct 2020, 16:52


He’s even willing to bury the hatchet with Brett Anderson. They fell out in the Britpop years after Albarn got together with the Suede singer’s ex-girlfriend, Justine Frischmann. Albarn was having a coffee in London last summer when Anderson walked past. “I smiled at him but he just ignored me. I was even ready to mend that bridge, but maybe he’s not ready yet.” Probably not, if the line in Anderson’s recent book about “witless, opportunist Mockneys . . . who had learned to drop their aitches” is anything to go by.
lol. I love the fact that the likes of Anderson, Luke Haines, and other Britpop talents are still sore about Damon's success. He must have been unbearable in the 90's.

User avatar
ricj
Posts: 123
Joined: 13 Mar 2015, 17:53

Re: Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Post by ricj » 24 Oct 2020, 16:25

A vague plan is better than no plan and that's good enough for me!
Image

User avatar
daii
Posts: 547
Joined: 20 Sep 2014, 12:33
Location: Argentina

Re: Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Post by daii » 25 Oct 2020, 13:59

Damon in an interview for German news agency DPA about the possibility of another Blur comeback after The Magic Whip: "There is a lot of material. I think it's up to me now to finish that."

User avatar
Rubi
Posts: 2007
Joined: 20 Nov 2014, 20:54
Location: Room on fire

Re: Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Post by Rubi » 25 Oct 2020, 16:46

daii wrote:
25 Oct 2020, 13:59
Damon in an interview for German news agency DPA about the possibility of another Blur comeback after The Magic Whip: "There is a lot of material. I think it's up to me now to finish that."
Does that mean he's been writing songs specifically for Blur? Interesting.

User avatar
ricj
Posts: 123
Joined: 13 Mar 2015, 17:53

Re: Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Post by ricj » 26 Oct 2020, 17:45

Because it was Graham that effectively made the last Blur album a reality, maybe Damon would like to be in the driving seat from start to finish with any potential new album?
Image

dougharrison
Posts: 355
Joined: 08 Sep 2014, 03:01

Re: Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Post by dougharrison » 26 Oct 2020, 20:13

daii wrote:
25 Oct 2020, 13:59
Damon in an interview for German news agency DPA about the possibility of another Blur comeback after The Magic Whip: "There is a lot of material. I think it's up to me now to finish that."
Was that a recent quote? He doesn't sound particularly enthusiastic about it, for someone so methodical and organised in his work it doesn't sound like a priority, which is somewhat fair enough. There's probably not really much point releasing a Blur album until there's a festival circuit to play Tender, Song 2 and Parklife at.

User avatar
daii
Posts: 547
Joined: 20 Sep 2014, 12:33
Location: Argentina

Re: Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Post by daii » 26 Oct 2020, 21:15

to be fair, i don't think anything related to blur is possible until 2022: next year gorillaz is going to be touring for most of the year and then damon is doing the "The Nearer the fountain" thing and playing some dates as well.

dougharrison
Posts: 355
Joined: 08 Sep 2014, 03:01

Re: Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Post by dougharrison » 26 Oct 2020, 21:21

daii wrote:
26 Oct 2020, 21:15
to be fair, i don't think anything related to blur is possible until 2022: next year gorillaz is going to be touring for most of the year and then damon is doing the "The Nearer the fountain" thing and playing some dates as well.
Yeah I think 2022 is probably a bit ambitious if anything. Sounds like Damon is ready to start on more Gorillaz, which in the current climate (if not more generally) is probably the most appropriate way to release music in these circumstances

User avatar
bugman
Posts: 1001
Joined: 23 Sep 2014, 20:21

Re: Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Post by bugman » 27 Oct 2020, 16:23

but songs like fools day and utw, why not?

Vern
Posts: 105
Joined: 09 Sep 2014, 16:11

Re: Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Post by Vern » 29 Oct 2020, 23:29

Vague plans are better than no plans, that's for sure

jonathas
Posts: 100
Joined: 23 Mar 2015, 13:15

Re: Blur have vague plans on a new reunion - The Times Oct 2020

Post by jonathas » 30 Oct 2020, 16:54

Intrigued by 'there's a lot of material'. I wonder if that means Blur were recording new stuff while they reheased and toured TMW.

Hope so. I expect that what he means is that there are lot of songs on his iPad which he's mentally earmarked for Blur.

Post Reply