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November 2, 2006 - bbc.co.uk:

James has hopes for Blur reunion

Some might say that Alex James is being ambitious by stating that he wants Blur to make one final album with their original line-up.

Damon Albarn and Alex James
Blur members Albarn (l) and James (r) have a variety of side projects

Guitarist Graham Coxon left the indie band in 2002 after being told his services were no longer required - and since then has frequently said that he has no plans to return.

But James - the group's bassist, who is about to present revived music show The Tube - reveals he has been in discussions with Coxon recently.

"I've got high hopes that Blur will have a happy four-piece ending," he explains. "I think it would be a shame if it didn't, really.

"I think we'd all like to make another record. We'd all like to do it with Graham.

"I've been talking to Graham a bit and hopefully I can persuade him. I'm going to have to beg him, though," he admits.

Blur's members are known for their side projects. Damon Albarn has recorded as Gorillaz plus The Good, The Bad and The Queen, while Coxon has a solo career and James has worked with Stephen Duffy and Keith Allen among others.

But Blur - whose hits include Girls and Boys, Parklife and There's No Other Way - are "too good a thing to let it disintegrate", says James.

"One way or the other, there'll be another Blur album, with or without Graham - but hopefully with Graham. I think it's definitely worth trying.

"I'm sure Paul McCartney feels the same, but I still don't think we've made our best record yet. That's one of the things you get when you're a musician.

"You think, 'I'm going to do something brilliant in a minute.' If you don't think that, you've got to stop."

Recently, the 37-year-old has been working with actor Steven Berkoff on what he describes as "some pop songs".

"We started off trying to turn one of his plays into an opera.

Steven Berkoff
James is working with actor Steven Berkoff

"It's an amazing piece of work but it was becoming quite an unwieldy thing. It was probably a bit ambitious to try to make that into an opera," James says.

"He's written a bunch of songs and they're really good. He's got tunes for them and he's a very clever man, a proper genius.

"They don't beat around the bush. They're very message-heavy."

James says they may not be released in a traditional album format.

"I can make the records and he can make the videos and we can probably just chuck them out on YouTube or something.

"That's the great thing about working with actors - they can be in the videos. Imagine the worst villain he's every played - that's who he is."

'Counter-culture'

This Friday sees James joining Konnie Huq to present a new monthly version of The Tube.

The alternative music show is being revived by Channel 4 Radio, and online service from the broadcaster which originally screened the show, fronted by Jools Holland and Paula Yates in the 1980s.

"I liked the old one," he says. "It was the only counter-culture that really existed in the 80s.

Konnie Huq and Alex James
James is about to host The Tube radio show with Konnie Huq

"It was a time of great gloss, glamorous aspirations and yuppies, and that nastiness drove a very strong counter-culture, which was all represented by The Tube.

"Now I think The Tube is a search engine of everything which is good and new and exciting.

"And it's a bit of a laugh. I like Konnie a lot. I think she's a worthy successor to Paula Yates - and very saucy."

And as for the future, James - now a father of three - says his tastes are changing as he grows older.

"I'm 38 next month so I've thrown all my trainers away and all my records with loud drums on," he admits.

Kevin Young


Update added November 12, 2006 from BBC 6 Music:

Blur date set

[...] Alex James, who covered for Nemone this afternoon (10 November) on 6 Music, says it’s looking likely that things will get going next year. James was joined on air with another fellow band member, David Rowntree, who claimed that if it was up to him then the band would already be back together:

“The days of Blur doing a tour will not happen, most of the band have kids now, and when you’re a touring band you have to make a choice, so there will never be a return to that, but we have been talking about doing an album next year, we have even set a date for it.” [...]

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