BLUR'S PLAN TO release new album The Magic Whip has surprised many – including the band's frontman Damon Albarn, who “blames” guitarist Graham Coxon for setting the wheels of another reunion in motion.
“I really felt at the end of the last gigs we did that that was the end. Not for any heavy reasons but it felt like it had run its course.”
Having announced that the record is coming out on April 27, followed by a headline gig at the BST Hyde Park festival on June 20, the singer admitted that for a time he believed his old band had “come to an end”.
“It was really mixed emotions for me,” he said at a press conference today (February 19) announcing the band’s return. “I really felt at the end of the last gigs we did [in 2013] that that was it. That was the end. Not for any heavy reasons but it felt like it had run its course. There was no way we could do another gig without a new record.”
However, it was thanks to one of those gigs in 2013 – a cancelled festival appearance during the band’s tour of Asia – that the new Blur record came about.
Finding themselves at a loose end in Hong Kong, the group recorded together for the first time as a four-piece since Graham Coxon quit the band during sessions for 2003’s Think Tank.
“We had some downtime," recalled Coxon. "We had five or six days, so we found a studio to have a play in.”
However after those sessions, the frontman was still not convinced anything serious would happen with his band again.
“We didn't have much stuff at all,” explained Albarn. “It was back to how we recorded when we first started doing stuff. We just went in there and knocked about loads of ideas but we didn't get anything finished… after that the whole thing dissipated. I didn’t think it had happened… nothing happened after that at all. I was then busy doing my [solo album] Everyday Robots stuff so I thought that was it. This whole thing is Graham's fault.”
Undeterred by his bandmate’s solo commitments, Coxon asked to revisit the ideas they had put down, recruiting producer Stephen Street, who had worked on all the band’s albums until 1997’s Blur, to sift through the material.
“It was for want of a better word ‘jamming’, some sonic landscaping was needed to be done,” said Coxon. “It was a lot of stuff to go through. I said, ‘Damon, can we have a little chat? Do you mind if I have a look at all this music and if there’s anything there, we'll pursue it?’”
And pursue it they did. The guitarist and producer organised the band's initial ideas, then went back to Albarn with sketches for a new album. “Graham came to me and said, ‘I think we've got something here,’” Albarn recalled. “They played it to me and I thought, ‘Oh no, this is really good!’” (Laughs)
Listen now to Go Out, the first track taken from The Magic Whip.
For more visit www.blur.co.uk, plus listen to an audio from the band earlier press conference below now.