Damon Albarn was recently interviewed by music magazine Rolling Stone about Blur, his new solo album and on Oasis. The interview was conducted before Blur's performance in the music festival Coachella 2013, California USA.
I get bored extremely easily. Blur was definitely my Nineties, Gorillaz was my 2000s, and then I've done a lot of different stuff this decade.
I enjoy playing them. A lot of the songs were quite dystopian in their worldview. And a lot of that stuff is much more pressing now than it was then. It seemed like the future then, and now it just seems like every day. So I can kind of get into it.
A song like [1995's] "The Universal," which sings about, "This is the next century, where the universal's free . . . satellites in every home . . . "
The "woo-hoo" one, yes. Well, thank god! It really is guaranteed to make the whole place explode. Unfortunately, it's only two minutes.
Oh much bigger, yeah. It would be nice to play "Clint Eastwood" and "Feel Good Inc." with Blur, but I can't. They won't play them with me! [Laughs] But I've just finished a solo record – when I go tour that, I'll play play stuff from all my different bands.
I've been making it with [XL Records chief] Richard Russell. We worked together on the Bobby Womack record, and really enjoy working together. He's done spectacularly well as a music mogul, but I think he wants to focus his energy on producing records. Making a solo record is can be such a disaster, so I thought if we're going to make a record with my name on it, I should get someone to really produce it – take that responsibility away from myself. Richard does the kind of rhythmic side of it and I do everything else.
He's not the healthiest of guys, but he's able to do gigs and he's got incredible spirit. He doesn't let anything keep him down too long, you know? As soon as he opens his mouth and that voice comes out, he's just transported. It's such a magnificent voice.
That was the most expensive tour of all time. I had 70 musicians. I toured around the world, played massive venues all around the world. I made about 20 pounds by the end of it [laughs], so I won't be going on another of those. It was incredible fun, I loved doing it, but economically it was an absolute fucking disaster.
It's very eccentric. It's colorful and youthful and fantastic for kids. I mean it's just a brilliant thing for kids. My daughter was inspired enough by it to start learning Mandarin after she watched it. And it's got this wonderful sort of anti-hero monkey who's just so irreverent and almost . . . amoral [laughs]. Kids love a character like that.
I had four very interesting journeys across China. Like two weeks at a time. We were taken to some very rural, untouched places far away from the crazy commercial growth aspect of China. Back to places that felt positively medieval. I listened to a lot of traditional music, too. One day I had lunch with a music professor in Beijing and I quite earnestly sat down with him and said, "So what advice can you give me as to how to approach this?" And he took me into this library and there were like 1000 books of Chinese folk music notated and said, "Well, you either do it that way or just . . . do it instinctively." So I went for the latter.
We're not friends, but I know them. We Brits always stick together. And all of the animosity of the Nineties is gone. I mean, I was playing "Tender" with Noel [Gallagher] at the Albert Hall two weeks ago, with Paul Weller on the drums. It's all in the past now.