ﬂight from Copenhagen and a dash across London, he still manages to be great company. I decide to go easy on him and play word association. After all. the same words seem to pop up in every interview. Like, for instance . . .
AMERICA: ‘The reason I’ve got such a downer on it is that I’ve never had chance to be myself over there. The people we’ve worked with have always been totally clueless about what we are. I’ve only been over there three times but I’ve always been surrounded by these people. So they are my America.
“Magic America’ [a track from Parklife] is an idiot’s view. I don’t think Americans are capable of doing a song like that about Britain. I’m not taking the piss . . . I don’t know why I’ve suddenly become this . . . l’m expected to slag off Suede, slag off America, slag off Primal Scream, say that we’re the best band in the world and . . . er. . . get drunk [laughs]. That’s what l’m expected to do — to show how British we are.’
RETRO: Damon peers across at a list of names on my notepad — bands I think Blur sound like. ‘Bowie, XTC, Madness. The Kinks . . . yeah. What else do I need really? Ha ha! XTC are probably the closest, after all we’ve worked with young Mr Partridge. Although we had to scrap everything he produced ’cos it was just too MOR. But they fucked up because they stopped writing good songs.
‘You can hear The Kinks completely in what we do. And what can you hear in The Kinks? Music hall. And who invented music hall? No one. It’s a tradition. What’s great about British music is that music hall tradition. That’s why I say look back to your roots — not for some sinister reason — but purely because there’s so much great music there. I consider Ray Davies to be the greatest living British songwriter. And l’mjust trying to learn how he did it. I can’t help it — I want to be like that.’
MOO: ‘I just associate it with Britishness. British teenagers are basically Mods. It’s being a rebel without dropping out of society, being outside without hating your parents. The whole idea of ultra normality. Dressing smarter than the city gents. That’s what I want Blur to be. Ultra normal. Sitting in a room with the telly on an’ the laundry in the washing machine, and making that an ultra state of being. That’s Mod - very normal but still glamorous.’
CLOTHES: ‘l’m trying to create a new thing called Mod-ual, a cross between a Casual and a Mod. My mum thinks I’m incredibly conservative in the way I dress. Hippy parents
just don’t understand why you want to wear a shirt and smart shoes. Ha!’
ROCK ’N’ ROLL: ‘I don’t like rock music. I think it lacks intelligence. So I’m in an arena I’m not really cut out for. I’d be just as happy being a farmer or something. I like music an’ I’m a show-off. lfearlier on I’d got into theatre, that’s where I’d be now. I wouldn’t even know who a band like Blur were.‘
POP: ‘A lot better for the health. The one thing about pop music is that people will not tolerate you producing sub-standard stuff. That’s why you can be so arrogant when you are being good. One day I’m sure I’ll write crap, and younger people will be calling me ‘old fart’. Which is line. as long as they’re civil to me when we’re having a drink.
‘Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish the difference. I mean. we use rock all the time. I view the Rolling Stones as a pop band — at their best. I like them up to Exile on Main Street - then I couldn’t abide them.’
THERE HE GOES AGAIN — off at some ridiculous tangent. But Damon admits he doesn’t know how to play the interview game. He tells me how much he loves Justine, refers to
‘I’m trying to create a new thing called Mod-ual, a cross between a Casual and a Mod. My mum thinks I’m incredibly conservative in the way I dress. Hippy parents just don’t understand why you want to nre'ar a shirt and smart shoes. a.’
‘indie’ as ‘the most embarrassing word in music today’ and admits that, left to his own devices, he would probably ‘go off into Elton John’s territory’. He also reveals that Blur ‘signed one of the worst deals of all time’ and even shows me his latest bank statement. I can now reveal that Damon Albam is worth £10.67. Exactly. But Damon still can’t work out his rent-a-gob reputation.
‘I just love being naughty and contentious — winding people up. But I do it with a smile and, unfortunately, you can’t translate that to a headline. I’m just constantly amazed at how badly I come across. All this stuff about other bands . . . it’s always taken out and blown-up.’
Well, I tell him, it’s good copy.
‘Do people still think so?’ disbelievingly.
Of course. People love bitchiness.
‘Yeah, I suppose so,’ he twinkles, ‘and I’m a real bitch. Ha!’
There are three things you can say about Blur: they’re great, they’re not an indie band and, in looks, attitude and sheer talent, Damon Albam’s popjudgement day has not found them wanting. Every dog has its day. Damon Albam’s dawn is just breaking. 0 Blur play Glasgow Plaza on Monday 16 May and Edinburgh Queen ’3 Hall on Tuesday I 7.
The List 6—19 May 1994 O