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Search The Line of Best Fit

Damon Albarn discusses the year of comebacks and calls The Rolling Stones' album campaign "nonsense"

07 December 2023, 16:20 | Written by Tyler Damara Kelly

Blur reunited earlier this year after an eight-year hiatus and released their ninth studio album, The Ballad Of Darren. Damon Albarn has hinted that the band may be taking another break, following the album's rollout.

Speaking with French magazine Les Inrockuptibles, Blur frontman Damon Albarn discussed The Beatles' first song in four decades, "Now and Then", saying that it's nice to hear John Lennon's voice, but he doesn't "think it was meant to reach that level of exposure." He added that it's a good opportunity for everyone involved, especially if there are compilations to be reissued, but there's potentially an ethical question to be had in terms of the artist's autonomy over their work.

"It’s a question of scale: if enough people are interested, there could be hundreds of my songs released after my death, including songs that I would never have wanted to release," he notes.

When asked about the comeback of The Rolling Stones, Albarn's response is matter-of-fact, stating that it annoyed him. "My family lives in Hackney and the way they showed up at the Hackney Empire venue really pissed me off. They’ve never did a thing in Hackney, they’ve never played there, never contributed to anything. They just showed up. It’s all nonsense," he said. "I listened to their new song and watched this horrible music video showing them at different stages of their lives on billboards. And this young woman objectified. What the hell is this? There’s something completely disconnected."

He goes on to add that when he's 80 years old, there will be "no chance" of him parading past versions of himself on a billboard and capitalising on his past glory. "I did all sorts of things, whereas they’ve never been anything other than the Rolling Stones. I love the idea of devoting your life to one thing, in search of the sublime. But the truth is, they’ve become worse. Worse at persisting to stay themselves. That’s something I don’t understand. Making exactly the same music but not that good. There must be no joy in doing something like this."

Blur — comprising of guitarist Graham Coxon, drummer Dave Rowntree, and bassist Alex James — wrapped up their final shows on the tour for The Ballad Of Darren in South America last month following two shows at London’s Wembley Stadium, Malahide Castle, and a string of festivals including Primavera, Roskilde, Norway's Øya Festival, Summer Sonic in Japan, and Corona Capital in Mexico.

Albarn revealed that despite 2023 being a year of comebacks for iconic bands, perhaps another hiatus is on the cards for Blur: “It is time to wrap up this campaign. It’s too much for me. It was the right thing to do and an immense honour to play these songs again, spend time with these guys, make an album. I’m not saying I won’t do it again; it was a beautiful success, but I’m not dwelling on the past."

Instead, Albarn is going to be focusing on his forthcoming opera, which is set to mix "Goethe with club music", as well as a new Gorillaz album.

"It's a fragment of the second part of The Magic Flute, conceived by Goethe," he says of the forthcoming body of work. "There’s some things to know and to understand when you start something like this. I’ve listened to a lot of operas and 18th century music. It’s a huge task but it’s something really nice to be doing. Once the writing is done, I’m supposed to go to India with Jamie [Hewlett, illustrator and co-founder of Gorillaz] to start working on a new Gorillaz album."

The Ballad of Darren is out now.

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