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‘A great musical dream would be an encounter with Mozart’

Because I travel a lot for work, I have learned to sleep everywhere. I just have to close my eyes, and you know, I’m dusking away, whether it’s on trains, planes, or buses. Whether I’m dreaming or not, I’m always glad if I get my seven hours sleep because I need that.

For a long time a certain dream followed me on tours: I enter a stage alone, the hall is jam-packed, I begin to play, and very slowly the audience leave the room, one after the other. This goes on until I end up alone in the concert hall. I keep playing and I don’t find it so bad to be alone with my music.I even enjoy it. I could certainly feel this situation as a nightmare, but I don’t see it like that.

The basic idea of dreaming is that you move in wondrous parallel worlds. I can’t find anything unpleasant about that. Dreams help me recalibrate my thoughts. Read More

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THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE QUEEN

Tonight, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, the supergroup Damon Albarn formed in 2006 with The Clash bassist Paul Simonon, afrobeat drummer Tony Allen and ex-The Verve and Erland & The Carnival guitarist Simon Tong, play live for the first time in 10 years on Later… With Jools Holland. They’ll be performing the title track to their second album, Merrie Land, issued last month. Trepidation and excitement are palpable. “We’ve been given a strict four minutes and 30 seconds,” Damon Albarn tells RC. “We’ll be cut off if we go over. There’s no room for deviation.”  Read More

The Good, the Bad & the Queen Talk Brexit: ‘We’re Living in Two Different Countries’

Damon Albarn and Paul Simonon on trying to make sense of England’s chaotic political moment and the multiculturalism behind their country’s musical past

by Will Hermes

Opening with a quote from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and rooted in a century of English recorded music, from music hall to the Beatles and beyond, Merrie Land — the second album by the Damon Albarn–led supergroup the Good, the Bad & the Queen — is a meditation on national identity that explores how Britain began morphing from a future-forward multicultural laboratory into an island of wagon-circling EU secessionists. Though specific to England, it’s a record the U.S. and other countries might learn a lot from in late 2018.

In some ways, Merrie Land is the exact inverse of The Now Now, Albarn’s globetrotting, of-the-moment Gorillaz set from earlier this year. Merrie Land reunites the crew last convened 11 years ago for a self-titled album that took a similarly hard look in the mirror: Albarn, Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Afrobeat architect and Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen, and journeyman Verve guitarist Simon Tong. The sound, beautifully polyglot, is in some ways a musical refraction of post-Colonial Britain.

On the brink of Brexit, backstage before a London gig last week, Albarn and Simonon talked about the album’s Britishness, the influence of Lou Reed, and what lies ahead. Read More

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I have a real love of where I’m from

For Blur’s lead singer, his new album is about so much more than politics, he tells Jonathan Dean

Backstage at a shabby-chic arts venue in east London, Damon Albarn explains why his latest album, Merrie Land, is a bit like Parklife — the record he made with Blur at the height of Britpop, whose wit, pomp and poetry defined the 1990s. He’s in a red beanie, big jacket, big boots. It’s freezing, he’s tired and paint is peeling off the walls, but that all fits the music he has just made, and he hasn’t been this inspired for years.

“My songwriting on this feels closer to Parklife than anything since,” he explains in his deep, doleful voice. “It’s reminiscent. Parklife was an ironic look at certain fears I had about the future of this country, and this looks at how a lot of that stuff came true.”

I tell him Merrie Land has been voted album of the year by The Sunday Times Culture. “Well,” he says quietly, pleased, surprised. “There you go.” Read More