NME interviews Damon.
NME: You made us think Blur were finished, then you released ‘Fool’s Day’ for Record Store Day. what happened?
Damon: It was nice to know it made a difference. I heard Rough Trade in Brick Lane usually makes £6,000 on a Saturday and it made £60,000 on that Saturday. That’s why I thought I’ take a big risk and go back in the studio, but it was great.
NME: Having taken a risk, how do you feel about Blur now?
Damon: I’m definitely going to do a few more of those seven-inches and at some point in the undetermined future there will be a record at the end of it. I love the no-pressure aspect. Just going in the studio and recording in a day is something we haven’t done since the B-sides in the early days. We can’t do it all the time, so I don’t want anyone to think there’s an album ocming soon. It’s not possible – but we’ve got songs!
NME: After the Gorillaz’ live gigs, there’s a world tour. How does it feel playing those songs onstage rather than using holograms or being behind a screen?
Damon: We did the holograms at the Grammmys, but you can’t do them live because you can’t have any volume, the bass vibrates and the image disperses. There’s some cutting-edge technology that, fingers crossed, by the time we reach that tour in the autumn we might be able to utilise to have the characters onstage next to the musicians, which will be amazing.
NME: Does seeing the audience help?
Damon: We can’t really deviate. It’s like [BBC Radio 4 comedy] Just A Minute. ‘No deviations, hesitations or repetition’. Well, there’s a lot of repetition, it’s pop music [laughs]. But there’s rooom for a small amount of magic. It’s very disciplined, but for an audience that’s irrelevant. They don’t care about the technical aspects. It’s whether it’s working.
NME: Now you’ve played several shows, how are all the guest musicians finding it? Is everyone happy to share the spotlight?
Damon: Everyone is tuned into it. Everyone is on the same vibration. There’s a lot of spiritually minded people involved in it now. Bobby [Womack], Mos [Def], that’s very much how they work, so it’s moved on to a new level. You know The Last Waltz [Martin Scorese’s 1978 documentary about The Band’s last tour] – all those bands together? It’s a bit like that. Especially when we start touring the world in autumn.
NME: In the Blur film No Distance Left To Run you admitted that it took you a long time to realise that music wasn’t about competition. Is Gorillaz the embodiment of that?
Damon: In many ways it is. You can’t worry about who is getting the most attention, it’s not like that. It’s werid, it has none of those connotations. We don’t really know what we’re going., but I don’t think we’re totally making it up as we’re going along. You have to focus on the fact that it’s a very fast-paced, crazy event.
NME: With the world tour, it’s been hinted that you’ll be playing ‘Plastic Beach’ in full…
Damon: We were advised againt playing ‘Plastic Beach’ at Coachella, but it went as well, if not better, than anything else. The audience felt like our audience.
NME: Finally, with the Gorillaz tour, the opera you and Jamie Hewlett are working on and now more Blur singls, how do you fit it all in? When do you sleep?
Damon: [laughs] when everyone else sleeps. It’s just good time-management.
[Boxout in the article] Who is Murdoc? Gorillaz’ cartoon frontman Tweets away and has appeared on NME radio – but is it actually Damon pretending to be the character? “Murdoc is one of us, everything is written by one of us,” explains Damon, “but [the person] should remain nameless. It’s not me though! I have not the time or inclination to live inside someone else’s head.” That’s a ‘no’ then…