Interview: Graham Coxon, musician, Blur

Graham Coxon
Graham Coxon
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FOR a man who used to dread doing press interviews, Graham Coxon has learned to enjoy talking about his music.

After all those years as a member of Blur and releasing eight albums under his own name, he can now see the appeal. I just used to find it maddening talking about the same thing over and over and over, but it’s what you make of it,” says the 43-year-old ahead of his visit to Liquid Room on Monday.

“Now I just see it as an opportunity to really work out what I think. And it’s good to find out people’s thoughts on the record.”

That Coxon clammed up in Blur interviews is a shame. Self-deprecating and outright funny in equal measure, he’s hugely entertaining company, even if he still finds it hard to “blow my own trumpet about my solo stuff”.

His new album A+E, however, is well worth blowing a trumpet about. Leaving the finger-picked folk of 2009’s The Spinning Top behind, it sees Coxon in abrasive mood, with nods to German experimentalists Neu! and British alt-punks Wire.

“I feel like I’ve opened a door with this album and now I want to go through it and have a look around,” he says.

“A lot of the album has a mesmeric groove and I like that. I’ve had these influences all my life, I just concentrate on different areas.

“I wanted to dehumanise the music a little more, using drum machines and a few sequencers.”

With so many column inches already devoted to the post-Blur endeavours of Coxon’s bandmate Damon Albarn, it would be impossible for his own solo work to seem anything but overshadowed.

Nevertheless, there’s never been anything but praise for his records. And seeing as Coxon’s solo career started almost by accident and the idea of the spotlight terrifies him, it’s difficult to imagine he would want to swap places with his old friend.

Coxon, who left Blur in 2002 for personal reasons and rejoined when they announced they were reforming in 2008, says being in a band is about pushing and pulling with the other members, ‘making noises’ and trying to be heard.

His own songwriting, however, was far more fundamental than that, building everything from the ground up.

The next big concern for Coxon is his live shows, including next week’s visit to the Capital.

“I don’t get nervous or anything,” he says. “Well the big Blur ones are very nerve-racking, but at my own ones I don’t worry.

“I just like to get on and make sure the crowd have a good time. They’re on my side; they’re there for a lot of noise and mardy singing. They know exactly what they’re getting.” With the solo career in rude health, it seems roles have reversed and Blur has become Coxon’s side project.

He says he, Albarn, Alex James and Dave Rowntree have regular meetings, and plans are well under way for their performance at the London 2012 closing ceremony in August.

“Now the pressure is off and people are used to us being back, it feels nice again,” he says. “Blur are capable of a lot of really interesting stuff, so it’s really healthy, and we can do what we feel like doing.

“We’re not forced to get on the treadmill. It’s a great situation.”

Graham Coxon, Liquid Room, Victoria Street, Monday, 7pm, £16.50, 0131-225 2564