Interview: Graham Coxon
“All the songs on the new album have this weird and unsettling atmosphere and it’s the kind of music you can listen to in dark nightclubs underneath railway arches. I’ve created something which is a mix of indie, electro and the 1960s.”
Following a brief return to his former day job with Blur at the recent Brit Awards – a night in which the voice of his musical brother Damon sounded like it was in a different postcode – an ever cool and contemporary Graham Coxon is back on his own two feet again to hook up with his eighth solo album adventure, A+E.
2009′s The Spinning Top saw the shy and reserved multi-instrumentalist swap his customary axe-shredding for muted folk filled acoustics, but reports in the media have already suggested that Colchester’s favourite son has dropped the spirit of jazz forever and returned to the up-tempo guitar-throbbing riff-driven man of old.
“People say I’ve made a dance record but I’m not so sure about that,” explains Coxon. “Sonically I think it’s a lot more fun than the last one. I was interested in saturating things with sound and noise. It came about by experimenting with different rhythms and programmed drum sounds. It is danceable record and it will surprise people. It’s not the kind of album I’m traditionally associated with.”
A+E, aptly named to create a sense of scratchy, frantic urgency, is meant to feel like a rowdy evening out on the town, documenting the ‘classic British night out’ and weekend hedonism with lots of references to dangerous situations in UK cities.
Coxon, by his own admission, isn’t the kind of chap who’d tear up his local drinking tavern with the boys to awake in the morning with vomit and kebab meat all over his duvet; so thoughts about nightlife in the UK are informed in a skewed and indirect way.
“I got a lot my lyrical inspiration for the album from what I see on the news and the way the media sensationalise things. It has a heightened anxiety because things are often presented on the TV in the worst possible light. Lyrically and sonically I was trying to do the same. I wanted to push the sound more than normal engineers could and would allow and produce a dark atmosphere based on my experiences.
“Early one morning I was going out to get some milk and I bumped into a friend on a street corner who was off his head after a night out. He was acting pretty wildly and I couldn’t wait to get away from him. The album is frantic, improvised and frightening and songs on the album like Ohh, Yeh, Yeh and Meet+Drink+Pollinate were written after being faced with situations like this. It’s about trying to escape, to run away.”
Produced by Ben Hillier – who ironically recorded Blur’s final Damon Albarn-heavy album Think Tank to muted applause – A+E features the kind distinctive, visceral garage-punk-pop you’d expect from a ‘generation defining guitarist’ and fans will be able to hear tracks performed live when he visits The Sage in Gateshead on Sunday 15th April.
Speaking ahead of his jaunt to the region, a surprisingly excitable Coxon can’t wait for his return and has invited local bands to support him. He added: “I always enjoy my time in Newcastle and I usually have a walk around the city. Bands who want to play should check out my site. It’s important for me to give unsigned acts a chance and it’ll create a better atmosphere rather than a tour support. I’ve had an amazing response so I better knuckle down and pick my acts.
On the subject of his future, Coxon comments, “Who knows, I may come back with Blur one day. The mood in the camp is good at the moment.”
You heard it here first kids.
A+E is released on 2nd April via Parlaphone Records and he plays The Sage, Gateshead this Sunday 15th April.
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