Blur fans have the cancellation of a Japanese music festival and the determination of guitarist Graham Coxon to thank for the band’s unexpected eighth album, 2015’s The Magic Whip.
There had already been hints that Blur’s story wasn’t quite over. After 2008’s reunion shows, the four-piece had performed together sporadically and even released a pair of excellent standalone singles, Fool’s Day (2010) and Under The Westway (2012). But a full album – which would prove their first since 2003’s Think Tank, and the first with guitarist Graham Coxon fully on board since 1999’s 13 – wasn’t in Blur’s immediate plans… That is, until the band found themselves with some unexpected free time on their hands.
Listen to ‘The Magic Whip’ here.
“We can do it without telling anyone, it’ll take the pressure off”
While on tour in May 2013, the group had been lined up to play Japan’s Tokyo Rocks festival and, when the event was cancelled, found themselves with five free days in their schedule. Frontman Damon Albarn insisted the time was spent productively, and Blur were booked into Hong Kong’s Avon Studios with a view to seeing what happened.
Armed with only fragments of song ideas from Albarn, they worked up 15 new tracks, with the relaxed nature of the sessions working in the band’s favour, as Coxon later told Beats. “We were in Hong Kong, we didn’t even know we were going to record,” the guitarist explained. “We just thought, Well, we can do it without telling anyone, it’ll take the pressure off. We didn’t really know what to expect, we just did it. We’d been playing with each other quite a lot since 2009, we were used to each other again, and it seemed like an obvious thing to do.”