Blur ‘Think Tank’ Track By Track

added 02 July 2003 at 05.29

One of the most eagerly awaited comeback album’s of the year, Blur’s ‘Think Tank’ was heard first in full on X-Posure on Xfm. Damon, Alex and Dave talked John Kennedy through the album track by track…

John Kennedy: “This is Xposure. 104.9 John Kennedy with you ‘til 1.And that was Blur ‘Don’t Bomb When You’re The Bomb’ the single that came out near the end of last year and gave us a little taste maybe of what the new album would sound like. But you’ll discover for yourselves tonight ‘Think Tank’ is the new album released next week and I’m very pleased to say that tonight is another Xposure album playback. You get to hear the whole of the album from Blur, with a little help from the band themselves. We’ve got Alex here and Damon and Dave. Alex and Dave currently in front if the microphones, Damon’s having a crafty fag. So we’ll get talking about the album. ‘Don’t Bomb When You’re The Bomb’ came out last year, near the end of last year on seven inch. ooh is that what the album’s going to sound like? But it’s not even on the album. Why was that?”

DR: “It was just a taster of the album, it was just something we did. I don’t know, I didn’t know if it would go on the album or not. It was just like “let’s stick it out there, let’s freak everyone out.” A lot of the tracks were in that similar kind of state, where they’d had some instruments put on them, but they weren’t finished, kind of polished pieces of work and there were no vocals or anything at that point.”

JK: “I mean, you know what it’s like when you’re a fan, you’re thinking is this what they’re going to sound like? So it was quite interesting because it got quite a varied reaction.”

DR: “I mean the fans know that we love to put spanners in the works, and left foot people and dummy runs, there were some journalists who assumed that was the new direction and decided that they didn’t like it.”

AJ: “Well not everything you do, has to sell a billion copies. Sometimes it’s nice just to something interesting. I think we made about 200 copies of that.”

JK: “That was a big favourite on the show.”

DA: “Really?”

JK: “I played it lots, yeah I really liked it.”

JK: “I played it lots, yeah I really liked it.”

DA: “I didn’t really like it.”

JK: “You didn’t? It’s kind of like Cabaret Voltaire or something.”

DA: “It’s just odd, you know. Four track demo and then some bass noises, you know it’s just strange, it’s odd.”

JK: “ It’s a nice way to introduce, Blur are back. With their studio album ‘Think Tank’, which is out next week.”

AJ: “We’re writing seven in big roman numerals though.”

JK: “Right.”

AJ: “Seven deadly sins, seven days of the week, seven Blur albums, some kind of weird symmetry in it.”

JK: “Right, Damon’s here now. Hello Damon.”

DA: “Hello.”

JK: “Seventh album. When did it all start? When did you start recording it, ‘cause it’s been a long awaited album, ‘cause the last one came out back in March 99.”

AJ: “It came out the day the Britney Spears came out, our last record a long time ago.”

JK: “So when did you start recording this new one then?”

DA: “November 2001.”

JK: “And was that straightforward? Was it easy to get back together after being involved in so many different things?”

DA: “Umm well we’ve obviously talked round this subject a lot in the last few months.”

JK: “It’s kind of tricky.”

DA: “Well it’s not tricky, actually it’s really easy now, but you know, we just don’t want it to roll off the tongue like I say a company memo 400 times. It wasn’t easy, it’s kinda: looking it was something that we needed to do, we needed to see where we stood with each other and we haven’t looked back.”

JK: “You started Nov 2001 if I’m right you kinda: drew it all to a close at the end of 2002 is that right, cause you went off and recorded a bit in Morocco and then did a bit more in Devon, that’s all.”

DA: “Well, we thought we’d finish it in Morocco, and we got so used to rural life and recording in that setting that erm I had a barn free so we all went and lived in.”

AJ: “Damon’s free barn.”

DA: “All barns me.”

JK: “Why did you choose Morocco as a place to go and play and record?"

DA: “A lot of reasons. Initially it was because I’d gone to a festival there and been blown away by the integrity of the music and the audience participation and the peacefulness of the whole environment that really confirmed my suspicions that the Arab world wasn’t necessarily being ported in an accurate light. And also I think we were all up for that challenge, of something totally new and something we had no reference points for. Umm, so we all went out there, initially to sort of check the area out and it’s at least 15 km outside Marrakech, a barn and a house. Well it’s called a “read” run by a family, it’s a sort of hotel, but you don’t have room service or televisions or anything, it’s like a proper house, you know. It’s a development of the sort of classic Arabic hospitality tradition. Uh yeah we took the studio in London, Studio 13, took it in our suitcases…”

DR: “Well, not personally.”

DA: “and waited for it to arrive. It didn’t arrive straight away, so we recorded on a laptop and a few guitars Moroccan People’s Revolutionary Bowls club, while we were waiting. And when we finally got it through customs and built the studio ourselves and then had an amazing month just living in rural bliss.”

JK: “In the different phases of recording, did you do a few tracks here and there? Are there some tracks that you would say, definitely a Moroccan one and that one definitely came out at the end in Devon and that one was one first in London or did you work on the whole thing?”

DA: “I don’t think we’d really identify it with anywhere. It’s just the whole thing, stuff’s particular. Like ‘Out Of Time’ for example. The basic track was recorded in London and then the strings and the vocals were recorded in Morocco. Something like ‘Ambulance’ started in London and was finished in Devon. So there was a big gap in between, it was just a lot of building blocks and we took away a lot of them. We built a couple of albums really. Three albums we could have got out of this one.”

AJ: “It was just a year’s studio work. We had to go round the houses to find out who we were as a three piece. It was like starting again, we covered a lot of ground.”

JK: “Yeah. It sounded like that during the course of that time, when different news stories would come out, about Blur recording their new album and it sounded like you were all being really positive. The kind of thing you were posting on the website all sounded completely positive. It’s interesting looking at the credits on the album, or the promo album which I’ve got, all tracks by Blur and as far as I can tell that’s the first time that’s ever appeared on an album sleeve. Normally it kind of either gets Albarn and then the other names of the band, you know Albarn, Blur. So in a way is this the first time that it’s all kind of worked completely together as a band?”

DR: “Damon is still the main songwriter in the band.”

DA: “I didn’t even know songs were credited. I haven’t even looked at the credits so I wouldn’t know. Who gives a shit who credits what? It’s whether it’s good music to listen to or not. I think that it gets in the way of music, if you try and identify too much where it comes from.”

JK: “So we shouldn’t spend too much time looking at these sleeves. So the other thing made to be a big deal was the arrival of Norman Cook. It turns out he’s named as being a co producer on two of the tracks of the album. Why did you want to invite him along to take part?”

DA: “We’d been talking about it for along time and we’d always intended to see how it went with him. He was up for coming and hanging out and being basically part of the band. We had a trial period so to speak and it went really well, we enjoyed hanging out with each other and took that down to Morocco where we got the bulk of the work we did together done in a few days.”

JK: “Ok well that was kind of done and dusted. Move onto the next track. This is Xposure, it’s 104.9 Xfm. It’s another Xposure album playback we’re talking about, Blur’s new album ‘Think Tank’. I’ve got Alex, Dave and Damon from the band with me. We’re going to take a little break and then we’re going to give you the whole of the new album and them talking their way through it as well.”

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