In a bumper interview with The Quietus, Damon Albarn has revealed some choice details about his upcoming rash of projects.
The interview is recommended reading for those intrigued by Albarn’s role in the upcoming Bobby Womack LP, The Bravest Man In The Universe. Albarn offers a comprehensive insight into the genesis of the record:
“I didn’t get the chance to really explore our music together on that Gorillaz record because it was just a one-off thing, it was the first time I’d met him and we recorded it in a couple of days in New York. Then I didn’t see him until we started off on a world tour. Obviously I got to know him very well on tour, I’ve got enormous love and respect for Bobby, and we felt that we could do something together. Then everyone had lots to do when we got back from the Gorillaz tour, I had to do Doctor Dee and everything, so we sort of set a date for September.”
“I asked my mate Richard Russell, who’s a great collaborator, whether he was up for going in the studio. We booked out two weeks and Bobby came over. I’d done a bit of preparation but not much – we started from scratch, essentially, but it went so well and Bobby was so open and full of energy. I thought, in two weeks, we would maybe get one thing that sounded right, but in that first session we did eight tunes that have made it to the record. You really never know whether something going to work or not”
Albarn also has some interesting anecdotes regarding the Rocket Juice And The Moon project (alongside Flea and Tony Allen). It was apparently “self evident as soon as Flea and Tony met, on a plane to Lagos, that something was going to happen. Flea’s a passionate Fela Kuti aficionado so as soon as he met Tony I could see he was itching to play with him. Tony’s a master drummer and I’ve played with him in a lot of different guises, a lot of different jam sessions. He really needs a solid bass player who’s able to play within his beat and not be too flashy. Flea can be as flashy a you like but he’s a great musician, so he was sensitive to what he needed to do, and happy just playing in Tony’s pocket. The two of them just sounded perfect immediately, so we just realised we could do something”
Albarn also talked shop about his upcoming Doctor Dee record, and the subsequent ENO performances that will follow it in June. The ‘folk opera’, originally performed in Manchester last summer, was evidently far from the finished article first time around: “I’ve had a lot of time since to think about what worked and what didn’t. And the record I’ve made is really a distillation of all the things that I felt worked about that particular version of Doctor Dee – it leans more heavily to me singing pastoral folk, really. But the stuff at the ENO will be something else”. Intriguingly, Albarn also suggests that Allen’s appearance on said record is a result of “his understanding of Juju and the power of ritual drums”.
Rocket Juice And The Moon touched down in stores yesterday, and the Doctor Dee LP arrives on May 8. The Albarn-assisted The Bravest Man In The Universe is out on June 11, via XL.