"Well, that's weird, is not it?" Says Damon Albarn. Six days ago he was in Mexico City and played with Gorillaz. Now, along with their comrades at Good, The Bad & the Queen in Kent, they alternate and explain their second album in a fake American cafe next to a studio in Maidstone where they will be held later … with Jools Holland.
Seats have regulating red leatherette and Stevie Wonder's wall is warmed by Hotter since July 1980, Ford truck and Route 66 brand. there was no place here: the English folk myths; coastal centers of northern England; his family background in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire – and more than anything, Brexit. Harking back nearly 25 years, describes the new album as "another installment of Parklife, just like Parklife is a world, it's a different world, not a real world, but not quite far."
Merrie Land comes almost 12 years after his predecessor. Like this record, Albarn, former bass guitarist Clash Paul Simonon, Nigerian drummer Tony Allen and guitarist / keyboard player Simon Tong (late of Verve) created this record. Then the similarity ends. As if showing what kind of openness and diversity Albarn thinks that Brexit might endanger, the new album has a wider music palette. It's nothing that Simonon described as Merrie Land as a work of "modern English folk music with a little rub-and-oak in it".
"This time, people can dance," says Allen, a teenage 78, with a little confidence that comes out of scary original music from the 1960s. "Even without getting up, they can still have their body moving to music, it's all there." With the first record, people asked me: "Tony Allen – what the fuck is you are you doing this album? We can not hear you. "This time, no one will ask me to hear me on every trip."
The biggest shift, however, is in the album theme. The first record showed the dark, bohemian parts of Albarn and Simonon's domestic lawn in London. To create confused confusion of Brexit, Merrie Land extends its focus over the head and has a sharper sense of place. There are times when Albarn suspends his usual hobby when he deals with mood and structure, rather than lyrical specifications and clearly speaks about his mind.
The title track is a perfect example that contains more prominent political texts than Albarn has ever written. One of his most frequently used passages casts doubt on the strange alliance between Brexit's working class workers and privately-educated opportunists who stand out as their leader: "You were the money in the pockets / and their wealth / Who the crowd of school benches / And it's all about us because we do not care about us / They're careless and you should not be with them. "
He does not understand why so many people are obviously "with them". "That's what I'm angry with," he says. "But because my family came from the north and I grew up in Essex in the 1980s, I feel a great affinity [Brexit voters] also.
But Jacob Rees-Mogg and the people in Blackpool should never be together unless Jacob Rees-Mogg is ready for Saturday night to go to Blackpool and have a great time. "
The result of the referendum arrived a few hours before Albarn and the orchestra of the Syrian musicians came to Glastonbury in 2016. "We had this great performance ready and none of the wheat could really understand why many of us were so upset and shocked." he says. "If I had an idea that we would act as people as we have – before and after – I would definitely come back a lot sooner if you know what I mean. As a person who loves his country, I would express a very strong opinion. the public. "
Does he regret that he did not? "Well, I did not know if I told you it was too political …" He mentioned Ian Birrello, a journalist who briefly worked as a speaker of David Cameron. He and Albarn co-founded Africa Express, an organization that seeks to break down cultural barriers by associating musicians from different countries. "Written by Cameron on Thursday [the day of the vote], just at the airport before we flew to Bristol to say, "What do you think will happen?" And the text came back: "It'll be all right."
"So I think there were quite a few people who were surprised, it was very strange, strange times, and from that moment I was thinking about how to express how I feel about it."
Some of Merrie Land's key songs began to focus in Blackpool, where 67.5% of voters supported Brexit. "The day after the referendum, I realized that I was … guilty, in the sense that I was looking in different directions," explains Albarn. "I played big cities in England, which is what you get, but I wanted to see how this gap opened up in the middle of our culture, and Blackpool, perhaps from the moment I was with Blur, fascinated me. some of the memories: the photos of everyone who dressed beautifully hung on the sand, and the modern Blackpool, Hedonism, the families that care about the pillars, and they are still trying to escape, a tower that is robust and spectacular, and you will also be in a counter campaign in a country that is not that far, it's just a whole musical landscape. "
Albarn, Simonon and Tong spent a week working on new material in January 2017. The album focuses on Blackpool, but its range expanded when Albarn launched an on-off odysei across the country, mounted between a two-year tour with Gorillaz. "I was observation, "he says." Watching, listening. Just take it as good wine, "he laughs." I went to St Albans. I went to Banbury, Oxford and Luton. Liverpool, Southend. I just went – had some tea or went to the pub. I was not interviewing people: I was in these quiet, meditative ties to the cities I never was to learn more about where I came from. "
The music he wrote does not indicate any end of the ghosts: piano pianos outside the keys, bass recorders, the abundance of the old school organ that immediately evokes the British Sea. A song called Lady Boston has the brightest sense of place, pushing a recording from England and Wales. It was inspired by the return of Albarn to Penrhyn Castle, near Bangor, a Victorian grand house built by hereditary income from slavery in Jamaica. The band went back to record a finished song in Welsh's chorus sung by the Penrhyn singing group: "Dwi wrth dy gefn"Which roughly translates as:" I have a back. "
"It makes sense," we rely on ourselves, "says Albarn. "We live on this small island and we have to talk to him, but recently we spent the last years in circles, like Danny Dyer, it's a crazy puzzle, or you can say it's an Anglo-Saxon crisis."
What does that mean? "I have been looking at things not so long ago and I found the front of the Sun from the Britpop era. I wrote it in the Bureau when I was doing Parklife:" anglosastentalism. "I thought," That's strange – that's what I am speaking in a very strange form we say that we want to return our country But you have to know what your country is before you want it back And there is an understanding of who we are We are Vikings We are Anglosas We are French , the Belgian, the Nigerian, the Caribbean, the Ghanaian, the Somali, the Pakistani, let's say, "We are just that," I find it ridiculous, that's all. [Brexit]: do not limit yourself, guys. I do not think we can afford to have this attitude. We have to be very looking. "
He returns to Blackpool or somewhere like him. "That's why we have all the sailors, that's a metaphor as they try to get into the world."
For Simona, Brexit impatiently fits into a family background that lies differently in the Belgian cities of Liège, Nice and Whitby – and many popular instincts that have come to the result of the referendum are in conflict with the band he carved his teeth. In Clash, Westway to the World, 18 years ago, Joe Strummer offered a boastful version of what he says: "We were not small English, at least trying to accept what we were told: a world in all its strange varieties."
"That was a moment ago, was not it?" Simonon says with a laugh. "People have grown – or have forgotten – I recently said to someone," If it were not for refugees, immigrants or people coming to work on invitation, it would be a powerful Clash element that would not exist. "This album is Merrie Land, which mentions a nostalgic, sentimental view of how England was, and never existed. "
So, as Brexita is approaching, what should we do? When I ask Albarna how she feels about the second referendum, she says that "the question was wrong, it was to be," Who are we and who wants to be? "We started this conversation, it is complicated, but there are no easy answers. "He says he will vote for work in the next election," but it does not mean I agree with all that stands, I voted in order to maintain maximum dialogue with our neighbors. "
And a little later, it will offer: "In a few days, I feel just going to the Parliament Square with a hand-made poster saying," What are you doing? "Because I do not know what they are doing, I do not know why he thinks it's such a good idea – for England I love, and why it will be a good thing for us as a culture – it's true King Arthur indeed," he says, that he is pulling a big object. "Stone sticker! Oh dear …"
The key thing is that in the midst of the infinite cacophony Brexita knows he has something important to contribute, and if he is outside the binary language of politics, it is half a point. "I want to add another voice," says Albarn. "And I'll do it with my music." He pauses vigorously. "And with this band."
• Merrie Land is released on Studio 13 on November 16