"Well, this is weird, is not it?" Damon Albarn says. Six days ago he was in Mexico City, playing with the Gorillaz. Now, he and his friends in Good, Bad & Queen appear in Kent, explaining his second album in a fake American restaurant next to Maidstone's studio where he will perform later … with Jools Holland.
The seats are regulated by red leather, and paintings on Stevie Wonder wall about 80's Hotter than July, Ford's truck and the sign of Route 66. And under the shining lights, as it deals with a vegetarian dinner in a polystyrene box, Albarn talks about things that feel like there are no places here: English mythic myths; north of England on the coast; his family background in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire – and, most of all, Brexit. Listening for almost 25 years, he describes the new album as "the next version of Parklife, as Parklife is a world, this is another world." It's not entirely in the real world, but not far from it. "
Merrie Land comes almost 12 years after his predecessor. Like this record, this was created by Albarn, former bassist Paul Clinton Simon Simon, Nigerian drummer Tony Allen and guitarist / keyboard Simon Tong (late Verve). After that, similarities end. As if to illustrate the kind of openness and variety Albarn thinks that Brexit might be jeopardized, the new album has a wider range of music. Nothing for nothing Simonon described as Merrie Land as a work of "modern English folk music with a little edge-of-dub in it."
"This time, people can dance," says Allen, a youthful 78, with the ease of confidence that comes from making breathtakingly original music from the 1960s. "Even if they do not get up, they can still have their body moving to music." Everything is there. With the first record, people asked me: "Tony Allen – what's fucking your are you doing on this album? We do not hear you. "This time, no one will ask me, I can hear me on every track."
The biggest change, however, is in the album theme. The first record depicted the dark, bohemian parts of Albarn and Simonon in West London. In order to provoke a controversial breach of the Brexit, Merrie Land expands its focus outside capital and has a sharper sense of place. There are moments when Albarn suspends his usual tendency towards mood and texture instead of lyrical specifics and clearly mentions his mind.
The title song is a perfect example, with more precise political verses than Albarn ever wrote. One of the most striking paragraphs is to question the strange alliance among the Brexit's working class clan and the privately-educated opportunists who are being formed as leaders: "You were the ones who worked together / Put money in your pockets and their wealth / Who throws the school bench / I fuck in to all of us because they do not care about us / they are fearless and you should not be with them. "
He does not understand why so many people obviously have "them." "That's what I'm really upset about," he says. "But because my family comes from the north, and I grew up in Essex in the 1980s, I also feel great affinity with them.
Jacob Rees-Mogg and people in Blackpool should never be together. Unless Jacob Rees-Mogg is ready on Saturday night to go to Blackpool and enjoy himself.
The outcome of the referendum came a few hours before Albarn and Orchestra of Syrian musicians were set up at Glastonbury in 2016. "We had this great performance ready and none of the Syrians could understand why many of us were so upset and shocked," he says. "If I had the idea that we would act as a people in the way we have – sooner or later – I'd definitely come back much earlier if you know what I mean. As a person who likes his country, I would express a very strong opinion in the public."
Do you regret what you did not do? "Well, I did not have a clue I do not know if this should be said to you." It's too political … "Ian Birrell, a journalist who briefly worked as a voice writer David Cameron, is mentioned. He and Albarn are co-operating with Africa Express, an organization that aims to break the cultural barriers by gathering musicians from different countries. "He sent Cameron on Thursday [the day of the vote], just at the airport before we flew to Bristol, to say, "What do you think is going to happen?" And the text goes back: "It'll be fine."
"So, I would have imagined there were a lot of people who were surprised." It was a strange thing, odd times, and from that moment on, I'm still thinking about expressing how I feel about all this. "
Some of the key Merrie Land songs began to connect in Blackpool, where 67.5% of voters supported Brexit. "The day after the referendum I realized I was guilty, in the sense that I was looking in different directions," explains Albarn. "I played big cities in England, what you were attracted to, but I wanted to begin to see how this abyss opened in the center of our culture, and Blackpool, maybe from the time I was there with Blurom, just fascinated me. is part of the memory: those pictures are beautifully dressed, sandy, and modern Blackpool, Hedonism, Families who take care of the moles, and are still trying to solve it, the tower, solid and magnificent, you are also approaching the country's anti-crime campaign which is not so far away. It's just the whole music field. "
Albarn, Simonon and Tong spent a week there where he worked on new material in January 2017. The album will focus on Blackpool, but its scope expanded when Albarn began off-road odyssey across the country, equipped with a two-year tour of the Gorillaz . "I was observing, "he says." Watching, Listening. It's all just like fine wine, "she laughed." I went to St. Albans. I went to Banbury, Oxford and Luton. Liverpool, Southend. I just went – somewhere I had a cup of tea, or I went to the pub. I did not interview people: I was on these quiet, meditative pilgrimages to the cities I've never been to, to find out more about where I came from. "
The music you wrote suggests there is no ghost ending: a piano for entertainment, bass records, an abundance of old-fashioned organs that immediately prompt the British sea side. The song called Lady Boston has the most lively feeling of the place, pushing a record from England and Wales. He was inspired by Albarn's visit to Penrhyn Castle near Bangor, a Victorian-inspired home built using legacy income from slavery in Jamaica. The band is back there to record a completed song that has a linguistically refrain singing Penrhyn's male choir: "Dwi wrth two gefn"Which roughly translates as" I have a back. "
"We have a feeling that we" rely on each other, "says Albarn." We live on this small island and we have to talk to each other. But have we spent the last few years in circles? As Danny Dyer said, that's a crazy puzzle. Or you could say that it is an Anglo-Saxonist crisis. "
What does he think? "I looked at things not so long ago, and found the front page of the Sun's Britpop wind. I did something on the Bureau when I was Parklife: Anglo-Saxonism." I was thinking, "That's weird – that's what what I'm talking about now. "In the earliest form, we say we want to regain our country, but you have to know what your country is before you want to return it, and part of that is understanding who we are, we are a Vikings, we are an Anglo-Saxon. We are French, Belgian, Nigerian, Caribbean, Ghanian, Somali, Pakistani, say: "We are all this," I think it's funny. [Brexit]: Do not be limited, boys. I do not think we can afford such an attitude. We have to be very open. "
He returns to Blackpool or somewhere else. "That's why we have all those prayers. It's a kind of metaphor for trying to reach the world."
For Simonon, Brexit clumsily fits into a family background, located in the Belgian city of Liège, Nice and Whitby – and many of the popular instincts that feed on the outcome of the referendum are in conflict with the band that sliced their teeth. In the Clash document "Westway to the World", made 18 years ago, Joe Strummer offered a cooked version of what they said: "We were not small Engles, at least we had to accept what we were presented: the world in all weird variants. "
"It was a while, did not it?" Simonon says with a smile. "People have grown up – or forgotten. I told someone recently:" If they were not refugees or immigrants, or people who came here to call, they would be a powerful Clash that would not exist. "This album is titled Merrie Land , which alludes to the nostalgic, sentimental vision of people as it used to be England, and never really existed. "
So, as Brexit's time approaches, what do we do? When I ask Albarn how he feels at a second referendum, he says, "The question was wrong, and it was supposed to be," Who are we and whom we want to become? "We started that conversation, but it is complicated, but there is no easy answer. will vote for the next election, "but that does not mean that I agree with everything they are up to. I would have voted to make maximum dialogue with our neighbors."
And later, he offers this: "In certain days I just feel like I'm going to Parliament Square with a handmade postcard:" What are you doing? "Because I do not know what they are doing, I do not know why they think it's such a good idea – for England I love and why this is going to be a good thing for culture – that's King Arthur's, actually," he says, and he's mimes pulling to a large facility. "Rocket from the stone! Dear …"
The key point is that, in the midst of the infinite speaker, Brexit, knows that there is something essential to contributing, and if he is sitting outside the binary language of politics, that is half the point. "I want to add another voice," says Albarn. "And I'll do my music." He stops the accent. "And with this band."
• Merrie Land was released on November 16 at Studio 13