Damon Albarn is a ridiculously talented, commendably hard-working fellow. You could have checked in on Damon at any given time over the last decade and found him mixing it up with a preposterously diverse set of characters and musical collaborators; there have been charity albums and operas and adaptations of Chinese novels from the 16th century and even a band with Flea. Really, it’s amazing. That said — and with all due respect here — most of us are mostly only checking for two of Albarn’s manifold projects: Blur, which has recently been semi-revived for one-off singles and some gigs, and Gorillaz, dormant since 2010. And, now, Albarn tells The Guardian (via Pitchfork), both Blur and Gorillaz are done.
So no more Blur records?
“No, I don’t think so.”
And will you play live again after Hyde Park [for the Olympics closing ceremony]?
“No, not really.”
This is even bigger news. So that’s it?
“I think so, yeah,” he says. A little later, he goes on: “And I hope that’s the truth: that that’s how we end it. I don’t know: you can write scripts, and they always end up going … [pause] … well, one thing I’ve learned, and I’m sure you’re exactly the same, is that everything I think I’ve got totally sorted out, and I know exactly what’s going to happen — it never works out that way …”
So how should I put it? That in all likelihood, this is the end of Blur?
“In all likelihood, I would say. [pause] Oh, God …”
And on Gorillaz:
Do you feel you’re done?
“[Collaborator] Jamie [Hewlett] does, which is fair enough. I think we were at cross purposes somewhat on that last record, which is a shame. So until a time comes when that knot has been untied” …
So are you and Hewlett talking? Did you fall out?
“Erm … well, that sounds very juvenile, doesn’t it? But being juvenile about it, it happens. It’s a shame.”
Well, drag. Blur 2.0 was the rare feel-good band reunion: After a five-year hiatus the band got together when Albarn and Graham Coxon worked out their personal differences (Damon: “The main thing is that it’s really nice to know that I can call Graham and he’ll pick up the phone”), then dropped some promising new material (namely, “Fool’s Day” and “Under the Westway”) and looked great live. Here they are slaying at the Brit Awards just a few months back.
But they didn’t even play the U.S. Meanwhile, Gorillaz end their run on an up-note, and it’s hard to imagine the act won’t be resuscitated at some point. Following the pattern: In five years Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett get over their tiff, provide a tantalizingly brief Gorillaz reunion, and then close out the Olympics. For now, though, both bands are done, and Damon Albarn has all the time in the world to, say, record a charity concept opera album, about feuding trapeze troupes, in Afghanistan with local Kandahar musicians playing the timpani drum and the kazoo. Oh boy.