Interview: Graham Coxon
Brit-pop cad, painter, record label honcho, skateboarder--think of Blur guitarist Graham Coxon as a post-Millennial Renaissance man. While his first solo effort "The Sky's Too High" could be considered a woozy case of mega-rocker sings the blues, his latest, "The Golden D," is hair-gripping punk glee that spits out MC5-like rave-ups and crude sonic sketches. It's both experimental and fanatical (he faithfully covers Mission to Burma's "Fame and Fortune" and "That's When I Reach for My Revolver").
You'd expect Coxon to zipper and ping with energy, but in a phone interview with Scott Henkemeyer, he seemed quite cool--even while speeding in a cab through the London streets.
SoundSpike: Tell me about "The Golden D." It's rather raucous.
Coxon: I wanted to do the Mission to Burma covers, really. But I thought if I was going to go into the studio, I'd try and write some songs that were not so introspective. I started writing some riffs and thinking about it. I wrote it quite quickly and recorded it in two weeks.
So was the process more painless than "The Sky's Too High?"
Not necessarily painless. It was kind of hard because of the singing--the Mission to Burma songs really needed me to commit vocally. A lot of the songs--because they're very rhythmic and kind of trashy--needed vocals that were that way as well. The biggest challenge was the vocals.
What motivated each record?
With the first one, it was more of a diary process. I was writing songs every day, although they're not necessarily what I call songs. They're a bit of naive poetry and music put together. I was completely on my own while I was recording it. I wasn't going out, and I was a bit watered down mentally. I think the first record was my sadness.
The second is more inspired by the raucousness of my life in Camden, skate videos and noise--the exhilaration of skateboarding. I was skating quite a lot. The music that was inspiring me was stuff I had come across on skating videos
Mission To Burma obviously, but who else?
The Swell Maps--they're English--but also mellow stuff like the Red House Painters. I was really into Swedish rock like Entombed and the Helicopters. I was listening to the "Gummo" soundtrack and the band Sleep.
You run your own record label (Transcopic). Is it hard to switch hats and become a businessman?
I'm not really doing any of the business side of the label. I'm dealing with the creative side. We've got this guy called Jamie who was working at Tower Records and I stole. He's helping me. I'm not involved much in the business level, thankfully, because I just don't understand it. [laughs] I don't know what the hell it's all about.
How about playing live? Your solo gigs have been well received.
It's really cool. I took Dave from Blur, Rog from Idlewild and this guy Toby who's in a band called 1313, which is quite a new group. We had a couple of rehearsals and off we went. The audiences were really respectful. It was good fun.
Any plans to play in the States?
I'd like to, but maybe later on, when Blur is not doing so much. We're all in groups, so this is like our little hobby band.
How are things with Blur? You're in the studio.
Yeah. We've done some recording and it's nice. We're getting on and working together. Everyone seems happy and carrying on, but doing their own things too.