Damon Albarn On How America Transformed Blur

Ahead of the band’s major L.A. and N.Y.C. shows, the frontman reflects on their formative first U.S. tour.

As Blur prepare to play their first major U.S. shows in around 15 years, The FADER caught up with Damon Albarn to find out how the band were shaped by their earliest experiences of America. Back in the early '90s on the band's first U.S. tour, Albarn says: "We transformed, during those two months, and came back with a sense of our own identity."

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It wasn't just the immersive experience of playing Madison Square Garden in the round stage that stuck with them; the frontman also told of how he caught a prescient glimpse of the mega-branded, fast food culture that was on the brink of dominating the Western world, and wrote the band's seminal album Modern Life is Rubbish as a "reaction" to what they experienced in the States. Albarn says the 1993 album "was a postcard back to a culture [in the U.K.] that was imminently going to be transformed by a culture that we were previously in," he says. And sure enough, "During the early '90s, every high street got its McDonalds. It was like a...warning, 'watch out, America's going to swallow you up very soon.'" As with so many great movements, Britpop started by defining itself in opposition to something: as Albarn remembers it, "I think it was what made us as a band."

Blur will play Hollywood Bowl, L.A. on October 20 (tickets here) and Madison Square Garden, N.Y. on October 23 (tickets here).


Lead video image by Mick Hutson / Getty Images

Damon Albarn On How America Transformed Blur