Blur's Damon Albarn: "For me, the last great guitar band was Arctic Monkeys"

Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon of Blur perform at Wembley Stadium on July 08, 2023 in London, England
(Image credit: Jim Dyson/Getty Image)

Blur's return to the live and stage, with new music in tow, has been warmly received and inevitably Damon Albarn finds himself in an elder statesman of indie role when it comes to his airing opinions on other artists in interviews. Sometimes it gets him into hot water, but in this new interview with Broken Record he comes across as optimistic about the current state of guitar music.

"It's so important really that bands exist," said Alabarn. "And I feel there's a bit more excitement about guitar music again at the moment. That can't be a bad thing because it got so sterile. For me really, the last great guitar band would have been Arctic Monkeys. I don't really know if there's anything as good as that since."

But he's not negative about the future possibilities for more breakthrough bands in their wake.

"Now there's bands who have got a huge amount of potential. It's kind of dismantled itself, guitar music and it's kind of putting itself together in a different form. You've got fantastic mutations of the genus of it."

Albarn names Wu-Lu as one of his favourite new artists who embody this idea – and Blur invited the South London artist AKA Miles Romans-Hopcraft on their recent UK warmup tour. 

Then you've got bands like Yard Act who seem to be getting better and better," Added Albarn. "And not that they're new but I still see them as kind of emerging but Sleaford Mods. There's lots of great language being used – not generic rock shit. I hate that, I like poets with guitars. That's what always inspired me. "

On the subject of inspiration, Albarn is looking ahead to two very different projects after the release of Blur's The Ballad Of Darren album on 21 July; the next chapter for Gorillaz and his first opera.

 "I'm doing an opera at the moment using [Johann Wolfgang von] Goethe's fragment he wrote of The Magic Flute Part II. Goethe was a contemporary of Mozart and wrote part two of [Mozart's The Magic Flute] – the sequel. It never got put to music so it's this legendary lost thing. It's really interesting. 

"I don't know what I'm doing," Albarn admitted about his approach to such an ambitious project. "I never know what I'm doing in that world at all – I'm a complete and utter idiot. I don't know if it's any good, put it that way. Whereas with songs I'm more confident."

His plans for Gorliiaz once the opera is done sound equally ambitious.

"It's going to be a paradigm shift - just be very different," Albarn suggested. "Just an entirely different approach to everything – the band, everything. We've reached that point when we're going to change. 

"It was always just Jamie [Hewlett] and I. Although it's a very big thing now, still in essence it's two people, so if we decide between us that we want to do something unrecognisable then we will. You need for it to stay alive." 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.