WE HAVE WAYS OF MAKING YOU TALK PART 1 OF 3

Mogwai think they're shite, but the kids think they're alright - Blur take part in the Fan-ish Inquisition...

We asked for your questions, and they came in floods. By e-mail, post, carrier pigeon. From Korea, Yugoslavia, Scunthorpe.

Clearly, when it comes to Blur, you have thousands of niggling concerns and a burning desire to interrogate them relentlessly. Strangely, although Blur have recently released their most serious, challenging record ever, that’s not really what you want to know about. You’re more interested in the evolution of Damon‘s haircuts. You want to delve into impertinent aspects of the band’s sex lives. You’re curious about Alex‘s culinary predilections and how Dave‘s cats are.

When NME corner the band in a north London photo studio, they’ve just completed a video for their new single ‘Coffee + TV’. They are, coincidentally, drinking coffee, which Alex, elegantly sloping around in pop socks and a stained windcheater, has prepared. A bright-eyed Graham is proud to announce he’s back on the wagon, and has avoided the perils of the bottle for over six weeks now. Damon, meanwhile, is eager to get started – anxiously peering over NME‘s shoulder, trying to get a preview of the gruelling grilling he is about to undergo. So, they’re at your mercy. We’ve got Blur in our sights and your questions loaded and ready.

Fire away!

Apparently, one of you has a front tooth that you can take out and put back in afterwards. Which one is it? (Toby Langley, High Wycombe)

Alex: “After what?”

Graham: “It used to be after putting a straw where it used to be, and being able to drink with your teeth shut. That used to be me, but it’s not the case any more, because I earned some money and had some highly expensive dentistry.”

Alex: “I remember at the Swallow Hotel in Birmingham, opening my door and seeing you crawling up the corridor, howling. Then I shut my door and opened it again and you were still howling and your tooth had fallen out.”

If you could be an animal, which one would it be, and why? (Kim, USA)

Alex: “I am an animal. A rock’n’roll animal.”

Damon: “I can really relate to my Chinese birth animal, which is a monkey. I am at ease with my monkeyness.”

Dave: “I’d be a cat. I have five of them.”

Graham: “I’d be a brown bear, because you’d be assured six months off every year while you went to sleep.”

Alex: “I’d be a lion.”

Graham: “Why? So you could lie around with your balls hanging out?”

Alex: “No, so that I could lord it around the jungle, living it large.”

Damon: “You’re kind of a monkey, too.”

Alex: “Yeah. Monkeys are great. Couldn’t eat a whole one, though.”

Damon: “When you start talking about primates, I get very excited. Take baboons, with their big blue arses. Or orang-utans, and their big orange chins.”

Graham: “We did a photo shoot one time with monkeys, and we were warned that we had to go into the cage one at a time, or else they would rip our heads off.”

Damon: “One of my lingering memories of Colchester Zoo is going there when I was young and seeing the chimpanzees lining up in their cage, masturbating, and trying to hit people with it.”

Why does Damon still wear Fred Perrys? (Vernon Legakis, California)

Damon: “Because I still like them. And I’ve always had so many of them. It works like crop rotation with my clothes.”

‘Song 2’ has been all over advertisements,. Is this your choice? (Claire Sharp, Ontario)

Damon: “In America and Canada, I think that what happened is that it got picked up by the national hockey and football leagues, and then it began to get used for beer adverts, which is closely associated with sport. But it’s also been associated with The Simpsons, and Intel Processors. And, nearly – although we put a stop to it – war. The American Air Force wanted to use it to launch their new Stealth Bomber, but we politely declined their offer.”

Why do you need to overwhelm your listeners with pure noise on ’13’? If you now feel your music, as you say you do, why don’t you play it simply and naturally, without any useless effects? (Silvana Loi, Sardinia)

Damon: “That’s pretty subjective, isn’t it? It’s just the way we chose to do it.”

Graham: “Whoever asked this question isn’t a fucking guitarist, you can tell.”

Alex: “They don’t like the guitar at all from the sound of things.”

Damon: “I’ve seen myself on many occasions as a useless effect, so that’s probably in keeping with the music.”

When you change the direction or focus of the music, do you all agree with it? (Greg Hood-Morris, Toronto)

Damon: “Well, the consensus of opinion is that it’s four musicians working together, regardless. That’s where it begins and ends. Sometimes we don’t agree with each other at all. But we’d all be playing the same note if we were all into exactly the same thing.”

Alex: “It works best when we’re all doing our own thing, really. That’s the whole point in having a band. If you’re ever going to move forward, it’s necessary to have a combination of opinions and influences.”

Graham, who is your favourite painter? (Jan, South Korea)

Alex: “I think they mean, ‘Who is your favourite one of the Red House Painters?'”

Graham: “Oh, really? Mark.”

Alex: “You know that painting you gave me for my birthday, with the heart on it? Damien (Hirst) asked me who did it, he really likes it.”

Graham: “Wow! I did it before he was famous.”

Alex: “Did you know Gilbert & George are in the phone book? Under ‘painters’. Fantastic.”

Who do you think the best new band in England is? (Josh Boyd, Texas)

Damon: “Live Human on Fat Cat. I’ve been listening to one of their CDs a lot lately. It’s a really nice mixture of mad beats and noisy punk music. That’s about as new a band as I’m in touch with.”

Alex: “Murray The Hump. They’re not that new, but they’re cool.”

If you had to write a song with either Brett Anderson or Noel Gallagher, which one would you choose to work with? (Kenny Rixon, Leicester)

Graham: “It depends on which one you could dominate, so there wouldn’t be any of their ideas in the song.”

Damon: “It depends on what kind of song it was. If I was writing a song about electricity and white lines, then I’d work with – well, both of them, actually. They’re sort of brothers-in-arms with that sort of imagery, aren’t they? I don’t really know either of them, really. It’s a bit of a myth that there’s any antagonism between us. I don’t have any idea what they’re like as people, so I can’t judge them, or even answer that question.”

Is it true you were paid ‘1million to do the Reading/Leeds festival? (Simon Rice, Dorset)

Damon: “That would cost at least two million. Each.”

Graham: “It’s none of your fucking business.”

More of your questions tomorrow.