Alex James – Does Rock’N’Roll Kill Brain Cells?

Testing musicians’ memories after a lifetime of abuse. This Week: Blur’s Alex James

This article originally appeared in the 8 May issue of NME

What was the name of the white label single with no band name on it that Blur released prior to ‘Think Tank’?
“‘Don’t Bomb When You’re The Bomb’. I was thinking about that the other day, it’s kind of like a Julian Cope-y kind of thing. Tune.”

Complete the following lyric from Fat Les’ ‘Naughty Christmas (Goblin In The Office)’: “Excuse me, you’re boozy…”
“‘I’m not, I’m just a little juicy’. Excellent! I met somebody the other day who said that was her favourite record ever. I imagine that’s a very small club of people but I’m glad it hit the mark for somebody. It was great fun but what a ridiculous band. There were about a thousand people in it by the end, it was like an old-fashioned marching band.”

What three dishes are you served at the dinner table in the video for Blur’s ‘There’s No Other Way’?
“Oh, tomato soup, then there was a Quorn pie, and I’d completely lost the will to live by the time we got to pudding. It should’ve been cheese but it probably wasn’t. It took ages to do the first scene because the head of the record company was directing the video and he’d never done it before. So the tomato soup course took all morning then the main course took all afternoon and it was time to go home by the time the trifle came out.”
Correct. Soup, pie then trifle

At which London venue did you play so drunk in 1992 that Food Records almost dropped you?
“The Town & Country Club in Kentish Town. There were several actually, but that was the worst one, that was really close! But everyone was drunk, we were just committed to our audience.”

Which band did you support on your first ever tour as Blur?
“I thought we were quite sniffy about supporting bands, although I remember The Cramps at Brixton Academy. Their tour manager said to us, ‘Don’t speak to the band, awight?’”

What was the name of Graham Coxon’s first solo album?
“‘The Sky Is Too High’.”

In addition to yourself, Keith Allen and Damien Hirst, there were six other celebrities in the video for ‘Vindaloo’. Name five of them.
“Did you spot Eddie Tudor-Pole? I’ve been listening to [Tenpole Tudor’s 1983 hit] ‘Swords Of A Thousand Men’, it’s a great tune, it should be re-worked for a football song, get the WAGs doing it. Lucas and Walliams. Was Sarah Stockbridge in it? No, she was in the video for ‘Country House’. Paul Kaye before I forget him and… oh, Lily [Allen]! She actually sang on that and was really good!”
Correct. Alex only missed out comedian Malcolm Hardee. (“He gatecrashed!” apparently)

To the nearest 10,000, how many more copies did ‘Country House’ sell than Oasis’ ‘Roll With It’?
“About 50,000?”
Correct. It was 58,000

What was pictured on the single sleeve of ‘To The End’?
“A gun and a rose. Excellent!”

Name all four singles from ‘The Great Escape’ in order of release.
“It was ‘Country House’, ‘The Universal’, ‘Charmless Man’ and ‘Stereotypes’.”
Incorrect. ‘Country House’, ‘The Universal’, ‘Stereotypes’, ‘Charmless Man’

Total Score: 9/10
“I’m so pleased, I’m thrilled to bits, so close! It hasn’t sunk in yet. I’d just like to thank my manager, etc…”

Does Rock’N’Roll Kill Brain Cells appears every week in NME magazine. It’s Tim Wheeler’s turn this week