Blur’s Alex James looks back on 30 years of ‘Leisure’: “We were very bratty, very arrogant, very drunk”

"We were out of control at that time. I don't think New York was ready for us"

Blur bassist Alex James has reflected on 30 years of their album ‘Leisure’, saying the band were “very bratty, very arrogant, very drunk” at the time.

Speaking to Blink-182‘s Mark Hoppus for his After School Radio show on Apple Music, James looked back at the Britpop stars’ 1991 album.

“A lot of those songs that we wrote on ‘Leisure’, we were still at college,” James told Hoppus. “The really uncanny thing with Blur was not just that Graham [Coxon] was the very first person I saw when I arrived in London to go to college. He was literally getting out of his parents’ car, holding a guitar. And I was getting out of my parents’ car, holding a guitar. It’s like, “Wow, all right.”

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“Our very, very first rehearsal, we wrote what ended up being our first single ‘She’s So High’, which was the first single off ‘Leisure’. And when we got back together last time to do the big post-Olympics closing ceremony show that was the song that we started with. It was, looking back, it was just insane that there was this chemistry.

“People talk about chemistry and you feel… Is that really a fit? It was definitely there from the minute that we all got in the studio together. And actually Graham had a cassette recording of that rehearsal, which only came to light five or six years ago. No one had listened to it for years. And you can tell it’s Blur straight away. We’re just noodling around, but just instantly recognisable.”

Blur in Tokyo, 1994
Credit: Getty Images

Elsewhere in the interview, James remembered premiering the track ‘There’s No Other Way’ at a clubnight attended by Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love.

“I think it was at The Marquee and it was absolute mayhem,” he said. “Slowdive were indeed supporting. Kurt and Courtney may have been there. There was a BBC radio clip of him singing that song, but it was… We were out of control at that time. I don’t think New York was ready for us.

“We were very bratty, very arrogant, very drunk, practically teenagers. And I remember Damon climbing up into the lighting rig and dancing all over the tables where the record company execs were sitting. And we were summoned for a serious bollocking in the morning by the record company who were threatening to pull the tour, “This absolutely cannot go on.”

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Elsewhere, Blur frontman Damon Albarn recently spoke to NME about drummer Dave Rowntree’s recent comments about his hopes for a post-pandemic reunion of the Britpop icons.

“Well, we did have a chat recently, but we haven’t really progressed further than that,” Albarn replied. “We did have an idea though; I’ve just been a bit busy at the moment obviously. When it happens, I’ll be made up.”

Blur last played live together in March 2019 during frontman Damon Albarn’s ‘Africa Express: The Circus’ gig in Leytonstone, London, where they performed ‘Clover Over Dover’, ‘Tender’ and ‘Song 2’.

That surprise gig followed four years on from their last full tour, which included a huge outdoor show at London’s Hyde Park

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