Blur’s Dave Rowntree: ‘Our rivalry with Oasis wasn’t healthy’

Drummer opens up about Britpop battle with Gallagher brothers

Blur‘s Dave Rowntree has admitted that the band’s rivalry with Britpop cohorts Oasis “wasn’t healthy”.

With Blur set to release their career-spanning boxset ’21’ on July 30, the drummer told the Sun that he thought it was “laughable” that the two bands had ever been grouped together, and also claimed that he and his bandmates had no idea that the competiveness between them and the Gallagher brothers would attract so much attention from the media.

He said:

We couldn’t be more different. To call us both part of a movement was laughable really. Blur and Oasis were stapled together at the head which wasn’t healthy for either of us.

He went on to add: “Every country plays out their national story through music and it became open season for people to wax lyrical about the British condition, using us and Oasis as a metaphor for it. In England, it seemed to be about the class struggle. We were deemed to be middle-class southerners, even though in Graham’s case that’s far from the truth, and Oasis were working-class northerners.”

Guitarist Graham Coxon, meanwhile, added: “We found the Britpop thing very limiting. We went out to see the latest bands and we thought, ‘We’re not like this.’ With Oasis, it was a bit of light-hearted rivalry to start with and we didn’t realise how seriously people were going to take it.”

Blur are set to play a huge outdoor gig at London’s Hyde Park on August 12, topping a bill that also includes New Order and The Specials. Although the gig has been put on to coincide with the closing ceremony of the Olympic games, however, frontman Damon Albarn said it felt as if the sporting event was “drowning in commercialism”earlier this week (July 26). “I’m just anti the capitalism of it all,” he said. “We’re not doing the gig for the corporate side of the Olympics, we’re doing it for the human beings.

As a warm-up to the Hyde Park gigs, Blur will embark on an intimate UK tour this August. The band will play four shows, beginning at Margate’s Winter Gardens on August 1. They will then play two shows at Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall on August 5 and 6, before finishing off at Plymouth’s Pavilions on August 7.

Earlier this week, meanwhile, they Blur launched an iPhone and iPad app to coincide with the release of ’21’. The collection includes the band’s seven studio albums as well as over five hours of previously unreleased material including 65 tracks, rarities, three DVDs, a collector’s edition book and special limited edition Seymour seven-inch vinyl.

To check the availability of Blur tickets and get all the latest listings, go to NME.COM/TICKETS now, or call 0871 230 1094.