Graham Coxon Is Constantly AnxiousBy Alex Donovan
So far, it's been a busy year for Graham Coxon. He released his latest solo album A+E back in March, while the band he's most famous for being in released their first new material in aaaaaaages on Monday (discounting that vinyl only thing I never heard). Blur are also playing some massive Olympic Brit-gig designed to make sportsmen and dignitaries look cool. Anyway, we called up Coxon because he's great and we talked about Graham's life outside of music, the things that he's put in his mouth, and what the mood at his funeral will probably be like.
Noisey: Hello Graham. Get this for a question: Your last album was called A+E; but have you spent much time in A+E yourself?
Years ago, I had a bit of a stint in the A+E, I think Damon had forced us onto the bill at Dingwalls in Camden when we were just starting out, and we got into a fight with the bouncers so they sprayed us with Mace. We were crawling round on the pavement and a policeman found us and called an ambulance. We ended up in A+E with all these bandages around our heads. Haven't been there an awful lot, thankfully. Kind of a scary place, innit?
Yeah, I used to be a hospital porter.
Best left behind. You recently survived that hotel fire drama, have you done anything else heroic? Prevented a mugging? Saved a tree?
I get told by a lot of people that my music has saved lives and made them better, so that's kind of heroic? It's very nice of people to say that. I suppose as to putting on red underpants and flying, I don’t do much of that. I think generally just being polite and nice to people is heroic enough – there's not enough of that.
Do you ever...
I didn't put out the hotel fire, by the way – it was the fire people. It wasn’t that heroic.
Oh shh. Would you ever you listen to your own music? "Song 2" in the shower? "Coffee And TV" in your pyjamas when you’re feeling lonely? Would that be weird?
Well, no, it wouldn't be weird. When I’ve just recorded things, I’m rather excited to listen to how it's turned out. I’m in no way cynical about it or hyper cool, as if to say, "Oh no, I don’t listen to anything I’ve ever done." But I suppose I’m still so amazed and find it so miraculous that, you know, one day something isn't there and the next day there's something new in the world, in the shape of a song that people will hear and either like or dislike. I still really dig that. A little miracle, really.
You've got the Olympics to look forward to playing as well, right?
Yeah, I think that's gonna be well good!
Heard Muse's new Olympics song?
No, what’s it like?
Er, it's very Queen/The Darkness.
Ah, excellent. Sounds alright... is it alright? It's official, right?
Yeah, for awards presentations... slow-mo bicep bulging, that kind of stuff.
That’s awesome. They’re such skinny little people, too.
A natural fit.
Big, anthemic muscle music.
Exactly. What else outside of music are you involved in? Still doing lots of art?
Yeah, I spend a lot of time concentrating on the visual side when I put an album out. Aside from that, I do a lot of drawing on the iPad apps, I quite enjoy sitting and doing that, plus watching the box and bettering myself on the saxophone. I took my dog to the vet today.
I hope he was OK. By the way, I know you used to get really nervous, how do you deal with that now?
I’m sort of used to it. Extreme nerves, like, before a show, don’t happen that much. The last time was in 2009, at the other Blur thing, so I guess I’ll get some in the summer. I’m pretty much mildly anxious and embarrassed 100 percent of the time, so a little bit more doesn't hurt. Just a sharper sensation in my stomach.
Have you ever eaten anything and instantly regretted it?
Er, that requires some thought, why are you doing this to me? I suppose undercooked chicken or prawns. Things that you chin around and go, "Oh dear, I'm not sure actually," and then spit them out and wonder what to do next; go and puke up or just risk it? If you're near good facilities, you’re alright. Although, quite often when I used to drink, I'd have a mouthful of beer and go, "Oh god, I don't wanna swallow this."
Any advice for giving up alcohol?
Yeah, put yourself in a dark room and gaffer tape your mouth up. That's it.
What you do is you just stop and after a few days you’ll feel alright, won’t have any more weird dreams, sleep better than you have in your whole life, have more energy and be happier. And then you might think, "Phwoar, I’d really like a drink," but then you go, "No, no, no, I'm not going down that road again," and then you just think, "Oh, this is actually alright." You just don't do it. Drink. Plus, don’t be scared of being bored. And if you do get sad, don’t think, "Fuck, I wanna have a drink," just think, "I'm sad, it’ll pass." And that's pretty much it.
Do you reckon? Try it out and get back to me. Do you wanna stop?
No, I'm just poor. Do you plan far into the future?
Nope, I keep it day-to-day. I'd get overwhelmed. That's why, when I’m asked about the summer... I know it's creeping up but I'm not thinking about it too much because I've got today to get through. Short-term means I'm underwhelmed and a lot happier. I like to have a lot of space and lay around on the sofa, spilling tea on my T-shirt, reading a book and watching rubbish on YouTube. I like to keep my brain calm.
I get you, I watched Total Recall last night. It was great.
Yeah! Schwarzenegger's bulging eyeballs!
They're remaking it, you know...
Yeah, with Colin Farrell.
It's not gonna be the same. He can't say: "Who da hell am I?!" properly.
"See you at the party, Richter..."
We should all do a Schwarz-y tone every now and then.
Would you take a film role?
Yeah, I’d be up for it. I'm not much of an actor, but I am a fantasist.
How about writing the score?
No, I wouldn't wanna do that, it's too much work. I’m getting overwhelmed just by the thought of it. I’m getting nervous, anxious, sweaty...
Your voice is breaking...
I’ve just done a huge drag on a cigarette at the thought of it.
Moving on, how would you like to be remembered?
Oh god. Hopefully more fondly than I’d think. I have a self-deprecating outlook. But, I always thought I’d play "I’m Your Man" by Wham at my funeral, because it's quite jolly.
So a jolly funeral rather than a gloomy one?
I’d like there to be tonnes of booze and hamburgers. Lots of music. A bit of fighting back the tears, but generally smiling. I dunno, who knows when it’ll happen.
This seems like a natural point to end the conversation. Nice talking to you, Graham.
Yeah, cheers. Catch you later.
Follow Alex on Twitter: @alexdonovan
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