Anarchy in Iceland

With its latest record, Blur invents the wheel

As the band's popularity in America has increased, so have rumors that relations between band members have become strained. A recent Rolling Stone article insisted that Coxon and Albarn, once best mates, now hardly speak to one another. James dismisses the rumors as slick attempts to shoehorn the band into a particular story.

"I think there's some retentive need to make it look like everything has gone wrong for Blur when everything started to go right for Oasis," James says. "If you spend a week with a band, you'll experience the whole gamut of emotions. Every day there's little squabbles.

"When you read something in a newspaper, it's not any kind of truth. If somebody chooses to focus on how bad the band gets along, they'll find lots of things to say. But if they choose to focus on how well the band gets along, they'll also find lots of things to say. You're just looking at it through somebody else's eyes."

In the end, the band deserves credit for making the album it wanted to, something many bands--especially successful ones--are afraid to do. Radiohead tried it, and the result was an album (OK Computer) that has already been penciled in on many critics' Best of 1997 lists. U2's foray into electronica, the recent Pop, did not fare as well, and left some wondering if the band is still viable.

"I think you've gotta feel like you're achieving something useful," James says. "It'd be very easy to pander to popular demands and make big-selling records. But that isn't what makes us want to get out of bed in the morning. I think we want to invent the future. That's what makes us want to get out of bed in the morning."

Blur plays the Bronco Bowl with Reel Big Fish, MXPX, and Smash mouth on Oct. 1.

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