NME - Blur Star Turns DJ

BLUR's ALEX JAMES is to make his debut as a radio presenter.

The bassist will be sitting in for Tom Robinson on the DJ's regular BBC 6 Music show, 'Tom Robinson's Evening Sequence'.

James will be filling the slot for two weeks, kicking off on May 31, Mondays to Thursdays 7-10pm.

NME - Blur head back to the studio

are heading back into the studio next week to record a new EP.

The news will come as a blow to the sceptics who predicted 'Think Tank' would be the band's last record.

Damon Albarn has revealed that he is currently juggling three different projects: the Blur EP, an album he's set to record in Nigeria with the surviving members of Fela Kuti's band and a new Gorillaz record.

He also said he would like Graham Coxon to rejoin the band.

"Blur's like a family with one brother no-one talks to," he told 6 Music, adding: "It is a realistic prospect - the only reason he's not in the band is because he didn't feel he was getting enough say. We're totally capable of making music together. I can forget about all the other things."

A number of songs from 'Democrazy' - the album of half-finished tracks he recorded on the road in America - will find their way into these projects.

"The song actually called 'Democrazy' has evolved into a fantastic song with Tony [Allen] (producer). A couple of them have gone to nearly-polished Gorillaz pop gems now, and I'm doing an EP with Blur and a couple will go there," he said.

The Blur EP is likely to be the first of these to be completed. The band are due to go into the studio with 'Think Tank' producer Ben Hillier next week to record them.

As for Gorillaz, Albarn revealed that he is planning to use The Bees as the house band for the new set of songs, and he also has another high-profile collaboration lined up.

He revealed: "I've been working with Dangermouse. It's gonna be great. Gorillaz is just pure unadulterated pop fun for me," he added.

The Nigerian collaboration will see him fly out to Africa later this month to work in Fela Kuti's studio with Tony Allen and other members of the pioneering Afro-beat band.

"They're all my songs and I'm singing, so there will be focus on me, but we'll have a name that isn't my name. I don't believe in the idea of a solo record. I'm looking for a country guitarist at the moment. There's gonna be a lot of slide guitar - sort of Afro-country," he said.

But Albarn's ambitions do not stop there. "After I've done these records I'm going to take a long time out, possibly to work in theatre for a few years," he divulged.

NME - Blur hit out over court threat

have hit back at the BRITISH PHONOGRAPHIC INDUSTRY's (BPI) warnings to online song swappers that they may face court action if they continue to download music.

As previously reported on NME.COM, the BPI yesterday (March 25) said that a new instant messaging campaign on the Internet will warn users when they are obtaining music illegally, as well as telling serial downloaders to disable their file-sharing software or face court action.

A statement from the BPI said: "The message we want to put out today is that file-sharers are on notice that if they continue with their activities they risk court action."

However, Blur drummer Dave Rowntree contacted NME.COM to comment on the new threats of court action against file-sharers.

He said: "It's so difficult for artists to speak out without pointing fingers because artists make money from the sale of records and it's seen as if we want the best of both worlds."

"I'm certainly not saying 'File sharing is great but I also want to make a living out of selling records', Rowntree explained. "What I'm saying is if the BPI wanted to take a stand, then the time to take that stand was a number of years ago and do it in a kind of inclusive and grown-up way rather than now posturing and spitting like a bunch of schoolyard bullies. This will only lead to a bunch of 12 year-olds being taken to court as happened in the States which will serve nobody and nobody will make a penny."

Speaking about downloading, Rowntree said: "It's something that you can't un-invent. The time to have taken action would have been around the Napster time when Napster were holding out the olive branch - we should have taken it and started working with them to get models whereby people who downloaded music from the Internet paid for it so that it became commonplace from early on."

He added. "Since some bad decisions were taken then - now the whole industry is on the back foot."

The latest warning from the BPI suggests the organisation is moving closer to the legal download crackdown already being implemented in the US.

Since September the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has sued hundreds of music fans sharing their songs over the Internet.

Rowntree said: "It's the musicians who generate the money - the record companies may think it's them but actually it's the musicians - so the will of the fans and the will of the musicians will out eventually, I have no doubt.

"But if the BPI want the bloody nose along the way fair enough, but as long as everybody's aware that it's not the performers who are doing this - it's the BPI."

NME - Blur wait to hear if there's life on Mars

As the rest of the country settles down with the turkey today (December 25), members of
BLUR will be holed up inside CHESHIRE�s JODRELL BANK OBSERVATORY � waiting on word back from life on Mars.

Today sees the climax of the band-backed Beagle 2 project, the British effort to land on Mars. If things go to plan, the probe will land on the planet�s surface on Christmas Day and the first signal we Earthlings will hear back will be a Blur song.

Scientists are waiting for the signal, which wasn't heard when the probe was supposed to land in the early hours of this morning. However, there is still a chance the signal will be heard later today.

Dave Rowntree explained that the band became involved with the project back in 1999, at the height of the campaign for their album �13�. He told NME.COM: "Alex [James] and I have always been fascinated by space exploration. They�d been going round banging their heads against a brick wall trying to get the funding. That�s where we came in. Because we had access to the media we were able to help out."

However, Blur soon became more involved with the project, masterminded by Open University Professor Colin Pillinger. He continued: "They came up with such an ingenious scheme. When the probe lands it has to send a signal back to say that it�s landed, and that signal could be anything. And we said why not write a piece of music?"

Damon Albarn composed �Beagle 2�, a song which first appeared as a B-side to their 1999 single �No Distance Left To Run�. Today the team will be holed up in Jodrell Bank awaiting news of whether the Beagle has landed. If does, it will be the best Christmas present Dave has ever been given.

"Britain�s got great telescopes and great engineers, but we�ve never traditionally had a space programme to match that," Dave told NME.COM. "Yet this might actually answer the question, is there life on Mars?"

Beagle is able to burrow into the surface of Mars. By probing, the team believe they can identify whether there has ever been water on the planet. Water would be the biggest breakthrough in discovering whether the planet has ever been capable of sustaining life.

The probe was named after the HMS Beagle, the vessel on which Charles Darwin began the epic voyage that led to the writing �On The Origin Of Species�.

NME - Blur plan new EP for 2004

are planning to record and release a new EP next year, following the success of their recent eight month-long 'THINK TANK' tour.

Singer Damon Albarn also said that one of the early demo tracks featured on his limited edition solo album 'Democrazy' could possibly be developed further for at least one of the songs on the proposed EP.

"We are in discussion with our separate lawyers about recording an EP next year," Albarn told Xfm. "I definitely think we�re gonna put out some new material, but we�re not going to be touring like this, not for a while."

He added: "There is this one song on �Democrazy� called �Sub Species Of An American Day� that I think would make a fine Blur single," Albarn explained, "There�s always a lot of material about, it�s just a case of finding the appropriate time to record it."

Speaking about the band's 'Think Tank' tour, the singer said: "Well, we�ve been on tour for eight months and it�s been a real celebration, as we�ve been doing a lot of old stuff. Quite emotional really. It's been really good for the soul seeing the audiences this year."

"It�s been extremely hard work, but it�s been extremely rewarding. I mean, we�re still talking to each other. At the end of the last tour we did we certainly weren�t� then one of us (guitarist Graham Coxon) left!" he said.

As previously reported on NME.COM, Albarn will play a one off gig in London at the end of this month.

He will play at west London club Neighbourhood on December 22.

Albarn will showcase material from �Democrazy� and Terry Hall - ex-Specials vocalist - will also DJ at the gig.

Only 700 tickets are available for the show, and are priced at �10. They will be available from Honest Jon's Record Store on Portobello Road in west London, and selected other outlets.


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