Asian theme to new Blur project
Blur are back with their first album in more than a decade with songs inspired by their travels in Asia.
The album, called The Magic Whip, grew out of an impromptu recording session in Hong Kong two years ago.
Speaking at a press conference at a restaurant in London's Chinatown, guitarist Graham Coxon said they started recording in the Far Eastern city when a gig was cancelled.
He said: "We thought we'd put a few days, five or six days, to good use."
Coxon, who said he re-visited the tracks because he was bored of sitting on his sofa listening to other people's records being played on the radio, drafted in producer Stephen Street and frontman Damon Albarn added the lyrics.
Albarn said some of the lyrics on the 12-track album were inspired by the unrest in Hong Kong and a trip to North Korea.
Asked how the Asian venue had influenced the record's sound, Albarn said: "I don't know, but it does."
He said it was "a very urban album", adding: "It's really, really nice to have something physically in our hands we can be proud of."
Asked about the track Pyongyang, named after the North Korean capital and inspired by his trip there, Albarn said: "It's an impression, my impression of the place in a very abstract, veiled way."
The track listing reveals songs called New World Towers, My Terracotta Heart and Ong Ong amongst others.
Coxon said the album, which is out on April 27, "may not sound" like the Blur of old because of the Asian influence.
Talking about the initial recording session, bassist Alex James said: "Everything just felt right. I don't think we were really thinking of making a record."
The foursome, who were non-committal when asked if they would tour with the album, are playing Hyde Park for one of the British Summer Time gigs.
The band, who got back together for a pair of reunion shows in the park six years ago, join Taylor Swift, Kylie and The Who on the bill.
Albarn joked: "I love it because I can cycle to work."
The show, officially called Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time Hyde Park, is on June 20.
Albarn said because they made the album together as a live band it would be easy to play live.
He said: "Most of them will be pretty awesome live, I reckon."
Talking about the 16 years since they recorded an album, the singer said: "That seems like a long enough time for us to do something fresh."
Jim King, from gig organisers AEG, said: " There are few things in life that are as brilliant and as quintessentially British as Blur playing an outdoor gig in London. With new material and the new and improved production at Hyde Park this show is set to be one of the best Blur shows of all time."