Alex James at the Edinburgh Book Festival

Looking back over nearly two decades of Britpop in his new memoir A Bit of A Blur.

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A man more famous than any bass guitarist probably has any right to be, Alex James has now left behind the rock'n'roll lifestyle for fatherhood and farming. I spoke to Blur's king fringe at this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival, where he was promoting his recent volume of memoirs, A Bit of a Blur.

Dazed Digital: Your memoirs focus less on the creation of Blur's music and more on your private life, your rise to fame and, of course, the resulting hedonism. Why is that?
Alex James I didn’t really want the book to be about how records are made. I wanted it to be a rags-to-riches rock ‘n’ roll caper about a man’s search for meaning in the universe [laughs]. It is also a story about Britain in the nineties and I think talking about the music would have made it a book for Blur fans. I thought that there was something appealing about the process of becoming rich, famous, drunk and stupid. I figure that has a wider audience than just speaking about how we got the guitar sound on "Miss America", which I am willing to talk to you about for as long as you want [laughs]. But how many people would be interested in that outside of staunch Blur fans? Any rock ‘n’ roll caper is quite engaging and the question you get asked most when you are in a band is “How does it feel?” So I was more interested in portraying that and trying to give people a sense of the madness, the chaos, the joy and the fun that comes with it.

DD: An inevitable question for you: will we be seeing an eighth Blur album any time soon?
AJ: It keeps looking as if it is going to happen and then it doesn’t. I think it has been brilliant for all of us not be involved with Blur for a while. Everyone has found their own niche and we have all grown up and become adults. There is obviously a huge cash incentive to get back together but I would rather just get the four of us in a room with nobody listening. I think that so many bands get back together just for the cash and that wouldn’t be the right reason.

DD: Blur had their fair share of rivalries in the nineties, not just with Oasis but also with Pulp and Suede. You don’t talk about that in any of your memoirs, though. So are there no hard feelings?
AJ: Yeah, when I was writing it I realised that I just didn’t care. I suppose I would have written more about that if it did bother me but I came out of it thinking it was brilliant and I didn’t hate anybody at all. It was just a huge pantomime and I have no bitterness, regrets or bile.

DD: Were you having a competition for best fringe back in the 90s? Britpop seemed to spawn fringes – yours, Jarvis Cocker’s, Brett Anderson’s, Johnny Greenwood’s…
AJ: [Laughs[ Yeah, there were a lot of fringes out there in the marketplace. Why was that? My girlfriend always cut my hair though. I never thought about it.

DD: In your memoirs you mention, correctly, that Modern Life Is Rubbish is Blur’s finest moment. Pick out the best song on the album, please.
AJ: It is probably "Miss America" or "For Tomorrow", which is when everything turned for us. We went from being an indie band to a group with wider aspirations and yearnings. Everyone hated us back at that point but we thought we were doing the right thing and that has been proven in the end.

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