Graham Coxon: ‘Music has always been there for me’

The Blur guitarist, 53, on his addictive personality, making music as you age and being a Britpop brat

I was a brat during Britpop. There was so much to rail against. But I should have been more grateful for my good fortune and looked after myself better and tried to enjoy it innocently. My problem with Blur was when it became a business. But a bigger problem was when my own people started talking in that language. When it all became about breaking America, or whatever.

When people get older their music gets rubbish. You’ve learned a bit more about yourself, mellowed out, maybe done a bit of therapy… – that young, fiery, uncompromising outlook you once had starts to get the edges knocked out of it. I’m not talking about myself, obviously.

I’m panicking about how many years I have left to make music. It’s made me see Damon [Albarn] in a different light. His drive and his work ethic – he’s like a shark that doesn’t stay still. He keeps going and doing.

The 90s was the last hurrah for the music business. There was a lot of money flying around. And then there wasn’t – and things got a lot more frugal. Some people felt a black cloud coming. Dave [Rowntree], our drummer, knew the internet was going to change everything. But sometimes in difficult situations nobody wants to take any notice.

I don’t think Blur often get festival offers. They only offer them to going concerns, don’t they? You have to put your name in a hat.

I have an addictive personality. Booze gave me peace of mind. It made the negative self-talk quieter. It made socialising easier. For a while I became more entertaining to talk to. But there were a couple of times when I was on a bender and I realised I just couldn’t stop. That really scared me. I couldn’t deal with knowing the anxiety would come when I stopped. So I just kept drinking.

Drinking and going to the pub and having parties can be a nice way to live, but it costs you in the end. Your emotional development takes a beating, because you’re living in suspension. You’re not really doing anything. You’re not living in reality, which I guess can be attractive. But when you’ve got kids and things like that? That’s not on.

I’ve never fallen out of love with music, but I’ve fallen out with the record- buying public. They don’t know what’s good! I just don’t like a lot of things about the music business now. I don’t like that there’s no Top of the Pops on Thursday nights. I don’t like that Jools Holland’s show isn’t much longer than it is. But music has always been there for me. It’s always been special for me. It’s still the number one thing that helps my mental health.

Would I like my younger self if I met him now? I think so. I still see him around a bit. He wouldn’t take any advice, just like no young person takes advice from someone my age now. Nobody gave me a lot of advice when I was growing up, really. I sort of had to learn everything the hard way. I hope he and I would talk about mental health. That seems like a good development to me.

Graham Coxon’s Verse, Chorus, Monster! is published by Faber & Faber at £20. Buy it for £17.40 from


James McMahon

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Rufus Wainwright: ‘I have always been an old soul’
The musician, 46, on coping with grief, becoming a parent and why he loves being a pop star

James McMahon

19, Apr, 2020 @7:30 AM

Article image
John Grant: ‘Music has been a healing balm for me’
The musician, 50, on his anger problem, coming out, and why he’s glad he contracted HIV

James McMahon

17, Feb, 2019 @1:59 PM

Article image
Verse, Chorus, Monster! by Graham Coxon review – Britpop’s unlikely lad
In a disarmingly candid memoir, the Blur guitarist relates the madness of fame and addiction, his unease with Britpop, and how folk led him to greener pastures

Kitty Empire

02, Oct, 2022 @2:00 PM

Article image
Nile Rodgers | This much I know
The musician, 66, on being united in the disco era, his friendship with Stephen Hawking, and inventing hip-hop

James McMahon

13, Jul, 2019 @1:01 PM

Article image
Kele Okereke: ‘I was always the last one to leave the club’
The musician, 40, tells Michael Segalov about driving his partner wild, gorging on Real Housewives, teenage raving and sparing his mum the gory details

Michael Segalov

09, Apr, 2022 @1:00 PM

Article image
Matt Goss: ‘I always say, a good heart and a dirty mind’
The Bros musician, 52, tells Nick McGrath about saying what he feels, looking for a partner – and he and Luke not being genetically engineered

Nick McGrath

06, Feb, 2021 @2:00 PM

Article image
Jason Derulo: ‘Lockdown’s been the most fun I’ve ever had in my life’
The singer, 30, tells Rachel Corcoran about being a cool uncle, speaking Creole at home and having 30m followers on TikTok

Rachel Corcoran

12, Sep, 2020 @1:00 PM

Article image
Bobby Gillespie: ‘I wanted to change music culture’
The Primal Scream frontman, 56, on growing up Glaswegian, loving the spotlight and the threat of Brexit

Nick McGrath

11, May, 2019 @1:00 PM

Article image
Jamie Cullum: ‘I channel a lot of emotional intensity into my music'
The musician, 41, on what he owes Michael Parkinson, the joys of cultural freedom and why he’ll feel nervous when he’s finally able to perform again

Nick McGrath

19, Dec, 2020 @2:00 PM

Article image
Marc Almond: ‘I’ve been through all the vices and now don’t have any’
The singer-songwriter, 62, on examining mortality, living with trauma, and learning to become a druid

Rachel Corcoran

08, Feb, 2020 @2:00 PM