Graham Coxon

by Joanna Orland

Known to some as the guy from Blur with the funny glasses, Graham Coxon has come a long way to prove himself as a solo artist, a painter, a father, and perhaps one of the greatest guitarists of our time.

There is definitely a presence surrounding Graham. Not that of a superstar or a ‘celebrity’ of any sort. He is what you might describe as ‘shy’, and by his own admission he is ‘not very socially active’, but his personality comes across in every glance he sends in my direction. Words are secondary when it comes to speaking with Graham. His answers are clear and precise, communicated with every gesture and facial expression.

While at the o2 Music Wireless Festival 2005, you’d think Graham would appreciate a good festival now and again. It turns out that he in fact despises them. That is quite a bold statement, and it is not quite taken at face value. What Graham means is that he does indeed love playing music for appreciative fans, but he feels a ‘weird tension at festivals, like everyone’s checking each other out or you might be sitting next to someone you’ve said something bad about’. He would rather just get on with the music. Even in his set at Wireless he carried out his plan of saying as little as possible to the crowd and just slamming through his set of songs.

That’s part of what makes Graham an artist rather than a celebrity. He doesn’t care about that bullshit. When asked what it was like to take part in the uprising of Britpop, he claimed he had nothing to do with it and was just playing some music with his band. He sees the American bands of the early 90’s as much more important and influential, and suggests that all the Brits were doing was making ‘pompous coke-fuelled nonsense’. In fact, he outright denies he witnessed any history in the making whatsoever. He was just going about his business as usual.

With recording finished on his sixth solo studio album, Graham wants to spend the summer developing his art. He’s had his work displayed in exhibitions such as in the ICA, but rather shies away from the public spotlight. He is a very private person when spoken to, but seems to use his art as his release. If you want to get to know the real Graham Coxon, perhaps put on a tune, or stare at a painting. He says he got into art at the same time as music – ‘listening to The Beatles and drawing what was on the cover’ – but the art rather fell by the wayside when Blur took off. Now he wants to spend time ‘painting, trying not to do much else’.

While juggling an art and music career, Graham still finds the time to be a devoted father to five year-old daughter Pepper. He speaks lovingly of her and her eccentric interests. He would be happy for her if she followed in his musical footsteps (although he’d really rather she didn’t). He thinks that perhaps ‘she is a musician already – she’s showing signs – but she has all sorts of cool interests. At the moment she wants to be an actor or a dolphin… Not a dolphin, a dolphin doctor.’

And what word would Graham use to sum himself up? ‘Hypocrite.’ I’m not sure I agree with this, but one thing is for sure; Graham Coxon is an interesting and complex guy, whose music retains a sensitivity that comes from within.

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