Could the new Gorillaz song "Phoner To Arizona" be about an interview I did with Damon Albarn?
That sounds like, at best, a ridiculous stretch and, at worst, a fit of narcissistic insanity. I can only imagine what Carly Simon would say... According to the band's stat sheet, the song -- part of a suite dedicated to various cities on their tour -- was recorded before our interview. So, yeah, I'm not saying I think the new Gorillaz song necessarily has anything to do with the epically bad interview with Damon Albarn that ran on this blog before his band's show in Phoenix.
But just maybe it does.
Gorilla-in-chief Albarn did at least one other "phoner" (that's what music publicity people and journos call telephone interviews) with an Arizona media outlet this year. So it's possibly about his talk with Ed Masley over at the Republic. Or maybe it's purely metaphorical. The song is pretty much instrumental with unintelligible digitized singing, which makes it hard to tell. Maybe a "phoner" means something else to Brits and maybe "Arizona" isn't literally the state of Arizona, but just the idea of a desert or something. Or maybe the fact that Damon and the boys had recorded this song about a 'phoner to Arizona' full of street noise and unintelligible mumbling made him want to actualize that when he had an phoner with some poor sap in Arizona (read: me) charged with the unenviable task of making some sort of sense out of his incoherent rambling. Who knows.
Still, these five clues occurred to me...
1. Our interview might be one of the most awkward Damon has ever suffered through. I know it was terrible on my end. The fact that neither of us seemed to understand anything the other said -- and that he had no idea who T.I. is -- was mocked in the comment section on our post (sample: "I am so confused by reading this interview") and was the subject of a thread on the Gorillaz forum (sample: "Hah, that didn't seem to go too well. Ah well, that's the eccentricities of Damon Albarn.") so I guess it was pretty obvious to others that we failed to click. Was the experience so bad he'd make art out of it? I dunno.
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2. The voices on the song are totally unintelligible. At least to me. Maybe someone else can tell what's being said through what seems to be 75 layers of Autotune? That is people talking, right? I guess it could also be some sort of string instrument played in the cadence and pitch of the human voice. I have no idea what the fuck is going on here -- much like during that fateful phone call! My best guess is that the voice is saying "Graham is dead" backwards. Maybe this is a comment on discussions where people can't understand anything each other is saying despite ostensibly speaking the same language. Or maybe I'm just being "daft."
3. The song opens with a loud train rolling through. As I noted in the introduction to my piece, "it was a bit tough to hear Albarn over the roar of street noise in whatever city he was strolling around while we chatted." Could the train rolling through before the bass kicks in be a reference to that? Who knows! Actually, judging by the fact that Damon chose to do our interview in the middle of what sounded like Grand Central Station, it's reasonable to suspect that Albarn just really likes loud noises associated with transportation. I imagine him hanging out in all-night bus stations, subway tunnels, at the end of airport runways and at truck stops, savoring the clanging wheels and the whoosh of air brakes as he chats with music writers.
4. The video features a fleeting image of someone carving pumpkins. Go to 1:32 and you'll see a shot of someone making a Jack-O-Lantern. Damon and I spoke on October 25, the week leading up to Halloween. Coincidence? Possibly. Maybe British people carve pumpkins all the time or maybe that's just a random image that got inserted.
5. The song does not sample T.I. If it did sample T.I. then, well, it'd be like we never spoke...