After 20 years as the leader of beloved groups like Blur and Gorillaz, Damon Albarn dropped his first solo album ever last month, writing for the first time from a very personal perspective. "It's pretty direct," he told Rolling Stone. "Everything but one verse in the song 'Photographs' happened – and that verse was a recurring dream I had as a kid, so it kind of happened." In the exclusive clip here, watch him perform the Timothy Leary–sampling "Photographs" in Austin.
"I like a challenge, and we appeared with a bunch of quiet songs that no one had ever heard before," Albarn tells us about performing these first few shows with his new band, the Heavy Seas. "But, you have to keep moving forward and something terrible happens to you if you just stay the same. That night was one of those where everything comes together and works out.”
The video, which is part of the ongoing Guitar Center Sessions that airs on DirecTV and will be released in full on May 11th, shows Albarn and his band jamming on a rooftop perched high above the crowds, in front of the beautiful Austin skyline. The song, meanwhile, is a drowsy, nostalgic and somewhat campy lullaby about the "photographs you are taking now" scored by a simple piano some light synths. Occasionally, a Portal-sounding robot interjects a monotone PSA, a mechanized chant: "This is a precious opportunity. Beware of the photographs you are taking now."
Albarn told RS he warns against taking too many photographs and not living in the moment on the LP — but there is one photo he wishes he did take. "At the end of Edgware Road going up to Hyde Park Corner, there's a long white wall, and there was a bit of graffiti that big [tracing a postcard-sized space on the wall], and it said 'Modern Life Is Rubbish.' That little bit of graffiti changed my life. It was just such a massive thing, so ridiculous. I had to sing about it."