Damon Albarn: 'For Me, Heroin Was Incredibly Creative'

Singer says the drug helped make him "incredibly productive."

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Damon Albarn has said heroin was "incredibly creative" and helped to change him as a musician, NME reports.

The Blur and Gorillaz frontman began taking the drug at the height of Britpop during his relationship with Elastica singer Justine Frischmann, before stopping at the end of the 1990s.

"I hate talking about heroin because of my family," Albarn told Q magazine. "But, for me, it was incredibly creative. It freed me up ... A combination of that and playing simple, beautiful, repetitive shit in Africa changed me completely as a musician. I somehow managed to break out of something with my voice. I can only say heroin was incredibly productive for me."

Albarn went on to say that he gave up the drug with the aid of just two aspirin tablets, but added: "It turns you into a very isolated person. Ultimately, anything that you are truly dependent on is not good." Explaining why he began taking the drug, Albarn – who also stated that he had regularly taken cocaine – said: "It's what I found going on in the front room [when I was living with Justine]. The telly was on, so I just thought: 'Why not?' I never imagined it would become a problem."

During his addiction, Albarn didn't take heroin at weekends, saying he was "five days on, two days off." He said this attitude has left him with a regimented approach to making music, working Monday-Friday office hours at his west London studio.

Albarn recently unveiled new song "Heavy Seas of Love" from his debut solo album "Everyday Robots," which is released on April 28. He follows the album with two shows in London and headlines Latitude festival in July.

54 comments sorted by best / new / date

    It's great that he found a way to unlock his creativity. But this is pretty much promoting Heroin as a source of creativity. I use drugs myself but I in no way agree with the promotion of drugs. Heroin is an easy pit to fall in to and even though he eventually goes on to warn against it - No publicity is bad publicity, so they say. As someone who uses drugs yet is aware of the dangers, I in no way agree with how this article is presented - the sensationalist headline is the worst part, though. Maybe something more along the lines of "Damon Albarn talks about his drug addiction" or something like that (I'm no journalist, but there's definitely a more tactful way to headline this article). Not "Heroin was incredibly creative".
    You don't promote it but yet you are the only one besides this dude talking about your so called drug habit.
    Nope, I didn't say I have a drug habit, I partake very rarely now - maybe up to 5 occasions per year. This man, regardless of anyone's personal opinion on this comment board, could easily be considered a role model due to being an influential and popular musician, that's my problem with this article, and people who are open to drug use are more likely to take on board a negative opinion from a user than someone who's never touched drugs, which is the only reason I've pointed out my own use. I just feel that, despite him going on to talk about the negative impact of his drug use, headlines are what catch people's eye and stick in the mind the most. And that's a beautiful collection of basses you've got btw, ToxXicSixString.
    what an idiot, trying to justify his usage of probably THE most filthy drug out there. prat.
    For every person who has a great creative period and survives to tell the story there are hundreds that die. He is among the lucky few who suffer the least severe of the possible outcomes.
    Not the most filthy drug by a LONG stretch. Google Scopolamine and Krokodil.
    True those are worse for you, but Krokodil is basically a heroin substitute if I remember correctly. I think Estranged is referring to the massive amount of damage the drug has caused rather than its literal effect on the body.
    'Why not?' I never imagined it would become a problem." Are you kidding?? Once you put the needle in, you MUST know that there is a very very good chance it will becoming a f*cking problem. He never imagined?? Really?? What a dope! This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard!
    Fuck this shit. I can't find my keyboardist right now because he is hung out on the stuff. I don't even know if he is alive because no one can find him. So **** this dude for making this crap look like great stuff. Nothing good comes from that crap.
    Huh. I always thought Damon was a clean cut kind of guy. But this does explain why his music is like injecting heroin into my ears.
    Heroin is bad... period. I've used myself and was great for a while, then I was barely able to hold a job, and then I was a junkie. It eventually became the most important part of my life and consumed the parts of me that didn't aide my addiction. It's not like other drugs and desire for it never really goes away, well not for me a least. It's been 8 years, since the last time I used and it's still in the back of my mind. Most of the people I started using with are dead... Do what thou wilt but in my humble opinion is that it's not worth ruining your life and your families lives just to get high... Just smoke pot instead.
    Here's Todd with the weather...
    I get what you're implying here, but heroine is nothing like acid or other hallucinogens. Completely different animal.
    agree. Heroin, cocain, speed-meth , alchohol, etc. in no way should be treated like psychedelics. Take the stigma out of pych's and use used in a proper way can be life beneficial. They certainly have been for me as.
    Let's all promote heroin!
    lol jk kids, heroin is bad for you... really though. Just smoke weed and do psychedelics
    Wow UG readers: "Drugs are bad mmmkay?" I use drugs - albeit not heroin - and I have learned over time there is nothing inherently wrong or bad about them. It is a question of self-control and moderation, which is what Albarn was roundaboutly saying in this article. Drugs should never be condoned or encouraged, but many DO unlock creativity in the mind. At the end of the day, he was asked a question and he answered it honestly. Did he say heroin would help everyone with their creativity? No. Did he say it was a good idea? No. Did he comment on his own personal experience of it? Yes. To everyone who says they lost a friend to heroin/drugs, I sympathize greatly; I'm one among you. However, don't try and argue people will be inclined to take heroin after reading a 300 word article; people that susceptible will fall prey to their disease anyway.
    And just like all the other 16 year old kids on this website you are bragging about too. Never got the whole bragging about using drugs I always have thought it was a "Look at me Look at me" thing. I have no problem with people using to each his own. But the bragging thing is childish.
    I think most people are reacting to the middle-class smugness implied by the headline: "Look at me everyone, I used heroin, and I'm even better than okay" whereas the majority of people who use heroin - a lot, at least - end up, I think it's fair to say, completely destroyed, if not dead. But it's a different world when you've got loads of money and can afford top-notch rehab, and any kind of reportage about it yields yet more press attention and more money... Pete Doherty please stand up. This isn't even about whether narcotics are "bad" or "good". They're obviously good for some things, and bad for others. All I will ask is who he bought it from, although I'm "sure" it was ethically-sourced from someone who only sells homemade, organic produce, and not via some bikers whose gang will break your family's limbs if you got in their way *cough*. Screw you, Albarn, you're a smug, yuppie prick.
    >Damon Albarn has said heroin was "incredibly creative" and helped to change him as a musician, NME reports.< Yeah that's how I felt about switching to guitar after 25+ years of playing keyboards and saxophone. Except ...
    well if you need drugs to unlock your creativity you're not a creative person then. maybe if more musicians used their ****ing brains instead of the bottle or the ****ing needle then we'd have some decent music from the heart rather than from what you've ingested today
    Actually, some of the greatest music ever written and recorded was made by alcoholics and drug addicts. People who are inherently creative also tend to be more sensitive which makes many susceptible to alcoholism and addiction. The key is to get out and sober up/clean up before it ruins your life and kills you. Drugs and alcohol won't "make" you into a creative person if you're not already but if used cautiously can help some people relax and expand their minds. Unfortunately, most people who get into heroin just end up sick, watching their lives fall apart, damaging everyone who cares about them and dying alone in a pile of their own sh*t and vomit.
    As always with anything relating to drugs: Moderation is key. They can help you be more creative and think from a completely different perspective than you would sober. I'm saying this as a massive fan of Alice in Chains, Megadeth and The Doors among others too. Would it be awesome if Layne and Jim never died? If Dave was able to keep it together for most of his career? Hell yes, but their music would be so different it's very possible they wouldn't be known or successful at all.
    With all due respect, some of the most amazing songs have been written under heavy drugs. Megadeth and John Frusciante off the top of my head. Both amazingly talented and have released great stuff while sober too.
    Yeah, but at what cost to the individual? Did you see how low Frusciante was in the 90's? His friends ponied up the money to buy the man false teeth! How many musicians who are dead because of it would think it was worth the price, if they could be summoned?
    Frusciante's not dead. Go ahead and ask him.
    He has said in multiple interviews that it was the absolute lowest point in his life.
    He easily could have been, just listn to Enter Ah Uh, you can hear him coughing while recording. According to Johnny Depp, among others, he looked like a walking corpse in his final years of addiction.
    It gives a completely different way to approach things, but I personally think that the talent and the creativity was always there.
    Look a lot of musicians use. But anyone who sits around and says drugs are great are probably around 16-17. I have watched drugs ruin, not help the most creative. I have watched Booze kill my best friend and Heroin just about kill another.
    Paul McCartney wrote Sgt Pepper while on Cocaine essentially the whole time. John Lennon wrote a shitload of songs on heavy drugs too.
    Although I totally agree that drugs are a terrible thing and people should work without them, when it comes to creativity it's another thing that stops you from judging yourself. I had a conversation with a songwriting friend who very occasionally does drugs, and he says it's a good way of closing off your insecurities and getting something finished. And I can see the point, after a glass or two of wine I tend to care less about what I'm writing, and go back to it the next day having a song I'm relatively happy with. tl;dr, doing drugs/alcohol is a decent (occasional!) way of letting out whatever you need to let out on paper instead of being uptight with your ideas.
    Most "creative" people end up struggling with some kind of mental addiction in their life. Whether it be a literal drug addiction, an addiction to another human, an addiction to coffee, an addiction to self portrayal (to just name a few). I used to be an addict and there is nothing but trouble and or death down that road if you never wake up and get clean. (Kurt Cobain, the Rev, Paul Gray, Bradly Nowell, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin). Most of these people had tried to quit, and a lot of their music reflects that struggle which is unlike any other. Getting Sober. It IS coming from their heart and music just might end up being the thing that SAVES their life (Like Damon says above-he hates talking about heroin because of his family). Stating that a person is not creative because they used drugs is kind of messed up-be thankful for the music you hear and recognize that most of it comes from human struggle with many different walks of life. Everything is not just black and white good sir, there is a spectrum of color in this world that is beautiful. So appreciate the music we have the privilege to enjoy, and the musicians that are still alive because they chose life over addiction. (Anthony Keidis, Johnny Cash, Phil Anselmo, Kings of Leon, JOHN FRUCIANTE!!!, Macklemore, Pentagram, Slug, Chris Cornell, BLACK SABBATH, ..) I could go on for days. I do not advocate drugs-but don't judge music based on how you view "creativity" because you will miss out on so much.
    'Why not?' I never imagined it would become a problem."
    It's heroin you bellend, of course it'll become a problem.
    i can't think of anything decent he has either written or sung so you wasted ur money on drugs you twat
    None of ya'll commenting here could afford, or know of anyone that can afford, the kind of heroin Damon did. Ya'll exposed to cheap cut up shit that will kill you in some time. More expensive opiates takes longer to kill you, can't make up a tolerance so fast as in cheaper stuff with less opium. Overdosing is really expensive too.