With Blur's ongoing status remains unclear, drummer Dave Rowntree has been busy completing the first episodes of the animated comedy show "Empire Square."
With Blur's ongoing status remains unclear, drummer Dave Rowntree has been busy completing the first episodes of the animated comedy show "Empire Square." Co-created with two other London-based collaborators, the program will premiere April 18 on Fuse.
"When we first started out with this, it was a completely different idea," Rowntree tells Billboard.com. "We liked the idea of making a kids TV show but the more we went down that path, the more it seemed a waste of time. There's so many restrictions. People get really protective."
With its pixilated animation, adult humor and vibrant colors, the show was initially being kicked around for broadcast on mobile phones. Ultimately, "Empire Square" was shopped as an "edgier" cartoon show to television channels in America.
Rowntree is working exclusively behind the scenes for the show, guiding the "creative process" and helping direct the voice talent who power the three main characters: the attitudinally maladjusted "Richie," the streetwise "Hooks" and the geek, "Rabbit."
"I guess being a drummer, you get used to being in the back of the stage," says Rowntree, who studied art and animation in college and runs the London-based animation company Nanomation. "I don't mind being behind the people who are behind the mics."
The first episode to air follows the characters' Internet dating exploits, which devolve into a fiasco with a mail-order bride and an emotionally unstable emo-rocking farmer. "Not all the episodes will have music in them, but the humor comes mainly from pop culture reference points," he says. "At least it should interest people who like music."
As for the exploits of Blur, which has not released an album since 2003 in the wake of frontman Damon Albarn's sojourn with Gorillaz, Rowntree declined to comment on the band's future.
"I don't want to say much about what we're doing [because] it seems that every time we talk about what we're doing next, it gets canceled or shot down," he says.