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Alex James poses for HELLO! shoot

Alex James talks family life and becoming a 'cool dad' to his five children

The Blur musician and wife Claire welcome thousands of people to their Cotswolds farm every summer for The Big Feastival

Rosalind Powell
Contributing Editor
July 7, 2024
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This August, Alex James will welcome 25,000-odd visitors to his Cotswolds farm for the Big Feastival, the annual food and music extravaganza now in its 13th year.

"My CV reads: 'A lot of tunes, a lot of cheese, a lot of children, lives on a farm, loves a party,'" the Blur bassist told HELLO! in our exclusive interview and shoot at the farm.

"It's no small undertaking, running a festival, but it sits completely within my preoccupations."

Alex James poses for HELLO! shoot with wife Claire Neate
Alex and wife Claire run The Big Feastival from their Cotswolds farm

This year's headliners include Snow Patrol and Becky Hill at the family-friendly three-day event, which Alex runs along with his wife Claire and with help from their five children - Geronimo, 20, 18-year-old twins Artemas and Galileo, Sable, who turns 16 next month, and Beatrix, 14.

WATCH: An exclusive tour of Alex James' incredible Cotswolds garden

Touring with Blur

Alex, who is also a purveyor of award-winning artisan cheese and Britpop sparkling wine, hit the road with Blur last year with warm-up gigs, two sell-out nights at Wembley Stadium and festival performances across Europe, Japan and South America, as well as Coachella in California. They also recorded a ninth studio album, The Ballad of Darren.

The experience, he says, was "magical and wonderful" and the shows "the best we've ever done".

"From the first rehearsals, we clicked, musically, straight away. It's such a precious thing, a group of people playing music together since they were kids.

Alex James poses for HELLO! shoot
"It's such a precious thing, a group of people playing music together since they were kids," said the Blur bassist

"Bands don't really work," he continues. "They're unwieldy, and why deal with four divas when you can just deal with one? But there's nothing to touch that visceral thrill of a tight bunch of people who have been playing music together for years and years.

"It's never become a point when it's a drudge. It's a wonderful feeling, like riding a bike downhill."

The family joined the band whenever they could. "I have five teenage children who thought I was an idiot," he says with a laugh. "And just for a minute I was a cool dad again. But it's worn off now."

Alex James poses for HELLO! shoot with family
Alex shares five children with his wife Claire

Future plans

The band's Wembley gigs will be covered in Blur: To the End, a documentary released later this month. Alex, who describes it as "a wonderful story of friendship and the best shows we've ever done," also spent the first few months of this year writing about the experience for a new book. 

"There's not a day goes by when I don't think about the band, so it was really nice to reconnect with them all and discover a new audience," he says.

The Big Feastival runs from 23 to 25 August. To book, visit bigfeastival.com.

PHOTOS: ANDREW FARRAR
STYLING: MICHELLE KELLY AT CAROL HAYES & LLOYD ALMOND
 HAIR & MAKE-UP: SAM COOPER AT CAROL HAYES

To read the full interview, pick up the latest issue of HELLO! on sale in the UK from Monday. You can subscribe to HELLO! to get the magazine delivered free to your door every week or purchase the digital edition online via our Apple or Google apps.

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