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After both siblings failed their eleven-plus exams, they started attending Stanway Comprehensive School, where Damon described himself as being "really unpopular" and "[irritating to] a lot of people".
He studied acting at the East 15 Acting School in Debden, but left after the first year.
The recording of the group's debut album was hindered by Albarn having to write his lyrics in the studio.
Although the resulting album Leisure (1991) peaked at number seven on the UK Albums Chart, it received mixed reviews, Although sceptical of Albarn's new manifesto, Balfe gave his assent for the band's choice of Andy Partridge of the band XTC to produce their follow-up to Leisure.
On leaving drama school he entered a production and management contract with Marijke Bergkamp and Graeme Holdaway, owners of the Beat Factory recording studio, where the members of Blur, then known as Seymour, did their first recordings.
His first band was the synthpop group, Two's a Crowd.
James reflected, "It was all more elaborate, more orchestral, more theatrical, and the lyrics were even more twisted ...
Parklife was released in 1994 and revived Blur's commercial fortunes, with the album's first single, the disco-influenced "Girls & Boys", achieving critical acclaim and chart success.