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Rowntree playing in Finland in 2013
|Birth name||David Alexander De Horne Rowntree|
8 May 1964 |
Colchester, Essex, England
|Genres||Britpop, indie rock|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, animator, solicitor, political activist, DJ|
|Instruments||Drums, drum machine, percussion, guitar|
|Associated acts||Blur, The Ailerons, Empire Square|
David Alexander De Horne Rowntree (born 8 May 1964) is an English musician, politician, solicitor and animator. He is the drummer for the rock band Blur. He is a councillor on Norfolk County Council, representing the Labour Party.
Born in Colchester, Essex, Rowntree was born to musical parents – Susan, a viola player, and John, a sound engineer at the BBC. He has an older sister called Sara. He attended the Gilberd School, Colchester during the week, and the Landermere Music School, Thorpe-le-Soken, at weekends, where he studied percussion. He played percussion with his father in the Colchester Silver Band, a brass band. After leaving school he studied for a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Computer Science at Thames Polytechnic, and started his career as a computer programmer for Colchester Borough Council.
Rowntree had played in bands with Graham Coxon while the two were growing up in Colchester, and knew Coxon's father who taught jazz classes at Landermere. In 1989 Coxon introduced Rowntree to Damon Albarn, who was forming a band around Goldsmiths, University of London. Rowntree was asked to join, and left his job to move to London. With the addition of Alex James, and after many name changes, the band settled on Blur and were signed to Food Records, which was distributed through EMI. EMI later acquired Food Records and Blur were absorbed into EMI.
Rowntree is a computer animator, and owns an animation company called Nanomation. He directed two series of the South Park-esque animated show Empire Square, which made its TV debut on Channel 4 on 18 February 2005. He is also interested in computer graphics and has contributed to three research papers on topics related to non-photorealistic rendering.
Rowntree has been a keen activist and supporter of the Labour Party since becoming a member in 2002, and has been chairman of London's West End branch. In April 2007 he unsuccessfully contested the safe Conservative seat of Marylebone High Street on Westminster City Council. In July 2008 he fought the Labour seat of Church Street, a Labour stronghold since its creation in the 1960s, but a swing from Labour to the Conservatives of 14.1% meant that he was again unsuccessful as the Conservatives gained the seat.
In February 2008, he was selected by the Cities of London and Westminster Constituency Labour Party to stand against Conservative MP Mark Field at the 2010 General Election. He was defeated at that election. In 2011, Rowntree sought selection as Labour candidate for Norwich South; he lost to Clive Lewis, a journalist and former soldier, who went on to be elected as MP.
Rowntree supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq and in 2007 said, "I'm not a pacifist, I do believe that some things are worth fighting for, and dying for. I understand that that's easier to say, I'm not being the one who's asked to die, but Saddam was such an illegal ruthless bastard I didn't shed any tears for it [the war]."
He has also campaigned against prosecution of internet music filesharers, and is a member of the Advisory Council of the Open Rights Group, a United Kingdom-based digital rights NGO. When asked on Blur's website how he felt about single "Out of Time" being leaked on the Internet before its release he replied "I'd rather it gushed".
Rowntree obtained a full pilot's licence in 1995. Rowntree also holds a foundation licence for amateur radio in the UK since 2012 using the callsign M6DRQ. He upgraded his licence in 2016 to advanced with the new call sign 2E0DVR.
In the early 1990s Rowntree was a heavy drinker; he stopped drinking alcohol in 1993 after a particularly heavy drinking session with members of the band Siouxsie and the Banshees. However, several years later he began a cocaine habit. This led to a public incident in 2003 when, during a TV interview of Blur for MuchMusic by Canadian journalist Nardwuar the Human Serviette, Rowntree was seen mocking and physically intimidating Nardwuar throughout the interview. Rowntree has apologised several times since for his behavior, saying that "the day after a cocaine binge I'd sometimes fly into a murderous rage," and that this was the case on that day. By 2007, he stated that he had stopped using drugs and was "active in the recovery community". He has also said that he keeps a clip of the interview on his phone, to watch if he ever considers relapsing into drug use.
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