Written by: Jarrett Crepeau
The virtual band Gorillaz, created by musician and former Blur frontman Damon Albarn and Tank Girl artist Jamie Hewlett, have announced their 6th studio album, The Now Now, following the release of their comeback album Humanz. The band has been known as a genre-breaker since its inception, borrowing alternate guitar riffs, funky rap beats, and even gospel choirs.
The main thing that has captured and held fans minds is the virtual aspect. The band is comprised of characters illustrated by Jamie, but they all have very detailed back-stories that unfold through what have been deemed “phases” over the years. Currently, the band is in phase 4 or 5, depending on who you ask.We see the band’s story progress and learn about them through their animated music videos as well as their biography, Gorillaz, The Rise of Ogre is currently out of print and fetches a pretty penny online. So here’s a brief history of the Gorillaz.
The first and founding member of the band is bass player Murdoc Niccals, an angry, manipulative, inconsiderate, satanist and all around asshole. After discovering Kong Studios and moving in with 2-D, he decided to start a band, quickly recruiting the rest of the band. He has been a part ever since. Many of the less fortunate events that the band finds themselves in can be blamed on Murdoc. He wasn’t involved in the making of The Now Now, as he is in prison. Oddly enough, he was replaced by PowerPuff Girls villain Ace of the Gangreen Gang.
The singer Stuart Pot, more commonly known as 2-D, is voiced by Damon Albarn, a boy from London who received an injury from Murdoc Niccals which resulted in hyphema in one of his eyes, turning the iris black and his hair blue. Murdoc was charged with caring for Stuart and while under his care, Murdoc got into an accident doing donuts in a parking lot. Stuart flew from the car, causing him to have hyphema in the other eye. His eyes now change from black to white when experiencing heightened emotions. Murdoc gave him the name 2-D, or Two-Dents, and recruited him to sing for the band.
Russell Hobbs is the bands drummer. Growing up in New York, he got very into the blossoming hip hop scene, as did his friends. But his friends were gunned down in a drive-by one day, and their souls became trapped inside him, giving him immense hip-hop talent. He was sent to London for his own safety and was kidnapped by Murdoc and basically forced to join the band. His best friend Del tha Ghost Rapper (based on and voiced by real life rapper, Del the Funky Homosapien) appears on their early work.
The final member was 2-D’s at-the-time girlfriend who was quickly fired after Russell discovered she was cheating on him with Murdoc. A package soon was delivered to Kong Studios. Inside was a 10-year-old Japanese girl, and all she said was Noodle before playing an amazing guitar solo. She’s aged with the band and, now 27, she’s been a fan favorite since the beginning.
The Gorillaz promoting The Now Now(from left to right: Noodle, Ace, 2-D, Russell)
Gorillaz during the Plastic Beach album with Murdoc
As for the bands new album, releasing June 29th, it seems to reflect the sound and feel of older albums. Humanz drifted far from the norm, displeasing fans with its overuse of featured artists on the tracks. Some argued it felt more like a mixtape than a Gorillaz album. The Now Now seems to be returning to the roots, featuring more 2-D and, in a sense, featuring more Gorillaz. The only other artists that appear on the album are Snoop Dogg, Jaime Principle, and George Benson.
There are three singles out. Humility featuring George Benson, Lake Zurich, and Sorcererz. Humility has an animated music video with an aesthetically pleasing rotoscope theme to the art, placing the Gorillaz in the real world. It’s not the first time, but it’s the best it’s ever looked. The video which I’ve linked below also features Jack Black, so give it a watch!