Music Artist Spotlight – 02/23


A lot of bands struggle to maintain an image, others try to reject them. But where Gorillaz stands out among the rest is in their secret: They are an image. That’s right, the Gorillaz are nothing more than cartoon characters. The group’s early roots started when the bassist Murdoc crashed through the window of where the lead singer 2D (then known as Stu-Pot, his new name came due to the two dents where his eyes used to be) was working, knocking him into a coma. Murdoc was charged with 30,000 hours of community service, plus 10 hours a week dedicated to helping 2D. During another crash incident, 2D came out of his coma. The drummer, Russel Hobbs, was recruited in New York. Russel was a depressed African male who was demoniacally possessed by his best friend who was killed in a drive by. Noodle was mailed to the Gorillaz’s front door in a DedEx crate. She spoke only one word of english at the time (hence her name “Noodle”) and as soon as she emerged from the crate she laid down a riff “to end all riffs” and was immediately accepted as the bands guitarist. The rest, they say, is history.

In reality, the minds behind Gorillaz were Blur’s Damon Albarn and Artist Jamie Hewlett, who created the band in 1998. The first album was recorded with the help of fellow musicians Del the Funky Homosapien and Dan the Automator as well as a number of smaller contributors. Their first release, the Tomorrow Comes Today EP, was a success in the UK and paved the way for the Gorillaz wave to blow through. After the band set up a website online which acted as a virtual tour of the band’s fictional recording studio Kong Studios and released their self titled debut album, Gorillaz mania began. The first official single, Clint Eastwood, was a smash hit around the world. The band’s sound consisted of hip hop beats and rock guitar madness, with a funky bassline and smooth vocals. However, their styles change drastically from song to song, some being more minimalist in nature with no rap-lyrics, others taking it a step further and going into an all Hispanic sound. Soon the band was making the big news spots, getting frequent requests on the radio, MTV played their music videos repeatedly. The bug had begun, and the big question was ‘Who are the Gorillaz?’

Well at that time, no one knew. The identities were kept secret until finally a group of fans figured out who was behind the mess. The band then created a mockumentary featuring only the live people behind it, the only time the band members made an appearance was in stock footage. The group would go on to release 4 more CDs, countless singles, and mountains of merchandise along the way. There were also a set of DVDs released, and a book going into extreme detail over the history of the cartoon members of the band. The band’s live show changed drastically over the years, initially starting off as only showing 3-4 giant screens with a set of animations on it the group moved on to some of the most sophisticated 3D imaging technology to date. The group employed a company that specialized in a “Peppers Ghost” sort of trick where through a set of mirrors, foil, and a bit of magic a 3D image could be projected and perceived to be there. Due to the incredible expenses of setting this all up, a Gorillaz live show is few and far between.

At one point, a Gorillaz movie was ‘in the making’ but was canceled when all of the scripts were denied by the group themselves. A movie titled “Bananaz” is in the works, which is a full length documentary of the entire process of the band and how it got from square one to here. According to the Gorillaz book “Rise of the Ogre” the band will be not making any more music, and the future of the group is uncertain but is most likely going to be on hold indefinitely. The group’s last album, D-sides, is a 2 CD collection of B-sides and remixes for the last album, Demon Days. The Gorillaz’s distinct blend of hip hop, rock, and sounds from all around the world may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But there is something here for everybody, no matter what kind of music you like. For a group that almost only exists on paper, they sure know how to make good music.

Gorillaz’s Official Website
Gorillaz Official Myspace

Published in: on February 23, 2008 at 10:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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