Gorillaz is a musical project created in 1998 by British musician Damon Albarn and British cartoonist Jamie Hewlett, co-creator of the comic book Tank Girl. This project consists of the Gorillaz music itself and an extensive fictional universe depicting a "virtual band" of comic book characters. This band is composed of four animated members: 2D (lead vocalist, keyboard), Murdoc Niccals (bass guitar), Noodle (guitar, keyboard, and occasional vocals) and Russel Hobbs (drums and percussion). Their fictional universe is explored through the band's website and music videos, as well as a number of other media. The music is a collaboration between various musicians, Albarn being the only permanent musical contributor. Their style is a composition of multiple musical genres, with a large number of influences including: dub, hip hop, alternative rock, electronic and pop music.
The band's 2001 debut album Gorillaz sold over seven million copies and earned them an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Most Successful Virtual Band. It was nominated for the Mercury Prize 2001, but the nomination was later withdrawn at the band's request. Their second studio album, Demon Days, released in 2005, went five times platinum in the UK,
[title = Certified Awards Search ] double platinum in the United States, [title = Gorillaz RIAA certifications ] earned five Grammy Award nominations for 2006 [title = EMI Music earns 54 Grammy nominations ] and won one of them in the Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals category
. Gorillaz have also released two B-sides compilations and a remix album. The combined sales of Gorillaz and Demon Days had, by 2007, exceeded 20 million albums. The band's third studio album, Plastic Beach, was released in 2010. On 25 June 2010, the band stood in for U2 as Glastonbury Festival 2010's first-night headliners.
Early years (1998�1999)Gorillaz co-creator Damon Albarn, 2010
Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett created Gorillaz in 1998 when they were living together in a flat on Westbourne Grove. The idea to create the band came about when the two were watching MTV, "if you watch MTV for too long, it's a bit like hell � there's nothing of substance there. So we got this idea for a cartoon band, something that would be a comment on that," Hewlett said. The band originally identified themselves as "Gorilla", and the first song they recorded was "Ghost Train", later released as a B-side on their single "Rock the House" and the B-side compilation G Sides. The trio of musicians behind Gorillaz' first incarnation is Damon Albarn, Del the Funkee Homosapien and Dan the Automator, had previously worked together on the track "Time Keeps on Slipping" for Deltron 3030's eponymous debut album. The song can be seen as the genesis of the musical style that continued into Gorillaz' first album.
Phase One: Celebrity Takedown (2000�2003)The band's first release was Tomorrow Comes Today EP, released in 2000.
The band's first single, "Clint Eastwood", was released on 5 March 2001. Later that same month, their first full-length album, the self-titled Gorillaz, was released, producing four singles: "Clint Eastwood", "19-2000", "Tomorrow Comes Today", and "Rock the House". "19-2000 (Soulchild Remix)" became popular after being featured in both an Ice Breakers commercial, as well as in EA Sports' FIFA Football 2002. Around this time, a half-hour TV mockumentary entitled Charts of Darkness was released. It follows Channel 4 news reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy attempting to track down Albarn and Hewlett after they were placed in an insane asylum.
The end of the year brought the song "911", a collaboration between the Gorillaz and rap artists D12 (without Eminem) and Terry Hall about the September 11 attacks. Meanwhile G Sides, a compilation of the B-sides from the Tomorrow Comes Today EP and first three singles, was released in Japan on 12 December 2001 and quickly followed with international releases in early 2002. The new year also saw the band perform at the 2002 BRIT Awards, appearing in 3D animation on four large screens along with rap accompaniment by Phi Life Cypher. The band was nominated for six awards at the event, including Best British Group, Best British Album and Best British Newcomer, but left the award show empty-handed. Finally, Laika Come Home, a dub remix album, containing most of the tracks from Gorillaz reworked by Spacemonkeyz, was released in June 2002. The single to follow, "Lil' Dub Chefin'", contained an original track by the Spacemonkeyz titled "Spacemonkeyz Theme".
In November 2002, a DVD titled Phase One: Celebrity Take Down was released. The DVD contains the four Phase One promos, the abandoned video for "5/4", the Charts of Darkness documentary, the five Gorilla Bitez (short vignettes), a tour of the website by the MEL 9000 server and more. The DVD's menu was designed much like the band's website and depicts an abandoned Kong Studios.
Rumors were circulating at this time that the Gorillaz team were busy preparing a film, but at an EMI interview, they later revealed that plans for the film were abandoned. Haruka Kuroda, who voices the character Noodle, told the fan website Gorillaz-Unofficial that Jamie Hewlett rejected many scripts before giving up on the film.
[ title = Gorillaz-Unofficial meets Haruka Kuroda ] Hewlett later explained why the film was abandoned, "We lost all interest in doing it as soon as we started meeting with studios and talking to these Hollywood executive types, we just weren't on the same page. We said, fuck it, we'll sit on the idea until we can do it ourselves, and maybe even raise the money ourselves." [first = Michael ]
Phase Two: Slowboat to Hades (2004�2007)On 8 December 2004, the band's website reopened with an exclusive video entitled "Rock It". Along with the music video, there was an announcement of a new album on the way, which would be produced by Danger Mouse. A talent contest entitled Search for a Star was also launched on 15 December 2004, allowing fans to send in a minute-long clip of video or audio or an image file. A viral marketing project named Reject False Icons was formed criticising modern pop figures.
The first single from the album was "Feel Good Inc.", released as an EP in Japan and as a CD single in Europe and Australia. The single entered the UK Singles Chart at #22, several weeks before the CD single was released due to the single being released as a 7" vinyl in April, and new charts regulations included sales at online music stores, where the song had been available since 22 March. "Feel Good Inc." managed to reach #2 in the UK Singles Chart the week it was released, being the band's highest ever positioned single up to that point in time. The single stayed in the top ten for eight consecutive weeks. In the United States, it peaked at #14. The song also garnered a Record of the Year nomination for the 2006 Grammy Awards later that year. It was later included in the popular PlayStation 2 title SingStar, a game where players attempt to sing along karaoke style. It was also recently included on Activision�s Guitar Hero 5 and was released as downloadable content on Harmonix and MTV Games' Rock Band.
The album, Demon Days, was released on 11 May 2005 in Japan, 23 May in the United Kingdom and Australia, and on 24 May in the United States. The album debuted at #1 on the UK Albums Chart, but fell as low as #29 in just seven weeks. However, as the music video for the second single "DARE" started getting played on MTV and other music channels, Demon Days rose up to the top 10 again. "DARE" was released on 29 August 2005 in the UK, where it debuted at #1. A Japanese EP followed on 7 September. "DARE" eventually reached #87 in the United States, also becoming a Top 10 hit on the Modern Rock listings. Shortly afterwards, Gorillaz contributed an exclusive track entitled "Hong Kong" to the charity compilation Help!: A Day in the Life released on 10 September 2005.
The third single off Demon Days was "Dirty Harry", which had already been released as a promotional single earlier that year. It was released in the United Kingdom on 21 November 2005. On its first week, it charted at #6. The release of the single raised the album once again back up to the top 10. The fourth and final single was the double A-side, "Kids with Guns"/"El Ma�ana". It was released in the UK on 10 April 2006. Unlike its Top 10 predecessors, "Kids With Guns" / "El Ma�ana" reached #27 upon its release in the UK. A week later, the single had fallen out of the Top 40 in the UK (see 2006 in British music). By the end of 2005, Demon Days had sold over a million copies in the UK, making it the UK's fifth best selling album of 2005. Demon Days has since gone five times platinum in the UK,
double platinum in the United States, triple platinum in Australia and has sold over 6 million copies worldwide.
De La Soul performing "Feel Good Inc." with the Gorillaz at the Demon Days Live concert in Manchester.
Plans were unveiled for Gorillaz to go on a holographic world tour in 2007 and 2008.
[title = Gorillaz to tour � in 3D ] The cartoon members would be shown as holograms on stage using Musion Eyeliner technology, giving them a life-like appearance on stage. The holograms were first used at the 2005 MTV Europe Music Awards on 3 November 2005 and again at the 2006 Grammy Awards on 8 February 2006 with the addition of a virtual Madonna, where the band played a pre-recorded version of "Feel Good Inc." [ title = Gorillaz & Madonna � Grammy Awards 2006 ] However, the tour was eventually called off due to budget issues. Jamie Hewlett has stated that "...it was extremely expensive, extremely difficult, a million and one things can go wrong, every second that the thing's playing." [ title = Jamie Hewlett: The Fan Interview ]
In 2005, a set of Gorillaz figures were released by Kidrobot to coincide with the release of Demon Days. Two variations of the set were released, known as the Red and Black editions, and a limited edition Noodle from the music video for "DARE" was also released. Three new sets of Gorillaz vinyl figures were released in 2006. The Basic set was released on 16 October 2006 and the 2-tone and White edition sets were released on 2 November 2006.
On 21 September 2006, the Hopes for a Gorillaz film were revived in 2006 when Hewlett stated that they would be producing the film on their own. American film producer and Weinstein Company co-chairman, Harvey Weinstein, was also said to be collaborating with Albarn and Hewlett. In a September 2006 interview with Uncut magazine, Albarn was reported saying " has been a fantastic journey which isn't over, because we're making a film. We've got Terry Gilliam involved. But as far as being in a big band and putting pop music out there, it's finished. We won't be doing that any more."
[first = Nigel ] In an interview with the Gorillaz-Unofficial fansite, Jamie Hewlett and Cass Browne revealed that in the film the band members will act as other characters presenting a new story, instead of playing themselves. Hewlett also said that the film's soundtrack will be the next Gorillaz album. "The soundtrack will be the third album. Damon will do the soundtrack, which will be the soundtrack, which will be the third album." As of April 2007, Cass Browne is still finishing the script and Albarn has said that he hopes production of the film will begin in September 2007. No further news was heard about the film until February 2008 when, in an interview with Gorillaz-Unofficial, Hewlett said "Ultimately we didn't think that feel we're in a position to make the kind of movie we want to make with Gorillaz at the moment. [...] But I'd still like to make a full, lavishly-animated Gorillaz movie someday." [title = Jamie Hewlett: The Gorillaz-Unofficial 2008 Interview ]
On 24 October 2007, the official Gorillaz fansite announced that a documentary film about the Gorillaz, titled Bananaz, would be released. The film, directed by Ceri Levy, documents the previous seven years of the band. The film was released online on the Babelgum website on 20 April 2009 followed by the DVD release on 1 June 2009.
Phase Three: Escape to Plastic Beach (2007�present)Phase three
In late 2007, Albarn and Hewlett began working on Carousel, a new Gorillaz project which eventually evolved into the band's third studio album Plastic Beach.
[first = Paul ]
Albarn said "I'm making this the biggest and most pop record I've ever made in many ways, but with all my experience to try and at least present something that has got depth."
The album features guest performances by Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed, Mos Def, Bobby Womack, Gruff Rhys, Mark E. Smith, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Kano, Bashy, De La Soul, Little Dragon, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, sinfonia ViVA, and The Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music. [first = Amy ]
On 18 January 2010, it was announced that Gorillaz would be headlining the final night of the Coachella music festival on 18 April 2010.
[url = coachella.com/updates/news/2010lineup ]
The first single from the album, "Stylo", featuring Bobby Womack and Mos Def was leaked on 20 January 2010 in a Tumblr blog post by a Russian fan and then consequently made available for streaming through the band's official website as announced on Murdoc's Twitter page saying that "If anyone's going to leak my single it'll be me!". Parlophone president Miles Leonard described the song as "a dark, twisted track that sounds like the 'Saturday Night Fever' soundtrack on MDMA." "Stylo" was made available for download 26 January 2010. Further singles from the album include "On Melancholy Hill", "Superfast Jellyfish" and "Rhinestone Eyes", as well as "White Flag", which was released exclusively for Record Store Day 2010.
Plastic Beach was first released on 3 March 2010 in Japan, followed by multiple other dates for other countries. The album received positive reviews from critics, despite having a more pop and electronic sound than the band's previous albums. To fit the Plastic Beach theme, the Gorillaz website was dramatically altered and changed. A virtual tour of the Plastic Beach was added, including a new Gorillaz game was added titled 'Escape to the Plastic Beach'. Several 'Shorts' of each band member was included in the follow-up to the albums release, to give fans an understanding of the fictional band members' story before their arrival to the island. A Windows 7 theme was also released. An international tour was announced in mid-2010 to promote the album, however it was only in the UK and Ireland. Later, in early July 2010, they announced their first world tour, titled the "Escape to Plastic Beach World Tour." The UK tour was merged with the world tour, and the UK dates were cancelled or rescheduled to fit the new schedule, causing some inconvenience with many European fans.
On 5 October 2010, Gorillaz announced new single "Doncamatic" featuring Manchester star Daley. It was premiered later that same day on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show. The single will be released on November 22, 2010 and does not feature on any studio album.
Damon has been speaking about his plans after the album. Whether or not they will be considered "Phase 3" or a whole new phase is unknown, but he's gone on to say on many occasions that he had enough material for two new albums and was working on a tour demo album like his release Democrazy.
Fictional band members
- Stuart "2D" Pot - Lead vocals, keyboards (1998�present)
- Murdoc Niccals - Bass guitar (1998�present)
- Noodle - Lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (2000�2006, 2010-present)
- Cyborg Noodle - Guitar, keyboards, vocals (2010�present)
- Russel Hobbs - Drums, percussion, DJ, MC - (active 1998-2006)
- Paula Cracker - Lead guitar (1998�2000)
- Del the Ghost Rapper - Guest vocals (2001�2003)
Actual membersIn the half-hour TV mockumentary Charts of Darkness, it was explicitly stated that Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett were behind the project. Albarn said "There could be fifty  here, but there's two." The first album featured the voice of Miho Hatori of Cibo Matto as Noodle, most notably on the song "19-2000", and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads. Phil Cornwell provides the voice of Murdoc.
The band's music videos (with the exception of "Rock It" and "Tomorrow Comes Today") are created by Passion Pictures. The live band's current lineup includes half of The Clash (Mick Jones and Paul Simonon).
Live Members -
- Damon Albarn - Vocals, keyboards, guitar, bass guitar (1998�present)
- Jamie Hewlett - Illustration, visuals, FX (1998�present)
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Live performancesBetween 1 November and 5 November 2005, there was a Gorillaz festival at the Manchester Opera House. The event was filmed by an EMI film crew for a DVD release, Demon Days Live, in late March 2006. It was later announced that an American version of the event would take place from 2 April to 6 April 2006 at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem. Within an hour of release tickets were sold out. The 6 April show was filmed for a live webcast at MSN Video. Palladia (then known as MHD) also broadcasted an Apollo Theater show in HDTV on 31 December 2006.
At the 2006 Grammy Awards, held on 8 February 2006, Gorillaz opened the show using the same technique sharing the stage with Madonna.
Their performance was a mash-up of the Gorillaz' "Feel Good Inc." and Madonna's "Hung Up". A week later, on 15 February 2006, Gorillaz performed their song "Dirty Harry" at the 2006 BRIT Awards, with Bootie Brown and the Children's Choir San Fernandez. This concert had giant versions of the video clips on large screens, with Bootie Brown and the Children's Choir San Fernandez to either side of the screens. A similar, but not completely identical, version of this performance was shown on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross and the video was projected at the 2006 Designer of the Year Award exhibition, which Jamie Hewlett later won.
A world tour was planned using the hologram technology described above.
However, due to extreme costs and fine technical difficulties, the tour was cancelled. Gorillaz headlined the final night of the Coachella music festival on 18 April 2010, performing to one of the largest crowds in Coachella history of over 70,000 people strong. On 27 April they were the
Gorillaz took the Friday night Pyramid stage slot at the Glastonbury Festival on 25 June 2010, U2 having been forced to pull out. Damon Albarn became the first performer to headline Glastonbury two years in succession. Guest singers included De La Soul, Bobby Womack, Mark E Smith, Shaun Ryder, Snoop Dogg and a special appearance by Lou Reed.
Gorillaz kicked off their first ever world tour on 20 July at Byblos, Lebanon. The tour will then take them across America in October, Europe in November, and finally through Australia, New Zealand, and one date in Asia in December.
In 25 July 2010, Gorillaz performed a concert at the Citadel of Damascus in Syria.
The Escape to Plastic Beach World Tour officially kicked off in Montreal, Canada on 3 October to rave reviews.
- Gorillaz (2001)
- Demon Days (2005)
- Plastic Beach (2010)
- Untitled "On-The-Road" Studio Album (2011)
Awards and nominations
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