Members: 2D (aka Stu-Pot), Noodle, Russel Hobbs, Murdoc Niccals
Gorillaz are a virtual band, comprised of four fictional animated band members: 2D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russel. They play a variety of music styles - to quote one of their lyrics, they have recorded everything from "Rap, Hip-Hop, to Punk, and Ska." The band was created by Damon Albarn from the Britpop band Blur, and Jamie Hewlett, the co-creator of the comic book Tank Girl.
The band's first album, 2001's Gorillaz, sold over 3 million copies and earned them an entry in the Guinness Book of Records as the Most Successful Virtual Band. Their second studio album, Demon Days, was released in 2005 and included the hit singles "Feel Good Inc.", "DARE", "Dirty Harry" and "Kids With Guns / El Ma?ana."
The people behind Gorillaz, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, formed in April 1998. They originally identified themselves under the name "Gorilla," and the first song they recorded was "Ghost Train" (1999), later released as a B-side on their single "Rock the House" and "G-Sides".
The band's first release was the EP Tomorrow Comes Today, released in 2000. It was very well received in the UK underground music scene and generated a lot of word-of-mouth advertising, as well as a large shroud of mystery over who was behind Gorillaz and what could be expected from the band in the months to come. Promo outlets circulated a promotional booklet to promote the fictional backstory behind the cartoon band.
The band's official website, www.gorillaz.com, was a virtual representation of Kong Studios, the band's fictional studio and home. Inside, you could browse through each member's bedroom, their recording environment and even the hallways and bathrooms. Each room also had bonus surprises and games to play: for example, the lobby had a remix machine, the cafeteria contained the message board on the wall and Murdoc's Winnebago (accessible only by using the enhanced section of the Gorillaz album) contained a voodoo doll of 2D. Each member also had his or her own computer which contained pictures, samples used in various Gorillaz songs, their favorite websites and their e-mail inboxes. Because of the nature of the site, an official fansite, fans.gorillaz.com, was created to hold the standard band website information, including news, a discography and the band's touring schedules.
The band's first single, "Clint Eastwood", was released on March 5, 2001. It became a smash hit and put Gorillaz into the global spotlight. Due to this, the fictional band members' Hotmail accounts were abandoned (and later hacked) and the inboxes on the site were never updated. 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".
Each of the singles' videos contained humorous and often ridiculous storylines and imagery, though "Clint Eastwood" and "19-2000" were the only singles to break through the American music scene. "19-2000" became popular after being featured in both an Icebreakers commercial, as well as in EA Sports' FIFA 2001. Also the trumpets from the song "Rock the House" can be heard in various MTV shows. The only time the video for "Tomorrow Comes Today" was played in the States was when Toonami broadcasted a "Midnight Run" special where they played animated music videos from Gorillaz, Daft Punk, and Kenna.
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 special also interviews Rachel Stevens of S Club 7 fame and a few of the band's voice talents, who had been given roles to play.
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, 2001 attacks. Meanwhile "G-Sides", a compilation of the B-sides from the first three singles was released in Japan and quickly followed with international releases in early 2002. The new year also saw a complicated performance at the 2002 Brit Awards, featuring the band in 3D animation, weaving in and out of each other on four large screens along with rap accompaniment by Phi Life Cypher. 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".
PHASE ONE POINT FIVE
In November 2002, a DVD titled Phase One: Celebrity Take Down was released. The DVD contains all five videos (including the abandoned video for "5/4"), the "Charts Of Darkness" documentary, the five Gorilla Bites (short vignettes), a tour of the website by the MEL 9000 server and much more. The DVD's menu was designed much like the band's website and depicts an abandoned Kong Studios.
Along with the November 2002 release of the DVD Phase One: Celebrity Take Down, the band's website closed down almost completely. The fictional Kong Studios was no longer accessible. Instead, visitors could only enter a police portacabin, where the message board and chats were still accessible. From there, a small robot called G.R.3.G. could be used to explore the abandoned Kong Studios in a 3-D shockwave environment, though doing so would only grant access to a few games.
Rumors were going around this time that the Gorillaz team were busy preparing a film, but an EMI interview later revealed that plans for the film were abandoned. In an interview with Haruka Kuroda (the voice of Noodle), Kuroda stated that Jamie Hewlett rejected many scripts before giving up on the movie.
PHASE TWO: DEMON DAYS
On December 8, 2004, the website reopened with an exclusive video entitled "Rock It" and the announcement of a new album on the way, which would be produced by Danger Mouse and contain a guest appearance by De La Soul. A talent contest entitled Search For A Star was also announced, allowing fans to send in a minute-long clip of video or audio or an image file. The prize included collaborating with the band by working with them to create the music and video for "El Ma?ana", the fourth single for the new album, although it has been announced that it will be a double-A side with 'Kids With Guns' as well as getting their own virtual room on the newly rebuilt Kong Studios website.
A second promotional booklet was issued, recapping the previously issued booklet, as well as detailing the failed movie production in Hollywood and the breakup and reforming of Gorillaz. A culture jamming project named Reject False Icons was formed criticizing modern pop figures.
The new album was first reported to be released in March 2005, but was later changed to May of the same year. The name of the album was originally reported to be We Are Happy Landfill, but was later changed to Demon Days. The first release of the album was a white label 12" promotional single of the song "Dirty Harry" featuring Bootie Brown and the Children's Choir San Fernandez. "Dirty Harry" was ineligible for the charts due to its status as a promotional single.
The first proper 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. This happened because the single was released as a 7" vinyl in April, and new charts regulations included sales at online music stores, where the song had been available since March 22. "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 would also garner a Record of the Year nomination at the 2006 Grammy Awards.
The album, Demon Days, was #1 in the Album Charts on its first week, 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 August 29, 2005 in the UK, where it debuted at #1. A Japanese EP followed September 7. "DARE" eventually reached #87 in the United States, also becoming a Top 10 hit on the Modern Rock listings.
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 UK on November 21, 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.
On 6 November 2005, Gorillaz-Unofficial announced Jamie Hewlett had revealed that the song "El Ma?ana" would be the fourth single from Demon Days, but it has been confirmed that it will be a double A-side with "Kids With Guns" , to have a UK release on 10 April 2006.
On December 18, Demon Days went triple platinum in the UK and would end up racking up over million copies sold in the UK by the end of the year, making it the 5th best selling album of 2005 there. Demon Days has also gone double platinum in the US and has sold over 6 million copies worldwide.
In 2007 and 2008, Gorillaz will go on a holographic world tour. The cartoon members will be shown as holograms on stage using Pepper's ghost technology, giving them a life-like appearance on stage. Damon Albarn will not be present for the tour, as they will be pre-recorded. A prototype version of the holograms was used at the 2005 MTV EMA Awards and again at the 2006 Grammy Awards with Madonna, where the band played a pre-recorded version of "Feel Good Inc." However, fairly recent comments from Albarn have made the plans a little uncertain.
The backstory of the animated band members of Gorillaz, as established by Albarn and Hewlett.
The story of Gorillaz begins in 1997. Stu-Pot was a mentally deficient keyboard enthusiast and star employee at Uncle Norm's Organ Emporium. Satanist hoodlum Murdoc Niccals decided to ramraid Uncle Norm's Organ Emporium to procure synthesizer equipment in order to establish a "chart topping" musical group. However, Murdoc ended up driving his Vauxhall Astra through the building and directly into Stu-Pot, permanently damaging ("fracturing") Stu-Pot's left eye and putting him into a catatonic state. Murdoc was sentenced to "30,000 hours of community service, plus 10 hours every week of caring for the vegetabilised Stu-Pot". Not long after, Murdoc again injured Stu-Pot in a car accident in Nottingham's Tesco parking lot when attempting a 360?, which permanently damaged Stu-Pot's right eye, but revived him from his coma. Murdoc then recruited the newly recovered (albeit still mentally defective) Stu-Pot as the keyboardist and vocalist for his group, re-dubbing him 2D for the matching pair of dents in his head from the accidents.
Murdoc then found a drummer for the group in a SoHo rap record store: African-American expatriate Russel Hobbs. Russel was a middle-class New York native and was deeply troubled as a youth. He was expelled from an expensive private school for suffering from demonic possession. The trauma of said possession resulted in a four year coma from which Russel was roused only by an elaborately executed exorcism. After his recovery, Russel began attending Brooklyn High School, where he quickly cultivated friendships with a group of rappers, DJs, and street musicians. He has said that "hip-hop saved [his] soul."
This was a short-lived respite, however, as all of Russel's newfound friends were suddenly gunned-down one night in a drive-by shooting. Russel, the sole survivor, became the unwilling receptacle for the spirits of all of his slain compatriots, most notable of whom was the rhyme dropping blue phantom, Del. With their latent possession of his body, Russel gained incredible musical prowess in percussion, rap, and hip-hop as well as a disturbing side-effect: his eyes glowed an eerie white. With this new and violent turn of events, Russel's family shipped him off to England in hopes of helping him recover from his traumas quietly -- not realizing they'd put him directly into the path of Murdoc's aspirations to superstardom, and the excesses that came along with it.
At that point, all the fledgling group needed was a guitarist. Like so many British bands before them, the trio placed an advertisement in NME. The very day the ad ran, a FedEx freight container from Japan was delivered to their doorstep and out jumped a mysterious amnesiac 10-year-old wielding a Gibson Les Paul. The tiny girl made an incomprehensible introduction in Japanese and tore into a "riff to end all riffs" which ended with an impressive karate kick to the air. She then spoke a single word in English to the stunned boys, which became her moniker: "Noodle". In the later part of 1998, the Gorillaz played their first show at the Camden Brownhouse which ended prematurely due to a riot during their song "Punk". EMI A&R man Whiffy Smiffy discharged several rounds from shotgun to disperse the crowd enough to make his way to the stage and quickly signed them to the label. Ten months later they had recorded their self-titled debut LP.
In the winter of 1999 Murdoc acquired the property of Kong Studios, a sprawling haunted studio with a rather shady history, situated atop a hill in the midst of a run-down cemetery and landfill in Districtshire, Essex. The Gorillaz lived and recorded in Kong Studios up until their 2002 11-month tour of North America. At the end of July of that year, the Gorillaz took a six month break in L.A.. There they attempted to get a movie project off the ground. Meanwhile, that Halloween, Kong Studios had been shut down tight in its owner's absence by local law enforcement after an unknown man was seen running, naked and in hysterics, in the marshes near the studio. The police proceeded to keep the area secured while they investigated the strange paranormal events surrounding Kong. The Gorillaz spent the interim period working on their movie, while living in a large rented home in the Hollywood Hills.
Alas, the film was not meant to be, due in part to extensive over-partying, in-fighting, and disagreements with producers, directors, and a notable incident of Murdoc getting himself banned from the Playboy Mansion for stealing ashtrays. Understandably, at this point the Gorillaz went on a year and half hiatus, each of the members going their separate ways to find themselves. Murdoc headed to Mexico to booze it up in Tijuana brothels, getting himself arrested for passing bad cheques in the process. He enjoyed little company in his Mexican jail cell aside from his raven, Cortez, and two Mexican mobsters who would later help break him out. 2D went back home to work for his father at his carnival, re-establish his grip on reality, and come to terms with his newfound pop icon status with the ladies.
Russel disappeared into the States to literally and figuratively exorcise his personal demons, regrettably including the ghost of Del, leaving Russel a mentally and spiritually exhausted wandering shadow of the man he once was. After shambling around Los Angeles for some time, Russel was taken in by Ike Turner and helped to recover, and while living in Turner's basement Russel recorded his own solo album which was shelved due to strange supernatural activity inherent in the music itself, which Russel described as something of a "cosmic disruption".
Noodle travelled to Japan, in a fruitful attempt to uncover the secrets of her own past which included not only the revelation that she was a test subject in a secret government super soldier project, but that she also speaks fluent English. Armed with her newfound knowledge and iron resolve, Noodle was the first to return to Kong Studios. There she went to task battling the zombie and monster-infested darkness of the building, set up the "Search For A Star" contest, and began the process of pulling the band back together to record their new album, Demon Days.
If you make your way to the "Hellhole" the deepest part of kong studios you'll see on the wall in what seems to be blood is "Fire coming out of a monkeys head" which could debunk the noodle crevice idea of the being the monkeys head and it may point to the possibility they are sitting atop monkey's head. Above the hole you will see a counter counting down to Murdoc's birthday(6/6/66)
2D (born in Crawley, United Kingdom) - vocals, keyboards
Noodle (born in Osaka, Japan) - guitar, occasional main and backing vocals
Russel Hobbs (born in New York, New York) - drums, percussion
Murdoc Niccals (born June 6, 1966 in Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom) - bass
In phase one, Del, the blue phantom in the "Clint Eastwood" and "Rock the House" music videos and the Gorilla Bite "Jump The Gut" was, one could say, another band member. In 2003, he was exorcised; it took Russel a year to recover. (In real life Albarn and Hewlett didn't ask the real Del to come back.)
2D's ex-girlfriend Paula was the band's original guitarist. In the Gorillaz storyline, she was ultimately dropped and replaced with Noodle after Paula was caught having an affair with Murdoc in the studio restroom. The state of Murdoc's nose today is a direct result of Russel breaking it in seven or eight different places. This would not be the last affair Murdoc would have with one of 2D's girlfriends; the second affair was with Rachel Stevens of S Club 7. (In reality, Paula was removed because Albarn and Hewlett thought she was too similar to Murdoc.)
Note that the establishment of Murdoc's birthday and the celebration of it numerous times on the official fansite proves that the cartoon band members do age. The music video for "DARE" has also seen physical change in Noodle over 4 years. In 2000, when the Tomorrow Comes Today EP was released, the accompanying promotional booklet stated that their ages were 23, 34, 10 and 25. These are not their current ages. (Note: Murdoc's birthdate had a bit change. At the moment, Murdoc's birthday is June 6th.)
According to the original promotional booklet, Noodle is 14 as of January 2006. However, there seems to be quite a bit of confusion about it, even for Noodle herself. She has repeatedly referred to herself as '13' during 2005. She stated she was '15' during a (live) Habbo Hotel interview, and in direct interviews (e.g. her 2005 NME interview). Noodle's multiple and varied assertions of her age could be attributed to errors by various people doing promotional work, such as magazine editors.
2001 - Gorillaz
2002 - G-Sides
2002 - Laika Come Home (REMIX ALBUM)
2005 - Demon Days
2001 - Clint Eastwood
2001 - 19-2000
2001 - Rock the House
2001 - 911 (with D12 feat. Terry Hall)
2002 - Tomorrow Comes Today
2002 - Rock It
2002 - Lil' Dub Chefin'
2005 - Feel Good Inc.
2005 - DARE
2005 - Dirty Harry
2006 - Kids With Guns" / "El Ma?ana
2000 - Tomorrow Comes Today
2002 - Phase One: Celebrity Take Down
2006 - Demon Days Live