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Gorilla Z 2020
Nine Songs

Taking in a love of the funk, modern life and lost loves, Murdoc, 2-D, Russel Hobbs and Noodle meet Ed Nash in a dark corner of the Web to talk the pivotal songs in their digital lives

23 October 2020, 07:00 | Words by Ed Nash

Meeting Gorillaz, a virtual band operating in an era of social distancing, is certainly very different to having a conversation with band members via Zoom.

There are no technical glitches, screen hangs or Wi-Fi drops, instead it’s short and sharp, in the shorthand of modern communication. When we convene on a dark corner of the internet, Murdoc Niccals, Stuart Harold "2-D" Pot, Russel Hobbs and Noodle, the brainchildren of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, who have been making music as a collective for over two decades, their digital selves are as mysterious as their recording sessions.

The four of them are gearing up for the release of Song Machine: Season One - Strange Timez, featuring a raft of collaborators, including The Cure’s Robert Smith, Kano, Elton John, St. Vincent, and CHAI, and they’re also rehearsing for livestream shows in December, which Albarn describes as “playing new music in a new way in a new reality."

When it comes to explaining their Nine Songs selections, they’re equally mysterious about the why’s and wherefores of each song. Drummer Russel Hobbs opts for nostalgia, referencing the late master of Afrobeat Tony Allen and Del the Funky Homosapien, their collaborator on the first Gorillaz single “Clint Eastwood". Guitarist Noodle is both cryptic and philosophical. Singer 2D uses his choices to explain why 2020 is rubbish. Bassist Murdoc is by a distance the most loquacious and mentions a lost love - Kelly O’Driscoll if you’re reading this, give him a virtual shout, it’s lonely out there in cyberspace.

“Mistadobalina” by Del The Funky Homosapien

Russel Hobbs: “Aah, this joint takes me back man, flipping that Monkees track was a stroke of genius. I wonder where Mista Dobalina is these days?”

“Home Cooking” by Tony Allen

Russel Hobbs: “Mmmm, I do love me some Home Cooking, who doesn’t? Tony just put it down on wax. I miss him.”

“Boss” by Little Simz

Noodle: “This music mean business… like Simz. No shit here.”

“Keep on Rocking” by CHAI

Noodle: “Life is sometimes simple, like sunny day. Blue sky can lift our spirits.”

“Vicious” by Lou Reed

Murdoc: “This one takes me back to my first love, Kelly O’Driscoll. Had a vicious right hook, did Kelly. Her left was pretty devastating, too. Got the X-rays to prove it! Innocent times. If you’re reading this Kelly, fancy a reconnect?”

“Lost Cause” by Beck

Murdoc: “One of the great lyricists, Beck. Who hasn’t felt like a lost cause at some point? Incidentally, if you are feeling like a lost cause, you may be interested in my new, patented life-coaching system, The Power of Me™. More on that in due course…”

“North American Scum” by LCD Soundsystem

2D: “This is a proper good track. Although when I went to America, they were actually quite nice.”

“Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

2D: “If you are always looking at your phone you won’t see all the things around you like trees and clouds and big holes in the ground to fall down.”

“The Magic” by Joan As Policewoman

2D: “Joan is a great singer, and she’s also a policewoman on the side, as these days it’s good to have two jobs.”

Song Machine: Season One - Strange Timez is out now
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