Nine Songs: Gorillaz
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.
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?”
Russel Hobbs: “Mmmm, I do love me some Home Cooking, who doesn’t? Tony just put it down on wax. I miss him.”
Noodle: “This music mean business… like Simz. No shit here.”
Noodle: “Life is sometimes simple, like sunny day. Blue sky can lift our spirits.”
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?”
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…”
2D: “This is a proper good track. Although when I went to America, they were actually quite nice.”
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.”
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.”