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Gorillaz logo

The original Gorillaz logo.

The official storyline of the virtual band members of Gorillaz, as established by the music videos, the Rise of the Ogre autobiography, interviews with the characters and real-life band members in multiple forms of media, interactive games on the official Gorillaz website and social media posts.

Phase One: Celebrity Take Down (1998–2002)

This phase one plot summary is adapted from Rise of the Ogre, phase one interviews, The Apex Tapes, music videos, official biographies and the phase one Kong Studios website.

7b - Orange Sun Press Shot (1999) (Alt 2 - Found in ROTO)

The first press shot of the band.

The story of Gorillaz begins on the 15th of August 1997. Murdoc Niccals was a Satanist hoodlum and bass player with a very abuse childhood who dreamt about becoming a famous musician. He had been a part of various bands over the years, the most notable of them being 'Murdoc's Burning Sensations', but none of them were even remotely successful, largely due to his terrible singing voice. This time, however, during a crime spree with a gang of criminals, Murdoc decided to ram-raid a store known as Uncle Norm's Organ Emporium to procure synthesizer equipment in order to establish a "chart-topping" musical group.

Murdoc drove his Vauxhall Astra through the building's window, crashing directly into the face of Stuart Pot, a mentally deficient keyboard enthusiast and part-time employee at the Emporium, permanently damaging ("fracturing") his 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 injured Stu-Pot" (as he was nicknamed). Not long after, Murdoc again injured Stuart in a car accident in Nottingham's Tesco car park when attempting a 360° spin in order to impress some women. During the initial rotation, he was thrown through the windshield and landed face-first on a curb. This permanently damaged Stu-Pot's right eye but awakened him from his coma. Impressed by Stu-Pot’s new look, Murdoc then recruited the newly recovered (albeit still mentally defective) Stu-Pot as the keyboardist and vocalist for his group, re-dubbing him '2-D' ('Two-Dents') for the matching pair of dents in his head from the accidents.

In September of 1997, Murdoc acquired the property of the Khong Mansion, a sprawling haunted studio with a rather shady history, on a website named 'Gigantic Disused Haunted Studios In The Middle Of No-Where'. The mansion was situated atop a hill in the midst of a run-down cemetery and landfill in Districtshire, Essex. Shortly after, he renamed the building and Gorillaz' new headquarters to 'Kong Studios'.

Murdoc then found a drummer for the group in a Soho record store: an 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, MCs, 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 to live with his uncle in Belsize Park 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.

Gorilla Poster Art

2-D, Murdoc, Russel, Paula and Mr. Maggits

Russel got a part-time job working in a Soho record store, called 'Big Rick Black's Record Shack', where he met Murdoc Niccals. When Murdoc asked for an obscure 50s record, he slipped a bag over Russel's head and took him to Kong Studios. Russel was impressed by the demos that 2-D and Murdoc had produced and he chose to stay there, despite having been kidnapped. At that point, all the fledgling group needed was a guitarist. The band decided to draft in 2-D's girlfriend at the time, Paula Cracker, to play the guitar, and Mr. Maggits, an ape that played the bongos. With that, the early working group, Gorilla, was formed (other names were also considered, such as Satan's Scrotum, Thor's Raw, Number Of The Beats, Meatus and Asterix, but ‘Gorilla’ was the chosen one).

One night, in the depths of Kong Studios, Russel awoke to find Murdoc and Paula having an affair in cubicle #3 of the Kong bathrooms. Disgusted by this, Russel broke Murdoc's nose five times (though Murdoc's nose had also been previous broken many times before this occasion). Like so many British bands before them, the trio placed an advertisement in NME in search of a guitarist. The same day the ad ran, a FedEx freight container from Japan was delivered to their doorstep and out jumped a mysterious amnesiac 7-year-old wielding a Gibson Les Paul guitar. The tiny girl made an incomprehensible introduction in Japanese and tore into a "riff to end all riffs", as described by Murdoc, which ended with an impressive karate kick to the air. She then bowed, and spoke a single word in English to the stunned boys, which became her moniker: 'Noodle'. By April 1998, the band was finally assembled, changing their name from Gorilla to Gorillaz via Noodle's recommendation. Their first song was called Ghost Train, still featuring Paula and Maggits, and was recorded at Kong Studios. Murdoc sent a copy of the song, some photos of the band and a manifesto over to Mr. Whiffy Smithy at EMI.

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The Camden Brownhouse

On the 5th of November 1998, 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 a shotgun to disperse the crowd enough to make his way to the stage and quickly signed them to the label. The following evening, Gorillaz attended their record label signing party. The band was gifted a seven-foot cheque, and also met a long-time collaborator, Damon Albarn. Damon would go on to be an influential part of the band, serving as a vocal coach for 2-D. However, Murdoc was and still is very jealous of Damon and frequently attempts to poison him and steal his demos. Mr. Maggits also left the band around this time due to creative differences with the other members.

In December 1998, the band began the recording sessions for their debut album, spending the entirety of 1999 recording in Kong. After a year's worth of recordings, the band felt as though there was something missing from the album, so they decided to draft in Dan The Automator as producer to help provide extras. One of the songs which were being recorded for the band’s debut album was Clint Eastwood. Initially, the song featured vocals by Murdoc, described by the band as “grating, colourless and atonal”. Dan suggested that the song could be improved by replacing his vocals with a rap section, something that not only the band agreed with but that seemed to trigger a ghostly summoning: the ghost of Del, one of Russel’s friends killed in the drive-by shooting, emerged from his body as he went into a brief coma while delivering the rap verses for the song, shocking everyone around including Russel himself. After that, Dan made the decision to move the album recordings over to the sun-kissed beaches of Jamaica. From April to May 2000, the band recorded the final tracks in Jamaica, before production on the album finally finished in June 2000.

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2-D and Murdoc in Jamaica: May 2000

Upon returning to Kong after the completion of the album, the band began making plans for their first music video. The band initially sourced Italian director Paulo Skinbacio to direct the music video for the song Tomorrow Comes Today. The truth is, however, Skinbacio had never been on a film shoot in his life. The music video for the song premiered in a garbage bin outside the music label's office. The band decided to fire Skinbacio, which led to him threatening the group in German. Now in need of another director, Damon Albarn suggested his old troublemaker flatmate Jamie Hewlett. Jamie was brought to Kong, and agreed to direct the video. He would later become a hugely influential part of Gorillaz, going on to direct and assist the band's entire videography as well as becoming their own personal stylist.

TomorrowComesTodayEP

Tomorrow Comes Today EP (2000)

Prior to the release of Tomorrow Comes Today, however, the band made their first proper live debut at the Notting Hill Carnvial on the 25th of August 2000, when Murdoc got "drunk out of his mind on rum punch" and forced his way into the sound system being held by Middle Row Records at the Meanwhile Park, where the refix made by Ed Case with Sweetie Irie of Clint Eastwood was played only a few days after its completion.[1] A few months later, on the 27th of November 2000, the band made their commercial debut with the Tomorrow Comes Today EP and the music video for the song. Next year, on the 5th of March 2001, Gorillaz released their debut single, Clint Eastwood, featuring Del the Ghost Rapper. The song and its accompanying video became a smash hit and would go on to give Gorillaz the push towards mainstream popularity.

In March 2001, to promote their soon-to-be-released album, the band held their first-ever tour, named Gorillaz LIVE. On the 22nd of March, Gorillaz performed the first live gig from the tour at the London Scala. The gig was televised live on MTV, and was available for rewatch on the band's website.

1 - Gorillaz Cover

Gorillaz (2001)

On the 26th of March 2001, Gorillaz’ self-titled debut album was released to the public. The album became a success, charting at Nº 3 on the UK albums chart, and Nº 14 on the US Billboard 200, going on to sell 7 million copies worldwide. Everyone was celebrating the release of the album, except for Murdoc, whose prized Winnebago was stolen the same day as the album's release. Someone over at EMI had given away the Winnebago keys along with a copy of the album. The person in question who got ahold of the keys was a man named Dr. Wurzel, who started a GeoCities page where he would post photos of his many adventures with Murdoc's mobile home. An online craze began on the Gorillaz website, with Murdoc initiating a competition for fans to find his Winnebago. During this time, Dr. Wurzel leaked Gorillaz’ first track, Ghost Train, and a picture of the band when Paula was still their guitarist. At some point in late 2001, Murdoc (or the authorities) apprehended the crazed doctor and returned the Winnebago to its rightful home in the Kong Studios Carpark.

In the Spring of 2001, the band began recording a music video for the song 5/4, but this was later scrapped in favour of a music video for the song 19-2000, which was later released as a single on the 25th of June 2001.

57a - Gorillaz in Japan (2002)

Murdoc and Noodle in Japan: August 2001

In August 2001, Gorillaz went on to Japan to perform live as part of their tour. However, this lead to Noodle developing melancholic feelings and thoughts, not knowing about her past and feeling isolated from her homeland. It was also during this time when she began to suffer from nightmares regarding her forgotten past. Russel decided to buy her a jetpack to cheer her up. In the Fall of the same year, the band embarked on a tour across the United Kingdom, where the notable 'Live at the Forum' performance was held. Not long after the tour, the band released their 3rd single and the final music video off of their debut album, Rock The House.

Back at the Japan tour, Gorillaz noted that their popularity there wasn't as big as it was in other parts of the world. To attempt to boost their album sales and popularity, the band came up with G-Sides, a compilation album that consisted of bonus tracks, b-sides, and remixes from the band's singles off their debut album. This had the desired effect, as G-Sides was released later that December, and went on to sell half a million copies worldwide.

54 - G-Sides (2001) (Alt 1)

G-Sides (2001)

On the 11th of September 2001, due to the collapse of the twin towers and closed airports, rap group D12 were left stranded in London. Gorillaz allowed the group to stay at Kong Studios for the time being, during which the single 911 was born, serving as a response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The song would later feature contributions from The Specials frontman, Terry Hall. The song was released as a downloadable single later that winter on both Gorillaz and D12's websites.

In Christmas 2001, Gorillaz released a series of little shorts known as G-Bitez which allowed fans to gain an insight into how the band members lived off-screen. On the 20th of February 2002, Gorillaz performed at the BRIT Awards with hip hop group Phi-Life Cypher, where they were nominated for 6 Awards but won nothing.

From 23rd February 2002 to 11th March 2002, Gorillaz embarked on an 11-month tour of North America. The tour was met with issues from the beginning, as Murdoc was arrested as soon as the band arrived in America, due to an incident in Nebraska 15 years prior. Murdoc made it on stage just in time after paying the $500,000 bail. During this tour, Noodle began suffering from nightmares again, which led to her losing much sleep. The band passed this off as a feeling of road fatigue and touring at a young age.

On the 25th of February 2002, the band released the final single off of their debut album, which was a re-release of Tomorrow Comes Today, with two new B-side tracks instead of the previous ones.

The tour was going pretty well for a while, until the disastrous show in Mexico on the 11th of March 2002. The desks and monitors malfunctioned during the soundcheck due to the switch in voltage levels, 2-D had eaten a spicy Mexican burrito the night before and had had diarrhoea, Murdoc whacked a fan's head who had jumped on stage with his bass, Russel had a heart attack mid-show and needed vitamin injections, Noodle was on a trigger due to not sleeping sufficiently, one of Siegfried & Roy's tigers got drunk and stole a motorcycle, someone threw a horse lung onto the stage and to top it all off, a giant inflatable gorilla head fell down and crushed several kids, who had to wait 48 hours before they could be set free.

62a - Gorillaz and Spacemonkeyz (2002)

Gorillaz Vs. Spacemonkeyz: July 2002

After the end of the tour, Gorillaz took a six-month break in L.A. on the 13th of March. There they attempted to get a movie project off the ground. The band played their last gig together at the Isle of MTV Festival in Portugal on the 20th of July. At the end of the gig, a fan asked Murdoc to sign a CD for him, the CD in question being a release from a group associated with Gorillaz that he did not even know of: these were the Spacemonkeyz — three chimps who were the mutated offsprings of lab monkeys that were sent up to space during the Cold WarW. Upon arriving back to Earth, the chimps stumbled upon Kong Studios after 2-D had accidentally left the studio's front doors open before the band left for the tour, which allowed the them to break in and steal the master tapes for the band's debut album. The Spacemonkeyz made the dub reworkings album Laika Come Home in an attempt to contact their spiritual leader, Laika, the first dog to be sent into space. The album was released on the 1st of July 2002, much to Murdoc's anger. A few days later, on the 6th of July, the band headlined the Townsville Music Festival at Townsville, the same city where The Powerpuff Girls lived, and closed off the tour later that same month at the Isle Of MTV festival in Lisboa, Portugal, on the 20th of July.

After the tour ended, Gorillaz tried to create a movie, but everyone was too concentrated on doing drugs and hanging out with celebrities. Murdoc almost got a TV show, but they replaced him at the last minute. During the film's production, the band worked with director Alfred C. Klinker, who kept changing the script every day, this led to the band eventually firing Klinker, and deciding to check into a Hollywood motel to write the film themselves in August 2002. However, this did not work, as constant fights broke out between the band members, and a sense of distrust was grown among everybody. 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. It all came to a head when one fight led to Murdoc attempting to strangle 2-D to death. Russel and Noodle broke up the fight, but Murdoc, finally sick of it all, walked out of the motel, and ended Gorillaz there and then.

Phase Two: Slowboat to Hades (2004–2008)

This phase two plot summary is adapted from Rise of the Ogre, phase two interviews, We Are The Dury, music videos, official biographies and the phase two Kong Studios website.

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Murdoc in Jail: October 2002

After attempting to kill 2-D and leaving Gorillaz, Murdoc headed off to Mexico to get some sun and relax. However, after using fake dud cheques at a brothel, Murdoc was arrested and sentenced to thirty years at La Mesa State Prison on the 31st of October 2002. During this time, Murdoc met cellmates who taught him a bit of black magic, and acquired himself a pet raven named Cortez.

Meanwhile, that same evening, 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.

After Murdoc, the next band member to leave was Noodle. Noodle went back to Japan in a fruitful attempt to uncover the secrets of her own past after suffering from nightmares and visions on the Gorillaz Tour. Noodle left for Japan on the 1st of October 2002, where she checked into a capsule hotel and began her search.

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2-D working at his father's funfair: December 2002

2-D was the next one to leave. He headed out into the world of L.A., rubbing elbows with Brian Setzer, joining The Viper Room Club, and moving into an apartment flat with actress Britt Ekland. However, after Britt spent every night banging on the walls and building a wicker statue, and getting sick of the Los Angeles lifestyle, 2-D decided to go back to Eastbourne and work at his father's funfair. 2-D returned to England on November 25th 2002. It was during this time that 2-D's ego got a significant boost and he re-established his grip on reality, coming to terms with his newfound pop icon status with the ladies. He also began a friendship with Shane Lynch from Boyzone. 2-D also began to grow a resentment for Murdoc, breaking free of adoring his abuser.

Russel remained in L.A. for some time but became increasingly haunted by The Grim Reaper, who eventually banished Del from his body. Luckily, Russel was approached by Ike Turner who offered him sanctuary in his basement to recover from this experience.

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Noodle and Mike The Monkey return to Kong Studios: October 2003

After a year of searching in Japan, Noodle was close to giving up on her search, she decided to head down to a sushi bar in downtown Hong Kong, to eat in woe. While she was there a waiter called for an order of "Ocean Bacon" and all of Noodle's memories came flooding back. she was reunited with her mentor, Mr. Kyuzo who was working as a chef at the establishment and learned that she was part of a secret government super soldier project and could speak English fluently. Noodle was the only survivor after the project was scrapped. Mr. Kyuzo erased Noodle's memory using the words, "Ocean Bacon" and sent her off to England in the FedEx crate. Armed with her newfound knowledge and iron resolve, Noodle decided to return to Kong Studios. on 27 October 2003, Noodle returned to Kong and discovered that the building had fallen into a state of disrepair during the band's absence. She also discovered that the building was invested by zombies and monster-infested darkness. Using the Kong security room as a safe house Noodle slowly cleaned the building of its unwanted inhabitants. Now knowing English, Noodle began to soak up what was playing on her TV in the security room and discovered society was being fed manufactured shit. It was here that Noodle began writing and putting together the concepts of the band's sophomore album Demon Days.

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Russel in Ike Turner's basement: January 2004

While Noodle was clearing Kong, Russel was still recovering in Ike Turner's basement, it was here that Russel began recording demos for a solo hip-hop album. However, after seeing hallucinations of demons flying out the speakers, Russel decided to bury the demo tapes, believing that they were causing several world problems.

Finally, in February 2004, Noodle finally cleared Kong of the undead and began contacting her bandmates, but Murdoc was still in prison. After spending a year in jail, his patience began wearing thin and he teamed up with his cellmates and escaped from La Mesa State. He returned to the Chicken Choker brothel, to commit the same crime he did before, then headed over to the airport and flew back to England.

Gorillaz Phase 2

Gorillaz reunite: March 2004

Noodle texted her bandmates, and on the 3rd of March 2004, 2-D, Murdoc, and Russel returned to Kong Studios. Gorillaz was together again. The band caught each other up on what they had been up to before Noodle unveiled her “Demon Days” project. Recording for the album began the next day.

Noodle drafted in Damon, and producer Danger Mouse to help out with the record. The main story of Demon Days was to depict a post-9/11 world, with each track dealing with a different topic/demon. Noodle also set out to make the album prove that Gorillaz was more than a marketing ploy gimmick, as many critics accused Gorillaz in regards to their last album. Recordings were completed in November 2004. A month later on the 12th of December 2004, Gorillaz announced their comeback with the release of a new music video for a new song called Rockit. Along with this was Noodle setting up the "Search For A Star" contest. A competition in which fans could submit themselves doing a talent, and submit said video or piece of artwork to the Gorillaz website. The band also launched the Reject False Icons campaign, which encouraged fans to reject false celebrity icons. The cherry on top of all of this was a complete renovation to Kong Studios, new rooms and new minigames for fans to explore and interact with.

On the 9th of May 2005, Gorillaz released the lead single and music video off of their Demon Days album Feel Good Inc. featuring hip hop trio De La Soul. The song and video were a huge success. Once more bringing Gorillaz mainstream, charting increasingly well, and properly replacing Clint Eastwood as Gorillaz’ signature tune.

Gorillazdemondays

Demon Days (2005)

On the 11th of May 2005, the Demon Days album was released in Japan. It received critical acclaim, topped many charts, sold millions of copies, and was listed on various publications' lists of the best albums in both 2005 and the 2000s in general. In order to promote the album in the US, the band came up with the idea for the Demon Detour; a series of live radio shows across many major cities and radio stations without the need for big screens or concert promoters. The band invited some of their guests from the album and booked at Sarm West Studios to rehearse the songs and record them for quality control, which became known as the Sarm Studios Session.

Like always, however, issues immediately began; when they arrived at Sarm, they started to receive "odd phone calls, disturbing messages and eventually blatant death threats", and while on the Demon Detour, the band's tour bus was being shot at consistently every night. The band tried putting together who was shooting at them, suspects included Paula Cracker, Paulo Skinbacio, Alfred C. Klinker, Dr. Wurzel and Noodle's Japanese Government bosses. To keep his mind stable, Russel began experimenting with taxidermy during this time. Eventually, the band started getting sick of being shot at every night (as anyone probably would), and Murdoc decided to take things into his own hands, asking the tour manager Jimmy Manson to see what he could do about the shootings. The next night, the shootings stopped, and the tour continued as usual.

After the Demon Detour, the band returned to Kong, where Noodle hatched secret plans for the 2nd Demon Days music video. Noodle recorded the DARE music video, without letting any of the other band members know. The single and video were later released on the 29th of August 2005, reaching No.1 on the UK Singles Chart, being the only Gorillaz single to do so at the time.

Later that same summer, Gorillaz headed off to NamibW desert to record the music video for the song Dirty Harry featuring Bootie Brown. The single and video were later released on the 21st of November 2005.

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Gorillaz and Damon's live band: November 2005

After the Dirty Harry shoot, the band returned to Kong, tired and double booked. The band was set to perform at the MTV EMA's, while also set to perform a five-night concert at the Manchester Opera House. To fix this dilemma, the band drafted Damon and the Demon Days collaborators to perform the album live. From 1st - 5th November 2005, Damon and his live band performed the Demon Days album live at the Manchester Opera House. The band attended these gigs in the audience for the first show, before heading over to Lisbon to perform "Feel Good Inc." at the MTV EMA's.

Later that Christmas, MTV Cribs released an episode where they receive a tour of Kong Studios from Murdoc Niccals. Murdoc also delivered the Queen's speech that Christmas Day.

On the 8th of February 2006, the band headed back over to America to perform Feel Good Inc. at the Grammys. After the award show, an after-party was held at Dennis Hopper's place, in which Murdoc got into a drunken fight with ex-Archies member, Jughead Jones, who claimed Gorillaz was a rip-off of his band. On the 15th of February 2006, Gorillaz performed Dirty Harry at the BRIT Awards featuring a large children's choir and guest star, Bootie Brown.

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Setting up for El Mañana: March 2006

Following the BRIT Awards, plans began to be made for the final Demon Days music video. Murdoc received contacts from the Demon Detour tour manager Jimmy Manson, who revealed he had been following Gorillaz for a while. He initially tried out for the guitarist role but was rejected upon Noodle's arrival, then stalked the band for some time during their time in Hollywood in 2002, and finally got a gig as the tour manager for the Demon Detour. Manson revealed that he was the one behind the shootings and he pitched an idea to kill Gorillaz and cash in on their success. Murdoc agreed to this and came up with an idea for the music video for the song El Mañana. Murdoc then pitched the idea to Jamie Hewlett and the other band members; in the video, Noodle would be on the flying windmill island from Feel Good Inc. and the island would be shot down by helicopters, however Noodle would have a parachute with her and the helicopters would have fake bullets. The rest of the band was a bit reluctant to this idea but ultimately gave in, especially Noodle, who wanted to take a break from Gorillaz and had already packed all her stuff up in her room. She planned to leave straight after the filming of the El Mañana music video. Murdoc and Jimmy hatched the plan, in which Manson would hide out inside the windmill tower with guns and then come out and shoot Noodle.

On the 7th of March 2006, Gorillaz started the video shoot for El Mañana which starred Noodle on the windmill island. Halfway through the video, the island was shot down and exploded as planned. However, after the video's shoot, Noodle was nowhere to be found, leaving behind a used parachute, and panic exploded on set. Manson had never come out and shot Noodle. This was because Murdoc had actually double-crossed Manson, by locking him inside the windmill with the guns. The island crashes, with Jimmy Manson perishing along with it. In an attempt to calm fans and save face, Murdoc lied and said that Noodle had escaped by parachute and was chilling out in the Maldives. In reality, Noodle was missing and supposedly dead. Murdoc noted that the choppers that had shot down the island were not the same fake copters from Feel Good Inc. but were actually real helicopters that came and shot down the island, meaning that Noodle was being shot down with real bullets in the video and was not acting. The El Mañana single and music video were later released alongside Kids With Guns on the 10th of April 2006. Following Noodle's disappearance, Kong began to fall into a state of disrepair once more, as if her presence was the only thing keeping the building alive.

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Murdoc alone in Kong: October 2006

Shortly after the video's shoot, Damon and the live band once more performed a residency of five shows at New York's Harlem Apollo from 2nd April - 6th April 2006. 2-D and Murdoc attended these gigs in the audience. After the Apollo gigs, 2-D and Russel left the group, while Murdoc stayed behind by himself in the crumpling building of Kong Studios. 2-D headed off to Jamaica for a vacation, then went to Oxford to get a degree from law school, while Russel returned to his hometown of Brooklyn. Later that year, on the 26th of October 2006, Gorillaz released their autobiography Rise Of The Ogre, and in the same day as the book's release an emergency transmission from Noodle was received in the Room of Brians at a run-down Kong Studios. Murdoc discovered that the coordinates of the transmission were being transmitted from the "depths of Hell". Equipped with a spellbook, he opened a portal down to it and wandered off, travelling through the bowels of Hell for over six months in order to bring her back, but eventually failed and returning to Kong.

D-Sides

D-Sides (2007)

Following the rescue attempt, Murdoc put Kong Studios — now collapsing and overrun with zombies — up for sale and headed off on a bender around the world. During this time, he released another compilation album, D-Sides. Similarly to G-Sides, D-Sides was composed of bonus tracks, b-sides, and remixes of the singles from Demon Days, but consisting of significantly more material. The album was released on the 19th of November 2007 and performed similarly to its predecessor. Not long after D-Sides, director Ceri Levy was preparing to release a Gorillaz-centred documentary titled Bananaz, about the behind-the-scenes and creative process of the making and recording of the band's first two albums from the perspective of Damon and Jamie. The documentary premiered at the Berlin International Film FestivalW on the 7th of February 2008. Murdoc responded to the documentary with a drunken threatening voice message to Ceri. An online "war" began between the two of them, which resulted in Ceri leaking an audio recording of Murdoc having sex with an unknown woman. Murdoc called off the war following the leak.

Murdoc, however, still needed money to pay off a debt he had gotten himself into after some failed investments and falling for pyramid scheme scams in an attempt to cover his expenses with Demon Days. As such, he decided to start selling old and broken weaponry and firearms as if they were brand-new to various underground networks, making a profit out of it. Unfortunately for him, some of the damaged goods he had been selling were for an entity named 'Malthus', a devil with a large interest in guns and weaponry. After he realised he had been scammed by Murdoc, he sent off an underground network group of mercenary pirates known as 'The Black Clouds' after him. Murdoc also believed that it had been them who had shot down the flying windmill island during the video shoot for El Mañana, but that was later revealed to have been orchestrated by the Department Of Musical Corrections, a secret organisation operating undercover in the music industry which had been keeping track of Gorillaz ever since their first-ever gig at the Camden Brownhouse with the goal of neutralising the band, seen by the organisation as a threat to their goals, objectives and "sacred values of harmony, obedience and order".

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The run-down Kong Studios

Following his bender, Murdoc began to run low on money once again. After not receiving any serious offers for Kong Studios in months, and with the need to escape from The Black Clouds, he decided on a more drastic approach: as such, on the 25th of July 2008, Murdoc burned down the ruins of Kong Studios, cashed in on the insurance money and blamed the fire on some local kids. He then attended the Monkey: Journey To The West opera, which had been worked on by long-time collaborators Albarn and Hewlett, as an alibi.

Back at the Apollo shows, however, Murdoc had met up with Mos Def at The Box Club, who told him about an entity called 'The Boogieman', a black-caped figure and the embodiment of all the evil in the world. While Murdoc dismissed it at first, he later found out that Mos Def was indeed correct, and that the Boogieman had been sent after him by Beelzebub, Satan himself, to collect his soul in order to pay a previous debt, while also siding with Malthus and The Black Clouds as well. Following this discovery, Murdoc decided to flee the UK and started to scour the world for a new HQ, somewhere he would be hidden and safe from them.

Phase Three: Escape To Plastic Beach (2008–2013)

This phase three plot summary is adapted from music videos, animated shorts, Murdoc's Pirate Radio show, social media content, phase three interviews, official biographies, the Plastic Beach adventure game, the Escape to Plastic Beach World Tour, the We Are Ten Radio Show and the DoYaThing Radio Show.

PlasticBeachSQPic

The Plastic Beach island.

While searching for a new hideout, Murdoc discovered an island located in the middle of the ocean, specifically at Point NemoW, made entirely out of landfill stuck together. He sprayed the island bright pink and used the insurance money to build a new Gorillaz HQ on top, renaming the island to 'Plastic Beach'. According to the pelican at the entrance of the building in the Plastic Beach adventure game, Plastic Beach is at the farthest point from any other landmass in the world, dubbed 'Point Nemo'. After finding the island, he shipped a lot of the band's belongings to Plastic Beach, their new home and recording studio. While residing on the island, Murdoc began writing and putting together the concepts for the third Gorillaz studio album Plastic Beach, but he had to first reassemble his bandmates.

Murdoc stated that he tried to recover clues to Noodle's whereabouts from the wreckage of the windmill island, but the most he could gather was a DNA sample. He later used her DNA to create a violent cyborg version of Noodle, who acts as his bodyguard. Cyborg Noodle doesn't speak, but is adept at firearms and replaces Noodle as the band's guitarist throughout this phase.

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2-D wakes up on Plastic Beach.

After failing to get a degree in law, 2-D left Oxford and headed off to Beirut to live by himself. 2-D was gassed, kidnapped on his Beruit retreat, and taken to Plastic Beach in a suitcase as shown in 2-D's Plastic Beach Ident short. While the short seemingly reveals the Boogieman as his kidnapper, 2-D believes Murdoc was the one who kidnapped him. 2-D was held at Plastic Beach against his will by Murdoc, who forces him to assist in the making of the next Gorillaz album. 2-D fell under strong depression during this stage in his life, being held captive and constantly abused by Murdoc and Cyborg Noodle, being watched by his biggest fear - a whale, missing his bandmates and being forced to withdraw from painkillers.

012-0

Russel's suicide note.

Initially, little was known about the fate of Russel. Following his return to Brooklyn, Murdoc mentioned he had essentially dropped off the face of the Earth. Murdoc mentions that he used a drum machine built from all of Russel's equipment to provide percussion for his album. Finally, Russel's Plastic Beach Ident short hit the website, showing him stomping down a fishing dock in a barely suppressed rage and jumping off the end into the ocean, possibly attempting suicide as shown from a letter he left behind. Following his attempt, Russel let his body float out to sea. During this time, Russel ingested so much pollution, trash and toxic waste that he was transformed into a giant as tall as all of Plastic Beach, making a reference to Gulliver's Travels. Russel's situation reinforces the idea of human excess destroying nature already present in the album.

Murdoc and 2-D proceed to make their way to Plastic Beach via a road trip to the ocean in a 1969 Camaro SS (dubbed 'Stylo'). Murdoc and 2-D are attacked by Bruce Willis, driving a 1968 Chevrolet El Camino. Cyborg Noodle is rendered useless due to a bullet through her head, and Willis opens fire on the two, resulting in a car chase that makes up the Stylo music video. Murdoc drives them off a cliff into the ocean, and the car transforms into a shark-shaped submarine. The car chase was recorded on film by Murdoc's personal camera crew and was edited to make the music video for the Stylo single which was later released on the 26th of January 2010. A month later, on the 25th of February, the band released Superfast Jellyfish, the second single from their new record featuring De La Soul once again along with Gruff Rhys and the song White Flag with Bashy, Kano and The Syrian National Orchestra For Arabic Music two days later. The visual accompaniment for Superfast Jellyfish was released on the 8th of March 2010, but despite the song being already out it was technically only made a single on the 9th of May of the same year.

PB

Plastic Beach (2010).

The Plastic Beach album was released on the 3rd of March 2010. The album received critical acclaim from critics. Various publications listed it as one of the best albums of 2010 and the 2010s in general. Despite the cult following, however, the album did not sell well or chart high upon its initial release. Because of the mediocre sales of the album, Murdoc was unable to regain the money needed to pay back Malthus or The Black Clouds, leading him to create a subscription-based service for their fans, initially named 'G-Club' but later rebranded into 'Sub Division'.

To promote the release of the new album, the band set off to their live comeback after five years by headlining that year's Coachella festival. For these festivals, Murdoc assembled a backing band to accompany the main one, which also included Damon Albarn and half of The Clash. However, only one day prior to the Coachella gig, Murdoc was deported back to Plastic Beach because of an invalid visa, leading Albarn and the "backing band" to perform at the festival all by themselves. Following the Coachella performance, the newly-formed live band travelled to New York City to record the iTunes Session EP, later released in promotion of their upcoming tour.

BoogiemanHill

The Boogieman moments before taking several bullets through his cape from Cyborg Noodle's rifle.

The third single from Plastic Beach was On Melancholy Hill, released on the 12th of June. In its respective music video, Noodle is revealed to be alive and in hiding. She is seen escaping a cruise ship, the M. Harriet, that is under attack by the Black Clouds. Meanwhile, Murdoc, 2-D and the newly recovered Cyborg Noodle, along with all the Plastic Beach collaborators, make their way to Point Nemo together, travelling side by side in an armada of underwater vehicles. Upon arriving in a thick fog, Murdoc sights the Boogieman and orders his Cyborg bodyguard to open fire. The Boogieman escapes, leaving the fog to dissipate and reveal Plastic Beach. While drifting off in the sea, Russel finds the sea-stranded Noodle and rescues her, and together they continue on with their journey to reach the rest of the band. the music video and single for On Melancholy Hill later released on the 12th of June 2010. Although initially underperforming, the song would later go on to be another one of Gorillaz' most famous tunes, behind Clint Eastwood and Feel Good Inc.

000whentheemptiness

On the 21st of November, Gorillaz released a new single called Doncamatic featuring Daley. The music video for the single featured Daley piloting a one-man submarine through the depths of the ocean on his way to Plastic Beach. Another single off of the album was also considered, that being Rhinestone Eyes, but shortly following the Doncamatic video shoot, while waiting the arrival of Russel and Noodle on the island, the band and the filming crew were met by the Battleship Ringo, a ship owned by record company EMI, who confiscated their filming equipment as a result of Murdoc violating their contract and going over budget on the production of the music videos for Stylo and On Melancholy Hill. Because of this, Jamie Hewlett had to speed sketch the following events right as they were taking place. Afterwards, these sketches were refined and a storyboard film was made.

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Gorillaz reunited: October 2010.

The storyboard film for Rhinestone Eyes opens up with the Boogieman showing up at the island and follows the events known as 'The Battle of Rhinestone Eyes'. It reveals that the Boogieman had a grudge against Murdoc because of a deal the two made when they first met after Murdoc escaped prison in Mexico and that he was also the fifth rejected Horseman of Apocalypse, named "Flatulence". In the video, we see the Boogieman summon the Gorillaz Live Band, who are revealed to have been part of the Black Clouds the whole time.

More Black Clouds raid Plastic Beach in planes similar to the ones that attacked Noodle, in an attempt at Murdoc's life. The album's collaborators, along with Cyborg Noodle, arm themselves with guns and retaliate, while Murdoc hides for fear of his own safety. 2-D, who is deathly afraid of whales, is frightened senseless when a whale nearly rams the underside of the island during the battle. However, just as it closes its jaws around the underwater window of 2-D's room, Russel appears and hurls the whale into an enemy plane, destroying it. Russel then leans onto the Beach and opens his mouth, revealing the real Noodle. Noodle then takes off her mask, revealing scars around her eye. After the events of the video, all four band members evacuated the island immediately.

Soon after Noodle stepped out of Russel's mouth, she informed the band of what had occured to her following the El Mañana incident: she was able to parachute off the island, landing on the cliffside, and made her way into Kong. There, however, she was met by the Boogieman, who dragged her into Hell as insurance for Murdoc's overdue soul-debt payments. There, she was forced to play the guitar for all eternity in a band known as 'Noodle in Chainz'. While Murdoc was unable to find her down in Hell, he was able to inadvertedly trick her captors into releasing her. The demons soon realised they had once again been duped my Murdoc, and Noodle had to go into hiding. Using her earnings from Demon Days, she purchased the M. Harriet ship and circled around to remain hidden until she was found by the Black Clouds.

BookOfMAN

The Book Of M.A.N.

Back when Murdoc first arrived at Plastic Beach, the first thing he found washed up in the shore of the island was a dirty manual with a stone-carved cover, titled 'The Book Of M.A.N.'. This mysterious book was divided into thirteen chapters which narrated the history of humanity all the way from the Big Bang to the present day. Interestingly, Chapter 12 was titled 'The Plastic Beach', and one of the sections described and ancient oceanic entity known as the Evangelist, the embodiment of everything great in life and counterpart to the Boogieman. In an attempt to identify the Evangelist, Murdoc hosted an online competition where fans could send sketches of what the Evangelist looked like. The twelve finalist entries were sent to Jamie Hewlett, who was then able to determine their real appearance, tracking them down and taking a photo of them. The final chapter of the book was titled 'The End of Days', but was missing all of its pages.

From 3rd October to 21st December 2010, Gorillaz set off on their first world tour; "The Escape to Plastic Beach World Tour". Unfortunately, Murdoc, 2-D and Cyborg Noodle spent the entire tour locked in the dressing room while the Gorillaz live band, lead by Albarn, took over the stage.[2][3] Nonetheless, Noodle and Russel decided to stay at Plastic Beach. Murdoc suspected that, when he refused to give his soul to Satan for making Gorillaz successful, he kept the real Gorillaz out of the shows and gave the glory to the Gorillaz live band.

The Fall Album Art

The Fall (2010)

During the American leg of the tour, 2-D had been working on a new collection of Gorillaz music on his iPadW. He had been experimenting with new sounds and apps in various locations during the tour, including his hotel room, backstage in the dressing rooms, and in the back of the tour bus.[4] This collection of new music would become the band's fourth studio album, The Fall. It was released on Christmas Day in 2010 to stream for free on the band's website, as well as a download for members of the Sub-Division fan-club. The album was given an official commercial release on the 18th of April 2011. The only single off the album was a double-sided single featuring the songs Revolving Doors and Amarillo.

Upon return to Plastic Beach at the end of the tour, the Evangelist showed up at their doorstep, delivering the necessary equipment Murdoc needed to broadcast the fifth episode of his "Pirate Radio" series to get the Boogieman and the Black Clouds' attention and attract them directly to the Evangelist. This broadcasted alerted the Black Clouds to his whereabouts once more, according to his plan, leading the island to be attacked for a second time, but this time in a much larger scale. Russel was the first to leave the island, scooping up Noodle and swimming away. The collaborators also started to flee in their own submarines. Murdoc reactivated Cyborg Noodle and boarded one of the submarines left, immediatly sailing away from the island. As for 2-D, however, Massive Dick returned and swalloed him in one bite right before swimming into the deep ocean.

It was later revealed that Murdoc hired an imposter known as The Imposter Murdoc to take his place on the island while he made his escape in an attempt to trick the Boogieman into collecting the wrong soul. Once the Boogieman had collected the soul of the Imposter Murdoc, the debt was fulfilled and the grudge between the two was set aside.[5] Regardless, the Evangelist stormed into the room and started beating up the Boogieman as he was leaving, right before taking the Book of M.A.N. and leaving the island as the mansion began to crumble.

This attack, however, also caused the island to collapse; the debries, the rubbish and the destroyed buildings, in addition to Malthus and The Black Clouds, began swirling into a giant hole and were subsequently sucked down to the bottom of the ocean, putting an end to Plastic Beach.

End of Phase Three

Editor's Note: The original ending for Phase Three followed the events that took place after the second attack on Plastic Beach, including those surrounding the We Are Ten Radio Show, The Singles Collection 2001-2011 and DoYaThing. This ending was later retconned in 2016 during promotion for their fifth studio album, Humanz, when a new storyline was written to link with the previous events.[6] This new storyline, however, left out major events from this period in the band's fictional backstory, creating major plot holes and failing to explain certain occurrences, an issue that would only be addressed on Dawn Of The Ogre, a fan-made sequel to Rise Of The Ogre, which merged both endings into a single concise storyline following interviews with former Gorillaz writer and live drummer, Cass Browne, with approval of Jamie Hewlett. The following events are the ones currently deemed 'canon'.

BattleshipRingo

Murdoc is found by the Battleship Ringo.

On his way home to England, Murdoc was found and captured by the Battleship Ringo, owned by music industry giant EMI, the now-defunct former publisher of Gorillaz' music.[7] Murdoc was quickly released, in the condition that he would reassemble the band because of Gorillaz' great money making potential. Cyborg Noodle, on the other hand, was confiscated by EMI but was eventually returned a few years later after the label went defunct.

Murdoc then began to record a radio show to celebrate Gorillaz' ten year anniversary (albeit a few years late), the We Are Ten Radio Show, and to promote their new singles compilation album, The Singles Collection 2001-2011, claiming to have ended up in Hawaii after being caught up by a typhoon while escaping Plastic Beach, though he was not actually there and was instead in a ransacked studio house at 212 Wobble Street, London, where the other three members eventually managed to reach him.

Hobbzilla

Hobbzilla.

In the meantime, while swimming off of the coast of Japan, Russel was mistaken for a whale (due to his unusually large size) and subsequently harpooned. He managed to escape, but Noodle — who he was still carrying since the second attack on Plastic Beach — was swept away by the sea. Some time later, Noodle awoke in a small Japanese village and began working as a pearl diver under the apprenticeship of Chiyoko, the woman who had nursed her back to health after finding her washed up on the Japanese shore, to repay her kindness. Eventually, she became aware of Murdoc's capture and decided to return to England after vowing to Chiyoko to come back to Japan once the situation had been settled.

Back to Russel, he had lost consciousness as a result of his wounds and ended up washed up on the shores of North Korea, where he was carried to PyongyangW and exhibited as 'PulgasariW', North Korea's "GodzillaW".[8] Russel became the country's most popular attraction before shrinking back to half his gigantic size due to malnutrition, after which he was sent back to London and stumbled across Murdoc's new studio, laying upon the roof until he shrunk back to his normal size.

EstaNocheFiestaALaPlaya

2-D surviving off of Massive Dick.

As for 2-D, Massive Dick had died due to excessive consume of ocean garbage and ended up washed up on the shore of a seemingly deserted island. He emerged from the whale's carcass and spent months surviving solely off of its dead body. One day, he spotted a plane flying along the coast and walked towards its directions for a few minutes before finding a beach resort and discovering that he was actually on Guadalupe Island off the coast of Mexico. He then spent the rest of the year there on vacation before finally heading home to England where he was picked up by a driver Murdoc hired and was reunited with the band.[9]

Eviction Notice

The notice of eviction.

Now reunited one again, the four band members had to get back to making music as part of Murdoc's deal with EMI. The band partnered with Converse to make a custom range of Chuck Taylor All StarW shoes in addition to a new single as part of their 'Three Artists, One Song' campaign, in collaboration with James Murphy and André 3000DoYaThing — and a new radio show to promote it, also hosted entirely by Murdoc. In the music video for DoYaThing, 2-D is seen checking on Noodle as she sleeps. Most of her facial injuries appear to have healed. The Boogieman was also revealed to still be alive and lived with the band, reading a newspaper. Russel is later seen sleeping on the roof of the row house, still massive but smaller than before, as 2-D receives a letter stating that the band was being evicted from the residence. The floating windmill island can also be seen in a state of disrepair and anchored to the roof of the building, presumably recovered from the crash site.

For 2-D, the eventual eviction meant that there was no reason to stay there anymore, especially with the possibility of Murdoc being arrested. As such, he decided to leave the band unannounced right after the shooting of the DoYaThing music video. A few days later, Noodle and Russel (now back to his normal size), tired of Murdoc's constantly arrogant and degrading attitude, decided to follow suit. On the 29th of February, Murdoc was evicted from his address at Wobble Street, pulling out on the 'Stylo' car as he was finishing the final episode from the DoYaThing radio show while being chased by a group of SWAT vans and a helicopter, being caught not long after.

Murdoc, following the band's disbanding, was promptly arrested and thrown in "Dungeon Abbey", a secret prison beneath Abbey Road Studios, for a multitude of reasons; multiple contractual violations, not paying back any of the loans or expenses used to fund Plastic Beach, road traffic violations and various other offences, staying there for the next couple of years.

Phase Four: We Are Still Humanz (2014–2018)

This phase four plot summary is adapted from social media posts, music videos, phase four interviews, official biographies the phase four Mixed Reality app, The Book Of Gorillaz, Demon Dayz Festival Margate, the Humanz Tour, the G Magazine and Dawn Of The Ogre.

Two and a half years had passed since Murdoc's arrest. The music industry struggled heavily and desperately needed great songwriters and musicians to sustain itself. As such, one day, Murdoc was met by an Entertainment Internal Affairs representative offering him parole in exchange for him to record a new album, which he agreed with. Upon leaving prision, Murdoc heard about Damon Albarn and The Heavy Seas's upcoming Royal Albert Hall show and immediately moved to Studio 13, a recording studio in West London owned by Albarn, without informing anyone prior to it.

Murdoc stayed at 13 for the weeks leading up to the concert. There, however, he was met by a familiar face: Russel Hobbs. After leaving the band in 2012, Russel had gone back to the United States, where he developed an interest for boxing, and stayed there for two years before going back to England, where he met live band member Jeff Wootton, who let him stay at his futon for a while until he had sorted everything out.

The concert opened up with the B-side Spitting Out The Demons, soon followed by Slow Country, which made both members nostalgic for their time on Gorillaz and left Murdoc impressed by the new live bassist, Seye Adelekan. The two avoided speaking to each other until the show's after-party at a club, when the two were left alone by themselves. Eventually, after a brief chat to relieve the tension between them, Murdoc asked "Do you want to do another one?", to which Russel responded "Yeah". The two were not interested in being friends again, but wanted to get back to doing their music. Murdoc then left the club, and a few days later called Jeff, inviting Russel to move over with him.

MaazuBeheaded

Noodle beheads Maazu.

In the meantime, after leaving the band, Noodle returned to Japan and had gotten back to pearl diving with Chiyoko. One day, however, Noodle accidentally released Mazuu, a shape-shifting devil that had spent over 500 years trapped in a large pearl at the bottom of the ocean. She spent years chasing Mazuu, finding it in Tokyo disguised as a human, having risen to the criminal underworld. Noodle infiltrated Mazuu's headquarters, decapitated the devil, and escaped in one piece. She packaged herself in a FedEx crate and addressed it to "West London, England, c/o Murdoc Niccals" after becoming aware of Murdoc and Russel's reunion.[10]

GorillazPhase4

Gorillaz in Phase 4.

2-D, still living in England, heard that Gorillaz was getting back together and decided to go on a silent retreat in the Himalayas for the next six months as a way to prepare for seeing Murdoc again and being able to stand up for himself if he needed to. He planned on staying there for longer but was excommunicated from his group of monks for talking too much in just a few months. Murdoc and Russel had settled down at 13 and began to move their equipment and work on new demos. Soon after, Noodle arrived, followed by 2-D sometime later on the 29th of July 2015. During this period, Russel, Noodle and 2-D made several comments and remarks on how Murdoc seemed vastly different after staying in prison for over two years, showing regret for his past actions (but still occasionally teasing the others). With that, Gorillaz were reunited once again and were ready for a new album.

HumanzDeluxe

Humanz (2017)

The band recorded throughout 2016 at Studio 13, finally completing their first album in 7 years, Humanz, in 2017. On the 19th of January 2017, the band released their first song after their five-year hiatus: Hallelujah Money, featuring Benjamin Clementine, along with its own music video. Murdoc decided to release the album by throwing “the party to end all parties” in a haunted house in Detroit known as the “Spirit House”. [11] When the band first arrived at the house in the Saturnz Barz music video, they were haunted by three demons. A giant one-eyed blue worm haunted Noodle, a grey multi-limbed monster haunted Russel and a pizza slice with a face haunted 2-D. Three other singles were released alongside Saturnz Barz, these being Ascension, Andromeda and We Got The Power. Later on, two additional singles were released: Let Me Out and The Apprentice.

In June 2017, a song and a music video, titled Sleeping Powder was discovered in 2-D's room in the Gorillaz app. Later the same day, the video was released to the public, and one week later, the song was officially released as a single on digital platforms. 2-D recorded the song and music video himself as a response to fans who criticized Humanz for having too many collaborators and not enough of 2-D's voice. 2-D was able to record the track and the video in secret due to Murdoc being placed into a week-long coma.

The band then went on a world tour, the Humanz Tour, and even hosted their own festival, named Demon Dayz Festival; the first of which took place in Margate, England in June 2017. A new live band was also assembled for this tour, including former members of the Plastic Beach-era live band and The Heavy Seas band. Before Gorillaz took the stage at the festival, a mysterious cult called the “Kool Klown Klan” were spotted holding bells and marching. Little is known about the cult, but they had been previously referenced in the lyrics and imagery of the Humanz song Momentz.

Murdoc&JuanStrobelite

Murdoc meeting the mysterious man at the nightclub's bar.

On the 4th of August, another single from Humanz was released, this time being Strobelite. In its music video, Noodle and 2-D are seen having fun dancing at the party, while Russel sleeps and Murdoc does seemingly shady business with a mysterious man at the bar.

After shooting for the Strobelite music video had been completed, the band travelled back to London during a break from the Humanz Tour in August, where Murdoc was arrested and taken to HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs in London for an undisclosed crime. While nearing the end of the Humanz promotion cycle, the band made one last last push to promote their final Phase 4 release, the Humanz Super Deluxe Box Set, a vinyl box set containing an exclusive artbook and un-released songs and b-sides from the Humanz sessions, released on the 3rd of November with an accompanying single, Garage Palace, and its own visualiser, followed not long after by Andromeda (D.R.A.M. Special).

In December 2017, the band released their own Magazine, fittingly titled G Magazine. The 34-page magazine features insights from the band on Humanz, editorials from each Gorillaz member, and an interview between the band members and Jamie Hewlett. In February 2018, the band won the BRIT Award for Best British Band, where Murdoc rushed an award acceptance speech transmitted live straight from the Wormwood Scrubs prison.

Phase Five: No More Unicorns Anymore (2018–2019)

This phase five plot summary is adapted from the Free Murdoc campaign, music videos, social media content, Phase Five interviews, Demon Dayz Festival LA, The Now Now Tour, the Casio G-Shock partnetship and Dawn Of The Ogre.

GorillazPhase5

Gorillaz in Phase 5.

Hot off the heels of their big return album with Humanz in 2017, the band decided to continue their momentum and release a follow-up album in 2018. While still on the Humanz Tour, the band recruted Ace D. Copular, famous for his work as the leader of The Gangreen Gang on the 90s kids show The Powerpuff Girls (which Noodle was a fan of as a kid), to temporarily replace Murdoc as their bassist while he was serving time in prison. The band, now with a slightly altered lineup, went on to record and released their sixth studio album, The Now Now, while still on tour.

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The Now Now (2018)

On the 31st of May, the lead single Humility and its accompanying music video were released. In it, Russel, Noodle and Ace enjoy their day on the Venice Boardwalk in Los Angeles while the uncharacteristically happy 2-D roller-skates around the boardwalk, enjoying his new life without Murdoc constantly abusing him. At the end of the video, Russel causes 2-D to trip over, whose eyes turn from white to black; after which he loses his ability to roller-skate and immediately falls a second time. Humility was quickly followed by four other singles: Lake Zurich, Sorcererz, Fire Flies and Hollywood until, on the 19th of June, The Now Now was officially released to the public following a live performance of the full album at the Boiler Room Tokyo in Japan.

While the band embarked on their 2018 tour supporting the album, named The Now Now Tour, Murdoc began planning his escape from prison. Murdoc claimed that the man he met at the bar in the Strobelite music video was a demon crime lord named 'El Mierda', who framed him for smuggling. Murdoc decided to escape the prison and track down El Mierda, but he couldn't bribe his way out since Noodle had frozen his bank account, believing him to be guilty of smuggling. He decided that picking a fight with 'Big Balls McGuinness' (one of the toughest prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs) would give him the respect he needed to get inside info on El Mierda from other prisoners. After losing the fight to McGuinness, he set his sights on 'Vlad the Inhaler', an associate of El Mierda. Murdoc recruited a fan to catfish Vlad, getting close enough to him to find the whereabouts of El Mierda. Astonishingly, this worked, and Murdoc now had the coordinates to what he believed to be the crime lord's hideout in Patagonia.

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Noodle's selfie, reporting that she's alive.

Murdoc finally enlisted the help of Noodle, who had been ignoring his countless calls. She only agreed to help after realizing the demon El Mierda is a soul harvester and may have taken 2-D’s soul, noting he hasn't been acting like himself for months. Convinced Murdoc knows about this, she refuses to do it for his sake but instead 2-D's. Noodle set a course for Patagonia to take on El Mierda herself. A week later, Noodle reported that she was safe - still embarking on her trip to El Mierda's hideout, being shown the way by some Andean mountain cats after getting "kinda lost". However, due to complications, Murdoc decided to escape once and for singlehandedly through the sewers. In a turn for the worst, he was assumed to have drowned in sewage while trying to escape. Meanwhile, the rest of the band was enjoying the success of The Now Now, releasing a music video for the single Tranz.

Two weeks later, Noodle arrived at the coordinates Murdoc had discovered, but instead of a secret hideout, the coordinates led to a health spa. She met El Mierda, who had given up his life of crime years prior, converting his evil lair into the El Montaña Wellness Centre. Notably, she discovered that El Mierda was not the man Murdoc met in the 'Strobelite' video, but was, in fact, an immortal old man who had never even heard of Murdoc. Noodle researched the details of Murdoc’s incarceration to discover that he was not sent to prison for smuggling but rather for simple parking fines. He was only meant to serve nine months and would have been released the same day he supposedly drowned during his escape. Noodle discovered that Murdoc had greatly fabricated the nature of his imprisonment, blaming his crime on the man from the Strobelite video, who turned out to just be an innocent leather salesman named Juan.

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The band is reunited once more.

Moments later, a yak arrived at the El Montaña Wellness Centre. Noodle went to investigate to find Murdoc tied to the top of the yak. It turned out that Murdoc was simply acting out for attention, making up an imprisonment story that he described as “mostly bollocks”. But as his story grew more outlandish he felt a need to continue keeping up appearances, resulting in an unnecessary prison escape that nearly had him killed. The only clue as to why he survived has been a mysterious person or thing he saw while in the sewer, which he later sketched out. His near-death experience gave him the epiphany that headlines weren't worth lying about and putting Noodle in unnecessary danger. He decided to meet Noodle at El Mierda’s hideout, tying himself to a yak he named Madge after Madonna. Murdoc was even prepared to sacrifice himself to save her if need be, luckily this was unnecessary and when he arrived, the two simply spent a few days at the health spa while Murdoc apologised for his actions. After learning the true nature of El Mierda, the two discerned that 2-D’s difference in character was simply him enjoying his new-found confidence without Murdoc around abusing him, or as Murdoc put it, “just missing me”. When Noodle and Murdoc returned to the band, Murdoc vowed to be a better man and joined them on the final leg of The Now Now Tour.

GShockCarM101

Murdoc unveils the G-Shock car.

Towards the end of 2018, the band teamed up with Casio to produce a line of Gorillaz G-Shock watches. The band released a promotional web series to advertise the line of watches. The series, titled 'Mission M101' follows the band on an intergalactic adventure, teaming up with G-Shock founder Kikuo Ibe to release their line of watches across the galaxy. On October 20th, the band performed at the Día de los Muertos themed Demon Dayz Festival 2018 in Los Angeles. At the Demon Dayz Festival, it was planned for a different group to open up for their performance, one known as 'The Rejects', composed of a blue Frankenstein's monster named Billy and, surprisingly, Cyborg Noodle; their performance, however, was seemingly cancelled because of unknown reasons, and little was heard about the group since. Four days later, they played their final show of The Now Now Tour in Mexico City, Mexico. The G-Shock partnership lasted until mid-late 2019, when the third and final episode of the 'Mission M101' series was released.

Phase Six: Wish You Wear Ear (2019–2021)

This phase six plot summary is adapted from music videos, social media content, phase six interviews, the Machine Bitez, Get Lost with Gorillaz, Gorillaz x Fred Perry and the Gorillaz Almanac.

Phase6

Gorillaz in Phase 6.

During a brief hiatus for the band, on the 3rd of September 2019, while visiting Iran to see Lake Urmia, Noodle made note of how climate change had taken a toll on the lake. She came to a realization regarding the fleeting state of nature on Earth and sent a postcard to Murdoc, 2-D, and Russel at Studio 13 with a message detailing her desire to build a machine and see the world before it’s gone. The postcard arrived at the studio on the 12th of September.[12]

On the 7th of September, 2-D sent a postcard to the band while visiting Beirut, informing Noodle that he had gotten the parts for the machine she had mentioned, and asking what they were for. The postcard arrived at Studio 13 on the 24th of September.[13]

On the 14th of September, Murdoc sent a postcard from his annual drunken holiday in Ibiza. The postcard arrived at Studio 13 on the 26th of September.[14]

Wishyouwearear

On the 21st of September, Russel sent a postcard from Mexico while working on his hot sauce business, "Hobbs Hot Sauce". He included a message telling the band that he’d “be seeing [them] and the machine REAL soon”. The postcard arrived at Studio 13 on the 4th of October.[15]

The machine (revealed as the "Song Machine") was activated on the 28th of January.[16] The following day, the band announced their next project, Song Machine, a multimedia series of songs/music videos released episodically through 2020, as a continuously-updating playlist via streaming services.

In a statement to the press, Russel said "Song Machine is a whole new way of doing what we do. Gorillaz breaking the mould ‘cos the mould got old. World is moving faster than a supercharged particle, so we’ve gotta stay ready to drop. We don’t even know who’s stepping through the studio next. Song Machine feeds on the unknown, runs on pure chaos. So whatever the hell’s coming, we’re primed and ready to produce like there’s no tomorrow. Y’know, just in case.”[17]

KongStudiosWestLondon

The band's new Kong Studios as it appears in the Désolé music video.

Throughout the course of the series, the band collaborates with musicians they’ve met on their various trips around the world, inviting them to record at their now-renamed West London studio, officially dubbed the new Kong Studios.[18] In the music video for Désolé, 2-D, Noodle, and Russel travel to Lake Como via a mysterious teleporting door in Kong Studios and record with Fatoumata Diawara. Murdoc is left behind and unable to reopen the portal, leaving him lonely and depressed in Kong. When questioned about this, Murdoc claimed he wasn’t upset about being left behind and didn’t care about their trip to Italy. Shortly before enviously asking 2-D and Russel about portals just “in case [he] ever [needs] to find one for future reference”.

In the face of a global pandemic, the band practised social distancing, sequestering themselves in various parts of Kong Studios.[19] Murdoc locked himself in Kong’s basement, explaining how he was working on “something big” that would “change the effing world”. After a look through his online purchase history, this “something big” appears to have involved nearly £500 worth of pine wood and a blow-up doll.[20] Meanwhile, Russel caught up on television while experimenting with an assorted variety of food/entertainment combinations.[21]

Song Machine, Season One - Strange Timez

Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez (2020)

As the months passed, Murdoc continued providing social media updates regarding his secret project, before finally unveiling it in the music video for PAC-MAN.[22][23] This special project, his very own orgone accumulator (based on the pseudoscientific concept of Wilhelm Reich), was built solely by Murdoc in the basement of Kong Studios. Throughout the video, Murdoc can be seen contentedly sitting and relaxing in his creation, which is an act of jealousy and defiance, he claims can also act as his own private teleportation portal despite not showing any interest or the apparent ability to open a portal of any kind.

The music video for Strange Timez was staged, and shows the band flying to the Moon with the goal of destroying a large billboard, writing down the message "Be The Change" in the satellite's surface. Not long after, the music video for The Pink Phantom, featuring 2-D playing a piano duet with Elton John while Murdoc attempts to capture a pink phantom with a small hat. Finally, a few weeks later on the 23rd of October 2020, the band released their seventh studio album: Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez, featuring all previously mentioned songs and addition to many other brand-new ones. Not long after, a new music video was released, this time for The Valley Of The Pagans the band travelled through a portal to Los Angeles for a drive around the city before abruptly falling through another portal leading them to Plastic Beach.

Image attachment (15)

2-D rescues Murdoc

In the music video for The Lost Chord, the band found themselves back at Plastic Beach ten years after the Black Clouds’ second attack on the island. Past trauma resurfaced as they explored the remains of the island. Murdoc is seen overcome with guilt at the sight of a damaged and deactivated Cyborg Noodle. Soon after, a sea monster awoke from the depths of the ocean and began destroying the island. The deactivated Cyborg Noodle is seen opening her eye as she lifelessly sinks to the bottom of the ocean. A portal back to Kong suddenly opened up as the ruins of the island sunk into the ocean. 2-D, Noodle and Russel escaped as the portal closed, leaving Murdoc stranded in the ocean. In the spirit of friendship and forgiveness, 2-D quickly reopened the portal and reached out, saving Murdoc’s life. It is presumed that this video was also staged, in a similar fashion to most other Song Machine ones, as the contents shown there heavily contradict what had been previously established in regards to the fate of Plastic Beach.

KongEvictionNotice

The eviction note received by the band.

In May 2021, a demonic sinkhole opened beneath the West London Kong Studios, leaving it inoperable and necessitating heavy renovations. During this time, the band went on a road trip in Murdoc's Winnebago, taking their instruments and recording equipment along with them.[24] On the 26th of August, while still on the road trip, the band recorded and released the Meanwhile... EP, a surprise extended play made as a homage to the Notting Hill CarnivalW, an annual event that usually takes place in London every August, but which didn't occur in either 2020 or 2021 due to the global Covid-19 pandemicW going on at the time. The next day, the band released the Carnival Mixtape, another homage to Notting Hill featuring the tracks from Meanwhile as well as many others by frequent Notting Hill Carnival performers and the Ed Case refix of Clint Eastwood, which also debuted at the carnival 21 years prior. The only single off of the EP, Jimmy Jimmy, also received an exclusive Soundsystem Performance as its music video, debuting a few days later.

Meanwhile

Meanwhile EP (2021)

In December 2021, the band was contacted by a rogue agent of the Department of Musical Corrections, "a covert organisation operating in the murky shadows of the music industry" with the goal to "stifle originality" in the world of pop music. The DMC agent, known only as GFlat, revealed on social media that Gorillaz had been on the top of the organization's "most subversive" watchlist for decades. GFlat claimed that "a storm [was] coming", and began leaking classified DMC documents to the public through Gorillaz' official Discord fan server. This culminated in the release of the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Boxset, which included the exclusive LPs; Live At The Forum, 2001 and Demoz, a collection of early Gorillaz demos that had previously been locked away in the DMC vaults, and exclusive secret documents showing the Department's constant surveillance of the band and an operation titled 'Alt.Ego' (or 'Alter Ego'), with the goal of replacing the band members with android clones of themselves, to comply with the department's objectives. Very little information regarding the DMC was given after that, and it is unknown whether the operation actually came to fruition or not.

Phase Seven: The Static Channel (2022–2024)

This phase seven plot summary is adapted from music videos, social media content, the Stuart Potcast, The Last Cult mailing list, the official Gorillaz Discord server, the phase seven Silver Lake Mansion website and Phase Seven interviews.

GORILLAZ PHASE 7

Gorillaz in June 2022.

In April 2022, the band embarked on the Gorillaz World Tour 2022, a live concert tour to make up for not having had a proper one for Song Machine, and quickly began to play live brand-new songs never heard before. In July, the band announced that they had begun recording their next album at the Silver Lake Mansion in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, while the London Sewage Department continued Kong’s restoration. During this time, Murdoc became increasingly interested in the occult and eventually founded a cult focusing on the supernatural, dubbed The Last Cult. The rest of the band weren’t too keen but didn’t think much of it.[25]

2-D was given the role of 'The Chosen One' and started a podcast as a way to journal the first days of The Last Cult.[26] Over time, 2-D talked about various tasks he’d been assigned including digging holes, painting Murdoc’s giant obelisk, finding books for Noodle, as well as the activities of the neighbours, mostly for the “main lady” next door, who seemed to fancy 2-D, and Murdoc became attracted to. It was also implied that Murdoc may have started the cult simply in an attempt to impress her.

StaticChannel1920sLA

The Static Channel (as seen on the interactive Gorillaz website) broadcasting footage of Los Angeles in 1923.

Around this time, the band began receiving strange broadcast television transmissions. The role of 'Seeker of Truth' was given to Russel, and he was tasked with watching these transmissions and solving the mystery behind them. Russel discovered that all of the transmissions dated back to the years 1923, 1948, 1973, and 1998, following a 25-year pattern. Among these transmissions was a news broadcast from the near future in the following year 2023, in which the band is taken to LA County Hospital and questioned by LAPD officers after a cult gathering caused a supernatural event to occur under the Hollywood sign (as seen in the music video for Cracker Island). Unaware of the events leading to this future, the band watched the transmission. The supernatural event from this transmission would later be dubbed by Russel as 'The Rupture'.

While watching 2-D paint The Last Cult's giant obelisk for 'The Great Leader' Murdoc, Noodle - 'The Scholar' - began to question if "this cult thing might already be going a bit sideways". Russel seemed happy with the obelisk, as it only improved the reception of the mysterious transmissions. Murdoc had hoped the obelisk would impress his crush next door, but as it turned out, the woman next door was actually Moon Flower, the high priestess of a cult known as 'The Forever Cult', and was unimpressed with Murdoc and The Last Cult. Murdoc's jealousy grew as Moon Flower continued to take a liking to 2-D. Meanwhile, Russel was going mad trying to solve the mystery of the transmissions and the Rupture.

After piecing together several clues from the Static Channel, Russel was convinced that the Rupture would occur on New Year’s Eve 2023 at midnight, causing an inter-dimensional portal to open under the Hollywood sign. However, nothing happened that night as Russel stood by the sign, alone in the rain for hours. He continued watching the Static Channel for clues, slowly slipping into a dazed state of hypnosis.

Hollywoodland

Forever and Ever Pictures’ studio in the 1920s.

2-D continued to spend time with Moon Flower next door and was eventually recruited to the Forever Cult after drinking a mysterious tea made from the Forever Cult’s garden. Through her concern for Russel and 2-D’s safety, Noodle began piecing together clues of her own, uncovering a strange connection between Moon Flower and Lady Hollodown, an actress and movie producer from the 1920s. She came to the conclusion that the Forever Cult has been around since as early as the beginning of the 20th century, masquerading as a movie studio called "Forever and Ever Pictures" that was partially owned by Lady Hollodown.

When she arrived next door to confront the Forever Cult, Noodle was met with an entirely empty compound. The only piece of evidence was a clipping from the Forever Cult’s doctrine, focusing on a ritual that occurs once every 25 years. It seemed that despite Murdoc’s insistence that Moon Flower was interested in 2-D romantically, she was actually using him as the sacrificial lamb for this occult ceremony.

Forever cult book snip

Clipping from the Forever Cult’s doctrine.

The rest of the band tracked down 2-D and the Forever Cult in a UFO-like car to their old movie studio under the Hollywood Sign in time to interrupt the ceremony (as seen in the music video for Silent Running). Suspended by rope, 2-D was slowly lowered into a pit to be eaten by a monster and continue the Forever Cult’s cycle. After having a change of heart, Moon Flower attempted to rescue 2-D while the rest of the band fought off the Forever Cult members. When Murdoc accidentally dropped his “signature fragrance” perfume into the pit, it was consumed by the monster causing it to explode and cause the Rupture. The members of the Forever Cult turned to ash as the cycle was broken, with Moon Flower falling to the floor, seemingly dead.

Cracker Island Album HQ

Cracker Island (2023)

Murdoc fled the crime scene while the Los Angeles Police Department arrived, and as they had previously seen on the Static Channel, the rest of the band were arrested and brought to Los Angeles County Hospital. 2-D and Noodle were questioned by officers while Russel continued to watch the Static Channel before finally snapping out of it. Murdoc arrived as the recently deceased Moon Flower rose from a gurney to meet Murdoc, and started to age rapidly. The two kissed as the police, doctors, and patients watched in disbelief. Not long after, the band released their eight studio album, Cracker Island, which became their first album to reach the Nº 1 position on the UK charts since Demon Days.

MoonFlowerAshes

2-D with Moon Flower’s ashes.

Despite surviving the Rupture, Moon Flower was only given a few more days to live before turning to ash as well. She suspected these days were given to her as a reward for her part in 2-D’s rescue, revealing to Murdoc that she found 2-D to be too pure to sacrifice, and she had been leaving clues for the band to stop the ritual the whole time. Moon Flower spent her last days dating Murdoc, comforted by his continued romantic pursuit despite knowing her true nature. She turned to ash after spending a night with Murdoc watching her old film “The Hills Are Hungry”, keeping her ashes in an urn to remember her.

TheGetawayBus

The band aboard the Getaway Bus.

On the 30th of May 2023, Gorillaz announced a new mini-tour, named 'The Getaway Shows'. These four shows were intended to take place from September 10th, 2023 through September 19th, 2023 in Los Angeles, California, Austin, Texas, Chicago, Illinois, and Boston, Massachusetts in the United States, while also featuring special guests, including Kaytranada, Lil Yachty, and Remi Wolf. The tour, however, was cancelled shortly after because of scheduling conflicts. Around the same time, the Los Angeles Police Department issued a search warrant at the Silver Lake Mansion, leaving the band members with no choice but to flee to New York where they picked up fake passports from an old friend of Murdoc's before heading out to Mumbai, marking the end of Phase Seven.

References

  1. "quest4murdoc Gorillaz Interview". Retrieved 25 May 2023.
  2. "Gorillaz O2 Priority Walk Advert". Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  3. The Dressing Room
  4. Pirate Radio: 5, The Fall
  5. Plastic Beach (Web Game) Mission 2: The Broadcast
  6. "Gorillaz Raritiez: Life's Biggest Mysteries". Gorillaz Raritiez interview with Jamie Hewlett. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  7. Gorillaz. "The Book of Murdoc". Twitter. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  8. Gorillaz. "The Book of Russel". Twitter. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  9. Gorillaz. "The Book of 2-D". Twitter. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  10. Gorillaz. "The Book of Noodle". Twitter. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  11. G-Magazine, Gorillaz’ A-Z of 2017, December 2017, pgs. 3–6
  12. Gorillaz. "Wish you were here, Noodle!". Twitter. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  13. Gorillaz. "Wish you were here, 2-D!". Twitter. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  14. Gorillaz. "Wish you were here, Murdoc!". Twitter. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  15. Gorillaz. "Wish you were here, Russel!". Twitter. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  16. Gorillaz. "Gorillaz - Song Machine Theme Tune". YouTube. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  17. @IMPRINT_ent. "GORILLAZ: Song Machine Season 1, Episode 1 “Momentary Bliss” ft. Slowthai & Slaves". IMPRINT. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  18. Cosyns, Simon. "ARTIST Q&A: Gorillaz gives us the lowdown on Momentary Bliss featuring slowthai and Slaves". The Sun. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  19. Gorillaz. "Stay tuned...". Twitter.
  20. Gorillaz. "Get Lost with Gorillaz: Chapter 1". Twitter.
  21. Gorillaz. "Get Lost with Gorillaz: Chapter 2". Twitter.
  22. Gorillaz. "Get Lost with Gorillaz: Chapter 3". Twitter.
  23. Gorillaz. "Get Lost with Gorillaz: Chapter 4". Twitter.
  24. Gorillaz x Fred Perry: https://rv.fredperry.com
  25. Gorillaz. "And so the first words of the cult were spoken...". Twitter. Retrieved 20 July 2022.
  26. Murdoc Niccals. [1]. Twitter. Retrieved 13 July 2022.


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