Phase One: Celebrity Take Down (1998–2003)
The story of Gorillaz begins on August 15th, 1997. Stu-Pot was a mentally deficient keyboard enthusiast and part-time employee at Uncle Norm's Organ Emporium. Satanist hoodlum Murdoc Niccals decided to ram-raid Uncle Norm's Organ Emporium to procure synthesizer equipment in order to establish a "chart-topping" musical group. However, Murdoc ended up driving his Vauxhall Astra through the building and directly into Stu-Pot's head, permanently damaging ("fracturing") Stu-Pot's left eye and putting him into a catatonic state. Murdoc was sentenced to "30,000 hours of community service, plus 10 hours every week of caring for the vegetabilized Stu-Pot". Not long after, Murdoc again injured Stu-Pot in a car accident in Nottingham's Tesco car park when attempting a 360° 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 revived 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 for the matching pair of dents in his head from the accidents.
In September of 1998, Murdoc acquired the property of Kong Studios, a sprawling haunted studio with a rather shady history, situated atop a hill in the midst of a run-down cemetery and landfill in Districtshire, Essex.
Murdoc then found a drummer for the group in a Soho record store: African-American expatriate Russel Hobbs. Russel was a middle-class New York native and was deeply troubled as a youth. He was expelled from an expensive private school for suffering from demonic possession. The trauma of said possession resulted in a four-year coma from which Russel was roused only by an elaborately executed exorcism. After his recovery, Russel began attending Brooklyn High School, where he quickly cultivated friendships with a group of rappers, DJs, 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 in hopes of helping him recover from his traumas quietly - not realizing they'd put him directly into the path of Murdoc's aspirations to superstardom, and the excesses that came along with it.
At that point, all the fledgeling group needed was a guitarist. Their first guitarist was 2-D's girlfriend, Paula Cracker, but she was shortly fired from the band after Russel caught her and Murdoc making love in the studio toilets. Disgusted by this, Russel broke Murdoc's nose five more times. Like so many British bands before them, the trio placed an advertisement in NME. The very day the ad ran, a FedEx freight container from Japan was delivered to their doorstep and out jumped a mysterious amnesiac 8-year-old wielding a Gibson Les Paul. The tiny girl made an incomprehensible introduction in Japanese and tore into a "riff to end all riffs" which ended with an impressive karate kick to the air. She then spoke a single word in English to the stunned boys, which became her moniker: "Noodle". After the band was finally assembled, they changed their name to Gorillaz. Their first song was called "Ghost Train" and was recorded at Kong Studios. Murdoc posted a copy of the song, some photos of the band and a manifesto over to Mr. Whiffy Smithy at EMI.
On November 5th, 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 shotgun to disperse the crowd enough to make his way to the stage and quickly signed them to the label. Gorillaz released their first collection of music on the "Tomorrow Comes Today" EP in November 2000.
Their first full-length debut album, "Gorillaz" was released on March 26th, 2001. During its release, the album spawned four singles; "Clint Eastwood," "19-2000," "Rock the House" and "Tomorrow Comes Today".
During 2001, Gorillaz began touring through various countries including England, France, Ireland and Japan.
On February 20th, 2002, Gorillaz performed at the Brit Awards where they were nominated for 6 Brit Awards but won nothing.
Also in 2002, Gorillaz collaborated with rappers, D12 and Terry Hall to create the downloadable single, "911".
From February 23rd - March 11th, 2002, Gorillaz embarked on an 11-month tour of North America. At the end of the American Tour, of that year, the Gorillaz took a six-month break in L.A on March 13th. 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 July 20th. Meanwhile, that Halloween, Kong Studios had been shut down tight in its owner's absence by local law enforcement after an unknown man was seen running, naked and in hysterics, in the marshes near the studio. The police proceeded to keep the area secured while they investigated the strange paranormal events surrounding Kong. The Gorillaz spent the interim period working on their movie while living in a large rented home in the Hollywood Hills.
Alas, the film was not meant to be, due in part to extensive over-partying, in-fighting, and disagreements with producers, directors, and a notable incident of Murdoc getting himself banned from the Playboy Mansion for stealing ashtrays. 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. When Murdoc almost killed 2-D it became too much and they went their separate ways on a year and a half hiatus.
Phase Two: Slowboat to Hades (2003–2007)
2-D went back to Eastbourne and worked at his father's fun fair, where his ego got a significant boost and re-established his grip on reality, and come to terms with his newfound pop icon status with the ladies. He also began a friendship with Shane Lynch from Boyzone.
Russell remained in LA, 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.
Murdoc headed to Mexico to booze it up in Tijuana brothels, getting himself arrested for passing bad checks in the process. He enjoyed little company in his Mexican jail cell aside from his raven, Cortez, and two Mexican mobsters who would later help break him out.
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. In Japan, she was reunited with her mentor, Mr. Kyuzo 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 was the first to return to Kong Studios. There she went to task battling the zombie and monster-infested darkness of the building, set up the "Search For A Star" contest, and began the process of pulling the band back together to record their new album, Demon Days.
With the band reunited, the process of recording Demon Days began with the help of music producer, Dangermouse.
Demon Days was released on May 23rd 2005.
The first single off the album was "Feel Good Inc." featuring De La Soul and it entered the UK Charts at No.2. The album's second single, "Dare" featuring Shaun Ryder, became their first single to go to No.1. The third single was "Dirty Harry" featuring Bootie Brown and the last single was a double-sided single containing the songs, "Kids With Guns," featuring Neneh Cherry and "El Mañana."
Noodle decided to write her own album, "Demon Days" The first song she wrote was "DARE", and recorded the first video which she starred in. She felt that Murdoc spent the whole time showing off in the video for "Feel Good Inc." This is why she decided to make the video herself. Noodle also felt that the boys were being too silly. 2-D and Russel heard her from upstairs and in the bathroom because the music was turned up so loud. At the end of the video, Noodle plays a little prank on Murdoc and takes the camera into the Winnebago while he is sleeping.
On March 27th 2005, Gorillaz performed at the Manchester Opera House where they were joined with most of the collaborators from the Demon Days album.
From June 6th - June 22nd, Gorillaz embarked on The Deman Detour; a series of live radio shows throughout America.
On February 15th 2006, Gorillaz performed "Dirty Harry" at the Brit Awards featuring a huge choir of children and guest star, Bootie Brown.
Around 2006, Noodle wanted to leave Gorillaz for a break. She planned to leave straight after the filming of the "El Manana" video shoot. On March 7th 2006, Gorillaz started the shoot for "El Manana" which starred Noodle on windmill island. Halfway through the video, the island gets shot down by the Boogie Man's minions. The island goes down with Noodle on it, but she grabs a parachute and escapes. Russel and 2-D search for her but cannot find her anywhere. The music video aired on Channel 4 on March 11th, 2006.
Gorillaz ended Phase 2 after performing a series of five shows at New York's Harlem Apollo and then went their separate ways.
In 2006, Noodle's voice was heard from a radio in the Brain Room at the ruins of Kong Studios. Murdoc attempted to travel through the bowels of hell in order to bring her back, but failed. This "rescue attempt" was then revealed to be a drunken stupor.
Phase Three: Escape to Plastic Beach (2008–2013)
Murdoc went on to spend the next few years to bender around the world. In 2008, Murdoc began to run low on money, so he burned down the ruins of Kong Studios, cashed in on the insurance money, blamed the fire on some kids and fled the country. He also mentioned that part of the reason for the move was to flee from a deadly underground network of pirates simply referred to as the "Black Clouds", who were out to kill him after their business deal went south.
While searching the world for a new hideout, Murdoc discovered an island in the middle of the ocean 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, "Plastic Beach." According to the pelican at the entrance of the building on the band's website, Plastic Beach is the farthest point from any other land mass in the world, dubbed "Point Nemo". After finding the island, he shipped a great deal of the band's belongings to Plastic Beach, their new home. While residing on the island, Murdoc began production for the third Gorillaz album, but he had to reassemble his bandmates.
Murdoc said he tried to recover clues to Noodle's whereabouts from the wreckage of the windmill from El Mañana, but the most he could obtain was a DNA sample. He later used her DNA to create a violent cyborg version of Noodle, who acts as his bodyguard. In the Stylo video, Cyborg Noodle is shown to be adept at the use of firearms, nearly blowing away a police officer that was in pursuit of 2-D and Murdoc as they fled toward Plastic Beach. However, Noodle is confirmed to be alive due to her appearance in the "On Melancholy Hill" and "Rhinestone Eyes" videos. Part of the album artwork for Plastic Beach also included a picture of a battered and bruised Noodle with jet-black eyes. Noodle is being hunted by pirates in a manner similar to Murdoc for unknown reasons, (more on that later) and the cruise ship she was sailing on was sunk by attacking bombers, leaving her drifting at sea in a life raft.
2-D was gassed, kidnapped in his Beruit retreat, and taken to Plastic Beach in a suitcase (as shown in 2-D's Plastic Beach Ident video clip). He believes Murdoc was the one who kidnapped him; however, it appears that the Boogieman was his kidnapper. The Boogieman is the embodiment of all worldly evil and appears in several artworks, as well as 2-D's Ident, the Stylo video, and the storyboard for Rhinestone Eyes. Currently, he is being held at Plastic Beach against his will by Murdoc, who forces him to assist in the making of his music tracks.
Little was known about the fate of Russel initially, as 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 clip hit the website, showing him stomping down a fishing dock in a barely suppressed rage and jumping off the end into the ocean. When the album dropped and the artwork for the record debuted, it depicted Russel as a giant; he is now as tall as all of Plastic Beach. In the "Making of Plastic Beach" documentary, included in the deluxe edition of the album, Jamie Hewlett shows Mos Def the artwork for the album and explains the backstory for each character. He says that in swimming the ENTIRE way to Plastic Beach, Russell ingested so much pollution, trash and toxic waste that he was transformed into a giant, making a reference to Gulliver's Travels. Russell's situation reinforces the idea of human excess destroying nature already present on the album. On the way to Plastic Beach, Russel finds the sea-stranded Noodle and rescues her, and together they continue on to be reunited with the rest of the band.
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 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 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.
The Plastic Beach album was released on March 3rd, 2010.Murdoc, 2-D, and the newly recovered Cyborg Noodle, along with all the collaborators for the Plastic Beach album, make their way to Point Nemo together, traveling 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 Boogie Man escapes, leaving the fog to dissipate and reveal Plastic Beach.
On November 21st, 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. The song went to No.37 in the UK Singles Charts.
From October 3rd - December 21st, 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" took over the stage. 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 live band consisted of Daman Albarn and half of The Clash. It was also Satan who sent the Boogieman to track Murdoc down to claim his soul.
During the American leg of the tour, 2-D had been working on a new collection of Gorillaz music on his iPad. 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. This collection of new music would become, "The Fall." It was released on Christmas Day in 2010 for free download from their website to the members of their Sub-Division fan club. The album was physically released on CD on April 18th, 2011. The first single off the album was a double-sided single featuring the tracks, "Revolving Doors"/"Amarillo".The storyboard music video for "Rhinestone Eyes" reveals that the Boogieman has a grudge against Murdoc due to a deal they made and that the Boogieman is the fifth rejected Horseman of Apocalypse, named "Flatulence". The former could mean that the Boogieman represents the Black Cloud in this video, as he is also seen summoning the live band, as well as planes similar to the ones that attacked Noodle, to raid Plastic Beach 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 shown to be 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. While escaping Plastic Beach, Murdoc was caught up in a typhoon and eventually landed in Hawaii. There, he began to record a radio show to celebrate Gorillaz' Ten Year anniversary. It later turned out he wasn't in Hawaii at all, but he was instead in a ransacked house in London, where the other three members managed to reach him.
In late 2011 the four remaining band members were seen living at 212 Wobble Street, London (as seen in the "DoYaThing" music video). 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 in with the band, reading a newspaper. Russel is later seen sleeping on the roof of the row house as 2-D receives a letter stating that the band was being evicted from the residence. The floating windmill island can be seen in a state of disrepair and anchored to the roof of the building.
Phase Four: We Are Still Humanz (2013–2018)
During the attack of Plastic Beach, Murdoc escaped the island with Cyborg Noodle in a submarine. On his way home to England, Murdoc was captured by EMI, the now-defunct former publisher of Gorillaz' music. EMI had been searching the globe for Murdoc, who they threw in "Dungeon Abbey", a secret prison beneath Abbey Road Studios. Murdoc was eventually released under the condition that he was to immediately begin work on a new Gorillaz album. Murdoc agreed and moved into a new studio/home in West London.
Shortly after the attack on Plastic Beach, Noodle awoke in a small Japanese village and began working as a pearl diver under the apprenticeship of Chiyoko, the women who had nursed her back to health after finding her washed up on the Japanese shore. While working one day, 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. Noodle spent years chasing Mazuu, finding it in Tokyo disguised as a human, having risen the criminal underworld. Noodle infiltrated Mazuu's headquarters, decapitated Mazuu, and escaped in one piece. She packaged herself in a FedEx crate and addressed it to "West London, England, c/o Murdoc Niccals".
While escaping Plastic Beach with Noodle, Russell had gotten separated off the coast of Japan. Being mistaken for a whale (due to his unusually large size) he was harpooned but managed to escape. He lost consciousness and washed up on the shores of North Korea, where he was carried to Pyongyang and exhibited as "Pulgasari", North Korea's "Godzilla". Russell became the country's most popular attraction before shrinking back to normal size due to malnutrition, after which he was sent back to London where he moved into Murdoc's home in West London to create a new Gorillaz album.
During the attack of Plastic Beach, 2-D was swallowed hole by "Massive Dick", the whale that terrified him throughout his time spent on the island. Shortly after, Massive Dick died and washed up on the shore of a desert island. 2D emerged from the whale's carcass, and spent month's surviving solely off of Massive Dick's dead body, before realizing he was actually on Guadalupe Island off the coast of Mexico. He walked thirty minutes before finding a beach resort, and 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.
The band recorded throughout 2016 in Murdoc’s secret new studio in London, finally completing their first album in 7 years, Humanz, in 2017.
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”.  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 gray multi-limbed monster haunted Russel, and a pizza slice with a face haunted 2-D. In the "Strobelite" music video, Noodle and 2-D have fun dancing at the party, while Russel sleeps and Murdoc does shady business with a mysterious man at the bar.
The band went on a world tour, and even created their own festival called the Demon Dayz Festival. The first of which took place in Margate, England in June 2017. Before Gorillaz took the stage at Demon Dayz, a mysterious cult called the “Kool Klown Klan” were spotted holding bells and marching. Little is known about the cult, but they are referenced in the lyrics and imagery of the Humanz song “Momentz”.
In December 2017 the band released their own Magazine called G Magazine. The 34-page magazine features insights from the band on Humanz, editorials from each Gorillaz member, and an interview between the band, and their own co-creator Jamie Hewlett. In February 2018 the band won the Brit Award for Best British Band. While attempting to accept his award, Murdoc was arrested and taken to HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs in London for an undisclosed crime.
Phase Five: No More Unicorns Anymore (2018–)
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. The band hired Ace of The Powerpuff Girls fame to temporarily replace Murdoc as bassist while he was serving time in prison, and released their album, The Now Now.
In the "Humility" music video, Russell, Noodle, and Ace enjoy their day on the Venice Boardwalk in Los Angeles while an uncharacteristically happy 2D roller-skates around the boardwalk, enjoying his new life without Murdoc constantly abusing him. At the end of video Russell trips 2D, whose eyes turn from white to black. After which, he loses his ability to roller-skate and immediately falls a second time.
While the band embarked on their 2018 tour supporting The Now Now, Murdoc began planning his escape from prison. Murdoc claimed that the man he met at the bar in the “Strobelite” video was a demon crime-lord named “El Mierda”, who framed him for smuggling. Murdoc decided to escape 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 Wormword Scrubs) would give him the respect he needed to get inside info on El Mierda from other prisoners. After losing the fight to Big Balls, 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 coordinates he believed to be the crime-lord's hideout in Patagonia.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 2D's. Noodle set 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 had decided to escape once and for all 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 were enjoying the success of The Now Now, releasing a music video for the song “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 incarnation to discover that he was not sent to prison for smuggling but rather 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 salesmen named Juan.
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. His near-death experience gave him the epiphany that making headlines wasn’t worth lying 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 apoligized 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.
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 Muertos themed, Demon Dayz Festival 2018 in Los Angeles. Four days later, the band played their final show of The Now Now Tour in Mexico City, Mexico.
- ↑ https://twitter.com/i/moments/789516227312029696?lang=en
- ↑ https://twitter.com/i/moments/782969900965003264?lang=en
- ↑ https://twitter.com/i/moments/784430453793193984?lang=en
- ↑ https://twitter.com/i/moments/792043051598376961?lang=en
- ↑ G-Magzine, Gorillaz’ A-Z of 2017, December 2017, pgs. 3–6