In a fast paced, ever changing music industry that has been engrained with the culture of “one-upping” and originality, it becomes increasingly difficult to produce something truly unique that stands out. However, British virtual band Gorillaz are up to the task.
The band formed in 1998, the brainchild of singer-songwriter Damon Albarn and comic illustrator Jamie Hewlett. Yet, these two men are the lesser known members by far (and by design). Fans are probably much more familiar with bassist Murdoc Niccals, vocalist Stuart Tusspot (aka 2D), drummer Russel Hobbs, guitarist Noodle, and the occasional appearance of Russel’s friend Deltron 3030, or just Del. All seems fairly mundane at first glance until taking into consideration all of the members are fictional.
Albarn and Hewlett created what has been called the world’s first virtual band by not only bringing these characters to life, but crafting an entire universe in which they exist. They have assigned each character an intricate backstory that can be learned through the sequential storytelling music videos, storyboards, short films, interviews, and even interactive tours of the band’s studio.
As a very brief overview, many more details can be found scattered all over the internet, the band originated with Murdoc. Murdoc decided to rob a music store for equipment, so he crashed his car into the store where Stuart happened to be working. Murdoc hit Stuart, damaging his eye and sending him into a coma. He was then sentenced to community service for his crime, which included caring for Stuart. During his time caring for Stuart, Murdoc crashed his car a second time, resulting in the damage of Stuart’s second eye and also awakening him from the coma. Stuart gained the nickname 2D due to the two dents where his eyes should be, nevertheless Murdoc noticed that 2D was attractive and could sing and therefore recruited him into the band.
Next comes Russel. Russel was involved in a drive by shooting with his best friend Deltron 3030, aka Del. Del was killed and then possessed Russel, which explains Russel’s completely white eyes, and occasionally haunts him while playing drums or comes out and raps in a number of songs. Murdoc and 2D kidnapped Russel because they were in need of a drummer, and for reasons unexplained Russel was ok with this and joined the band.
Finally, there is Noodle. Noodle is a young (8-10 yr old) girl who saw an advertisement for a guitarist and shipped herself from Osaka to the band’s headquarters Kong Studios. Being so young and not speaking English, the only word she knew was noodle, hence her name.
These four members make up the Gorillaz we know today and have been on many adventures throughout their career together.
So how do the Gorillaz fare with a live performance? You can definitely expect an appearance from the members, whether it be on screen or in hologram form, they never fail to innovate and impress.
Most recently the Gorillaz have taken to social media, Twitter to be exact, releasing two “moments” one titled “The Book of Noodle” and one “The Book of Russel.” Moments are essentially a compilation of related tweets that a user can swipe through making them easily accessible, these moments detailed what both Noodle and Russel had been up to since where we left them last in the saga. Fans believe this is the beginning of their next “phase” and are now on the lookout for news of a new album. I, for one, can’t wait to see what they bring us next.