Published Jan 01, 2006Although engineered pop bands seem to be a current trend, the concept of the fabricated group actually dates back to the 1950s, when managers and record labels first realised that image is everything. A band whose members exist completely in the world of animation takes this concept to the next level. Considering the tremendous impact of music videos and web sites, this somewhat twisted evolution of music marketing seems only natural.
Unlike Canada's squeaky-clean Prozzak, though, England's Gorillaz are downright dangerous. Led by Murdoc, a shady character to say the least, this "band" is rounded out by American hip-hop bad ass Russell, ten-year-old Japanese guitarist Noodle, and 2D, the good-looking singer with a constant migraine, apparently. Created by Tank Girl animator Jamie Hewlett, the colourful Gorillaz are helped' behind the scenes by none other than Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Dan the Automator, and Blur singer Damon Albarn, who all recently collaborated on the Deltron 3030 album. The combination of studio talents works well for Gorillaz, who essentially toss their collective influences of hip-hop, rock, dub and pop into a blender and hit frappe.
As the recognisable voice, Damon Albarn acts as a band representative of sorts. Speaking with him about the project, Albarn seems to enjoy the novelty of discussing a cartoon band: "It's like a music lab Ibrahim Ferrer singing, Tina Frantz singing, Deltron is in the drummer Russell's head a ghost. I help 2D with the vocals. Gorillaz have quite an eclectic attitude they mix some very bizarre things together, like 80-year-old Cubans and L.A. rappers. From a human perspective, it's more a magical world."
Being a cartoon rock star does have its problems meeting the public being chief amongst them. The closest the band get right now is through their videos, and their web site (www.gorillaz.com), which integrates Hewlett's artwork with slick Flash animation. "The whole thing about them is that they're desperate to interact with the real world. The web site is the place where people can meet Gorillaz properly. It's based in their studio, so you can go into where there live, listen to a bit of the music, and explore."
One wonders what the future holds for such a two-dimensional band. According to Albarn, "The more feedback they get, who knows what's going to happen to them, who they're going to hook up with. They'll probably handle fame a lot better than I did. OK, they'll probably handle it really badly, but it'll be really entertaining to watch."