By Kirby Brennan-Riddle
Since their first released single back in 2001, the Gorillaz have been everywhere on the alt-rock radar. Casual listeners tuned in to “Clint Eastwood” for its heavy beat and its feel-good chorus, and they were intrigued by the contrastingly haunting vocals of “Feel Good, Inc.” And that doesn’t even bring to light the intricate and extravagant stories of each fictitious member of the virtual band, filled with action and cyborgs and unlikely friendships. The band and its characters have long been a fan phenomenon, and the real artists, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett (along with various collaborators), have spun an urban epic of fantastic proportions through their music videos and short cartoons.
But then, by 2012, the band was just… gone. They disappeared off the face of the earth. The fictional epic was brought to a halt in the middle of its latest development (or lack thereof, as their latest video depicts mostly more of the same for the band), and the fans have been left to wonder: What the hell happened to those guys? It’s time to clear the air and discover the fate of our beloved band, both in their universe and ours.
For those that are not caught up on the fictional development of characters 2D, Murdoc, Russel, and Noodle, the last that we heard of them was an ultimate showdown against the forces of the Boogieman, who had unknown reasons for assassinating bassist Murdoc. They followed the gang to Plastic Beach, a stuccoed platform made out of discarded bottles in the ocean that the band had all found their way to through a series of odd coincidences. This included Murdoc kidnapping the keyboardist and lead singer 2D and Russel, the percussionist, being massively enlarged by toxic waste. Nevertheless, even after this entire battle full of guns and heavy fire, the crew manages to find it in their hearts to let the Boogieman move in with them in the video for “Do Ya Thing.” The last that we heard of them, they were living peacefully in their apartment in London.
But did the actual band share the same fate? Many feared it didn’t seem that way, since in April 2012 key member Damon Albarn stated to The Guardian that future Gorillaz projects were unlikely, as he and his partner Jamie Hewett had had a falling out. But when asked in a later interview with Metro if restoring things with Hewett would be difficult, he responded, “I don’t think so. We’ve been through too much together for it to be that big of a mountain to climb.” In March of 2013 the two revived their opera, Monkey: Journey to the West in New York, and later in the year Hewett said that he and Damon planned to record a follow-up album to their 2010 release, Plastic Beach. Albarn even said to The National Post earlier this year that he wouldn’t mind “having another stab at a Gorillaz record.”
So things are looking hopeful for Gorillaz fans this year, but the truth is that there is still no promise that the Gorillaz will return soon, if ever. The idea is not impossible to either the artists or the fan base, but there certainly isn’t anything in writing. Then again, Albarn did tell Fuse in early July that “he’s been writing quite a lot of songs on the road for the Gorillaz.” So maybe after the dust has settled with Albarn’s other projects, the bohemian legend shall reemerge, but no one can know when that will be. The chance of a Plastic Beach follow-up looms in the future and leaves in its shadow visions of Noodle sleeping soundly in her apartment room.
EDIT: On 10/28/14, Damon Albarn stated in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald that he is “in the process of reactivating Gorillaz for a 2016 release”.