Montreal ‘a beguiling city,’ says Gorillaz’ Damon Albarn
by T’Cha Dunlevy
The band’s sixth release, The Now Now, might be its most down-to-earth, written entirely from the perspective of his animated alter-ego 2D.
Ground control to Damon Albarn …
The Gorillaz leader and former Blur frontman was calling from a studio in London, where he was putting the finishing touches on a new song, but he might as well have been on the line from another planet. The crackly cell reception and overseas delay made for a conversation that drifted in and out of intelligibility.
Which was fitting for a guy who runs a cartoon band about a group of interstellar explorers wandering through the universe.
“2018,” Albarn said, in response to my query about what city he was in. Sensing that he was not being facetious but had simply misunderstood, I asked again.
“London,” he replied, adding, “This is a good start: establish time and place.”
While we were at it, I figured I’d get his thoughts on the place I was in, Montreal.
“Ah,” he said. “Lots of images come to mind. It’s in parts a beguiling city with a slightly odd yet very interesting history and perspective on France, compared to anyone else’s perhaps.”
Damon Albarn says new Gorillaz tour might be its last until 2028
By Mark Daniell
After years of fronting a cartoon band, singer is happy living in the now
At 50, Britpop icon Damon Albarn has lived through almost every musical fad.
But the one thing he hasn’t been able to see come to fruition is a full-blown hologram tour featuring the cartoon members of the Gorillaz — the animated/ virtual band the Blur musician launched in 1998 with illustrator Jamie Hewlett — playing onstage in all their glory.
“That’s something we’ve been trying to do since Day 1,” Albarn says. “But we still haven’t found a system that doesn’t compromise the music. That’s the dream — to be able to play onstage with holograms. I just hope I’m a functioning organism when it happens.”
Damon Albarn Is Living in the Now
By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Last fall, Gorillaz singer Damon Albarn was feeling bored on tour — so he did what he knows best and started sketching ideas for a new album on his iPad. “If you’re away from home for months on end, it just seems criminal not to try and turn that time into something tangible,” says the English singer-songwriter, 50, who’s released nearly an LP a year over the past quarter-century with Blur, Gorillaz and assorted side bands. The result is The Now Now, Gorillaz’s excellent new full-length LP. With its breezy melodies and comparatively lean cast of characters — Snoop Dogg, 75-year-old smooth-jazz guitarist George Benson and Chicago house veteran Jamie Principle are the only credited guests — The Now Now is a refreshing change of pace from Humanz, the overstuffed set Gorillaz released just last year. “It’s a record within a record, a dream within a dream,” Albarn says. “Sort of like Inception.”
The rest of 2018 is shaping up to be a characteristically busy time for Albarn. In October, he’s bringing his cartoon band to the U.S. for a string of arena dates, leading up to his first-ever Demon Dayz L.A. festival on October 20th. “Gorillaz fans feel like a a big family over there,” he says of the States. “I always get this amazingly warm reception from the fans. So I imagine it will be a family reunion sort of thing.” He’s also preparing to release a new album from The Good, the Bad & the Queen, his collaboration with Afrobeat great Tony Allen, Clash bassist Paul Simonon and Verve keyboardist Simon Tong (their first release since their underrated 2007 debut). “That’s finished, ready to go,” he says. “It’s very much an of-the-moment record — a weird, distorted mirror on the U.K. now.”
Albarn called RS from a Gorillaz tour stop in Amsterdam to talk about cartoon fame, turning 50 and why he still gets stoned.