Gorillaz’s Damon Albarn survives despairs of Brexit and xenophobia with ‘Humanz’

The latest Gorillaz record may feature epic, up-tempo party songs, but that isn’t stopping frontman Damon Albarn from fretting about the future.

“I default to the apocalypse,” Albarn tells the Daily News matter-of-factly as he sips a flat white in the lobby of the TriBeCa hotel where he’s staying. “And I suppose I have this deep, English melancholy.”

Gorillaz are in town for a headlining spot at The Meadows on Saturday night, a performance that kicks off a U.S. tour. The set is expected to heavily feature songs off their new album “Humanz,” and Albarn hints that a slew of special guests are set to appear Saturday night.

While Albarn admits that performing the new album “feels joyful on stage,” “Humanz” was written and recorded under a dark cloud. Read More

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Behind the scenes with Gorillaz

Humanz, the fifth album from virtual band Gorillaz, is released this week. We talk to Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett about their working relationship and the benefits of being a cartoon

The new Gorillaz album began with the idea of a party, a party for the end of the world.

“When we started making the album, a year and a half ago, we had this idea that we discussed with everybody who came on board: we said, ‘imagine in the future, Donald Trump becomes President of the United States’,” says Jamie Hewlett, the art side of Gorillaz. “At that time it was such an absurd idea. So we were laughing about that and Damon was saying, ‘there’s a huge party, a global party, not to celebrate but to commiserate’. A party to celebrate the end of the world.

“Because this is what we do nowadays – when something bad happens, we just all get fucked,” he continues. “This is how we deal with things. So imagine the party … and imagine the hangover the next day. This was the place that we wanted to start at.” Read More

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Jamie Hewlett is sitting at his desk in a basement studio in west London trying to define his job title. “Ummm … artist? Yeah. I’m an artist,” he says.

Hewlett is one half of Gorillaz, the virtual “zombie hip-hop” pop group he formed with Blur frontman Damon Albarn in 1999 and which has sold over six million records worldwide.

With Albarn writing the music, Hewlett created the band’s four cartoon characters: vacant frontman 2D; bandleader and bassist Murdoc Nicalls; African-American drummer Russel Hobbs and ten-year-old Japanese guitarist Noodle. He also oversees all the Gorillaz’s visuals, including promo videos and DVDs, merchandising, the high-tech “live” gigs and the gorillaz.com website.

Hewlett was a widely respected cartoon artist before Gorillaz, having created the seminal Tank Girl strip, which was turned into a Hollywood movie when he was just 23. But the success of Gorillaz has taken him to another, slightly surreal, level: he is part of a globally famous rock group, yet he shuns the limelight and is happiest scribbling painstakingly at his desk at Zombie Flesh Eaters, the Shepherds Bush studio he set up to handle the Gorillaz work. Read More

The Hot Press Cover Story: Damon Albarn

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The world sat up and listened when sometime Blur frontman Damon Albarn revealed that he had taken heroin as a creative boost. In an exclusive interview he talks about chemical inspiration, his growing spirituality and how he and Noel Gallagher came to bury the hatchet – and not in each other.

Damon Albarn is none too pleased about having to talk to Hot Press. It’s nothing personal; the former Blur frontman isn’t especially keen on doing any interviews today. Which is rather unfortunate because, with his debut solo album, Everyday Robots, about to be released, his label has lined up a full day of press and promotion.

Our location is 13 Studios, his personal recording facility situated deep in the bowels of west London. A Swedish TV crew and a German journalist have just departed the building, leaving yours truly as Albarn’s final-face-to-face of the morning. After he talks to me, he has a series of phone interviews to do with publications as far afield as Japan, Australia, New Zealand and America.

As a veteran star who’s hardly hungry for publicity at this stage of his illustrious career, he’s not especially thrilled at the prospect.

“No reflection on you, mate,” he says, shaking his head apologetically. “I’ve just got a piece of music in my head that I’m fucking itching to get out.” Read More