Gorillaz | World Cafe – 2010

Gorillaz

Transcript from Gorillaz-Unofficial

Presenter: Can we now see Gorillaz not just as a band but kind of your private creative workshop?

Jamie: That’s exactly what it’s become, I think. The characters have their role to play that allow us to go places and do things we wouldn’t normally be allowed to do. And we in turn are able to do things they can’t do. But yeah, I mean Gorillaz is more like an organisation now. A network of musicians, artists, writers, even a few comedians thrown in there as well, so.. which means, it gives us the mobility to do whatever we want, really.

Presenter: Well Jamie what are you doing when Damon is taking his time in the studio, putting the pieces together?

Jamie: I’m upstairs in my studio putting together all the visual side of things. So we do the website, Plastic Beach website from my studio, I do all the sort of press, album artwork. We do the interviews, we do the merchandise, we do the videos, we do the visuals for the live show, we do everything basically.

Presenter: But do you end up having to react to what Damon does musically?

Jamie: Yeah. It starts with the music, definitely. And then we build from… I start work at the same time. We started Plastic Beach probably two years ago. So we start on the same day. But mine kind of carries on a bit longer.

Presenter: So Damon, you actually took time out of working on Plastic Beach to do the Blur reunion thing?

Damon: Yeah I was kind of nervous about that because I thought it might be too much of a leap. But I think actually when I got back to it in September, it kind of informed it in the sense that I kind of made the songs lyrically clearer, I think it helped clarify, as I think the last, previous Gorillaz albums have been quite vague lyrically. I think this one’s much stronger in that sense.

Presenter: You called this the most pop of Gorillaz albums. Did that influence that in any way do you think, going back and doing Blur?

Damon: Well the sessions for this record were huge. I think at the final count there were 80 pieces of music. So it could have been a triple, quadruple album easily. So we tried to focus it. For example we spent some time in Syria recording with the National Orchestra there. We recorded about nine or ten pieces. So in a way that’s another whole album. I recorded a lot of orchestral stuff with a symphony orchestra in the Midlands in England, so there’s another record, do you know what I mean? There was a lot of material and I’ve really just taken little bits from each period I was working on and put it on, called it Plastic Beach.

Presenter: I heard at some point you were thinking of doing more global work, and it had to do with starting in Syria, with that Lebanese Orchestra.

Damon: Erm.. Well.. I really want to go, you know. I really wanted to go to the Middle East and work there. I’d travelled there but never worked. And I always knew that if I did anything like that, it would be quite er.. sort of an interesting topic come release, especially in the United States, and I think it’s important to put that there, because if you’re going to have a beach, it’s got to have a sense of global nature.. the subjects that we’re talking about are essentially quite environmental but it’s quite playful as well. And we’re going to get the chance to take our whole production to Damascus and play there which.. erm.. you know, the idea of Snoop and Lou and Bobby Womack.. hanging out in Damascus together, is quite wonderful

Presenter: It’s funny, since Plastic Beach came out, on the web there’s been these pictures of these giant plastic islands out in the middle of the ocean.

Jamie: Well funnily enough the location we chose for Plastic Beach was the furthest point from any land mass, which is called Point Nemo, and it’s sort of around that area that these real islands of plastic are forming.

Presenter: So it could be part of the same thing…

Damon: Well it’s just funny, I think you find this when you’re thinking about something.. as soon as I sort of thought, came up with the name Plastic Beach, I googled it and there were actual reports on, [they’re] called Plastic Beaches, especially one, the first one was in Hawaiia and they called it Plastic Beach. So it was out there anywhere and I suppose that’s kind of what pop music is good at, it’s good at taking something that’s very real, and placing it in the imagination in a way that it can come back out again and hopefully sort of stimulate people… to change, essentially.

Presenter: One of the greatest things about this record is how it has got Bobby Womack back in people’s ears again. Talk a little about his performance style, how he feels about being part of this, because I had the change to see him on television and oh boy, he just seems to be hynoptic.

Damon: He is, he really is, I mean we’re still finding our ground in, you know, our different styles because he’s got a very different feel to me fundamentally, but it’s getting better each time and it’s a truly .. god-given voice he has I feel, I feel it’s a praise voice you know and.. it’s just wonderful, I love him.

Jamie: And if you wear a toupee, it’s probably not advisable to stand near Bobby Womack. Or any loose clothing [makes sound of something blowing away] [laughs]

Damon: [laughs] Or any windows, as well.

Presenter: Damon you’ve said that you didn’t think Stylo was particularly what you would have chosen for the first single.. it certainly works..

Damon: Well no , well, well well.. no I don’t think it’s necessarily the most pop. I don’t think it’s the most pop, I didn’t say it wasn’t the right thing, we felt.. you know we’re kind of hoping this record might stay around for quite a long while, so we’re not ramming it down people’s throats.. I think there are tunes on the record that radio will really pick up on.. you know.. or not, on a massive level.

Presenter: On Melancholy Hill is just this pop island in the beach, in a way.

Damon: That’s why, that’s kind of why I included it, because I just felt I needed a bit of that lightness on the record. That kind of sort of summery sound.

Presenter: You know it’s funny, with Mick Jones in the band, obviously you think of The Clash but also Big Audio Dynamite.

Damon: Yeah yeah, big influence on me when I was a kid, they’re definitely a prototype for what we’re doing with Gorillaz.

Presenter: I was wondering about that, and another collective with a similar sound, Massive Attack, in a way..

Damon: Yeah another massive influence on me. I think Rob and Grant were almost the catalyst for me stepping outside of Blur and trying different things.. I so wanted to be in Massive Attack when I was in Blur. And I kind of have become a part time member.. which is great because you know.. it’s nice to work with people you love and admire.

Presenter: I was thinking about watching you Damon, perform with this band, and how you like kind of sitting behind the keyboard and how you like being a member of the band, and what was it like for you to actually do the whole frontman thing with Blur and contrast it, did you think about those roles?

Damon: In the interim years, I’d really lost a lot of confidence about performing live, and maye in a sense I’d used kind of the role of sort of.. band member as a way of sort of avoiding that issue.. so I had to really face it. It turned out that I had I hadn’t actually forgotten how to do it, and I could actually do it quite well. So I think now I feel much more comfortable in myself about performing in a kind of frontman capacity.

Jamie: There isn’t necessarily a frontman with the Gorillaz thing..

Damon: No, there’s bits..

Jamie: It’s shared..

Damon: It’s a shared stage always, it’s.. and in a way that’s really nice, to be able to go out to the front for a while and then go back again, that is really great, I have to say.

Presenter: Jamie, what’s going to happen with the visuals now? The screen isn’t necessarily in front of the band anymore..

Jamie: No, but it’s a huge screen behind the band which is sort of..it’s quite noticeable [laughs] But we had to remove the screen in front of the band because so many people complained about not seeing any real faces.

Damon: And also the first record was so kind of odd, that it worked, but by this point the songs are quite personal and they.. you need humans in there as well, and I just think it’s, you know, it’s sort of a vast silent movie played out by cartoons and humans, you know.

Jamie: The idea’s still growing I think. Still developing and changing as we go on, and this time round we felt it was necessary to do it like this, and I think as we said earlier, if there isn’t *a* frontman and three other members of the band, but in fact there’s this huge amount of people onstage, all playing a very important part, and then it’s accompanied by these visuals, I think it seems to sit well together.

Presenter: Some dates this summer, then a tour coming up this fall.

Jamie: October, we’re coming back to America to do twenty..? Twenty two dates..

Damon: Lots of gigs. We’ve got like twenty two dates or something. Which is.. God, that’s a lot. I mean I haven’t toured like that for 15 years.

Presenter: Can we say Damon, that Gorillaz is your main band now, I mean it makes a lot of the things you do..

Damon: It is my main band, it’s been my main band for a long time really. I don’t want to say it’s the one I enjoy the most, but it’s.. you know a lot of the people I work with, we all converge when we do.. and it gets bigger and bigger I mean Paul wasn’t sort of.. the last, Demon Days.. I’d just met Paul and we were just thinking about making a record together. And now he just seems part of my family now, you know. and in the interim all this stuff happens, then everyone converges on the focus point, which is Gorillaz.

Presenter: But I heard you were possibly going to..

Damon: I mean when we’ve got our Syrian Orchestra and the Hypnotic Brass band onstage, which we will have at the Roundhouse, I think the band is sort of about 50 strong, 40 strong which is quite.. [laughs], do you know what I mean? It’s not a four-piece anymore.

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