Meet the Gorillaz
The Gorillaz launched their partnership with Telekom Electronic Beats by writing out their wild origin stories. Get to know Murdoc, Noodle, 2D and Russel.
Hajimemashite! That means “nice to meet you” in Japanese. Noodle here from Gorillaz. Of course you know that, but I have to check, because recently I did a Facebook quiz called Which Member of Gorillaz Are You? and I got Russel! WTF? He doesn’t like octopus and he’s not even a Libra.
So I will set the records straight, as they say. I play guitar, sing and write songs. I am 5 feet 2 inches tall, wear size 36 boots and am trained in most medium and heavy caliber weaponry. My hobbies are hot yoga, quantum physics, manga, shoe design and online gaming (handle: EatMyRocketLauncher). My musical influences include Swarrrm, Sigh, Blood Stain Child and, um, Backstreet Boys (I know, I know, but I was just a girl).
Being in Gorillaz is like riding a roller-coaster every day: ups and downs, thrills, dizziness, some head-on crashes, and always a pile of sick somewhere. I was only 10 when I joined the band, despite England’s child labour laws. But it has been a good education. I’ve battled hell demons, killed zombies (when it was still cool), staged my own death and been replaced by a cyborg. A really cute one. At first I was jealous because Cyborg Noodle could shoot bullets from her mouth, but the experience taught me to be true to myself. I would say the best thing about being in Gorillaz has been the chance to see the world. The worst thing is Murdoc in the mornings. Or when he’s drunk. Or hungover. And also every other time of the day.
Even though I’m the youngest, you could say I’m the big sister of the band. I comfort 2D when he has a bad dream, and Murdoc when he has a bad trip. I calm Russell down when he gets angry about the world’s problems. I have to remember to look after myself, though. Usually I make a bowl of okayu, a kind of chicken soup, or just oil my mini-gun. Both are very soothing.
Some say I can be cold. It’s not true—I just take a while to warm up to people. Maybe it’s because I was raised in a super-soldier program and never knew my parents. All those covert night ops meant no bedtime stories. But those skills saved my skin recently when I accidentally released a shape-shifting hell demon from a pearl shell. Oops, my bad. I tracked that monster across Japan, and finally, in his secret Tokyo crime den, I had him. In the heat of battle, I kept my head and fought bravely. He didn’t. So now I have his head. On a shelf next to my Hello Kitty alarm clock (vintage, quite valuable). I put a red bulb in the mouth, kind of like a lava lamp. It’s a conversation starter.
So you see, being in Gorillaz has shaped me into the woman you see today: a feminist-anarchist-avenging-angel-intellectual-soul-sister-of-mercy. Who also likes cute hamster butts (it’s a Japanese thing, Google it). Is that enough about me? I could go on, but I have to go terminate somebody. Only joking. I’ll just scare them a little bit. Kiss. 😡
I’m 2D. Lead vocals and keyboard. I also write some of the songs, even though Murdoc takes all the credit. But I don’t mind. I’m not in Gorillaz for the glory. I’m in it ‘cos Murdoc threatened to hunt me down with his crossbow if I ever left. But that’s just what misunderstood geniuses do. My therapist says I’m suffering from acute Stockholm Syndrome and that I’m basically a hostage, but I doubt it because I’ve never even been to Norway. Besides, humans are too complex to simplify like that. We have many layers, like a lasagne or multi-storey carpark.
I first met Murdoc when he ram-raided his Vauxhall Astra into the keyboard shop where I worked. It was a pretty cool job—11 pence an hour, minus expenses (of 11 pence an hour), which might not sound like much today, but it was the ‘90s. Anyway, the car hit me and I ended up in coma, so Murdoc used the ancient Yogic technique of repeated face-punching to wake me up. When my eyes opened, he told me he wanted me in his band. I wasn’t sure at first. So he ran me over again to convince me. It was clear he wouldn’t take no for an answer, and I couldn’t say no anyway ‘cos I was in another coma. When I came to again, he broke the news—he’d created Gorillaz, and I was the frontman. The rest is history.
I mean, it’s not all good history. A lot of it still gives me nightmares. Like the time I was eaten by a giant whale. We were living on Plastic Beach, this island in the Pacific made of rotting garbage, when some pirates attacked. I fled into a dark cave, which turned out to be the mouth of a great white whale called Massive Dick. Massive swam off with me inside him, and for months I was his prisoner. It was a bit cramped, but I made a nice little home between the spleen and the aorta. To be honest, it was just good to have some me-time. In the end, Massive died, and we washed up on a beach where I was marooned for a year, before finally coming back to London to work on the new album.
It’s brilliant being back with the other Gorillaz, but fame can be weird sometimes—like when fans steal your pubic hair and make a collage out of it. Some people dream of being in a band, but my dream is to go back to Eastbourne funfair and run the dodgems again. You have to be careful with dreams, though, ‘cos if you achieve them, then what will you have left to dream about? That’s something Murdoc taught me. See, he can be nice sometimes. And since he’s started drinking more he’s had less time to beat me up and torture me. So I think we’ve really turned a corner. I only hope that what’s around the corner isn’t much, much worse. But that’s the future, you can’t worry about that too much. What’s happening right now is all that counts. For example, right now I really need the toilet, so I better go.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you like the new album.
Russel here. Drummer. MC. Freedom fighter. But not in that order. Yeah, sure, I could go back and switch them round, but I don’t have time. Got to stay in the moment, stay focused. The world is spinning out of control, people. No time for distractions. Cos that’s what The Man wants, man. Wants you dumbed down, diverted, head stuck in a smartphone or computer screen. Like you are right now. Yeah, I see you. Russel’s watching you. I mean, I’m not actually watching you—that would be messed up. And breach a ton of privacy laws. But the point is… what was my point… uh…
FOCUS. Don’t get distracted. Actually, that’s kind of what Gorillaz is about. Dark stuff is going down—we don’t look away. We zoom right in on it, like a military surveillance drone. Truth is our target. That’s the one thing the four of us agree on, and what keeps us together.
Before Gorillaz, I was doing my thing stateside. Brooklyn. That’s where I grew up, and where I got into hip-hop. But it all went sideways when a bunch of my crew got clipped outside a 7-Eleven. So Russel senior sent me to England, reckon he thought I’d be safe living in some kind of Jane Austen book sipping tea with the Queen. But it didn’t go down that way. Instead I got kidnapped by a heinous English dude who smelled of lube and cigarettes: the one and only Murdoc Niccals. He jammed a bag over my head, drove me to his studio, then forced his latest track into my ears. I was about to enact my vengeance, but when I tuned into the sound, I called off the assault. The guy had something. Something to say. And that’s how me and Gorillaz hooked up.
Aside from the music, Murdoc and me don’t have a thing in common. Well, guess you could say we each have a problem with spirits. His, the 70% proof kind. Mine are actual spirits, the undead. I get possessed by dead rappers. Sounds cool? Let me tell you, it’s NOT. It’s damn uncivilized, filling me up, spurting through my veins, then gushing out of me like some kind of hip-hop enema I never asked for. But I’ve learned to live with it, make it a positive. Only thing you can do when bad stuff happens. Like when I got imprisoned in North Korea after some toxic algae turned me into a sixty-foot giant. They said I was the North Korean Godzilla, caged me in Pyongyang like a freakshow. People were laughing. It was humiliating. But then I realised, this was probably the most entertainment these dudes had since some guy once drew a face on a turnip. So I found the positive, y’know? Took the control back.
That’s what we can all do. Take the power back. Case in point: a shrink would say all the wack stuff I’ve been through, all the undead voices in my head, has messed with my mind. Nah. It’s made me sharper, more tuned in. More aware of the shadows creeping their vice-like fingers around us, preparing to squeeze. Some people think I’m nuts. Other day someone said, “Russ, you’re paranoid.” And I said, “Yeah? And how’d you know my name?” And they said, “Cos it’s me, 2D.” And I was like, “Is it? How do I KNOW? You might be a cyborg.” So I tried pulling his face off. He passed the test. This time…
Stay sharp, people. Stay focused. Only way we’ll get through this. We have the power.
Drum roll…Fluttering Union Jack, overlaid with the two best words in the English language: MURDOC NICCALS. Cue pyrotechnics. Begin voiceover.
Murdoc Niccals is the creative genius behind Gorillaz. But actually, he’s way more than that. He’s a living legend, bigger than Mozart and the sex idol of billions. But how did he get there? Let’s start at the beginning.
The greatest achievement of my life is the time I managed to squeeze my entire body through a woman—my mum. Sadly, that was the only time we met, but her work was done: a musical messiah had cometh.
Like Jesus of Nazareth, Murdoc of Stoke-on-Trent was a miracle baby. By age two I got my first pubes. By age nine I’d written my first song, “Sex Hoof”. (Years ahead of its time, trust me).
But growing up in Thatcher’s Britain was bleak. Like thousands I got hooked on space dust, one of the most destructive sweets in the playground. I moved on to harder gear—fizz-wiz, flying saucers—and realised that by prising open the dark recesses of my mind, I could write songs that were almost unintelligible in their horrible beauty.
The more whammed I got, the more the songs poured out of me, until I was literally dripping with musical genius. It was clear to me then that Murdoc Niccals was destined for greatness.
Right. That’s the formative stuff. Intermission. I’m going for a smoke.
1.Where was I?
Ah yeah. Hitting the big time. The worst thing about being me is I’m only one man. And scientists are taking their sweet time with cloning. So I had to accept that even I couldn’t play four instruments at once. I needed a band, so I kidnapped Russel from the record shop where he worked, “hired” 2D with a crafty hit-and-run in my Vauxhall Astra, and took out an ad in the NME, which led to Noodle turning up in the mail. Game on Gorillaz.
It was always my intention that the world idolize Murdoc Niccals for his music and not just his trouser dragon, which is why I stepped back from the limelight to play bass and made 2D the Gorillaz frontman. The ungrateful moron still hasn’t thanked me. None of them have, despite twice daily email reminders.
Our debut record Gorillaz was a UK smash. The follow-up, Demon Days, literally shafted America right up its Grand Canyon. Some people tried to claim I’d sold my soul to the devil in exchange for success. To all you people, I can only say I can’t be held accountable for every nut-job fan that wants a piece of Murdoc, even the dark lord himself.
Anyway, he didn’t step in when I was in prison, did he? I went AWOL after Plastic Beach, our third album, so EMI sent a bloody battleship after me for breach of contract. Did four years hard time in Dungeon Abbey after that, a secret prison underneath London’s Abbey Road studios.
But you can’t cage this beast for long. And now, finally, I’m back. The fourth coming of Murdoc. Even more explosive than the other three times. The world better be ready for some painful truths, cos this time I’m f***king furious.
OK, that’ll do. Who’s a bloke got to shaft to get a skinny latte around here?