Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett got the cartoon band back together after a seven-year absence to make Humanz, winner of the Q Best Album award.
Congratulations on winning another Q Award. Happy?
Damon Albarn: It’s really nice. It’s about the music. Genuinely, we’ve been really touched that people recognised this record because it was a bit of a departure in that I’m not really in it much at all. Obviously I helped to make it. And I forgot to mention [producers] Remi [Kabaka] or The Twilite Tone, but I’m not very good at speeches.
What are you drinking to celebrate?
Jamie Hewlett: I’d love a glass of wine. Have you only got Q wine? Oh, is it a 2017 vintage…
What’s been your album of the year?
DA: I don’t really work like that. I work with experiences, really. I’m in and out of so many different types of music all the time, so I don’t really engage in music in that way. In terms of experience, that happened a few days ago when I went to see [producer, rapper] Mike Will Made It. He did Kendrick Lamar’s albums and I went to do some work with him while we were on tour. As a new experience in music-making this was something that I will never forget: it was so loud and brutal. This man is the top hit-maker in the world and it was interesting to witness that kind of alchemy because it doesn’t last forever. It was interesting, the interface between the two of us, and how he picked up on what I did and what I picked up with him. Read More
Damon Albarn Is Unfortunately Really Good at Predicting the Future.
Damon Albarn can tell the future. The Blur and Gorillaz architect’s work has landed much too close to where rock or pop or electronic music would end up a year or so behind him to call it a coincidence. Blur’s mid-’90s trilogy of Modern Life Is Rubbish, Parklife, and The Great Escape was sharp enough to make seething rivals of the lad rock kings in Oasis. Then, ’97’s “Song 2” stumbled on the electrorock jock jam and broke the band in America by accident; 1999’s 13 album bridged the earthen guitar theatrics of end-of-the-century gems like Grandaddy’s Under the Western Freewayand Radiohead’s OK Computer and their technophiliac year-2000 counterparts The Sophtware Slump and Kid A. 2001’s Gorillaz mixed wigged-out cartoons, underground hip-hop production, and nods to Japanese otaku culture six months before the birth of Adult Swim.
Albarn did it again with this year’s Humanz, the fifth Gorillaz full length. Working with a troupe of gifted rap, house, soul, and dancehall artists, Albarn crafted an album about rescuing humanity from the brink of ruin, instructing his collaborators to imagine a life-threatening calamity and write about the fight to best it. Without a prompt, the rappers Pusha T and Vince Staples decided our dark night of the soul would involve Donald Trump being elected as president and turned in verses and choruses about missing the peace of the Obama years while greeting death under cracked skies. Those contributions — alongside album-closer “We Have the Power,” which is fueled by an impassioned call for unity from Jehnny Beth of the post-punk revivalists Savages and backing vocals from Albarn’s former nemesis Noel Gallagher — make for the most overtly political Gorillaz album to date, but really it’s just a sharp portrayal of themes that have been present on this planet all along Read More
‘I Don’t Understand That Potato Reference’: A Bizarre Conversation With Damon Albarn About Gorillaz and America
Damon Albarn is a little late and very sweaty. He emerges suddenly from somewhere among the circle of trailers, out from behind the ping pong table. His face drips and his hair is mussed. He plops down at the wooden picnic bench with the weight of the road, thousands of fans catered to near-nightly and 21 Gorillaz shows this year successfully behind him.
He immediately lights a joint. He’s earned it.
“Is that courtesy of the festival?” I ask.
“Oh, I just figured, because I know III Points Festival usually gives joints out to the artists as gifts– ”
“I don’t smoke anything if I haven’t watched it been rolled, ya know what I mean?” he quips, flashing a gold-toothed grin that says “I’ve learned my lessons the hard way.” Read More
Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn on his bad habits and nuclear apocalypse
Damon Albarn may have started Gorillaz as a cartoon band some 20 years ago, but the project has evolved into something far more interesting. “Humanz,” its fifth studio recording and first new album since 2010, features eclectic guests such as Mavis Staples, Grace Jones and Noel Gallagher. When Gorillaz perform at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Wednesday, Oct. 4, the touring act will be joined by underground rappers Danny Brown and Vince Staples. We spoke with Albarn, 49, former lead singer of the British pop band Blur and a restless creative spirit, before the group’s headlining set at this year’s Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in August.
Q: I imagine you must be the most difficult person at home because you can’t sit still.
A: That is something my partner cites as one of my major faults. And as soon as I do, I get ill. Read More
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