Only in the world’s most famous animated band will you have members that include a spaced out keyboardist/frontman (2-D), a Satanic bassist (Murdoc), a private-schooled hip hop drummer (Russell) and an 11 year old, Japanese guitarist (Noodle), who purportedly arrived at their doorstep in a crate. With hits like ‘Clint Eastwood’, ‘Dare’ and ‘Stylo’ from 3 highly successful albums, the Gorillaz have made it into the Guinness Book Of World Records as the Most Successful Virtual Band. JUICE just had to decipher the secret to their success.
“If you’re going to pretend to be somebody you’re not-which is the whole point of being a rockstar-then why not just invent fake characters and have them do it all for you?” – Jamie Hewlett
30% BRITPOP POSTER BOY-TURNED-APE MAN
One half of the (real) brains behind Gorillaz, Damon Albarn has had an illustrious career as the frontman of Blur, the seminal Britpop group of the 90s. After dabbling in several side music projects, Damon came up with the idea of creating a “virtual hip hop band” with artist friend Jamie Hewlett in their flat at Westbourne Grove in 1998. The combined success of Blur and Gorillaz got Damon voted in a poll as the 4th Greatest Frontman Of All Time in Q Magazine this year.
30% CULT COMIC ARTIST
Comic book artist Jamie Hewlett is no stranger to success. Prior to the Gorillaz, he was the co-creator of Tank Girl, a cult favourite created in 1988. For Gorillaz, Jamie adds visuals for the music and often gets inspired by what Damon creates in the studio. Jamie also co-directs all of the Gorillaz’s music videos.
30% FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES
Of course, all this success wouldn’t be possible without their list of 30+ collaborators (spanning 3 albums) that include a wide variety of artists like mixmaster Kid Koala, Del the Funkee Homosapien, Talking Heads’ Chriz Frantz, Neneh Cherry and Tina Weymouth.
2% COMMERCIAL SUCCESS
The track ’19-2000′ (which we suspect became famous because of Noodle’s cute vocals) is prominently featured in the PlayStation game FIFA Football 2002 while ‘Feel Good Inc.’ can be heard on Rock Band, Guitar Hero 5 and the karaoke game SingStar.
8% LIVE PERFORMANCE INNOVATOR
Gorillaz’s breakthrough performance was at the 2006 Brit Awards, which featured hologram technology to make it look like they were performing onstage with Madonna. Nowadays they’ve taken a different approach: the real band members get up onstage to perform aided by video projections of their illustrated selves in the background.
Image: Warner Music