Gorillaz is a cleverly marketed side project of a group of popular musicians and comic artists, including:

Described as a 'virtual band', the Gorillaz are represented in video and press as cartoon characters (and the perpetrators perform radio interviews in character). There is a Flash-heavy website at www.gorillaz.com that fleshes this out pretty well. The Gorillaz are : Russel, 2D, Noodle, and Murdoc. The art and animation style is somewhat reminiscent of Hanna-Barbera and what little of it has emerged so far knocks Todd MacFarlane's tedious nonsense into a cocked hat.

The 'official' line is :

The story of Gorillaz is a characteristally messy one. Saturday Boy Stu-Pot, a keyboard obsessive and nice kid dullard, is the star employee at Uncle Norm's Organ Emporium, on course to make regional manager. But then comes a Saturday to end all weeks (just like a Sunday, but with shopping).

Murdoc, with his nasty bad boy crew, ramraids the shop in a tatty Vauxhall Astra. His plan: to seize the synths and form a chart topping band with the booty. He drives... SMASH!... through the shop window and... SMASH!... into Stu-Pot's head, fracturing his eyeball. Result: 30,000 hours of community service for Murdoc, plus 10 hours every week of caring for the vegetabilised Stu-Pot.

Soon, Murdoc's rotten driving skills again force life to take a different turn. While attempting a 360 doughnut spin in Nottingham's Tesco carpark, he catapults Stu-Pot through the windscreen and into a kerb. Stu-Pot's other eye is fractured, his mind is revived and he stands a young, black eyed god, with hedgehog hair and a vacant stare. Not only that, but his synth playing takes a serious turn for the weird.

Perfect pop material. Stu-Pot is renamed 2D (because he's got two dents in his head). Now Murdoc needs a drummer.

Rewind a few years. In New York State, Russel, a middle-class kid, is forced out of his posh private school due to his being possessed by a demon. He lies in a coma for four years, until an elaborate exorcism sets him free. Russel joins Brooklyn High, where he falls in with a group of talented street musicians, rappers and DJs. Hip-Hop saves his soul. For a time. A random drive-by shooting kills all of his friends and as Russel, the lone survivor, lies in a state of shock, the spirits of his chums invade his body, turning Russel's eyes a spooky white and giving him amazing drumming, rapping and general hip-hop skills.

His parents move him to England, where they hope he'll have the chance of a quieter life. They hadn't reckoned on Murdoc, who tracks Russel down in a Soho Rap Record Store. Now, all the fledgling group need is a guitarist. They place an ad in the NME. The day the ad is published, a Fed-Ex'd freight container is delivered to their door. Out jumps a small Japanese person carrying a Les Paul. She jabbers at them incomprehensibly, before launching into a riff to end all riffs, rounding it off with a hi-karate jump. The boys are speechless. Noodle has one word for them. It is Noodle.

Gorillaz are born, and signed amidst the mayhem of their very first gig. Such is the way legends are created.

Biography taken from Gorillaz.com

Much as they'd like you to believe their offical biography, Gorillaz are more based in reality than that. More a musical collective than a regular band, the group is the brain child of Damon Albarn and Dan "The Automator" Nakura, who between them recruited Miho Hatori from Cibo Matto, ex-Talking Head Tina Weymouth, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, and Buena Vista Social Club's Ibrahim Ferrer among many others to create the music, all hiding behind the cartoon stylings of Damon's ex-flatmate, Jamie Hewlett, the creator of the cult classic comic, Tank Girl.

When asked why he created the Gorillaz, Damon cited the numerous examples of groups and perfomers currently in the charts who were the epitome of style over substance, for whom the ability to lip-synch is more valuable than any lyrical skill, and claimed to be taking the process of manufacturing a pop act to an extreme. "It just goes to show that you don’t actually need real people any more,” he states. “It’s more about image than people, and Gorillaz are living proof of that. Well, almost living…”

Many of the collaborators never met during the recording process, with Albarn and Nakura sending out DAT tapes from their studio in Jamaica to the rest of the collaborators in studios worldwide, and combining the result into an odd mish-mash of styles, expertly blended to come up with songs such as Clint Eastwood and the soon to be released single 19-2000.

Live performances have proved entertaining to say the least, and prior to their debut gig at London's La Scala club, there was much speculation as to how they were going to represent the cartoon characters onstage. They ended up draping a sheet over the front of the stage onto which they had Hewlett's animations projected.

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