Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Damon's Other Half; There's More to the Virtual Band Gorillaz Than Blur's Damon Albarn

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Damon's Other Half; There's More to the Virtual Band Gorillaz Than Blur's Damon Albarn

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK CURTIS

EVERYONE knows that Blur's Damon Albarn is the musical mastermind behind the cartoon band Gorillaz, but the manufactured punk-funk funsters wouldn't be half the band they are - aren't? - if it wasn't for Jamie Hewlett. While the distinctive, eclectic sound of their eponymous debut album was the result of Albarn's studio noodlings with a raft of musical collaborators, the group's four "members" - 2D, Murdoc, Russel and Noodle - sprang from Hewlett's festering mind. A former comicbook artist and creator of the cult icon Tank Girl, Hewlett is tickled that Gorillaz are up for six awards at next month's Brits "even though they don't exist".

He's about to mastermind the full flowering of the band's mixedmedia dominance.

Gorillaz's next project is an animated feature film that Hewlett is writing and storyboarding, in which, he warns, "we will learn much, much more" about his creations. The soundtrack will be the second album.

Hewlett and Albarn first met eight years ago.

"We didn't get on at all," says Hewlett, but shared acquaintance - Albarn used to date Elastica singer Justine Frischmann, Hewlett now has two children with onetime bandmember Jane Olliver - led to them sharing a flat.

"We were watching MTV one night and were appalled at all the rubbish," says Hewlett, "all these celebrities who didn't deserve to be celebrities." The concept of Gorillaz evolved as a joke at the music industry's expense - an unashamedly "fake" band which enabled Albarn to experiment with rap and hip hop without his mockney personality becoming an issue. The website (www.gorillaz.com), the grotesque band members, and the intricately-constructed world they inhabit are as much a part of the package as the music.

The world of Kong Studios, where the animated Gorillaz "live" and "work", and where the Clint Eastwood video is set, draws on influences as diverse as Scooby Doo, Japanese anime, and the zombie films of George A Romero. …

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