Vol. 1, first promo booklet, November 2000
Gorillaz are a turbo-boosted four piece in overdrive, a band with their collective foot slammed squarely to the floor of the Gorillaz mobile. Their race-tuned sound is an F1 Kong with a quartet of Might Joe Young's at the wheel. Lock up your sons, daughters and leave a light on in the hallway just to be on the safe side, they've escaped from the zoo and are out to get what's due. Laugh now but the future belongs to them.
"As soon as they played 'Punk', I knew I'd seen the future of music." So says Whiffy Smiffy, EMI A&R ace, who witnessed Gorillaz' first ever gig at the Camden Brownhouse in late 1998. There was a riot, natch: Whiffy, with inimitable style, let off a few rounds from his pump-action sawn-off, forced his way through the crowds and grabbed those all-important signatures. He set Murdoc, 2D, Russel and Noodle to task: ten months and close to thirty tracks later, they delivered their dark pop classic. Kinky, wild, seductive with far-flung influences ranging from Jamaican Dub to New-York Hip-Hop, from Cuban love songs to South London scum-punk, the Gorillaz first long player was an eye-ear-and-mind openerand a genuine milestone along rock's long highway. Gorillaz meld their diverse backgrounds and far-flung influences, their various styles and impressive talent to make a subversive, modern, yet utterly accessible sound. This is the record you'll put on to get up, get down, get off and get it on with the lover of your dreams. A shoo-in for the Mercury Prize were it not for the fact that half of Gorillaz are Johnny Foriegners. Totally hot. Totally cool.
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 (which caused him to maim the student body). 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.
TOMORROW COMES TODAY PROMO
When the call went out to directors for Gorillaz first promotional film, one voice came came back loud and clear above the others, that of Paulo Skinbackio, auteur and founder of the noew infamous "Quattro Frammagio Manifesto" technique of film making. The legendary Italian director behind such landmarks in contemporary Latin cinema as; "Boom Ho-Lio (My Mind And Her Mother)", and "Stop Now, It's Hurting". Whose Cannes Grand Prize winning documentary following Pope John Paul II's aborted mission to remake Michael Ritchie's 1976 masterpiece "The Bad News Bears", where his holiness intended to re-enact both Walter Matthau's and Tatum O'Neal's roles, shot him onto the global stage. For Gorillaz and Tomorrow Comes Today, Skinbackio has created a seminal piece of pop video history which (in his own words) "Releases the tormented gypsy sould deep within the burning heart of the music, like a suppository in the frenetic love-lorn nights of our lives."
Here, Gorillaz can be found in their natural habitat: a multi-storeyed studio complex, rehearsal rooms and unpleasant toilets. You can visit each Gorilla's room, admire their dubious decor, check what they're up to on their computers, visit their favourite websites, email them. The more investigative visitor can also find tracks in progress scattered around the building on various pieces of recording equipment. You can even peek into their studio, and remix their tunes. And, when nature calls, there's a spray can left in each cubicle so that you can express yourself, while expressing whatever's in yourself. Nice.
Vol. 2, enhanced section of Tomorrow Comes Today single, February 2002
Gorillaz were originally described as a turbo-boosted four piece in over-drive. Seventeen months on and they've had their F1 Kong fine-tuned and customised! New spoilers, neon under-lighting, extra bass bins in the back and fur-lined wheels. Where this will take them who knows. They don't even know who's driving. Laugh now, they heralded, because the future belonged to them and with a multi-million selling album, numerous awards and a ground breaking web site somehow in the bag, it seems they are in a position to take over the asylum. If the future still belongs to them, duck! But hey, "Tomorrow Comes Today" - where it all started - has come around again, so at least this time we get a warning! As for now, we have four individuals from one great group. But which one would you take home?
The story behind the band's formation is pretty well covered in the official biography. Only one other fact has been excluded, that, according to Dr. Wurzel, at least the Gorillaz line-up originally included a girl called Paula before Noodle joined (which has been removed from the official story). She left after Russel caught her having sex with Murdoc in the studio toilets, which was shocking as she was going out with 2D at the time. Dr. Wurzel himself, is an official character in the Gorillaz universe, made out to be a fan by the creators. The content on his website, (including an mp3 of Ghost Train way before it came out, an exclusive early pic of Gorillaz in development and a movie of Murdoc's Winnebago that would later appear on the Celebrity Take Down DVD credited to MATT WATKINS, webmaster of Gorillaz.com), revealed him to be an official part of the story (as did later reference to him).
Gorillaz made their worldwide media debut in Dazed and Confused magazine in November 2000, releasing their debut single in the same month. Their Studios also opened its doors to the public in early November. "Clint Eastwood", the worldwide hit, followed in March. This single was accompanied by a video of the band in the graveyard around Kong Studios, being chased by dancing zombie gorillas. The Gorillaz debut album followed, released first in Europe and Japan in a flurry of press activity. They played their second gig at the Scala in London in March, to the British press and a host of celebrities. On the day of the album's release, Murdoc's Winnebago was stolen (it has been implied this was by Dr.Wurzel). Two live dates in Ireland and Paris followed in June, and they also released their second single "19/2000" which would also become a massive hit around the globe. On the back of "Clint Eastwood's" success stateside, the debut got a full release there coupled with two bonus tracks. The album was also re-released in Europe to include the Soulchild Remix of "19/2000". August saw an appearance at the UK dance festival Creamfields and two Japanese dates, and in September the band took to the road in the UK for a 4-date mini tour. The band collaborated with the rap act D-12 in September to produce the track "911" about the September 11th attacks. November saw the release of the single "Rock The House" in the UK and in December the band played two anti-war gigs, one in Bristol, England and the other in London, where their live shows were altered to incorporate photographs from the Afghanistan war. In late December a compilation of the B-sides of the singles so far was released in Japan, G-Sides which would also be released in all other territories a few months later. The new year saw them off to a flying start with an appearance at the Brit Awards in London, opening the show. They were to go away empty-handed but they would win many other awards at other shows, and gave their acceptance speech (recorded live on video) at some of them. Their debut album would go on to sell just under 5 million copies worldwide, including over a million copies in the US. In February 2002 the band undertook a 11 date tour of North America, with an altered live show (two screens this time, and a new rapper). They also re-released the track 'Tomorrow Comes Today' as a single in the UK. Work on a dub-reworking of the Gorillaz debut album was completed by the Spacemonkeyz and released in June of that year, with an accompanying single "Lil' Dub Chefin"' a reworking of the track "M1 A1". July saw the last Gorillaz show of what became known as Phase One.
On October 31st, 2002, a naked man was seen running through the marshes screaming near Gorillaz studios, Kong Studios in Districtshire, and the police cordoned off the area. They later found evidence of paranormal activity (that the Gorillaz had noticed themselves when they were working on their second album in the studio, and had complained to the police about). A compilation of 'video evidence' collected in the studio was released as the Gorillaz first DVD, containing all their videos to date and much other material besides. The Gorillaz continued to inform the fan community about making their new album and working on their new movie throughout 2003, but nothing was heard after November 2003. At this time the Gorillaz took time out and went their separate ways, all going on voyages of self-discovery for a year and taking time out from working. Russel had Del ripped from his body by the sudden appearance of the Grim Reaper and took a year to recover. Noodle went back to Japan to find out the truth about her past. The studio would remain closed for over a year. On 25th November 2004, the portacabin that the police had been using as an office was removed and the cordon taken down. On 1st December, Noodle was the first member to return to the studios, immediately publicizing a new competition Search For A Star; a talent contest to find a new collaborator for Gorillaz, judged by the band themselves. The studios opened their doors again on 8th December. The reason the police cleared off was supposedly that they had cleared out most of the worst of the paranormal activity, yet some unsavoury characters were certainly left in the studios. The other band members returned to the studio by mid-December.