Page last updated at 15:40 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Talking Shop: Gorillaz

Gorillaz
Blur star Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett are behind the group

Colourful cartoon band Gorillaz are back on the music scene with their third album Plastic Beach, five years after their last outing with Demon Days.

The crazed pop crusaders have sold 15 million records to date and have roped in guests stars including Lou Reed, Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, Bobby Womack and Barry Gibb for this album.

(Fictional) bassist and band mastermind Murdoc spoke to BBC 6 Music DJ Steve Lamacq about their latest adventures.


Your recording studio, Kong Studios, burnt down last year. In suspicious circumstances? What happened?

I put the place up for sale but no-one was biting. So what happened was I just torched the place, blamed it on some local kids, pocketed the cash and they all went to jail. Which is funny really.

Best place for 'em. Keep 'em off the streets, won't it? But sometimes I think you've got to burn the past to make a new future.

So once Kong's gone, you create this new world on Plastic Beach. Is it like Tracy Island or something?

I suppose it's like an X-rated version of Tracy Island. It's a towering monstrous thing. And it houses everything from my new HQ to my state of the art recording studio.

It's got everything from lavish boudoirs to glass-bottomed basement rooms, secret rooms, lighthouse towers. It makes Peter Gabriel's Real World studio look like a load of old rubbish.

The Gorillaz name goes a long way now - now, it gives you carte blanche, you can ask whoever you like

You've brought in so many guests on this record. If you're living on this beach somewhere, what do you do, phone them up? Or did you just kidnap them?

I wouldn't invite anybody that I didn't admire. There's lots of different methods that you can get this sort of talent on this sort of record. One way is you can phone them up and ask them. That's one way.

The Gorillaz name goes a long way now. Much further than it did at the beginning. Now, it gives you carte blanche really. You can ask whoever you like. Some people will just agree on the back of that. Others take a little bit more persuading. This rag - does it smell of chloroform to you?

Did anyone turn you down?

Katy Perry - she's been after a guest spot for ages and I tried to turn her down. No, I couldn't work with the woman while she's got Russell Brand all over her.

Gorillaz
The Gorillaz album Plastic Beach is out in the UK on Monday

There's been talk of you working with Damon Albarn from Blur. Is that true?

I've got a soft spot for Damon. The thing about Damon is he does always smell nice. He keeps himself clean. He's cooked up some great music in his time and he's been very generous with his ideas, even if he doesn't know it.

The album to me is about survival but it's also about trying to forge a better future...

Imagine looking down at a telescope at the end of the pier. Way off in the distance is a little island, green and pristine, and from back here it looks like home.

It's very possible that it ends up exactly as we have, just a hard ball of plastic floating in the middle of nowhere, full of desire, clutter, oil slicks and paperwork. But at the moment it's empty, it's clean, it's naive, and it's filling up. Plastic Beach is basically just another place. Another way of looking at the world really and this is its soundtrack.

Is it about saving the planet?

Actually no. Plastic Beach is not really a green record. It's a soundtrack for a plastic beach. It's taking little snapshots of many, many places around the world and then stuck them all together on a billboard so you can see how they all fit. It's not a judgement on the world. It's just a picture.

Gorillaz will be out on tour again. Do you have a fancy tour bus?

We are going to be doing bits and bobs out on the road. Obviously these live shows require a huge band. And a few of them aren't properly house trained so there's no point in fancy tour buses. Basically what we've got is a kitchenette, a toilet, a shower and 16 bunks. Home sweet home.

Do you have a pre-gig warm-up?

Yes. First I stand in front of the mirror saying "I'm a star, I'm a star", then I do a couple of rounds in the ring with my sparring partner. And then I play table tennis backstage. Then I drink a bottle of day nurse.

And then I brush my teeth with rum. And then I do my hair with boot black, or is it the other way around? Anyway, then I strap on my bass and hit the stage. Rock 'n' roll.

The full interview can be heard in Steve Lamacq's show on BBC 6 Music, with tracks from the album played throughout the day.



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