Has there ever been a band quite like Gorillaz? This is not a trick question. The answer is no. The English virtual band formed in 1998 as a collaboration between Damon Albarn and Tank Girl co-creator Jamie Hewlett, but as the project has evolved, so has the backstory behind its virtual members. At a time when AI rappers are falling flat on their faces, the virtual four-piece of bassist Murdoc Niccals, singer 2D, drummer Russel Hobbs, and guitarist Noodle, are entering the next elaborate chapter in their storied virtual (and non-virtual) careers.
In the lead-up to their 8th album, Cracker Island, the band’s core virtual members were living at their London-based Kong Studios, until they relocated earlier this year to Los Angeles’ buzzy, hipster enclave of Silver Lake. They’ve come to LA to gather a following for ‘The Last Cult,” which is devoted to finding a higher consciousness into the future amid a broken world. The journey has seemed a bit bumpy so far, as Gorillaz found themselves entangled in a trippy evening that ended in the emergency room — a story that unfolds in the music video for the album’s title track, “Cracker Island” featuring Thundercat. We then get a kaleidoscopic view into this utopia in the video for “New Gold” featuring Tame Impala and Bootie Brown.
While Cracker Island comes out next year, Gorillaz have embarked on an insane tour of North America, where Damon Albarn is backed by a 14-piece live band, a slew of guests, and of course the core four virtual members. As the band prepares to perform in Los Angeles, with shows at the Forum on September 23 and the YouTube Theater on September 25, we took this opportunity to catch up with 2D, the singer who Murdoc calls, “A blue-haired, black-eyed god,” but was once described by Albarn and Hewlett as having, “A blank sheet of paper where a brain should be.” Don’t let that fool you, he’s kind, adventurous, and a damn fine singer. He’s also been getting along just peachy in Los Angeles and we spoke with 2D about living in the City of Angels.
So you recently moved from West London to LA’s Silver Lake area. How has that transition been for you?
Yeah really good cheers! I made sure to bring loads of extra pants cos in America they wear pants instead of trousers.
I saw that you guys spent a crazy evening in the emergency room surrounded by cops. Everything okay with that situation? Seemed a bit concerning.
It’s always concerning being in Gorillaz. Russ says that stuff ain’t happened yet as that is the future or something. I am not looking forward to getting arrested.
Besides that, have you been getting along well with your neighbors?
The neighbors are nice, I’ve made a new friend called Moon Flower who makes me weird-tasting tea, I think they make it different over here.
Do you find yourself getting noticed around town a lot?
Usually I find myself with that ‘find my phone’ app.
LA can be a bit vain…looks are important. Are you ever self-conscious walking around a city among celebrities and #influencers?
I don’t really leave the house much as the Great Leader gives me too many jobs to do to cleanse my soul. Except when he needs more vodka and sends me to the shop.
What’s something you’ve had to eat at a restaurant out here that you can’t stop thinking about?
Where else do you like to spend your free time out in LA?
In my free time Great Leader Murdoc gets me digging holes in the garden then filling them up again. I lost my phone down one of them.
Before you moved here or even after, what’s the wildest time you’ve ever had out there. Kindly describe it in excruciating detail.
Got stuck in a suit of armour. Noodle got me out with butter and a wooden spoon.
I know you’re a Crawley Town FC lifetime supporter, but have you adopted any LA area sports teams? Been to any games? If so, what’d you think?
Not yet but I adopted a raccoon. Well more like it adopted me. It’s on my leg right now. I asked Tame Impala to help but he only tames impalas.
Snoop Dogg’s been on a couple of your albums. Have you guys linked since you moved down here recently? Get into any trouble?
He hasn’t got back to my text and now my phone is buried in the garden. Snoop if you’re reading this how’s it going mate. Do you want to go bowling? Cheers, 2D. From Gorillaz.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about the new album. What can you reveal about Cracker Island ahead of this tour and how has LA played a part in it?
I can’t reveal much as I have been sworn to secrecy by this new club thing Murdoc’s got going. Russ reckons Cracker Island is a well nice place where the sun shines bright and birds never crap on your shoes.
Ok, last question. Now that you’re an LA resident living in Silver Lake. Which do you prefer, the beaches or the bars?
Have they got beaches here? I’m still looking for the lake. You ain’t seen it, have you?
Cracker Island is out 2/24/2023 via Parlophone. Pre-save it here.
Gorillaz is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.