A sort of virtual band, Gorillaz features cartoon characters 2D (vocals, keys), Murdoc Niccals (bass), Russel Hobbs (drums) and Noodle (guitar). The idea of using comic-book pseudonyms as a sort of "mask" for contributing artists came to Damon Albarn of Britpop band Blur and the British cartoonist Jamie Hewlett back in 1998. While watching MTV, the two say they were struck by the lack of substance in what they were seeing. Gorillaz, Hewlett says, was born as a comment on the nature of music television.
A band fronted by cartoon characters might seem ridiculous at first, but the success of Gorillaz sure isn't. Having already scored hits with "Clint Eastwood" and "Feel Good, Inc.," the Gorillaz characters returned this spring with their third studio album to date: Plastic Beach. Here, Albarn and Hewlett join World Cafe to discuss the nature of being in a band of fictional musicians, as well as to elaborate on the concept behind Plastic Beach. This session includes a live performance of Gorillaz's most recent singles.
This World Cafe segment originally aired on June 11, 2010.
Support the news
More NPR or Explore Audio.