The virtual “zombie hip-hop” band founded by [lastfm]Damon Albarn[/lastfm] ([lastfm]Blur[/lastfm], [lastfm]The Good, The Bad, and The Queen[/lastfm]) and Jamie Hewlett (the cartoonist who created Tank Girl) consists of four fictional characters (2-D, Murdoc, Russel, and Noodle) who are insanely obsessed with, you guessed it, zombies and vampires. [lastfm]Gorillaz[/lastfm] also often have friends like [lastfm]Mos Def[/lastfm], [lastfm]Lou Reed[/lastfm], [lastfm]MF Doom[/lastfm], and [lastfm]Del Tha Funky Homospaien[/lastfm] join them on record and on stage–sometimes in person, sometimes via holograph.
But you already knew that, didn’t you? Believe us, there’s plenty more you likely don’t. So before Gorillaz take over the Ed Sullivan Theater tomorrow for a Live on Letterman concert (Oct. 7 at 8pm ET/5pm PT and webcast right here), we assembled ten facts about the band you (probably) didn’t know.
1. Remember [lastfm]Elastica[/lastfm], the ’90s band with hit single “Connections”? Turns out Hewlett and Albarn met through Jane Olliver, a member of the band whose cofounder, Justine Frischmann, was Damon Albarn‘s girlfriend at the time.
2. Ever wonder why Hewlett and Albarn called their project [lastfm]Gorillaz[/lastfm]? After some diggin’ around the Web, we found out both artists were born in 1968, which is the year of the Monkey, which led to the name.
3. In case you didn’t pick this up already, both Hewlett and Albarn are big fans of Chinese theater. A few years ago, they adapted one of China’s most beloved tales into a Cirque du Soleil-type of opera called Monkey: Journey to the West. The project features music by Damon Albarn and designs by Hewlett.
4. In 2008 Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett were hired to produce one for the Beijing Olympics–one of the coolest commercial we’ve seen for the Olympics so far.
5. Aside from appearing in the Guinness Book of World Records under “Most Successful Virtual Band,” the band recently broke another record for the most views on YouTube after the release of their newest music video, “Stylo,” featuring Bruce Willis. The video earned 900,000 views in the first 24 hours.
6. Celebrities can make the most outrageous requests on their rider while on tour. From clean socks and underwear, a giant bowl of M&M’s to “Diamante-studded bananas” – what else would a member of Gorillaz eat–duh! Find out what’s on Murdoc Niccals rider!
7. Earlier we mentioned that the Gorillaz are big fans of zombies and vampires. In fact, many of their songs include tons of horror references from movies like “The Amityville Horror,” “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Resident Evil.” Here’s one of our faves featuring an oblique reference to “The Shining.” Click the image below to watch the clip!
8. Gorillaz are huuuuuge fans of Clint Eastwood. Not only was their first single named after the actor, but they also recorded one for his Dirty Harry character featuring 2-D’s slurred vocals. Click on the image below to watch the clip!
9. Plastic Beach is an island made of junk and home to Murdoc from the Gorillaz. Free trip to the island is just one click away!
10. Inspired by the Japanese-designed drum machine that started the Korg musical instrument company in 1963 , “Doncamatic” is a new, unheard single that didn’t quite make it on Plastic Beach. Listen below, and you’ll find out exactly why it didn’t make the cut.