Music fans curious what a “virtual band” sounds like in concert will have their chance on when 2D, Murdoc, and Cyborg of U.K. favorites Gorillaz take over the Ed Sullivan Theater in another “Live on Letterman” performance.
Hardly your typical rock ‘n roll show, the Gorillaz live set features not only the band’s catchy melodic hooks and groovy beats (blending elements of rock, hip-hop, Latin, electronic, and other genres), but also wild animation, puppets and other outlandish imagery. The experience is free to view on CBS.com starting live Thursday, Oct. 7, at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT).
Founded in 1998, Gorillaz is the brainchild of musician Damon Albarn of Britpop band Blur and illustrator/cartoonist Jamie Hewlett, co-creator of the comic sensation Tank Girl. To call those guys and their rotating roster of musicians “bandmates” misses the point — the official bandmembers of Gorillaz are fictional: lead vocalist and keyboardist 2D, bassist Murdoc Niccals, and guitarist/keyboardist Noodle (original drummer Russel Hobbs is missing in action). Even the Guinness Book of World Records recognizes this fact, having declared Gorillaz to be the world’s most successful virtual act.
Though they’ve been around a dozen years, Gorillaz has only three studio albums to its name: the group’s self-titled debut (2001), Demon Days (2005), and this year’s Plastic Beach. Yet what monsters they have been: Gorillaz sold 6 million copies, Demon Days even more, turning the group into a worldwide sensation.
The Gorillaz are big on collaboration, having worked with such creative forces as Ike Turner, De La Soul, Martina Topley-Bird, Dennis Hopper, Miho Hatori of Cibo Matto, Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads, and Madonna (performing alongside her holographic likeness at the 2006 Grammys). With Plastic Beach, Gorillaz have again attracted some serious talent, including Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed, Mos Def, Bobby Womack, Mark E. Smith, and former Clash members Mick Jones and Paul Simonon (the latter two also performing as part of the current Gorillaz live experience).
Continuing with their non-traditional approach, Albarn and Hewitt have used some unusual tactics over the years to promote the group’s music and build its audience, including a viral campaign for Demon Days built around the phrase Reject False Icons, and a public talent contest to recruit collaborators. A documentary film about the group, titled Bananaz, premiered in 2008. The group’s website, too, is a crazy location well worth visiting.
Gorillaz are in the midst of a world tour to support Plastic Beach, which includes the stop in New York to perform on David Letterman’s show.