Now that their month-long U.S. tour is but a recent memory, animated supergroup Gorillaz are fading into the funny pages for a while, but the individual members will remain active. Vocalist Damon Albarn is releasing an album of West African music and focusing his attention on his longtime outfit Blur, producer Dan the Automator is working on a solo disc as well as producing records by Zack de la Rocha and Peeping Tom, and the remaining Gorillaz will be busying themselves with various other projects.
But that doesn't mean Gorillaz will remain locked up for an extended period of time. In fact, before the end of spring, the band will issue a full dub version of its self-titled platinum debut.
"It's really interesting," Albarn said recently. "Our DJ, whose name is DJ Desire, has been working on it for the last year. He just started off by doing a few mixes and they sounded really good, so now he's done the whole record. He's just taken one aspect of the influence behind the original record and expanded upon it."
"I've just got to finish off the artwork to give it the right sort of vibe, then we can release it," added Jamie Hewlett, who will spend much of his time conjuring story lines and images for the long-ballyhooed Gorillaz feature film, which he hopes will be ready in 2004.
"These things don't just happen overnight," Albarn explained. "They take a long, long time. So really, we're going to go underground for a couple of years. We'll go back to our day jobs and then get back together later."
Albarn said the next Gorillaz studio album will be the soundtrack to the film. And even though the bandmembers could easily release a few songs in the lengthy interim, he has no interest in doing so.
"Gorillaz is not a band, it's an idea," he said. "The idea happened to manifest itself in a band to start out with, but those characters are very much free agents, and so are we. The next stage for us was always to make a feature film about the characters. They might play the film score live, but we're not going to become U2. And when we come back, we want to make the same kind of impact in the movie business as we've done in the music business. After that, who knows? Politics or catering."
While the Gorillaz were wreaking havoc on the music charts last year, Albarn's bandmates in Blur were less than pleased with the monkeys' success. "There was tension until we got back into the studio," Albarn admitted. "But I think the experience has only helped the Blur record, which I'm quite confident will be pretty amazing."
To date, Blur have recorded 15 new tracks and plan to get back together in May for a month to complete their seventh studio album. Albarn said the single is likely to be "Don't Bomb When You Are the Bomb," but he wouldn't discuss the sound or meaning of the track.
"I can't really say anything about it, because if I did, you wouldn't want me back here next time," he quipped.