In a 2005 interview with Wired magazine, Jamie Hewlett, one-half of the brain trust behind [artist id="1163298"]Gorillaz[/artist], said he and Damon Albarn decided to start the band after watching MTV, as a reaction to the cartoonish parade of pop stars the channel was showing at the time. It made sense, and, truth be told, it was sort of brilliant.
But five years and millions of albums later, things would appear to be slightly different for Hewlett and Albarn. Their first two albums went multiplatinum, and the third — the just-released Plastic Beach — debuted at #2 on the U.S. albums chart. Gorillaz have certainly become a much bigger project than either man had ever intended.
So has all the success softened their stance any? Not in the slightest.
“I remember Music Television really close to its infancy, when it really was video after video after video, bit of news, few adverts, video, video, video,” Albarn smiled. “And, I don’t know, it has changed to a point. It has grown, obviously, and the music isn’t as important anymore. It’s a carnival of the over-privileged in America, isn’t it? It’s brilliant for advertising, though.”
“Now there’s, like, ‘Celebrity’s Dogs’ Cribs,’ ” Hewlett laughed. “Things have definitely gotten sillier.”
One would imagine that puts the pair in a rather uncomfortable spot. Gorillaz are most certainly a popular act, one that — while not in the same stratosphere as the Beyoncés and Lady Gagas of the globe — is certainly “world famous.” Both men freely admit to this, and, to be honest, they don’t seem to have a problem with it. By his own admission, Albarn said he set out to make Plastic Beach the group’s most “pop” album to date.
“Oh, absolutely. I love pop music. … I just love a certain kind of it — the kind that may not look nice, but still reminds me of the stuff I used to listen to growing up,” he said. “Lady Gaga works very, very hard, and so does Beyoncé, to be very, very popular. That seems to be all they care about in life, and that’s fine, you know? It won’t last forever, and if it does, you’ll turn into Madonna, and if you want to turn into Madonna, that’s great — for you. Not for me.”
So while Albarn and Hewlett are comfortable with Gorillaz’s status, they’re not about to let it go to their heads. Quite the opposite, in fact. There are still plenty of cartoonish pop stars left for them to rail against, and they’re just getting started.
“There’s so much, really. I can’t really engage with the stuff that comes out of Simon Cowell’s imagination. I really don’t want to share his imagination, because it’s … his imagination is sort of, by a pool, where he’s endlessly looking at a rubber duck, just floating from one side to the other, pulling his trousers up a little more,” Albarn laughed. “[And] someone brings him a drink, then he goes back again [to watching the duck]. That’s his kind of imagination, and I feel I deserve a little more than that. So all the music that comes out of that entire culture, that’s what I think of it. … I want no part of it, really.”
What do you think of Plastic Beach? Do you think Gorillaz have gone pop? Let us know in the comments!