New Gorillaz Album: Release Date, Tour Dates And Everything Else You Need To Know
After almost six years away, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s virtual band Gorillaz are gearing up to own 2017 with a slate of brand new material. Their last album, ‘The Fall’, was released in 2010 – a mere nine months after their third album, the sweeping concept album, ‘Plastic Beach’. Details about the new album are sketchy, but ‘band members’ Noodles, Murdoc, 2D and Russel are definitely up to something – so here’s everything we know so far about the new Gorillaz album.
When is the new album going to be released?
In an interview in 2015, Albarn mentioned that he would start work on the new record in September 2015 and added, “I’d love to just get back into that routine of being at home and coming to the studio five days a week.”
So we know there’s hopefully been at least a fair few months worth of work into the album already. In the past, Gorillaz albums have varied in length of recording; 2010’s ‘Plastic Beach’ was recorded over a 17-month period and their debut clocked in at just over a year, but their last album, ‘The Fall‘, was recorded during touring on an iPad.
The band’s animator Jamie Hewlett claimed that “2016 is going to be Gorillaz all year.” He also commented that Albarn is a known prolific worker and said, “I don’t think it will be long!”
Since, Hewlett has backtracked on his comments, suggesting that the new album may take longer than expected. In an Instagram post by a fan who met Jamie, it was claimed that the new album is now slated for a 2017 release date, with Hewlett saying the album is “really fuckin special” but “can’t be rushed”.
Albarn gave a further update when speaking to BBC 6 Music in July and all confirmed a release date of 2017. “Later in the year we’ll be starting to get the whole Gorillaz thing together,” he said. Albarn also continued to say, “I’m loving it and it’s getting there. It should be ready fairly soon.”
On September 20, Gorillaz’ social media accounts began updating with their first bit of activity in months. The updates celebrated each phase of the group’s history, before stopping short just before Phase 4 – the upcoming cycle. In October, the group began posting brand new content, with a flurry of Twitter and Instagram activity, resulting in ‘The Book Of Noodle’ which appears to be detailing the going-ons for the fictional characters. Since, they’ve released accompanying books for each character via social media, but no official word on a release date.
Following on from the release of ‘Hallelujah Money’, Gorillaz’ manager Michael Smith tweeted “Off we go then to London. Day 1 of @gorillaz prep” indicating that the great cog is turning, and we are indeed getting close to some monkey business.
A meeting with a fan in February 2017 seemingly confirmed that the album was finished and that tour prep is under way. Albarn’s comments seem to match up with other posts from the rehearsal space.
What can we expect from the new Gorillaz album?
Albarn has remained tight-lipped about the specific sound of the album but in an interview with Rolling Stone, he suggested it could take a detour from the piano-led ballads on his debut solo album ‘Everyday Robots’.
“I’m in the very early days on a new Gorillaz record. So far, it’s really fast, and it’s got quite a lot of energy. I’ve been stuck on piano, somewhere off Broadway, for years now. I want to go somewhere completely opposite of that.”
Albarn elaborated on this in an interview with Canadian site Exclaim:
“I’m determined that my next record will be very upbeat, and I will try to set myself the benchmark of 125 bpm and nothing underneath that.”
Assessing Albarn’s claim that the new tracks will be at least 125 BPM (Beats Per Minute), it’ll put it on a par with ‘Demon Days’ and their last album, ‘The Fall’. Does this mean a move away from the orchestral overtures of ‘Plastic Beach’?
Hewlett has also been coy about how the new tracks are sounding so far, only offering the description of “great”, but he’s been more vocal on how the art for this album could look.
“It’s going to change – I can’t tell you how,” Hewlett hinted. “But of course it’s going to be different, I can’t do what I’ve already done, that’s not interesting to me. In the same way Damon changes with his music and moves forward, I do the same. It’s going to be a different look.”
As production continues, snippets of what could be on the way are leaking onto social media and the potential list of collaborators grows. Recently, British singer Liam Bailey was captured in the studio with Albarn on a video clip uploaded to Instagram by Hewlett, alongside producer Twilite Tone and legendary French electronic musician Jean Michel Jarre. Some mix right there.
A video posted by hewll (@hewll) on Apr 11, 2016 at 7:07am PDT
A video posted by hewll (@hewll) on Apr 11, 2016 at 6:37am PDT
Chicago hip-hop artist Vic Mensa has been captured in the studio with the animated band, too. Producer Remi Kabaka – who provides the voice for animated character Russel Hobbs – uploaded a picture to Instagram with Mensa tagged in it, sparking rumours that the rapper will be on the new album.
A photo posted by Every5ingleDay (@remikabaka) on May 17, 2016 at 11:58am PDT
In August this year, rap trio De La Soul confirmed that they will be guesting on the album alongside fellow rapper Snoop Dogg. Both featured on last album ‘Plastic Beach’, with De La Soul also guesting on single ‘Feel Good Inc.’ back in 2005 with rapper Pos praising the work Albarn did on their latest album. “With Damon, it was easy because we love working with him. We’re about to be on the new Gorillaz album.”
Though Kaytranada may have released one of the best albums of 2016, his production expertise will not be heard on the new album – despite offering up his help. In a now-deleted tweet, the Canadian producer revealed that he was poised to collaborate with Albarn and Hewlett on the record; “I was supposed to, they hit me up one time and I didn’t hear back from them again.”
Musically, we know the aim is upbeat, but a discovery by Reddit users have noted that we could be in for a long album too. A recent copyright claim for the song lists ‘Hallelujah Money’ as ‘Track 19’. This could just mean its a bonus track and not actually a part of the album, but consider this: we could be in for a double-album of Gorillaz album, if this song does indeed transpire to be on the record.
Have we heard any songs from it yet?
Maybe. The group just shared new anti-Trump track ‘Hallelujah Money’ which you can listen to below. Early signs points to this not being on the album, being more of a one-off track in the buildup – but who knows right now.
Before that, the last piece of music Albarn released under the Gorillaz moniker was a mind-blowing collaboration with LCD Soundsystem‘s James Murphy and Outkast rapper Andre 3000 in 2012, entitled ‘DoYaThing’. It’s bonkers and definitely fits the up-tempo vibe that Albarn seems to be aiming for.
In 2014 though, Albarn revealed that he had enough finished Gorillaz music locked away to release a brand new album whenever he wanted. One track in particular that fans are clamouring to hear is a lost collaboration with The Horrors and Super Furry Animals man Gruff Rhys. The track, entitled ‘Leviathan’, was recorded during the ‘Plastic Beach’-era and a brief snippet was heard in the album’s accompanying documentary, but a full version is yet to be released.
What’s the new album’s release date?
Currently unknown, but many signs have pointed to potentially the first half of 2017. Judging by recent comments from Murdoc, they could still be recording, however: “The new album’s not gonna write itself” he said in January.
Have we seen the album artwork yet?
Not yet, but if you follow Jamie Hewlett on Instagram, you’ll see that he’s been drip-feeding a load of new Gorillaz graphics. Could some of it be incorporated into the album’s artwork? Potentially.
A photo posted by hewll (@hewll) on Mar 30, 2016 at 2:21am PDT
A photo posted by hewll (@hewll) on Mar 23, 2016 at 6:48am PDT
A photo posted by hewll (@hewll) on Mar 23, 2016 at 4:47am PDT
A photo posted by hewll (@hewll) on Jan 17, 2016 at 11:15am PST
Are Gorillaz touring this year?
No dates so far but a tour alongside the new album could be on the cards. Reddit users recently noted that the band’s website was currently undergoing some back end maintenance and speculated that the ‘Live’ page is currently being updated. Albarn also appeared to confirm that prep for a tour is under way, so expect some live dates to be announced around the album’s release.
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