Hello Fansite friends, a happy merry and a merry happy to you all - and don't forget a big Hail Santa! We've a nice bit of news as we've just read from the folks over at Music News Net that Gorillaz are top of the pops in terms of Myspace UK's most popular artists for 2008!
With nearly 700,000 of you now signed up as friends with the fabulous Gorillaz Myspace, it can only mean the excitement and anticipation is rising ahead of the much rumoured Gorillaz LP3. Which begs the question, Gorillaz fans: which guest stars would you like to see on a new Gorillaz album? Leave your picks in the comments below.
Hello all. The fansite is back! Apologies for the last few weeks of shutdown as the fansite migrated to a new set of servers. But we're back on line and with some exciting new plans for 2009.
And we want you to be part of those plans. As we get ready to celebrate 8 years since the release of the first Gorillaz album in 2009, we want to know what you'd like to see on the fansite, and on Gorillaz.com as well! Here's a chance for you to contribute - leave your message in the comments section of this post.
If you're itching to play with some cool new online toys featuring fantastic Jamie Hewlett art, you might want to check out the new applications over on the Monkey: Journey to the West site.
Currently, you can play with the following applications and games:
Monkey Bee single cover puzzle: click here.
Hopefully you've all had some time to soak in that statement from Murdoc just below, and if the new Monkey record tickles your fancy as well - which it should! - then those of you in America can now get it in all good record shops. Click here for Amazon, and click here for iTunes.
For those of you in London, you'll want to see the amazing performance of Monkey: Journey to the West over 24 dates this autumn. Click here for all of the ticket info from Ticketmaster.
Gorillaz stalwart Murdoc Niccals has emerged to give us this exclusive view on the new Monkey: Journey to the West opera and album (see below for more details) release!
Right, Ok. Listen Gorillaz fans. I've had a pretty testy couple of months. Credit crunch, house prices collapsing . I can't seem to shift this enormous deserted 'Kong Studios' building that me and those other gonks have occupied for the last 8 years. And also I've only just got back from this whole 'tracking Noodle down in the Underworld, and rescuing her from an eternal existence in the jaws of a 50ft soul-eating demon from Hades' epic-type-jaunt, as what was posted in my last Bookface geek-fest thing...
That was pretty hairy, but it's all safe now, all good. I'd love to tell you lot about it but, as usual I've got myself all tangled up with some turgid movie dudes who say, Y'know keep schtum, we'll sell the whole story to Schpeilburg. Probably all rubbish again but let's see.
Anyway aside from all that. Why am I back here today? Well as I said, So, I just re-surfaced from Hell, dusted all off all the burning coal, entrails, smoke, liver and sulphur from my cape and what do I find on my mantelpiece? A big, gaudy envelope with this inside:
Well, right, me and opera go together like Kylie and arse cheeks, so I thought OK. 'Could be good. Let's check it out...'
I'm always open to new ideas. I actually saw a very vivid performance of Wagner's 'Ring Cycle' recently, but that was a part of a triple-bill including a showing of My Big Fat Greek Orgy, and also Raiders of the Lost Arse so I'm not sure any of them were strictly 'Opera', by the conventional definitions of the term. But the singing was pretty fantastic. And the aria in the middle brought tears to my eyes. And a strange swelling down below...
So anyway, I'm staring at this invite when I notice this wonderful little tell-tale sign scribbled in crayon at the bottom
Ooohh Tasty! Sounds like fighting talk to me. Now, you know I'm fond of a bottle of Rhohypnol or two, but you'd think even I would remember putting together a 2-hour marathon bonanza spectacular sung in Mandarin, featuring acrobats, martial arts, plate-spinners, Chinese musicians, jugglers, fully 'coloured-in' animation, jaw-dropping aerial wire-work and that fucking idiot Mike Smith in the orchestra pit.
'From the creators of Gorillaz!?!' I didn't create this! So it's sounded to me like the insidious and relentless credit-stealing work of that bilious, double act, 'Albarn and Hewlett' once more. Either that or Ronnie Barker had been raiding the dressing up box again...
I had to check this out... So, right, I knock back a couple of purple hearts, zipped up my Cubans and hailed a black cab over to this 'groundbreaking extravaganza, 'from the creators of Gorillaz.' Let's meet my 'makers' next venture, huh?
I got to the Opera House and kinda shoved my way through a whole load of those dusty old opera folk, grabbed a big can of Sprite and then took my place on my plush velvet chair, awaiting the unveiling of this fantastic display of arts and crafts. 3 years in the making? Better be good then...
What I then witnessed, well, was just gob-smacking...
So here's the good news: Monkey: Journey to The West is incredible! It's incredible!!!
I was a bit half-cut when I went to see this thing, but there's people FLYING all over the place. It's unbelievable! I got the fright of my bleedin' life.
Actual... 'FLYING'... 'PEOPLE!'
I almost dropped my drink down this old geezer' back in front of me! And the music's the strangest thing I've ever heard. It's sung in this weird language. It's called 'Chine Neese', and it's wonderful. I mean, obviously it would be better if it was sung by say, Jello Biafra from The Dead Kennedys, but you do have to hear this stuff to believe it. It's all over the place!
This production is just bursting full of delights, and I'm a notoriously hard man to please. What are some of the highlights? Well, let's see... I don't want to ruin it but halfway through this fucking enormous hand comes out. Pow! Kinda, crushes Monkey underneath his big, podgy, godlike palm. Frightened the life out of me! My mind had wandered off momentarily at that point. For some reason I was thinking about pints of Strongbow and Girls Aloud, then... Wow! Thwaaappp!! 'Great Big Hand.'... Crazy stuff!
And there's more. The gymnastic displays are amazing! The stamina of this Monkey actor is incredible, almost up to my kinda standard. He's fighting, singing, flying non-stop. I must find out where he gets his energy from...
Can I surprise you, kids? I like opera. Really. I've always liked opera, especially the intervals... Kurt Weill's 'Three-penny Opera', 'Porgy and Bess' by Gershwin. 'The Rake's Progress' by Stravinsky's not half bad too. Anything by Puccini, Verdi or the fat one out of Take That. Gilbert & Sullivan's Mikado's always gonna work for me. Then you've got dear old Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. Great stuff...
But this 'Monkey King' thing's different. Very different. Uuurrrrpppp!!.....It's not even strictly an opera, it takes on a whole load of elements; musical, cabaret, animations, circus skills, some clown action... and more. It's whole new bag all together...
Anyway, about halfway through I got a strange tingly feeling all over me It might have been the medication I've been on or even or that cheeky toot of 'Mum and Dad' I had before the start, but... but... mmm... but then it hit me... I knew why this seemed so familiar.
Monkey King IS a Chinese version of Gorillaz!!!
I'm watching this awesome display unfold when it hit me like a 200-ton weight upon my pretty bonce. This is a circus-musical, animated operatic performance blah, blah blah in which the stars are a Chinese doppelganger-troupe based on none other than my own platinum selling band Gorillaz! The bloody cheek of it!!
Think about it, right.
There's the fat, stupid one on drums Pigsy. He's the spit of Russel, never more than three feet from a bucket of chicken. Just a loafer really. Then you've got Tripitaka, who's basically Gorillaz' very own Noodle... Softly spoken, young, gentle and full of 'spiritual enlightenment', all that old rubbish.
You've got Sandy, who's just a vacuous plank, doesn't seem very integral to the plot at all as far as I can see, much like our singer 2D and then to top it all off, and this is the real sucker punch . Monkey is ME!!
The main character, the star, is a cheeky, ball-scratching loon; a genius with maybe a slight touch of arrogance, well-dressed, handsome and someone who believes he's the king of the whole universe. Through his courage, skill, strength and charisma he leads the four of them around the world and ultimately to their very own salvation and spiritual enlightenment. It's his leadership ultimately provides them with immortality and the keys to the world... Sounds familiar, doesn't it?!! IT'S A CHINESE VERSION OF MEEE!!!!
That shook me up something proper, I can tell you. I almost spilled my Royal Opera House popcorn... I considered suing China for copyright infringement, when I realised that Monkey King is a 16th Century Chinese text, so possibly they could claim they came first, but still It's a rip off of me and Gorillaz. Deffo.
Being an adult though, I decided for the sake of my own sanity to overlook the obvious comparisons, and the rather surreal supposition that I might just be watching a Chinese extension of myself steal my own thunder in front of my eyes...
So once I calmed down, I got a chance to really soak in the whole glamorous, ambitious production. To really take on board what I was experiencing... And truly, it is a joy to behold, a feast for the eyes and a banquet for the soul.
The whole show climaxes with the familiar foursome finally arriving in Paradise. This big Buddha bloke rewards the diligence and courage of the four heroes by elevating them into honourable and respected positions, from lowly mortals into an almost mythic state. Quite impressive. Basically what I did for the other members of Gorillaz.
So what's my 'Murdoc Niccals' great, big verdict??
It's a breath-taking piece of work, and for me that's really saying something.
SO. Bottom line is this folks. If you like Gorillaz, (and who doesn't?), your going to LOVE this. I mean, yes, it should have been me as the main character, but still. Not bad at all... Actually, in reality though I've got to admit, in my heart of heart, the real reason I like opera is more to do with the fact that I can swan about in capes, waving my walking cane, while being slightly vacant on a heady 'Brompton's cocktail' of opium, laudanum, absinthe and port. Now a narrative thrills me, but the high pitched voices give me nothing but back-ache, so normally I wear headphones...
Right. That's that one finished. So gotta dash, folks. 'Chinese-Western, cross-cultural multi-genre, mash-ups' are all well and good in their place, but I've just recorded an entire episode of 'Girls Aloud: Exposed' on Sky plus and, see, that type of programme is always gonna come first in my book.
Oh yeah. One other thing. This thing's got a website. www.monkeyjourneytothewest.com
If you listened to a word I just said, you'll check it out...
'Almost as good as Gorillaz '
Ciao for now...
Monkey: Journey to the West, the new album from Gorillaz collaborators Damon Albarn (music) and Jamie Hewlett (visuals) is released today in the UK via XL recordings. Click here to buy it from Amazon. Press release as follows:
Created by the GORILLAZ team of Albarn and Hewlett, JOURNEY TO THE WEST is performed by an assortment of European and Chinese musicians and singers and was produced by Albarn. The album's packaging does likewise, moving beyond the stunning design of the opera MONKEY: JOURNEY TO THE WEST and exploring to the fullest its characters, storylines, themes and inspirations.
MONKEY: JOURNEY TO THE WEST, the opera upon which the album is based, makes its London Premiere July 23 at the Royal Opera House. A singular and unique fusion of traditional mandarin opera/folklore and modern audiovisual interpretation, MONKEY... is the result of director Chen Shi-Zheng having enlisted GORILLAZ masterminds Albarn and Hewlett to provide unique, modern musical and visual interpretations of the themes and characters of this most beloved work of Chinese folklore. The live production utilizes nearly 40 Chinese circus acrobats, martial artists and singers from China and an orchestra of Western and traditional Chinese instruments.
MONKEY: JOURNEY TO THE WEST is performed in Mandarin with subtitles, its storyline chronicling the Monkey King's journey to enlightenment as it takes him undersea, to decadent banquets in heaven, through encounters with Spider Maidens and Skeleton Demons, and eventually to paradise. The album, which was recorded in London and Beijing over the last year, follows this narrative, opening with "Monkey's World," proceeding to a "Heavenly Peach Banquet," enduring a "Battle In Heaven," encountering "The White Skeleton Demon" and so on, all the way through to the finale' of "Disappearing Volcano."
The album runs 50 minutes and consists of 22 instrumental and vocal tracks. The full track listing is:
Standard digital and physical formats have been licensed to XL Recordings for world-wide release. A box set edition containing vinyl and artwork has been created by Vinyl Factory Ltd, and will be available from www.monkeyjourneytothewest.com.
We were recently afforded the opportunity to have a chat with Ceri Levy, the man behind the lens of the excellent new Gorillaz documentary Bananaz. Head on over to the Q & A section to have a look.
Think you can do better? Email email@example.com to put your own question to Ceri - he'll answer the best ones this weekend at the Edinburgh Film Festival!
NB: We have received lots of questions asking if there will be a DVD release! Rest assured we will ask. Other questions much appreciated!
Bananaz director Ceri Levy will be taking part in Q & A with fans and viewers at the screening of the film in Edinburgh on the 20th and 23rd of this month. Can't make it to Edinburgh? Submit your question about Bananaz for Ceri at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll publish his answers here on the official Gorillaz fansite after the event!
Fabulous Gorillaz documentary Bananaz, by Ceri Levy, makes its UK debut at the Edinburgh film festival this month on the 20th and 23rd June. Check out the Edinburgh film festival's site here for more info and how to buy tickets.
A brand new press release is in concerning Gorillaz collaborators Damon Albarn & Jamie Hewlett's opera MONKEY: JOURNEY TO THE WEST making its Stateside debut. Check it out...
Following sold-out runs in Manchester and Paris, Director Chen Shi-Zheng and GORILLAZ masterminds Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett's adaptation of MONKEY: JOURNEY TO THE WEST will make its Stateside debut with a May 22 preview performance followed by 17 shows staged May 23 -June 8 all at the 2008 Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina.
MONKEY: JOURNEY TO THE WEST was first staged June 28, 2007 in the UK at the inaugural Manchester International Festival, whose director Alex Poots suggested that world-renowned theatre, opera and film director Shi-Zheng enlist GORILLAZ co-creators Albarn and Hewlett to provide unique, modern musical and visual interpretations of the themes and characters of this most beloved work of Chinese folklore.
The result is a new opera for the 21st century based on an ancient Chinese legend reworked as a dazzling spectacle involving nearly 40 Chinese circus acrobats, martial artists and singers from China with an orchestra of Western and traditional Chinese instruments. Developed in Beijing, Paris, Berlin and London the show has had sell-out runs in Manchester and Paris.
MONKEY: JOURNEY TO THE WEST is performed in Mandarin with subtitles, its storyline chronicling the Monkey King's journey to enlightenment as it takes him undersea, to decadent banquets in heaven, through encounters with Spider Maidens and Skeleton Demons, and eventually to paradise. Hewlett's renditions of MONKEY's cacophony of characters combine with Albarn's debut opera score's deft integration of western and traditional Chinese instrumentation to create a wholly engrossing new universe that reinvents a legend with a thrilling combination of music and action.
Chen Shi-Zheng's previous credits range from Chinese opera and theatre to the Hollywood movie Dark Matter (starring Meryl Streep). Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett are the co-creators of award-winning virtual band Gorillaz, whose two albums Gorillaz and Demon Days have amassed global sales of over 10 million, the latter of which spawned the Demon Days Live extravaganza, a tribute to the animated group featuring guest performers ranging from Dennis Hopper to the late Ike Turner, performed a total of five times each at the Manchester Opera House and New York City's Apollo Theater.
Spoleto Festival USA has firmly established itself as one of the world's major arts festivals since its inception in 1977. For 17 days and nights each spring, Spoleto Festival USA fills Charleston, South Carolina's historic theatres, churches and outdoor spaces with over 100 performances by renowned artists and emerging performers in disciplines ranging from opera, theater, music theater, dance, and chamber, symphonic, choral and jazz music, as well as the visual arts. For more information, please visit www.spoletousa.org.
Gorillaz' next appearance will come in the form of another collaboration with Martina Topley-Bird and Roots Manuva. For those fans who liked All Alone from the Demon Days album, get ready to hear "Soldier Boy," which will appear as a b-side on the new Martina Topley-Bird single Poison, out May 5th.
Bananaz, the long awaited Gorillaz documentary from Ceri Levy, will show at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas this month. As part of Spotlight Premieres, this will be the first US screening of Bananaz.
Bananaz will be screened at the Paramount Theatre at 713 Congress Avenue in Austin on the following dates:
Wednesday 12 March - 1.30pm
First of all congrats to Gorillaz fan Leonora Lorena who won our competition and enjoyed the Bananaz premiere in Berlin this week, spying such Gorillaz co-conspirators as Jamie Hewlett, Damon Albarn and Ceri Levy. For more information about the Bananaz film, check out www.bananazfilm.com!
Talking of Murdoc's arch-studio rival, Damon Albarn's much lauded collaborative stage show Africa Express will be coming to Liverpool (scene of Gorillaz' triumph at Creamfields 2001) on 6th March at the Olympia. Want more info? Check out this flyer!
More info here on Monkey at the British Museum:
Admission to the Museum is free all day on Saturday 9th February except the Monkey Suite which is a free ticketed event. Tickets for the Monkey suite will be available on
Turn up, get those tickets and check it out!
Attention Gorillaz fans! We have two (2) tickets to give away for the premiere of Ceri Levy's brilliant new Gorillaz documentary Bananaz at the Berlin Film Festival on 13th February. You and a lucky friend could be going to the premiere!
To enter this contest, you MUST have your own way of getting to the world premiere in Berlin. Transportation and accomodation will not be provided.
Sound good? Of course it does. Now here's the tricky bit: tell us your favourite Gorillaz memory or story via email at email@example.com. Put "I want to go Bananaz" in the subject line and the best story will win the tickets. If you're our lucky winner, we'll contact you this week and the announce your triumph on this very page!
Again, you MUST be able to provide your own transportation and accomodation to be able to win this contest! Good luck!
Hot off the heels of the latest announcements in Germany and England, we can confirm that Monkey: Journey to the West will now be coming Stateside! The opera will run for an epic 17 dates as part of the annual Spoleto Festival in Charleson, SC this May and June. For more info and to buy tickets, click here.
Dates and times as follows:
Thu May 22 8:00 pm
The excellent new behind the scenes Gorillaz documentary Bananaz gets its debut in February as part of the 58th annual Berlin Film Festival. As previously announced, this work has been years of the making, and the man behind the lens, Ceri Levy, will unveil his findings into the deep, dark world of Kong on the following dates in Germany's capital:
The kind folks at the British Museum are having a great big celebration to usher in the Chinese New Year. You can celebrate the Year of the Rat the right way - with Monkey! Check out this press release they sent us:
On Saturday 9th February the British Museum will host a special day of celebration for Chinese New Year. To welcome in the Year of the Rat, the Museum will present a spectacular programme of performance, displays, workshops, story telling, and more.
The centrepiece of the day is a first for London, as the Museum presents Monkey Suite - chamber music and visual excerpts taken from the groundbreaking contemporary opera Monkey: Journey to the West. Monkey: Journey to the West is based on the 16th century Chinese classic tales of the Monkey King, retold for a modern audience. The original production premiered to critical acclaim at the Manchester International Festival in June last year, the work was composed by Damon Albarn, directed by Chen Shi-Zheng, with visual concept, design and animation by Jamie Hewlett.
In addition to the performance, visitors will be able to follow an intriguing international trail of original Chinese Zodiac lanterns, also designed by Jamie Hewlett especially for the event and drawing inspiration from the Museum's collection of objects from around the world. Travel the world through these objects and learn how to write and say Happy New Year! in Chinese.
There will also be exciting performances of Chinese folk tales by the Beijing Bailing Shadow Puppet Troupe and RDFZ Dance Troupe and opportunities to try your hand at painting, making terracotta warriors and lanterns. Other activities include screenings of classic silent films, storytelling and gallery talks in Mandarin, Cantonese and English. Guest speakers include author Jung Chang, artist Antony Gormley OBE, broadcaster and historian Dan Snow, actor Hugh Quarshie and author and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo. Throughout the day, there will be delicious Chinese-themed food available from the museums cafes, Chinese food stalls around the Great Court and Chinese tea and beer appreciation. APPRECIATION The exhibition The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army will also have extended opening hours (tickets subject to availability - admission charge applies).
As many Gorillaz fans will be aware, longtime Gorillaz stylist and photo consultant Jamie Hewlett has dabbled in other art projects over the years, so it's no surprise that while the band has gone AWOL, he looks set to score a hit on BBC3 with the upcoming pilot for Phoo Action. No word yet as to whether a full series will be commissioned, but if you'd like some more info on the project, check out this piece from SFX.
If you haven't added the Gorillaz cookie game on Facebook... what are you doing!? Try and eat as many cookies as possible in the Facebook version of the GES classic. While you're at it, become a fan of the band if you haven't yet!
Russel's Cookie Game Application: click here.
Gorillaz on Facebook: click here.