Under A Hail of Plastic Bullets Pt.3

2010-03-30 09:53
Gorillaz Interview

Let's go through the finished album now in running order - so track one, a beautiful orchestral piece to take us into Plastic Beach - how did that come about?
Ahhhh… The Orchestral Intro…..I needed something other-worldly to to open the record. This album’s been a while in the making and this was “The Big Reveal”. The curtains are going up on a brand new world, a vast new landscape to breathe in, and it needs to have that scope… It needed to be portentous, VAST and…. oceanic. But graceful… Like the morphine’s just gently kicking in as the listener glides into the Plastic Bay….MMmmmm…

Guitar bass and drums just weren’t gonna cut it…. I wanted to something that would…..reveal the majesty of the surroundings of this plastic retreat.…… As the listener swoops across the landscape…. into the bay. Unaware of the events ahead….

And then the organics of the music descend into decay, a digital decay …One of the trombones started to collapse towards the end, just coming off its coasters….Urrr! Urrr! Urrr! Urrr! Urrrr! Urrrr! Urrrr…. You can hear the trombone going rusty in front of your ears.

Like it was…. decaying, rusting … a rusty trombone…..*rusty trombone*? Did I just say that…? Yes. I did.

Anyway this little symphony was recorded with the Orchestra Viva, the Sinfonia Viva, in Derby around April 2009. I can’t remember too much about the session other than the weather is abysmal in Derby. I recorded with them in the old Rolls Royce engine factory, where they built the engines for the World War II spitfires… Which strangely enough kind of fits the soul of all this… a bygone era, the remnants of war and planes and decay… It’s turned out nice again, though… So that’s alright.

And then we get into the plasticky stuff, the digital…. Vocoded emotion, the album’s evolving into plastic… Hurry Up!!! QUICK!!!

Track 2 is Welcome to the world of Plastic Beach with Snoop Dogg - tell us about that
'Welcome to The World of The Plastic Beach' with Snoop Dogg and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Snoop is unveiling the show here. He’s the Boss Dogg, mein host, the introductory MC, if you will. As you land on the island he welcomes you aboard…. to the world of the Plastic beach…y’know?

Snoop's the grand daddy, isn’t he? Doggystyle was for many people the record that really made the leap for them, got them in rap and G-funk …along with De La Soul, who did the same kind of cross over with 'Three Foot High and Rising…' It's kind of a lineage from Sly and the family Stone.. The idea of mixing genres, styles, people, continents and bringing it all together to form something fresh and vibrant….something colourful.

The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble are from Chicago, a 9-piece brass group featuring 8 sons of Phil Cohran. Phil Cohran played trumpet with The Sun Ra Arkestra. The Hypnotic Brass are made up of all his sons. Which actually makes my revelation about my Goth boys The Horrors coming together pale into insignificance… They’re just a drop in the ocean compared to this lot. But this is a proper soundtrack: brass-laden, pimped out, plastic funk… mixing the organic with the plastic to form something new and shiny…..And who better to open up this world than Snoop?

Next is White Flag with UK rappers Kano & Bashy
…And The National Orchestra For Arabic Music, of course You can probably see where I’m heading with all this now… By positioning Plastic Beach as the most isolated point, a lonely sentinel post, I could look a full 360 degrees around the world, and grab little bits of everything from everywhere….

The plan with Plastic Beach, Gorillaz third album, would be to make it a worldwide collage. A map of the modern world…Via the guests I brought in and used, I could take little snapshots of the world, get different souls from around the globe and stick their essence onto the album. Plastic Beach would be a microcosm of the globe.

D'you get me? So White Flag opens with a lush and hypnotic Arabic orchestra. Recorded over in Beruit, around the end of March 2009. I went over there in disguise… I knew I wanted that part of the world on the record, so I fired up the helicopter again and left PLASTIC BEACH and headed for Beirut and Syria. I had to be in disguise because of all of these… elements that were after me…., so I chose a black burka as my disguise and flew out to Beirut to record with The National Orchestra For Arabic Music.

What a fantastic piece to lay on a so called 'pop album'…It’s fundamental to open people’s ears up to this aspect of the world… Because if you only read the papers or watch the TV the impression you get of that area is so very different.So it’s important to stick things like this out there….Just erode all this mis-information….GORILLAZ: We're a public service!

While I was over there various guides took me around the city. Which is an eye-opener…Y’know, the Israelis like to fly their jets really low over the city of Beirut once a month. It’s called “sabre-rattling”, buzzing the towns in order to pop out, the windows.

If they fly low and fast enough, it creates a sonic boom effect, taking out all the windows in the area. It’s a part of the atmosphere, and the relentless campaign to keep the city on its toes.

The city is like Port Royal, the old pirate town. Basically you can kind of get what you want, if you want to party in a war zone. Which I guess I did, in my own unique and singular style.

So this is just one angle on the record, one colour, but the thing is, right, whatever’s going down in a country… whatever they’re going through you can always find the core soul of the people in their music.

I guess this faintly surreal experience in Beirut and Syria got rolled into various themes on the album.

I took all these tapes back to Plastic Beach and what I wanted to do was then fly in something ….else- a British counterpart….a different balance…And who would fit the bill better than the British grime artists Bashy and Kano…??

What they bring to this is great- it’s what I loved about bands like The Specials: a true sense of the city… and so loose and buoyant…

I spotted Kano when Damon worked with him. on a track called London Town. I like to keep my ear to the ground. I can’t really help it really sometimes, because quite frequently I wake to find myself slumped there….. on the ground.

So I took ‘em over to Plastic beach and gave them a pen and paper, put the mic to their faces and said “Do IT!” “Say what you see” “SAY WHAT YOU SEE…”

And they described the scene as if they had just hit town, like a lonely cowboy. Or a a vacuum cleaner, or a whirlwind… A grimy wind blowing dancehall music over Arabic Orchestras. Just like that.

I watched all this unfold, while I was making Doctor Who quacking noises with my synth in the background….I wanted it to sound like an oily seagull being sick….

I had the same reaction when I first arrived here on The Beach. It looked like something out of a magazine… golden shores, bright sunlight: an idyll. But it’s not. It’s a gloopy mass of decay. Everything rotten swirling towards it… But you don’t see it at first. At first, it looks all good.

And y’know, if you arrived on a fresh beach, a clean slate… a new day…how would you feel? Clean, fresh, hopeful? Am I right, kids? …But, bit by bit, these ‘islands of paradise’ fill up: wars, religions… crap… plastic…. drill baby drill! We just suck the life out of the places we inhabit and then move on, once it’s sunk… very… nomadic.

Plastic Beach looks like an escape, like a paradise, but it's actually a drain. It's where all the rotten bits of the world end up. They all get caught up in the grill at the end of the sewer. Plastic Beach is the blockage at the end of mankind’s drains. I think, though, that Kano and Bashy nailed the optimism and potential of Plastic Beach just right, in their little skit. Probably my favourite track on the album…. Apart from all the others…. My leg’s gone to sleep….

Rhinestone Eyes is track 4....
Rhinestone Eyes… This one was recorded in my little submarine. I’ve got this little personal submarine that I use to scoot round the Bay. I put 2D in it one day and took him for a spin, through all the murky quagmire of Plastic Beach. Even though he was terrified he managed to free-style this one.

I looped up the sonar noises my boat was making, made it into a rhythm and he just mumbled over the backing track. I soared round the sub-aquatic terrain and he sang his little mantra, about gargoyles and factories and electric towers and whatever…Came out quite well, don’t you think?…. 2D at his most wistful and boy-ish…

I nicked a bit of my own ‘Electric Shock’ track, and stuck it in here….with a little delay over the top.I think my sub’s probably the most indulgent ‘rock star’ item I’ve bought to date… but it’s essential round these parts.

Well, as the world gets wetter, and dry land gets scarcer that “70%” of water on the earth surface is beginning to look like a great big splashy playground. Vast areas of ripe ‘underwater real estate’ going untouched. To navigate these new terrains, you need something zippy to get around in, right?

Now personal submarines aren’t exactly new, I’ve had loads for ages, but the tipping point will come when someone starts mass-producing these things, making them affordable to all. It’s all going to kick off in the ocean world. Yeah, of course there’s going to be a whole load of accidents at first. Well, fatalities probably. Y’know, kids joy riding, underwater pile-ups, water rage, etc… but the long terms prospects? Very exciting. A sparkly new future!

But yeah, that was Rhinestone Eyes. I recorded it underwater. And it turned out all good….

Track 5 on Plastic Beach is also the first single from the album, `Stylo'. [It's an] Amazing track featuring vocals from the legendary Bobby Womack and Mos Def
.... Stylo. Yeah, this was the first single to come off this album. And in fact this one got stolen just weeks before the release… Some pirates shot up my island and nicked it, then leaked it online… You can’t plug holes like that anymore in the brave new digital world. This is a new sound for Gorillaz. An electro-ish ‘crack funk’ sound, with a little ‘bit of politics and a lot of soul going down…

With Stylo, I wanted the music to feel euphoric, whilst still putting across how precarious our tightly packed situation is now, worldwide. Where we’re at as a species on this overpopulated planet.…“Coming on to the Overload. Overload. OVERLOAD.”….Can you feel it, Kids? CAN YOU FEEL IT?

The funny thing is, since man could pick up a pen and put his thoughts on paper we’ve always had a sense of the Apocalyptic. An imminent Doomsday…but y’know….yeah…I think something’s got to give…It’s like rubbing the impossible to burst!

I think you can hear that in Bobby Womack’s chorus, he just explodes into the track. How good is it to get Bobby Womack on the record…? This was the first recording he’s made in …15… 20 years…so what an honour….for him. Only joking….Bobby said he only returned to do this Gorillaz track because his granddaughter said Gorillaz were cool. Which is true. We are…

Bobby came into the studio, and sang full pelt for 45 mins straight, laying down some different versions of “110th Street”, just to get warmed up. In between takes he told us some fantastic stories…He told us about the time he was partying at Ike Turner’s house, with the Stones, the Rolling Stones, and Ike ended up trapping The Stones in his mansion for 3 days… They were partying and everything at Ike Turner’s house, when Bobby found Ike in this room with all these TV screens. It turns out that he had cameras installed in every room, and had locked the doors so The Rolling Stones couldn’t get out. He was on his own, just watching them on the screens… I’d say it was a different world back then, but I’ve just realised that he’d accidentally stumbled on the format for Big Brother. I hope he got paid for that.

So the vocals for this we recorded this out in New York… Same time that I hooked up with Mos Def. He’s great; great rapper, great actor and a really vibrant presence. And him and Bobby work really well with 2D here, so the whole track came together. When I first met up with Mos it was at The Box Club in New York. He wouldn’t stop yapping about The Boogieman. I thought it was just the cocktails talking, but Mos said he’s a dark entity, a black-caped figure made up of all the evil in the world. A swirling black shadow, with a gasmask for a face. He is a war unto himself.

I shrugged and let Mos spill all this out, but I didn’t really take it in. I just wanted Mos on the album. So I put up with it. Turns out that Mos was right! We’ve got the Boogieman on film now. I’m definitely looking over my shoulder more often. No doubt that’s another battle I’m gonna end up having….In fact I tell you where you can see the Boogieman - he turns up in the footage we used for the Stylo video….

Anyway it doesn’t matter. It all got caught on film, so I used it as a video for the Stylo single… You can’t really buy press like that… And the Boogieman’s in there too. It’s enough to send a chill right down your spine. Look, why don’t you top my glass up, stick the record on and we’ll have a listen, eh? How about that?

Sounding like an advert, track 6 is the brilliant Superfast Jellyfish' with Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys and longtime collaborators De La Soul....
It is an advert. It’s a little plastic advert about life… I mean…what have we got: “Frozen Sushi”… “Superfast Jellyfish” …. “Plastic Chicken”…everything shrink-wrapped, freeze dried, covered in Formica…what are we building here. Y’know - and this is true, right - out of all the fast food in the world, it’s a proven statistic that ‘SuperFast Jellyfish’ is the fastest food known to man. I didn’t know this piece of information until I read it in a leaflet. About maybe 20,000 of these leaflets washed up on the Plastic Beach. All adverts for this ‘Superfast Jellyfish’ fast-food chain. Maybe it didn’t catch on….It’s funny what washes up on the beach there….

In fact one day, back in January, I was walking along and then I saw what appeared to be a couple of jellyfish, dried up and washed up on the shore.

Living things don’t really arrive on Plastic Beach so I was quite intrigued. I approached them to get a better look and then on closer inspection I realised they weren’t jellyfish at all. They were actually silicon implants. A pair of silicon implants. Some discarded silicon implants had washed up on the shore. Now this is the moment when you’re thinking about…..y’know the beach, this place, the world …..the very small leap in the evolutionary scale it would take for maybe silicon implant to morph, evolve into a living life form such as jellyfish…Or vice versa…Maybe life forms could even become silicon implants,…or these bits of jettisoned body parts over years would mutate into life forms of their own, something totally new……There’s enough of them in the sea now….it could happen.

I mean though, the stuff that’s floating around in there now is unbelievable, I mean, what kind of person chucks a pair of tits into the sea?

Just crazy. Anyway. It was great to get Gruff on the album….When you think about Gorillaz, it makes sense to have a Super Furry Animal on there doesn’t it? I’ve always loved them, so I sent a jet over to pick Gruff up and take him over here. And he whooshed his way over here, and along with De La Soul they put this thing together… A lot of fun this track. If you turn it up loud enough all the colours start spilling and washing out of the speakers… You could flood your room with a track like this…..Like something out of Fantasia….

And the good thing about our “Superfast Jellyfish”, is that’s it’s nice and shiny, it’s crunchy and it tastes just like chicken…and it comes with a toy….essential for any fast food. Why would you eat fast food unless you got a toy out of it…? I ask myself. So, Here’s Gorillaz with Superfast jellyfish……

Up next is "Empire Ants" with Little Dragon.....
Yes. A moment’s peace amongst the rush. After all that gooning about and splish-sploshing on the last track this is a chance to reflect, sailing out on the gorgeous inky blue waters of the night-time ocean….the blue lagoon…the nocturnal shore…mmmmm.

Which again just fragments into teeny tiny pixels slowing into more of the digital plastic funk… and in drifts Yukimi Nagano from Little Dragon, the girl who sings on this one…. The track emerges from the lagoon, tethers its boat to the shore and swims into the rush of the digital. I sampled a lot of this from the theme music to Tomorrow’s World. I subscribe to a very 70’s view of the future. So the song is dated but from the future. Or do I mean it’s futuristic but from the past?

It was actually 2D who got me into Little Dragon. He played me this lovely song of theirs called "Twice". Little Dragon are an electronic band from Sweden. So we requested their company for a couple of songs for the album. She sings with 2D on another track called "To Binge". 2D first heard this song "Twice" on the TV show Grey's Anatomy. So strangely even though it's a like delicate whisper of a tune, it always reminds him of being in hospital. Or being operated on. Probably by me…

Track 8 on Plastic Beach is "Glitter Freeze" with Mark E Smith of The Fall on vocal duties....
I really glad we managed to get Mark E. Smith on the record. I’m not sure he felt the same….but, y’know… sometimes I just get bored of asking people. Some of the collaborators I just kidnapped. “Here. Does this rag smell of chloroform to you?” “Er…Rohypnol, anyone?” He’s great. I love The Fall. He’s on this track called “Glitter freeze”. He wanted to do his part facing North. “Which way’s North from here?” I guess that’s his Mecca. I pointed South West, but he went with it anyway….. But we still used his question as a little intro…kind of like what we did with Shaun Ryder on DARE. Sometimes the greatest moments are those little mistakes that you catch in the mix…..when you’re just warming up….

On this track…Mark. E. Smith’s character, he’s the black wind of doom…the roaring pirate trader…keeping his crew under the cosh with rum, sodomy, the lash and weevil biscuits…The ghostly slave ship moored just outside the harbour……..

If you fall asleep on his watch, he’s going to climb ashore, stick you in the hold, rip out the gold from your teeth and put you to work on his rum sodden pirate ship…."It waaarsssss The Glitter Freeezzee….ICE AGE!!!!!!"

Like 'Punk' on the first album, and 'White Light on Demon Days this is our noise, our rawkus section of chaos sailing in to frame and belching in your face…Every album’s got to have one…Otherwise it’s just a load of ballads.

Next up is `Some Kind of Nature' with the one & only Lou Reed.....
Actually, that’s not true. There was another Lou Reed pencilled for that track originally, but he wasn’t as good as this one. This Lou Reed’s a legend, from The Velvet Underground. I don’t think we could have got a better Lou in for the job here…..Not just any old Lou will do, you know.

I grew up on Lou Reed, and the Velvets. Well, not grew up because that still hasn’t happened but I did listen to them a lot when I was younger than I am now…And I loved Lou’s solo stuff, ‘Magic and Loss’ and ‘The Blue Mask’ and ‘Transformer’ of course. Produced by "Daviiiiidd Booowwieeeee".

It's funny. This track’s got a good ol’ sunshiny vibe. Like something off Sesame Street. Apparently Lou Reed is one of the only people to never appear, or refuse to appear, on Sesame Street. Or maybe it was 'The Muppets'… He refused ....I don’t know why…so it’s quite a coup that we got him on this….It was him or Oscar the Grouch. I think the best man one the job.

Anyway, I was very pleased when Lou agreed to do it. I recorded with Lou over in New York and he wanted to do his whole vocal thing in private, on his own. He ordered everyone out the studio. Me too. At one point he even tried to have himself kicked out, but he’s smarter than that. Anyway he ordered me out the studio. I just waited until he was up and running, getting his groove on, and then I crawled back in, under the mixing desk where he couldn’t see. I love Lou, but y’know: this is my album. I wanna know what’s going down….His track “Some kind of Nature”. Wow! Solid gold.

The last line, “All we are is stars” that 2D sang……That’s true, I’ve looked it up. In the history of time, as Earth spun out the Sun, basically formed out of a Solar Nebula, ‘a disc shaped mass of dust and gas’ that spun out of the Sun, it means that we, and all life essentially…. that’s what’s we’ve all evolved from. From the atomic material from stars….Nice thought. “All we are is stars”…..Here’s Bob with the weather….

Gorgeous melody on Track 10 - tell us about "On Melancholy Hill"....
Ermm welll….Melancholy Hill…That's a place on the island…The Melancholy Hill of Plastic Beach…. It's that feeling, that place, that you get in your soul sometimes, like….someone’s let your tyres down. A bit deflated. I usually get that around Tuesday morning. Clears up again maybe Thursday and I’m ready to start all over again…Bit it always seems quite real when I’m going through it…It’s nice to break up the album with something a little lighter…I think is also good to have something that’s a genuine pop moment on every album…And this is one of those.

One of 2D's best ever vocal performances is next : "Broken"....
Yes, though actually, another friend of mine ‘Barry the circus freak’ did a far more accomplished rendition of this track, but he wanted paying so I got 2D to do it….

Y’know sometimes it’s possible to break stuff so it’s unfixable. It’s just Broken. There’s no glue for a broken heart…Pass the rum, could you? Ow….Erm….I don’t really know what to say about this track, y’know…Like Frank Zappa said "talking about music is like fishing about architecture".

Yes, some things gets broken forever. But maybe they’re not broken. Maybe the kaleidoscope shifts, and ….er…..it's a new day…it's perfectly possible to restart the game…If….I’m rambling here…..but…Look. This track just works…I don’t want to talk about it…Is that, OK?

Track 12 is simply incredible - "Sweepstakes" with an amazing rap from Mos Def and is that Hypnotic Brass Ensemble providing the backing?
Why, yes, Sherlock I believe it is…The Hypnotic Brass brothers give us that full on Chicago brass muscle, turning this track out into a ‘Quincy Jones’ version of hip hop, MC’ed superlatively by Sir Most Definitely. Ah yes! Mos Def. An absolute gent. I first met him in The Box club on the Lower East side of NYC. I went over there to find him to try and get him on the record, y’know? I like his rap work…and I saw him in "Be kind Rewind". So yeah thought we needed that on the record. Some NYC perspective….

“Sweepstakes: you’re a winner.” Collect your little plastic prize at the counter. You’re a winner…There’s a lot of rubbish that gets dangles in front of people on this Earth, little plastic inducements to get you to dance and jump and do the things that people want you to…Making people feel like a winner is one of the best way of hooking them in………

Track 13 is a special moment for fans of The Clash - the song `Plastic Beach' features both Mick Jones and Paul Simonon
Well…It's a special moment for fans of Gorillaz and the Clash…..How did this come about? Well, I had commandeered Paul Simonon from the Good, the Bad and The Queen. And it made sense. To er…See…Gorillaz were always influence by the Clash…and Big Audio Dynamite. It was my brother Hannibal who got me into the Clash.

It was him who broke my nose too, so I've got a lot to thank him for really. But being influenced by them one thing….Getting them back together, well Paul and Mick Jones, to work with us is just something else…Now the way I was thinking is, I’m in the middle of the ocean and what I’m really missing in this sub-tropic garbarged state is a bit of ‘West London’. As much as I wanted this record to include elements from around the world, I need this boat, this cruise ship to have a west London anchor. So I got a couple of anchors out The Clash.

They were always my favourite band, I loved how they took the heart and soul of punk and reggae smeared it in London graffiti and paint and then sailed it round the world. I don’t think that’s a million miles from what Gorillaz do now….We’re all in the same boat together. Which if you listen to this track you can hear.I always like to go for that ‘end of the pier’ feel - turquoise fog, melancholic funk, but this time I wanted it to sound like plastic…plastic….dreams…Casio, plastic beach…Styrofoam. What? All this stuff is fogging up my periscope…

I’ll tell you what happened on this track, and take it how you will.. Basically we started off like the Owl and The Pussycat sailing round in a little wooden boat…but the dream turned bad and the idyllic island.. the island started filling up….I knew this would happen…It’s inevitable…

But all these keyboards and synths and effects boxes started washing up on this shore…You ever wondered happens to funk bands when they split up…? Where the 80’s went…? what happens to all those synth basses...those cheap keyboards and all that mass-produced claptrap? Once the bands and the record labels and the industries collapse…they get chucked into the sea…It all gets dumped…but then…bit by bit they started washing up on this beach…so I did what any musician would do…I just kind of dried them out, plugged them in and then miked them up….made a brand new track, out of the plastic synths that washed up on the shore…with a couple of guys out The Clash…I mean, what would you do…?

Another collaboration with Little Dragon - `To Binge' ends up as a beautiful duet between vocalist Yukimi Nagamo and 2D.... A Hawaiian version of melancholy…..yeah? You don’t see a lot of miserable Hawaiians, do you? It’s not known for its grim outlook on life… You don’t have any numbers do you…of any one you could call….? No? ….Oh well what's the next track…

The penultimate track on Plastic Beach is the "Cloud Of Unknowing" which features an incredible vocal from Bobby Womack....
…This track’s a mirror. The mirror of the opener…. The outro to the Intro, and a final reflection on the Plastic Beach. Bobby Womack’s performance on this song can still bring tears to my eyes. That mixture of hope and uncertainty in his voice – the age and the experience – the fear and the joy… Scuse me [LOUD SOUND OF MURDOC BLOWING HIS NOSE]

Where were we? Ah ….."The Hope". Billowing clouds of melancholic reflection. This song, like the Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" is the moment that gathers together the events of the album, the events of the world…and pauses for reflection. D'you know? It's a realisation that life on this beautiful planet is as fragile as the gossamer of a buttefly’s wings….Which isn’t quite right. Gossamer's is the fibrous material made of from spiders silk… so that doesn’t work.

But on this exit track, woven into the melancholic blanket are threads of golden hope….The future stretches out before us, a vast plain of pristine unbroken snow, an immaculate, untrodden landscape offering immeasurable potential and adventures unwritten.

Inevitably though that landscape always gets pebble-dashed once again with wonky boob jobs, close-ups of nostrils, talent shows, weight loss / gain issues, indignant politicians, adverts for insurance and more of all the rubbish we trail in our wake.

I'’ve chosen to avoid describing the physical aspects of the landscape of Plastic Beach. The Wells of Bitter Tears, the Igloos of Madness, the Foothills of My Mind, the Whale of Disbelief…The Jizzy Castle.

But I thought, lyrically, it was necessary to include a little bit about The Cloud of Unknowing, as this great big black cumulonimbus has long been a feature of my environment. Sometimes you just can’t shift something as ominous as doubt…Still it does offer some hope: “waiting to see what the morning brings, it may bring sunshine on it’s wings…. Or maybe it’ll bring an oily seagull dropping its mess on another day.. Funnily enough, we went to some lengths to get the seagull sounds that open this track. We had to use a gull-wrangler and a special microphone to get exactly the right sound.

Finally we reach the end, track 16 'Pirate Jet'....
Here come the bulldozers, the big plastic bulldozers of hope…The Pirate jets…Maybe they’re coming in to level the land…"The people, the plastic eating people". Well you’ve got to end on a punchline haven’t you….it’s just a little drum roll, to punctuate the joke of life…Laugh and the world laughs with you, eh? EH? Cry and you’re on your own….
Pirate Jet takes the album out swinging. The curtain’s descending. It’s like something out of ‘Bugsy Malone’, a finale with shuddering jazz hands: “Did you like the show? It was called “PLANET EARTH”. It’s possible that what this one’s saying is: the job’s a good un’. We’re finished and now everyone’s evolved into plastic. Plastic Beach is now full up with Plastic People. A new breed of human….

Or maybe it’s saying: "It's kicking out time at the last chance saloon. And this is the last record we're playing tonight...Pirate Jet". D'you understand me? It’s a kind of “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life” tip. "It’s all good now, because we left the taps running for 100 hundred years…". I was thinking of ending on a cover of Hersham Boys by Sham 69 but it didn’t seem right somehow…

But y'know…I want to clear this up. Plastic Beach. It's not a green record. It's a soundtrack for a plastic beach. It's taken little snapshots of many, many places round the world, and then stuck them all together on a billboard so you can see how they all fit. How they all work together. It not a judgement on the world... it's just a picture...."

Imagine looking down a telescope at the end of the pier. Way off in the distance is a little island, green and pristine. From back here it looks like hope...It's very possible it might end up exactly as we have. Just a hard ball of plastic floating in the middle of nowhere. Full of desire, clutter, oil-slicks and paperwork. But...At the moment it's empty, it's clean and it's naive, but it is filling up. Plastic Beach..it's another place, it's another way of looking at the world. And this is its soundtrack....

Not even King Canute can turn back a tide like that. The Island's just filling up, cd’s books, tyres, rubble, boxes, folders…everything’s just spilling forth. A tidal wave of our detritus… We're fit to burst. Or just….Evolving into plastic…

You must be incredibly proud of this album Murdoc - is it your best work to date?
Of course. I, like the world, am a work in progress, teetering, twittering, on the tightrope of evolution, bolstered by rum and tinctures, easing my way into an early grave, and trying to wring as much fun out of the present sunshine as possible, like anybody else. But the headstone should read well. I described this piece , this album, like the third panel of the Gorillaz triptych. Plastic Beach is my third most glorious panel....

I tell you what Plastic Beach is. It's a 4 dimensional postcard. A postcard from the edge? Yeah, maybe… but this is a postcard that comes to life.. A techni-coloured snapshot...of an alternate land…. And you know, I'm immensely proud of Gorillaz……I grabbed colours, philosophies, artistic thought from around the world and bundled it into one plastic Polaroid call an album. Pretty snazzy.

Look…on a less abstract thought….as communication distances get shorter…and quicker…given the right vision you can really put incredible things together…..Now we’ve got Skype, ISDN lines, emails, file sharing…superfast transport…You can get whole groups of people to sit together in the right places at the right time….If you’re gonna use all these tools for something anything, why not do it this way…getting all the brilliant people together and make a positive statement SOMETHING A BIT FUN! SOMETHING A BIT MUSICALLLLL!!!

And finally, what's all this fuss about something called 'The End Of Days'......
(Lights cigarette…): Oh…That…yeah…That’s a bit longer than five minutes ..I just noticed and it’s easy enough to point out, that since the beginning of time, each leap of evolution and innovation has taken a shorter and shorter amount of time. The Universe was created 14 billion years, Earth 4.5 billion years. Man arrived in its earliest state about 4.5 million years, and then we evolved into this state, Homo Sapiens around 200,000 years ago. The earliest cities appeared about 6-7000 years ago, over in Mesopotamia and then we’ve been at war since then really…right up until the last 100 years, and then we really kicked off. The population of the planet had gone from 1 billion to 7 billion in the last 100 years, and every single piece of digital information and technology has exploded in this last century. We’re crammed packed and it’s getting more and more. Escalating.. The overload. Humanity is now squeezed into this tiny plastic bubble…

Everything getting faster and faster whirling towards an inevitable conclusion, a single point on the horizon or in the middle of the ocean say. The entire of time and history and evolution is hurtling towards a single point. Point Nemo… Plastic Beach. That's what Plastic Beach is I reckon. The End of Days…the point of no return…..It's right here. It's right now….It's upon us.

Does that make sense? Yeah? Great. Right I’m off for a wazz. Great talking to you. And last one at the bar's a wanker….


Part 1: Murdoc talks about Break-ups, dodgy business deals, raging against the postmodern pop machine and more
Part 2: Murdoc talks about Getting the Gorillaz back together and the all-star collaborations

Murdoc gives us a track by track guide to the new Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach in the final instalment of epic, three part stream of con-shizness interview.
Read more on:    interview

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