Damon Albarn: Gorillaz's new album a response to Trump's election

Band’s frontman says Humanz, the first Gorillaz album in five years, was made as a response to the ‘world going fucking nuts’

The first Gorillaz album for six years was recorded as a response to the “world going fucking nuts” and inspired by the surprise election of Donald Trump as US president, its creator, Damon Albarn, has said.

Humanz, the first album by the band since 2011’s The Fall, is due out on 28 April and features guest vocals from a range of artists, including Grace Jones, De La Soul, Carly Simon and Rag’n’Bone Man.

Albarn, the Gorillaz frontman who is also lead singer in Blur, told Q magazine he had asked everyone working on the album to think about Trump’s inauguration as they prepared to record. “The three tenets for this record were pain, joy, urgency,” he said.

“I told everyone to imagine you’re in America after the inauguration and it’s the worst-case scenario: how would you feel that night? Let’s make a party record about the world going fucking nuts.”

The first track to be released, Hallelujah Money, has been interpreted as being an anti-Trump song, with a title that celebrates lucre and lyrics that refer to building walls. The video showed Benjamin Clementine, the guest vocalist and 2015 Mercury prizewinner, performing in front of an ornate gold elevator.

Jamie Hewlett, the comic book artist who creates the “virtual” band’s distinctive visuals and animations, has sought to downplay the album as overtly political commentary, saying it was “not a statement about Trump”. Instead, he said, Humanz reflects on the “world in which he could get elected”.

Damon Albarn and Gorillaz perform
Damon Albarn and Gorillaz perform songs from their new album at their comeback show in London last month. Photograph: Mark Allan/PA

In the Q interview, Albarn and Hewlett described how they fell out after collaborating intensively for a decade. Hewlett withdrew from Albarn’s opera about an Elizabethan polymath Doctor Dee to move to Paris with his wife, the French actress Emma de Caunes.

Hewlett said he wanted to escape after the pair “locked horns”.

“We’d lived in each other’s pockets for 10 years,” he said. “Damon’s an artist. He’s one of the few real artists that I know, but that means you can be a little crazy and a little difficult and I can be the same.”

Albarn said they had healed the rift. “He basically left and I felt upset by that. There was a fallow period in our relationship.

“I get the sense that sometimes people like getting off my steamroller and doing their own thing for a while and then joining me further down the road.”

Gorillaz will host their own festival, Demon Dayz, in Margate in June.


Alice Ross

The GuardianTramp

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