i HAD NO IDEA GORILLAZ HAD PHASES AND STORYLINES could you try and explain them quickly for us new bbies getting into this fandom??
so the WHOLE ENTIRE STORY of gorillaz is actually extremely ridiculously long and very very complicated and confusing so i am going to try my very hardest to sum everything up as best as i possibly can without missing too much
(also the “phases” don’t really mean much besides marking the different album releases, which is why you may have noticed the band members look different every few years)
phase 1 (celebrity takedown) started around 1999. before phase 1, there was only this guy:
murdoc niccals. on august 15th, 1997 (d-day), he wanted to steal music equipment so he crashed a car into a music store where this guy:
stuart tusspot (then in his young twenties) was working, and he hit stuart in the eye and sent him into a coma. murdoc was arrested, but rather than serving time he had to do a lot of community service and also take care of stuart while he was in his coma. murdoc being murdoc, he crashed his car a second time and sent stuart flying from the backseat, through the windshield and he hit his good eye on the concrete, which woke him from his vegetative state, thus “creating” the stuart you know today:
he was nicknamed 2D because he now has two “dents” in his head (which are actually 8-ball fractures if you wanted to know how this look could be possible). murdoc saw that 2D was really attractive and he could sing, so he made 2D the singer of his band
now, this is russel hobbs:
he was involved in a drive-by shooting when his best friend Del (Deltron 3030 irl):
was shot and killed. del possessed russel, thus turning his eyes completely white and haunting him from time to time when he plays the drums. he also raps in some of the gorillaz songs.
murdoc and 2D needed a drummer so they kidnapped russel and russel for some reason forgave them and agreed to be their drummer.
the guitarist for a short while was 2D’s girlfriend, Paula:
and together the four of them formed the band “GORILLA”:
and the only song they recorded together was “ghost train”. paula was kicked out of the band because russel caught her having sex with murdoc in the bathroom. they needed a new guitarist, so they sent out an ad in the paper. not too long later, this little angel arrived at their front door:
she saw the ad and fed-exed herself from osaka to kong studios:
in essex, england. she was only ten and she only knew one word: noodle. therefore, they named her noodle and they made her the guitarist because she was really really good.
thus, gorillaz was born:
then they made the first album around 2000, titled “gorillaz”. they released a bunch of music, music videos, interviews, merch, a completely interactive website where you could walk around their house, and they even released little shorts that were shown on MTV for a while. you can watch all of their videos and interviews on youtube. they won some awards too, and even performed live using holagrams.
around 2002, they got a little tired of one another. lots of different personalities living under one roof. they faught a lot, especially murdoc and 2D (2D is not “all there” and he takes a lot of medication, murdoc is an asshole and abuses 2D CONSTANTLY). so they all left kong studios for a while, but not before releasing some b-sides (g-sides).
at the end of two years, murdoc ended up in a mexican prison, russel excorcised del’s soul from his body (but kept the white eyes), which sent him into a horrible depression, 2D got a job at his father’s amusement park, and noodle went back to osaka, japan to discover more about her past.
while in japan, noodle found out from some old dude that she was actually a part of some kind of organization that turns young children into war-machines (yeah, i know, fucking crazy, right?????). her memory had been erased by the old dude so that she could live a normal life, and when her memory was restored, she remembered everything, including how to speak fluent english. having found herself, she was the first one to go back to kong studios. she wrote most of the second album by herself before the others came back to kong and helped her out.
(btw, that is noodle’s pet monkey, mike. murdoc had a pet crow named cortez, and 2D had a pet dog named Prince, but no one knows what happened to them. keep reading)
this was around 2004 and would start phase 2 (slowboat to hades):
note the drastic style change. this phase was famous for its darker look, and the music became a lot darker in their second album, “demon days”.
they released some more teasers (which were “filmed” during their two-year break), more music, more music vidoes, more live performances, and more merch. even some gorillaz games. very cute, very fun (especially if you have a dark sense of humor? there is one game in particular that has the murdoc/2D fans feeling some type of way lol). if you watch the videos and interviews, you can really tell how their personalities shift from phase to phase. also, this is the phase where the windmill island makes its first appearence:
and this is where things get very weird and very very complicated (especially for a cartoon band). in the feel good inc. music video (watch it), noodle is on this island and she is being chased by helicopters from afar.
in the el manana video (watch it now or you might be confused), however, noodle was supposed to get “shot” by the same helicopters before parachuting safely off of the island where she would then flee to the maldive islands to get away for a while (she just wanted a vacation but i guess she didn’t want people to find her). however, in the gorillaz autobiography, murdoc says that something completely different happened.
murdoc was trying to get some guy killed (i forget his name) because murdoc is a horrible guy who holds a lot of grudges. murdoc tricked this guy into hiding inside the windmill to wait for noodle to “die” so he could take her place. noodle did not know about ANY of this. she wasn’t going to get hurt either way because she was given a parachute. so when DIFFERENT helicopters (DIFFERENT PEOPLE THAT WERE NOT HIRED BY MURDOC OR GORILLAZ!) started shooting at her, TRYING to kill her, she freaked out and the windmill ended up crashing into a canal. there is a picture in the autobiography of her parachuting off the island, but no one knows where she went after she hit the ground. everyone searched for her, but no one could find her. at this point, murdoc was confused as well, but everyone assumed she still went to the maldives to mellow out—or that she DIED.
this left 2D, murdoc and russel in deep depression. russel left kong studios first, as it was falling apart due to it being built atop a landfill and infested with zombies. 2D left afterwards to live in beirut, and only murdoc was left in the rubble that was kong.
this was around 2007. the second b-sides album (d-sides) was released and if you went on the interactive website, it was completely abandoned. murdoc tried to sell it but it was gross, run down, shit everywhere, noodle’s room was left bare. BUT. sometime in 2007, noodle sent a message to murdoc via radio telling him to come and save her. she never stated explicitly where she was, but she was in deep, deep trouble. murdoc assumed she was in hell, and, being a satanist in a made-up universe, he somehow made it to hell and searched high and low for noodle, but never found her (THOUGH HE RECENTLY STATED THAT THE ENTIRE HELL TRIP MAY HAVE BEEN A DRUNKEN FEVER-DREAM, SO WE ARE ALL EXTREMELY FED UP AND CONFUSED ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO NOODLE AFTER THE EL MANANA THING. WE STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED, THOUGH THE MURDOC/NOODLE FANS ATE THAT SHIT UP).
after this, murdoc got word that the organization who tried to murder noodle (the black clouds) were now after him. he had no choice but to leave kong studios forever. so he set kong on fire and left. then the autobiography was released (it is implied they started writing the book well before even the middle of phase 2).
and then gorillaz were on hiatus for about four years. not a single word. if you went on the website, nothing changed. shit was cryptic. but the fandom was loyal and WAITING.
THEN. OUT OF FUCKING NOWHERE, sometime in 2009, murdoc showed up in an interview talking about new gorillaz music. and very slowly, more information was released on the “unofficial gorillaz website”. the fandom was BATSHIT. half of us were butthurt about how ugly murdoc looked, and the other half was excited about NEW GORILLAZ MUSIC, and more importantly, THIS PICTURE:
people were mostly concerned with noodle and the fact that her eye was all fucked up, presumably from either the fall from the island OR from when she was “in hell”. also, peope assumed the whole band was together again, but this was FAR FAR FAR from the case.
murdoc wanted to make new gorillaz music that would “top” their second album (which could never happen, but a pickle can dream). murdoc couldn’t get a hold of russel, and noodle was presumably MIA, so murdoc kidnapped 2D in beirut and shipped the poor guy to plastic beach:
plastic beach is essentially murdoc’s hiding place where he is “safe” from the black clouds, and it is literally an island made out of garbage and spray painted pink. 2D did not want to be there, but murdoc held him captive:
in a bedroom at the southernmost tip of the island, underwater, guarded by a whale (2D has a crippling fear of whales, murdoc is a GIANT ASSHOLE). he made 2D sing, and 2D agreed because he has been agreeing to murdoc for a long time and he knew better than to disobey him.
since gorillaz was lacking a drummer and a guitarist, murdoc had to improvise. to replace russel, murdoc used a drum machine to mimic the way russel plays the drums. to replace noodle, murdoc gathered some of noodle’s DNA from the el manana crash site and built CYBORG NOODLE:
she was just as good on guitar as noodle was and she was also the “war machine” that noodle was “supposed” to be, i.e., murdoc stuffed her with weapons. she even had a gun that fired from her mouth.
thus, this was the “phase three: plastic beach” crew:
they recorded the new album, titled PLASTIC BEACH, and murdoc “kidnapped” all of the artists that gorillaz collaborated with and they just had a grand ol’ time. the album was released in early 2010, followed by a revamped website featuring a full tour of plastic beach, more merch, and LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of interviews. some of them are probably no longer findable, but it doesn’t matter because pretty much every single interview was just murdoc hooting and hollering and drinking because IT WAS ESTABLISHED THAT AT THIS POINT HE HAS LITERALLY GONE INSANE.
the music video for stylo was released and did not contribute much to the “main plot”, which disappointed some people because we all wanted to know where noodle and russel were. after a long time, murdoc made a twitter to communicate with the fans who were more interested in the now extremely involved plot line of gorillaz as well as the music.
sometime in 2010, new “idents” were released. 2D’s showed him getting kidnapped and shipped to PB, murdoc’s showed him getting SHOT AT on a boat, probably on his way to plastic beach. then RUSSEL’S ident was released, and it showed him jumping off of a dock into the ocean in an EXTREMELY ANGRY MANNER. lots of people speculated he was mad because he found out what murdoc was doing or he was going to confront murdoc about noodle’s whereabouts or both. cyborg noodle’s ident was released after that, it was nothing special, it was just really creepy (btw you can watch all the idents on youtube!
AND THEN. AND. THEN. noodle’s ident was released and IT WAS THE GREATEST DAY. AFTER FOUR YEARS we finally got to see what happened to noodle, dear, dear noodle:
her ident showed her on a boat (she is around 18-19 at this time), being asked to evacuate because the boat was being attacked by pirates (presumably the black clouds, coming after noodle). being the supreme badass she is, she grabbed a gun and stormed out of the room, and that was all we got. the fandom was in uproar. why the cat mask? was it to cover her eye? why was she on a boat?
shortly before the “on melancholy hill video”, murdoc stated he could see a brown rock moving towards plastic beach (official art told the fans it was russel’s head, as russel had eaten toxic waste and had grown into a giant):
and it was implied from this that russel was going to meet up with noodle sometime in the near future.
hope you’re still following me. im trying my best lol
in the “on melacholy hill” video, murdoc was now aware that noodle was very much alive and also in some kind of trouble, so he and all of the album’s collaborators went on a giant search for noodle, but never found her. they ended up finding some manatee on top of a rock (random af), while noodle defended her boat from the black clouds, and ended up escaping on a life raft with her guitar. and then this happened:
in both the stylo and OMH videos, a mysterious figure called THE BOOGIEMAN appeared:
he is implied by murdoc to be a symbol of death, as he “murders” both a police officer and the manatee on the rock. not much more is known about him.
after this, not much more happened. there was more official art, more games on the gorillaz website, more merch, a gorillaz live band tour (not featuring the actual memebers of gorillaz, much to murdoc’s frustration), one new single called doncamatic, and a music video released during the tour featuring russel and noodle:
about a year later without any more activity, gorillaz released a fourth album titled “the fall”, composed entirely on an ipad by 2D (note how “gorillaz” = russel, “demon days” = noodle, “plastic beach” = murdoc and “the fall” = 2D). it was not entirely popular, but there were some really good tracks.
the gorillaz hype slowed to an almost-halt as far as plot was concerned. noodle and russel never made it to plastic beach, murdoc was still on the island with 2D, 2D was still a wreck, etc etc etc. the fandom was content, but the plotline was pretty stagnant for another year or so. there were a lot lot LOT of unanswered questions, but the fandom was used to it, as gorillaz was never really “designed” to have such a convoluted plotline to begin with, as you can probably imagine. who would have thought “gorillaz” would evolve into such a CRAZY, INVOLVED STORY?? we were at least content knowing noodle was safe with russel, and they were both happy (russel loves noodle like a daughter btw its adorable af). as far as 2D and murdoc went, a lot of people kind of knew that their relationship, as dysfunctional as it was, was still salvagable as 2D is pretty much infatuated with murdoc, as fucked up as that seems.
in 2011, rhinestone eyes was supposed to get a music video. alas, this never happened because the music video was no longer being funded for (it costs a looooot of money to make gorillaz music videos, and gorillaz lost a good deal of popularity after phase 2, mostly because of the plotline. no one besides the die hard fans knew what the fuck was going on in the music videos).
BUT we were blessed with the rhinestone eyes storyboard, which was pretty much everything we could have asked for. the black clouds were surrounding PB, murdoc was flipping out, the boogieman was cornering him. 2D was about to be eaten by the whale buT THEN OUT OF NO WHERE, FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY RUSSEL GRABBED THE WHALE WITH HIS HUGE YAOI HAND AND SENT IT FLYING ACROSS THE OCEAN, SAVING POOR 2D. MORE DRAMA ENSUES, AND AT THE END OF IT ALL, RUSSEL OPENS HIS GIANT MOUTH TO REVEAL NOODLE HIDING INSIDE. GOD BLESS.
now, even though the music video was never made, it is implied that everything that happened in the storyboard happened irl. but we still had so many questions left unanswered regardless.
in 2012, gorillaz released a music video to go along with their new single DOYATHING feat. ANDRE 3000. the hype for this video was as real as it could get, and the gorillaz fandom was practically pissing their pants after they saw the storyboard.
the doyathing video (which was actually a collaboration with converse shoes) depicts the four members of gorillaz living together in a janky apartment. what a shock, but what happened to plastic beach? 2D seemed a bit more “himself”, and to everyone’s relief and jubilance, he opened the door to noodle’s bedroom to reveal noodle sleeping soundly, and he smiles, and the fandom was finally at ease. to top it off, russel is shown laying on top of the roof of the apartment, sleeping, noticably smaller in size, but still a giant nonetheless. and attached to the apartment, to EVERY SINGLE GORILLAZ FAN’S COMPLETE SHOCK, is the fucking windmill island, albiet in shambles. how they got it up in the sky again is a mystery to us all.
and, according to murdoc a short while after the release of the video (or before, i cannot recall), after russel and noodle arrived on the island, the cyborg attempted to kill murdoc (which was a surprise to no one….). noodle and the cyborg duked it out and the real noodle ended up coming out on top. and they all left plastic beach after the black clouds fled the scene, probably because it was shot to bits.
and that’s it as of right now. that is the gorillaz story, in summary. there are still a plethora of unanswered questions, however, as we have yet to hear ANYTHING from russel and noodle. we still do not know what exactly happened to noodle after el manana. we do not know why russel jumped into the ocean, we don’t know how russel and noodle found the beach, we don’t know what happened to noodle’s eye. we don’t know a lot of things. hopefully some of our questions will be answered in PHASE FOUR! which has officially started as of yesterday.
i hope i have given you a sufficient insight on the wild, wild world of GORILLAZ. they are more than just a band, they are characters with complex backstories and their adventures are pretty fucking crazy if you have the patience to keep up with them
thanks for reading!