I was an introverted kid growing up, being the product of a strict parenting, a lot of it was not entirely by choice. In any case, I spent a lot of time alone, escaping into my head to keep myself entertained, mostly with movies and comic books.
I had a particular fondness for horror and/or comedy, being that most of the movies I rented from the library were from those genres. On top of that, anything that contained animation immediately caught my attention. The escapism that this type of media could give me helped me through a frequently lonely, boring childhood.
It was this combination of interests that made me instantly tune into a music video that started out with what would be the legendary “ooh-ooh’s” from the Gorillaz’ hit song, “Clint Eastwood.” The most glaring thing about this video is that it was entirely animated. The band itself consisting of cartoon characters with very distinct and unique looks.
I had never seen anything like this up until this point. The catchy tune had a dark, sinister theme of possession and unhappiness, yet was impossible to not bob your head to the beat. All the while, the visuals were so cool it was impossible to not be impressed with the animation. I quickly became obsessed with this band.
I would come to learn of the band’s members and their eccentricities. The villainous, controlling Murdoc, bassist and leader of the band, Russel, the possessed drummer, Noodle, the master guitarist with a mysterious past, and 2-D, the tortured frontman. All of them were so cool and neatly designed it was not hard to want more of this band.
I wanted to know everything about this group. With a little help from the internet, I found out that the song came from the group’s eponymous first album and with that I begged my parents to let me have it. With reluctance, they let me purchase the CD, which of course had more art from the band that I quickly loved.
I loved the consistency of the songs even more. Their blend of rock, electronic, and hip hop sounds was something that blended together very well. It seemed to work on a level that seemed to separate itself from anything around at the time. Especially since the radio at the time was inundated by aggressively bad pop music, from the likes of N’Sync and Christina Aguilera. It was nice to have something that seemed to rebel from that.
The group would release a few more tracks from that album with accompanying music videos. I was particularly impressed with “19-2000.” A catchy, laid back song that was great to cruise to or listen to when walking down the street. The video itself is classic, the group taking a cruise in their jeep on the highway. A serious of ridiculous events leading up with a fight against a giant moose.
The Gorillaz’ would become a seminal part of my childhood, mostly because when it came to music, I was not too eclectic with my taste. I felt there was so much to this band I could follow. They were dark, edgy, but fun to watch. And, as a fan of them since their inception, I have never been disappointed in them. Even now, in 2018, they are going strong, coming out with hits and even being so daring as to change their sound with every album.
But none of the albums would impact me as much as the first. The one that introduced me to this unique part of music, something that has not been duplicated successfully since. The Gorillaz had a look and sound all of their own and they will always be one of my favorite bands.