Back to Perform in L.A., Gorillaz Frontman 2-D is Just Looking for His Sunglasses

”Should be a good one [L.A. show] looking forward to it but got a bit of a sore throat coming on so I will use my nan’s trick of eating a bag of lemons,” 2-D tells LAMag

The turn of the century was a rough time for popular music. Many were still riding the incandescent high of the 90s but boy bands were ruling the charts. Somewhere in London (or Morocco), Blur frontman Damon Albarn had just sent off his band’s seventh studio album, Think Tank, which was later met with a mixed reception.

Bored of the band scene and in the midst of, frankly, repetitive music, Albarn teamed up with cartoonist Jamie Hewlett to spawn a virtual band. Gorillaz, consisting of four animated members—2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle, and Russel Hobbs—was spawned in 1998 as a commentary on often-lavish pop music acts on programs across MTV. The premise of the band allowed Albarn and Hewlett to revolutionize the way pop groups were perceived.

Early shows for their self-titled album featured Albarn mysteriously performing behind a large Technicolor screen. There were not yet interactive 3D images of the band, but it still presented itself as an original concept in live performance.

By the 2002 Brit Awards and 2006 Grammys, Gorillaz perfected their live shows, fleshing out the members on screen while performing hit songs, such as “Feel Good Inc.” from behind the stage. The virtual band has since made most appearances on stage, but its early work marked a turning point in the way music was performed live.

24 years later, the group has accumulated an incredibly large following thanks to their genre-bending experimentation and enough lore to put Game of Thrones to shame. Ahead of their return to L.A. at the Kia Forum and YouTube Theater on Sept. 23 and 25, respectively, LAMag had the chance to speak to their erratic, intriguing, frontman genius, 2-D.

LAMag: So, this isnt your first time in L.A. I heard back in 2002 that the band all came here to write a film and eventually broke up. This was 20 years ago, so, what are your reflections on that period time and does return ever stir up memories of it?

2D: It’s not a good idea to look too much at your reflection or your past. Luckily I got run over by a monster truck a while back, which rubbed out most of my memories!

LAMag: Now that youre back and have performed quite a few times in the past, what are you looking forward to most about your visit?

2D: Yeah, I’m looking for loads of things but mostly I’m looking for my sunglasses, which I left behind last time—they’re brown with yellow bits on them if anyone seen them, cheers.

LAMag: Are you planning on making a pitstop somewhere in the city either before, after, or between the shows, and if so, where?

2D: That would be nice but Murdoc don’t like parking the bus too long as he once went to jail for too many parking tickets.

Cover art for Gorillaz’s upcoming album, Cracker Island.

LAMag: Well…The Forum is certainly an incredible venue to perform when you return to L.A. How are you feeling about performing here again?

2D: Should be a good one, looking forward to it, but got a bit of a sore throat coming on so I will use my nan’s trick of eating a bag of lemons. That’s how Nan never gets ill, although her teeth have all dissolved.

LAMag: I also heard youre a huge fan of zombie movies, a hometown creation for Angelenos. How do you feel about the trajectory of zombie flicks in recent years—especially as a Dawn of the Dead fan?

2D: I reckon these are different times now and we need to learn to live together with zombies and not always shoot them in the ead. Maybe we could start by giving them clean trousers and a squirt of deodorant.

LAMag: In 2017 and 2018, you played a total of 100 concerts. Roughly four years later, youre back tallying up the performances at 65. What do you do when you get fatigued on the tour from bouncing around so much?

2D: 100 concerts, blimey. Murdoc pays me 10 quid a gig so that’s at least 20 quid he owes me if my maths is right!

Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign for our newsletters today