Ever since the group formed in 1997, Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn have floated around the idea of a Gorillaz feature film. They discussed it on many occasions, but a few years back they put the speculation to rest. And while that is disappointing, Hewlett has now admitted there is an animated TV series in the works.
In an interview with Exclaim!, Hewlett reveals they have an order for ten episodes that will air some time in 2018. "I'll direct the first and the last one, but we'll have to get someone in to direct the other episodes," he says from London. "I think even attempting to do it all by myself will kill me."
While the group have dabbled with CG and 360 virtual reality for their new video, "Saturnz Barz," he says the series will be two-dimensional. "They'll be that way from now on. I think it's a beautiful style of animation. Everybody does CG now, and it is great when you're making backgrounds, like environments and landscapes, but not the actual characters. I'm still very much inspired by the work of Chuck Jones, and I love that animation. It's art. I'd like to keep the characters in that style for the rest of this campaign. So the characters on the show will be 2D, but everything else is up for grabs."
Murdoc, 2D, Noodles and Russel will all be hand-drawn illustrations, but Hewlett says the door is wide open for anything or anyone else that appears on the show, which will make a connection to the new album, Humanz (out April 28 on Parlophone). "It could be real footage with real people talking to the characters," he says. "We'll have guest appearances in the series by various artists that appear on the album or whoever we happen to write into the series. Or it could be a mix of collage and photography and a bit of CG as well."
Hewlett also discussed the "Saturnz Barz" video, specifically the sinister looking pizza slice that gives a face to dancehall deejay Popcaan's voice. "The pizza slice is not supposed to represent Popcaan the artist. That would have been insulting. It's the ghost in the cellar," he says with a laugh.
"Originally we had most of the food coming out of the fridge singing. I had the idea a long time ago, but then I saw Seth Rogen's Sausage Party, which I thought was hilarious, especially the orgy scene at the end. And then I realized I couldn't have all of the food singing in the video, because people would make those comparisons. But I kept the pizza slice because I found it to be quite disturbing. Every time you pick up a slice of pizza and go to take a bite, the idea that it might have a face is quite disturbing."
On top of the new album, an upcoming tour and the TV series, Hewlett teases that fans will soon be able to wear their favourite animated band. "We also have a clothing company that I've designed all of the clothes for, which are being manufactured at the moment," he says. "We're doing everything we can with Gorillaz, but it's a lot of work and responsibility. Unfortunately, I'm still the only artist on this project. I don't have anybody who draws like me, so I've struggled to keep up the demand for artwork."
Check out the video for "Saturnz Barz," featuring Popcaan voicing a slice of pizza, below.