Gorillaz’ ‘Demon Days’: Shaun Ryder Tells The Real Story Behind ‘DARE’

Gorillaz are back in the studio and prepping for a new album release. To mark the occasion, we spoke to Shaun Ryder about his contribution to the record – ‘DARE’ – and how its lyrics really came about.

Shaun Ryder: “I used to bump into Damon [Albarn] over the years. I wouldn’t say he was my best friend, but I’d bump into him and then I got a call to ask whether I’d come and do a track for his Gorillaz album. It was the second [album] and I hadn’t heard the first one – I knew about them, but I hadn’t heard the album. It’s a fucking great album though; he’s a talented fella.

I was only there on that track [‘DARE’] and it was all quite fast. My version of events was that Damon put a track on, it had no lyrics, it didn’t have anything. I had the cans on and he said, ‘Go in the studio and try and do something’. Freestyle off the top of your head, make it up ‘cos he wanted me to basically write a song or write something. So I put the headphones on and there was no track. I started saying to them to turn it up and the track was very slowly turning up so I started going ‘it’s coming up, it’s coming up, it’s coming up’ and when it got as loud as I wanted it, I said ‘it’s dare’. As in like text speak language – “I will c u der”. I then tried to freestyle something, a right load of gibberish bollocks it was, and it ended in, ‘I never did no harm’. Then I took the cans off after about 10 minutes and Damon said, ‘Do that [“coming up”] bit again but a bit faster’. So I did, and that was it.

I thought Gorillaz was pretty cool; Jamie Hewlett [Gorillaz artist] is a talented kid. I was 40 at the time so I wasn’t really into cartoons – I mean, I might have been when I was like seven… But the stuff he does is great; he’s a great artist. ‘Demon Days’ is a brilliant album and Damon’s a talented guy. As a bloke, he just tries to be a decent human being, that’s it. Gorillaz is all Damon, there’s a band but it’s not like there’s these cartoons that sit in the studio with him.

What do I want them to do next? I’ve not got a clue.”