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Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Russel Hobbs, Gorillaz

In Does Rock 'N' Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz a grizzled artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: Gorillaz's cartoon drummer Russel Hobbs

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1: Ace from The Powerpuff Girls filled in for Murdoc on bass while he was in prison. According to your documentary Gorillaz: Reject False Icons, which Looney Tune did you consider replacing him with?

“Daffy Duck. I thought his name was Daffyd Duck, but he’s obviously not Welsh…”

CORRECT. How do you think Daffyd… sorry, Daffy would have fitted into Gorillaz? 

“All carrot, no stick with Daffy. I originally thought we were getting Ace of Base, but they weren’t available so…”

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Ever considered letting anybody else from the cartoon world join the band?

Foghorn Leghorn. He wanted to be our security.”

2: When Gorillaz performed your Noel Gallagher collaboration ‘We Got The Power’ on The Graham Norton Show, who tweeted the following reaction: ‘Just saw the GN show fucking hell bruv you have seriously lost the plot man im worried dermot looks worried for you also we got the power’?

“Liam? I think Gallagher but could have been Neeson.”

CORRECT. It was Liam Gallagher. Any chance of working with Liam? What kind of track would you like him to sing on? 

“He can sing?”

What’s your memories of working with Noel

“Huge pedal board, big heart.”

For a bonus half-point, which Britpopper’s backing vocals were removed from the final version?

“EDF?”

WRONG. Erm… we think you think you mean ‘90s ‘Unbelievable’ indie merchants EMF. But it was Blur guitarist Graham Coxon’s vocals that were left on the cutting room floor. 

 

3: You appeared with Madonna at the 2006 Grammys. What is Murdoc wearing during the performance that once caused Madonna grief at another awards show?

“A cape? You know, capes are for superheroes but not for travelling on the tube.”

CORRECT. He wore a cape (and also pants and a hat, which have to our knowledge, never caused Madonna issues). At the 2015 Brits, famously Madge was yanked backwards off the stage by a cape that failed to unfasten. Any good tales from working with the Queen of Pop? 

“No.”

Apparently she turned her ‘Hung Up’ part so up it was louder than your ‘Feel Good Inc.’ track. Were you upset?

“Yes. That’s why I have no good stories.”

Madonna initially appeared via hologram, and there’s a trend for holograms of deceased artists like Whitney Houston going on tour. Any dead stars that you’d like to work with via hologram? 

“Malcolm X  fo’ sure.”

Any of Gorillaz ever suffered a wardrobe malfunction?

“Have you seen Murdoc?”

4: Gorillaz were nominated for six awards at the 2002 Brit Awards – but didn’t win any. Can you name any artist/band that beat you?

“At table tennis, yes. At the award show, no. In the words of Murdoc:  ‘who are they now anyway’?”

WRONG. You could have had (Deep breath!): Basement Jaxx (who won British Dance Act), Travis (British Group), Blue (British Breakthrough Act), S Club 7 (British Single of the Year for ‘’Don’t Stop Movin”), So Solid Crew (British Video of the Year for ‘’21 Seconds‘, or Dido (British Album of the Year for  ‘No Angel’). 

“So Solid deserved to win. Only The Ant Hill Mob have managed to fit more people in one car! Shout out to Megaman.”

Ever wanted to collaborate with any of those artists? 

“Bradley from S Club. But Murdoc always fancied Rachel.”

Any awards you’d still like to win? 

MasterChef.

5: You withdrew yourselves from the Mercury Music Prize nominations for your debut album ‘Gorillaz’ in 2001. When the nominations were announced, what were your odds to win?

“6 to 1 each way, with a fiver on the odds of favourite.”

WRONG. You were 3/1 – the favourites! Do you regret that? Surely you could have beat Basement Jaxx, Radiohead, PJ Harvey, Super Furry Animals, Turin Breaks, Goldfrapp, Zero 7, Elbow, Ed Hardcourt, Tom McRae and Susheela Raman?

“I love [Gorillaz guitarist/vocalist] Noodle, but nothing could beat Susheela’s ramen.”

What’s the most surreal offer you’ve turned down?

“Makin’ beats on the MIA Space Station.”

Ever put any money on yourselves to win anything?

“Yeah but I stupidly put the money on Russel [sic] Crowe.”

6: Name any of the destinations shown on the motorway signs in the video to ’19-2000′?

“Nantwich, Camp David and Bora Bora?”

WRONG. You could have had: Amity, the Overlook Hotel or Camp Crystal. Ever been to any of those places? Care to give us a TripAdvisor review…

“The Overlook Hotel: it’s a lovely place but the staff should pay more attention. Camp Crystal however, you take a left and end up on QVC!”

7: Which pop star did 2D tell NME he once found washed up on Plastic Beach?

“You’d have to be a really good beachcomber – there’s a lot of washed up pop stars out there.”

WRONG. He said Cher! What would it take to get a Cher/Gorillaz collab?

“A Song Machine.”

Guess we might be in luck then! Speaking of plastic, reducing our usage of it is a big ecological challenge. What do you think of activists like Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion?”

“Everyone likes Greta Thunberg, no one likes Extinction.”

8: Which TV series did you once ‘ban’ from using your music?

Blind Date?”

WRONG. It was noughties high school bellow-fest Glee.

“Good!”

There’s a trend for music biopics at the moment. Who would you like to play each member in a Gorillaz one?

“Isaac Hayes should play me, Russ. Peter Cushing should play Murdoc. I’d say Sonia Calico the producer or Rinko Kikuchi the actress should play Noodle and Christian Bale to play 2D.”

9: Which French singer-songwriter recorded a version of ‘Andromeda’ that was never released?

Plastic Bertrand.

WRONG. It was Christine and The Queens. Talking of people with a French background…

For a bonus half point, which Little Women actor wore a Gorillaz T-shirt to the film’s photocall last year? 

“It’s gotta be my guy Timothée Chalamet.”

CORRECT. 

10:  Who did Gorillaz replace as Glastonbury headliners in 2010?

“US3.”

WRONG. You replaced U2 after the Irish band pulled out because of frontman Bono having back surgery. Have you ever received the fabled ‘Bono talk’?

“Yes, he told me to continue being amazin’.”

Did you have the full Glasto experience in 2010? 

“Yeah… My teepee caught fire, someone put ayahuasca in my hot chocolate and I found myself sitting next to Dalai Lama at the Stone Circle. The perfect combo.”

The verdict: 3.5/10 

“I haven’t scored this low since I went bowling blindfolded…”

Episode two of Gorillaz’s Song Machine is out now, with  Désolé ft Fatoumata Diawara. You can watch it underneath. 

 

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