The Wikipedia page for prison Wormwood Scrubs is hell of a read. This brief history of the nation’s most infamous prison is chequered with terrifying anecdotes, grimy details and a whole lotta bad guys. When you reach the ‘Notable former inmates’ section, you’ll now see that Gorillaz bassist Murdoc Niccals is listed alongside the likes of Charles Bronson, Ian Brady, and Libs man Pete Doherty.
A new album from the non-incarcerated members of Gorillaz, titled ‘The Now Now‘, saw 2D wresting control of the group from Murdoc’s paws, and when we spoke to 2D a couple weeks back, he seemed to be pretty chuffed that Murdoc is incarcerated at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. “It’s been like a massive meteor strike, but instead of the meteor wiping out all life, it just blew up one really annoying dinosaur,” 2D explained.
After 2D visited NME Towers, we thought it was only fair to give Murdoc a right of reply. Obviously, he couldn’t come to us – so we were granted visitation rights and got Murdoc’s side of the story. Let’s just say we’re glad there was a thick piece of glass between us…
Hi Murdoc, thanks for talking to us. How are they treating you in Wormwood Scrubs?
Murdoc: Well hello NME, always a pleasure talking to you lads. They’re treating me marvellously, as per. The Warden’s well happy to have me, of course – there’s already been a massive spike in crooks and murderers wanting a transfer here. I’m like the Dalai Lama in this place, every day there’s a line of faithful outside my cell waiting for a few seconds with me. We’re very similar, actually, me and the Lama, and not just ‘cos I’m now also wearing an orange onesie.
How’s the food?
Murdoc: Absolute filth – for the other mugs in here. But when you’re high-profile like me, you get all the privileges. Steak, caviar, Coco Pops. And what I can’t get I have droned in over the walls. For example, I told 2D to drone me in a swiss roll with a file hidden inside. Classic trick. But the moron puts a nail file in a mini roll. FFS. Manicured hands are the last thing you want in here, gives out very dangerous signals.
According to its Wikipedia page, Wormwood Scrubs has had quite a number of (in)famous inmates: Charles Bronson, Ian Brady, Pete Doherty… Which would you rather bunk up with if you had to choose?
Murdoc: First, why the bollocks am I not on that list? One of my devoted fans needs to update Wikipedia pronto. Second, Murdoc Niccals doesn’t bunk up with anyone. I pretty much have my own wing. I’m like Pablo Escobar when he got banged up in his very own Playboy Mansion. I’ve got a pool table, plasma tv, chocolate fountain. I’ve even got a hot tub, although that requires a little vigilance – there’s this duo in here known as the Soap Sisters, and you don’t wanna be finding those bastards lurking under the bubbles, believe me.
Have you been working on any music in there?
Murdoc: I’ve been working on a lot of things. Just cos I’m locked up doesn’t mean I’m a prisoner. My mind will always be free. Well, unless they do that brainwashing thing like in A Clockwork Orange to cleanse me of my evils. Although funnily enough, I tried that for a laugh at a party once and it didn’t even scratch the surface.
Has your mate Damon Albarn come to visit you?
Murdoc: I’m not receiving guests at the moment. Until I get to the bottom of who framed me and put me in here, everyone is a suspect. Even you. In fact, where were you on the night of my arrest, eh?
Have you heard The Now Now? What do you think of it?
Murdoc: Oh that’s convenient, changing the subject. You’re on the list, pal.
Where would you place it in a ranking of the top Gorillaz albums?
Murdoc: Up your arse, mate. You know what, this interview started well, but I’m beginning to dislike you. I thought this was gonna be a friendly tete-a-tete, a chance for you to get the real story, and maybe even a signed Wormwood Scrubs brochure. But you’re trying to rattle my cage. The only one who gets to rattle my cage around here is the Warden, to get my attention when he personally delivers my bi-hourly Martini. So let’s keep those questions focused on ME, shall we?
How did you end up in prison? Who’s this El Mierda fella?
Murdoc: That’s better. El Mierda, right, he’s suspect numero uno, the chump that most likely got me banged up in here. El Mierda is the ruthless, ungodly kingpin of a criminal empire with tendrils throughout Central America, and he’s pure, unfettered evil. Imagine if Anne Robinson mated with Krampus and sired a son. Actually don’t, that’s horrible.
You need to fight Big Balls McGuinness to break out of prison. What’s going to be your battle plan?
Murdoc: We’ve already rumbled, mate. Prison lore rule one – wallop the hardest con to show the rest of the animals who’s at the top of the food chain. It wasn’t easy, mind – besides Big Balls’ oversized nuts, he’s got fists like seaside caravans. But he didn’t stand a chance against my finishing move, my version of the spinning bird kick from Streetfighter 2. What I do is, jump in the air, flip upside-down, do the splits, and then windmill kick his face into submission. Game over. (For him).
“Stuart. That’s his real name. I created 2D. I was kind enough to hit him with my car – twice – and the rest is rock-n-roll history.” – Murdoc
2D doesn’t seem to be too upset about you being gone… any comment on that?
Murdoc: Look mate. Everyone knows that if it wasn’t for me, Stuart would still be working in Uncle Norm’s Organ Emporium. Yeah, Stuart. That’s his real name. I created 2D. I was kind enough to hit him with my car – twice – and the rest is rock-n-roll history. I gave him fame, sex-appeal, a weekly stipend (well above minimum wage). And he repays me by trying to write an album on his own. It’s just sad. Look up 2D in the dictionary and right after ‘two-dimensional’ it says ‘ungrateful wanker’.
What did you think of the things 2D said about you in his NME interview?
Murdoc: Didn’t read it, pal. I’ve got better things to do. I’m making a lovely bedside table in the wood shop. Dovetail joints and everything. And I’m getting really good at pull-ups.
He described you as a “really annoying dinosaur” in our interview. Which dinosaur would you compare yourself to?
Murdoc: WHAT!? That little -… Dinosaur? Well he’s ballsed that up, because it’s widely accepted that dinosaurs are brilliant, and as head of Gorillaz, that would make me T-Rex, king of the primordial jungle. How can a T-Rex be annoying,? He’s a solitary apex predator, not a gormless, leaf-munching DIPLO-FUCKING-DOCUS. Btw, that wasn’t a dig at Diplo, the man’s a rare talent.
Are you angry about being replaced by this guy Ace? Do you have a plan for kicking him out of the band when you get released, or will you double up on bassists?
Murdoc: Angry? Moi? Never. Look, Ace is an old pal, we go way back. Lovely, genuine fella, and an underrated actor in his day. As a TV villain he’s up there with Mumm-Ra, in my opinion. As for kicking him out of Gorillaz, let’s see how this mess unfolds first. But at the very least I’ll make him head roadie or tour bus driver.
Have you got a message for the fans supporting the Free Murdoc campaign?
Murdoc: Yes, as it happens I’ve been working on a little something:
“To all the many millions, if not billions, of my supporters out there, in every city, town, village, hamlet, yurt and Bedouin tent. Your candles of liberty have lit the fire of freedom in my heart. We have nothing to lose but these chains. (My chains). Rise up in my name (Murdoc Niccals), and our song of freedom will ring out in the stars for all eternity, in this life and the next. Hashtag Free Murdoc.”