Gorillaz to kick off third album with ‘Syrian sessions’ this March

Damon Albarn previews new songs on Zane Lowe takeover

Gorillaz mainmen Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett are set to start recording sessions on their third album in March – despite jokingly splitting up live on radio last night (January 14).

The pair confirmed work on the follow-up to 2005’s ‘Demon Days’ would begin in earnest with a collaboration in Syria.

Filling in for BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe, who is on holiday, Albarn played two Gorillaz demos as he guest hosted the show with Steve Lamacq.

“I’m going to Syria because I’ve got a real fascination with Arabic orchestral music,” explained the frontman. “We’re going at the end of March for Gorillaz.”

He then played a rough demo of ‘Electric Shock’ – a track he had previously debuted live at the London leg of Africa Exprez last year – a song which mixed end-of-the-pier Wurlitzer organs with Arabic rhythms, beats and a vocal from female band member “Noodle” which repeated the title.

“It’s rough and not finished by any means, but hopefully people will enjoy it,” explained Albarn of the demo, adding that he had started writing the song several months ago. “I come back to a song a lot of times, but six months is the maximum [amount of time I spend on a track], it’s hard to tell when a song’s finished.”

He played a second Gorillaz‘ demo, ‘Broken’, with the rough cut of the spacey track triggering the band’s mock split.

“I’m not sure we should have played that, I’m leaving the band,” joked artist and collaborator Hewlett on air. “I’m going to join Johnny Boring from Razorlight!”

It was not the only time the Razorlight leader was the subject of a Gorillaz dig, as earlier with their cartoon “leader” “Murdoc Niccals” performing a special version of the band’s ‘America’.

“The joy of been in Gorillaz is that you can collaborate with any pop star you like,” explained the cartoon brut. “Damon‘s stuff is alright, but Razorlight is proper music. This is my mate Johnny Borrell, Bozzer as I call him. Anyway I’ve been learning some new instruments, this is ‘America’.”

The former UK Number One single was then augmented with a series of duck calls, hooters and whistles, with Murdoc noting “That’s how it should sound!”

The takeover also boasted highlights from Blur’s 1997 sessions with legendary DJ John Peel at his home Peel Acres, a selection of Albarn‘s favourite music, plus details of Murdoc‘s new reality TV series for “ITV 43” – ‘Britain’s Got Talons’, which he boasted would feature birds of prey doing impressions.

Damon Albarn’s Zane Lowe takeover can be heard again now at bbc.co.uk/radio1/zanelowe.