As Gorillaz returned to making concept albums, they decided to take their next record in a more daring direction with cult-themed marketing; this began with a newsletter for the cartoon band’s new religion, “The Last Cult”.
Gorillaz instantly hit the ground running by kicking off this next phase with a world tour; early concerts saw the band performing new songs (Cracker Island & Silent Running). Their marketing also brought us a new set of slogans, including:
- I am the Lamb
- No More Zeitgeist Anymore
- The Static Channel
- Turn off Tune out Drop in
As the phase began to unfold, the single Cracker Island was released; followed by a series of Twitter Spaces Q&A’s hosted by Murdoc, a podcast hosted by 2D titled The Stuart Potcast, a website that allowed fans to put themselves in Cracker Island posters & a pop-up shop in Australia. Merchandise from this period includes T-shirts & lobby cards; Gorillaz’ live bassist, Seye Adelekan also teamed up with Baum Guitars to release replicas of his bass, Pink Thunder.
On the 31st of August, the album Cracker Island was announced; alongside the single, New Gold. Later that year, a Guild S200 T-Bird guitar the band designed for Robert Smith sold at an EarthPercent charity auction. Gorillaz later teamed up with Bose to offer exclusive sets of QuietComfort Earbuds II through a series of sweepstakes (limited to 100 pairs per character), then they released limited edition bottles of Smirnoff No. 21; and created a set of cocktail recipes as part of the collaboration.
As 2022 came to a close, Gorillaz made their mark in the game, FIFA 23 with in-game kits featuring their imagery; as well as a new song for the game’s soundtrack (their next single, Baby Queen). The band’s tie-in with the World Cup continued with Penalty Shootout Game, which gave fans the chance to win a Gorillaz-themed goalkeeper kit. Afterwards, they released a range of Christmas merchandise; and held a Smirnoff-sponsored livestream Q&A titled Mixology Masterclass.
So far, Gorillaz have won an EMA for “Best Alternative”.
Supporting acts: Nathy Peluso / Zeballos / Valesuchi / Toy Selectah / LosPetitFellas / Moonchild Sanelly / Fatoumata Diawara / Lous and the Yakuza / Mr Jukes / Barney Artist / Deki Alem / EARTHGANG / Jungle
Like Phase 5, this era of touring began with a countless amount of festival gigs, before ending on a North America tour; the final show ending with an afterparty. Noteworthy performances from these tours included several songs from Cracker Island, the first live performances of New Genious (Brother), Rockit, Little Pink Plastic Bags & most shockingly, Damon Albarn’s solo single, The Tower of Montevideo.
The live band:
- Keyboards: Jesse Hackett & Mike Smith
- Lead guitar: Jeff Wootton
- Bass guitar: Seye Adelekan
- Drums/percussion: Femi Koleoso & Karl Vanden-Bossche
- Backing vocals: Adeleye Omotayo, Angel Silvera, Matthew Allen, Matt Maijah, Michelle Ndegwa, Petra Luke & Rebecca Freckleton
After the emotional rollercoaster of a pandemic-driven lockdown (immediately followed by the world’s craziest road trip), a sinkhole opened up underneath Kong Studios; forcing the band to relocate to a house above Silver Lake. They arrived on what they called “the eve of the pink dawn” and set up a studio in the basement to record their next album, but Murdoc claimed to witness a prophecy; one which insisted that he should be the leader of his own cult. After convincing his bandmates that this cult would aim to improve the world, they agreed to join him and “The Last Cult” was born.
As they had no sacred temple, the “High Elders” held their first meeting at a nearby diner; in which they agreed to divide their work. Murdoc became “The Great Leader” (being put in charge of public statements), Russel became “Truth Seeker” (researcher), Noodle became “The Scholar” (doctrine writer) & 2D became “The Chosen One” (janitor). With their roles assigned, the High Elders went to work and began sending sermons to their followers; encouraging them to spread the word of The Last Cult in whatever ways they could think of.
Aiming to impress the neighbours, Murdoc bought an obelisk from Etsy to display outside their HQ; but the neighbours didn’t seem to care, so 2D was tasked with painting it pink in the hopes that they would. Meanwhile, Russel appreciated the boost their newly bought spire provided to his TV reception; as he was busy trying to find the keys to “the promised land” buried within the TV static. Noodle however began to feel unsure about all of this.
One evening, 2D visited the neighbours for a cup of tea; and it turned out that they had their own cult as well! 2D kept scrolls under his bed detailing this organisation, the papers revealing to Noodle that they were known as “The Forever Cult”. Murdoc grew jealous, as the Forever Cult’s high priestess “Moon Flower” seemed to show more interest in 2D than in him; while Russel dug deeper into his notes and began prophesizing an event he called “The Rupture”…