Damon Albarn opens up about what he's been listening to
Andrew Trendell
12:13 20th May 2016

While we await for the return of Gorillaz, Damon Albarn has dropped a huge hint about a pretty massive band that may have influenced the upcoming new album from the 'Clint Eastwood' and Feelgood Inc' stars. 

Albarn was appearing at yesterday's Ivor Novello Awards where he picked up the lifetime achievement award for his work with Blur, Gorillaz, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, as well as his myriad of soundtrack and other work. 

Given a beautiful introduction from friend and bandmate Graham Coxon, we went along to hear his acceptance speech, where he spoke out about his love of Simple Minds - and how they may be shaping the new Gorillaz record. 

"Where do I start? Well, Simple Minds - fucking hell," he said, gesturing towards the band who were in attendance to pick up the Ivor for Outstanding Song Collection. "Our first band was called Real Lives. Not a particularly memorable title, but our first gig was in a school assembly. We didn't go to a great school, well it was a great school for our musical education, but it wasn't necessarily one of the most open-minded parts of the country in the early 80s. From someone who grew up in Leytonstone, it was a culture shock to say the least."

He continued: "Anyway, we were in this band and we had a guitarist who was an Edge from U2 obsessive, but we had a more kind of loose bass player who was really Simple Minds. Graham and me were a bit kind of more mercurial about what we like and what we don't like, but they were more adamant.

"Looking back at it now, I loved pretending that I was in U2, but I just think that Simple Minds were cooler. 'Promised You A Miracle' - I listened to it when I started doing this new Gorillaz record and it just blew my mind, and it blew everyone who I was working with's mind. They hadn't even heard of Simple Minds, and they loved it - so that's testament to it being incredible."

Gorillaz have been sharing many teaser images and videos from the studio, with the likes of David Bowie and Noel Gallagher rumoured among the acts set to appear on the record. 

  • James Blake: Since we've been teased too much about Blake's follow-up to Overgrown , a comeback performance on a low-key Gorillaz cut might edge him closer to forgiveness for making us wait so long. There's always room for soulful vocals on a Gorillaz album.

  • Kevin Parker: After his spectacular additions to the lacklustre Mark Ronson album, the Tame Impala frontman must redeem face with his guest appearences. There's no better voice to have on a sprawling experimental song featuring psychedelic visuals than Kevin Parker; we're holding our breath for some additional guitar work too.

  • Thundercat: Part of the holy quadrilogy (Flying Lotus, Kendrick, Kamasi Washington - who would all make valuable additions to Gorillaz 2016), Thundercat is the master of subtle guesting and managing to show up every other musician on the record. For jazzy grooves and the best lines in the game, Thundercat is the top gun of bassists.

  • Action Bronson: Gorillaz have always had their fingers on the most significant and unqiue rappers in the scene. Action Bronson would bring some serious Queens punch to one of the more full-on Gorillaz tracks, something I felt was missing from Plastic Beach.

  • Danny Brown: Similarly, Damon Albarn's connection to the Alt Rap scene has seen him hook up with MF DOOM, Roots Manuva and Del The Funkee Homosapian on more than one occasion. As the new ringleader for alternative hip-hop, Danny Brown's nasal and OTT flow would be an amazing addition to the record and live performances.

  • Q-Tip: But let's keep the rap royalty in check, it's some kind of sick, sick joke that Q-Tip hasn't been incorporated yet considering Albarn's links to the Native Tongues collective. His lightning fast flow and ability to weave rhymes over an array of jazzy, alt-rock and dance beats makes him one of the most sought after features in the game.

  • Grimes: With more than one 'album of the year' commendation for Art Angels, now is the most opportune time for Grimes to lend her helium vocals and expansive electronic range to the new dawn of Gorillaz.

  • Benjamin Clementine: Reagrdless of his Mercury victory, Clementine has a distinct quality that lends itself fruitfully to Gorillaz projects. Striking comparisons to Nina Simone and Bobby Womack, I can't think of a better voice to represent new soul than Ben Clem.

  • Skepta: Broadening their genre horizons in Plastic Beach to Grime, Gorillaz ft Kano and Bashy was game-changing for the UK scene. Since he's toppling the US with 'Shutdown' having Skepta on a Gorillaz album makes sense both thematically and from a marketing perspective.

  • Joanna Newsom: Tenderness is the flip-side of bombastic and Gorillaz have always taken both in their stride. For every clutch Del La Soul appearence, there needs to be serenity to balance it out. For 2016, I nominate Joanna Newsom to embody that serenity.

  • Julian Casablancas: Sparklehorse, Daft Punk and Lonely Island? The Strokes frontman is no stranger to featuring roles and is actually quite adept at them. Whether he goes full manic Voidz or Comedown Machine, it's not up to us. I think it'd just be rad to hear the closest thing to a Blur/Strokes collab we're ever going to get.

  • Chance The Rapper: The most enigmatic and well-received rapper in the game. It'd be foolish to exclude Chance, especially considering how much Damon reps young MCs these days - we actually spotted the Blur singer at the sidelines at a Vince Staples show the other week.

  • Gregory Porter: Every Gorillaz album needs an artist to get the Mum's involved and the smooth stylings of Gregory Porter are unmistakably alluring. If he can make a dull-as-hell Disclosure track sound half-decent, imagine what Porter would do with a 10/10 Gorillaz instrumental.

  • A$AP Ferg: Since this hardcore and outrageous MC managed to hook up with HAIM and make an banger, he's pretty earned the right to feature on anything he goddamn wants.

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Photo: Press/WENN