People journey the immense distance to Patagonia for all method of causes: its jagged glacial peaks, untouched rivers and trekking on the size that made journey author Bruce Chatwin describe it as “the uttermost a part of the earth”. Very few, it’s honest to imagine, journey to South America’s southern frontier to interview the guitarist from one of many largest bands on the earth. But that’s the place DJ Mag presently is. Though, it isn’t presently as grand as it would sound, as we sit ready patiently in a nook of the Wake Up Café in Punta Arenas.
Situated within the Magallanes Region on the southern finish of Chilean Patagonia, the industrial-tinged hangout – strewn sparsely with heavy picket tables of differing sizes – appears to draw the native hipster set, with the odor of robust espresso hanging thick within the air. Tonight is particularly busy because it’s the month-to-month chess evening, however, fortunately, after what appears like an eternity of turning down requests to play, Noodle seems via the door and makes her method in direction of the barista behind the bar. Wearing an outsized blue flight jacket with a big drawstring hood and white shorts (it’s presently surprisingly heat in Punta Arenas, for a metropolis that sits on the tip of the closest land mass to Antarctica on Earth) after a brief dialogue she turns and gazes across the bar, her face peering out from beneath the height of a black trucker cap.
After recognizing the one awkward trying punter sat alone, not taking part in chess, she takes two picket clipboards from the bar and makes her method over to take a seat down earlier than throwing one of many menus throughout the desk. Introducing herself, she removes a folding picket chess set from the pocket of her jacket, which is now slumped over the again of her chair. She units up the chessboard between us on the desk able to play, earlier than perusing the menu. After ordering some gyoza dumplings and tofu yakitori, Noodle straightens up the board between us and brings my consideration again to it. Removing her cap, she locations it on the desk and pushes a white pawn throughout the chessboard.
Noodle is in Patagonia to attempt to discover the person that her long-time Gorillaz bandmate, bassist Murdoc Niccals, claims framed him for against the law he didn’t commit. It isn’t precisely clear how lengthy Murdoc has been incarcerated at HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs for, however he was final seen in public making a name from jail at this yr’s Brit Awards. Since then a Change.org petition has gathered nearly 10,000 signatures, while #FreeMurdoc has seen a barrage of exercise on Twitter. Murdoc claims he was framed by El Mierda, a person he says is the kingpin of a bloody crime dynasty in South America that he met on the band’s ‘Strobelite’ video shoot final yr.
Noodle is the one member of the band to have reached out to Murdoc whereas in jail, with 2D even seemingly suggesting he was completely satisfied to be rid of him in a current interview. “I’ve been in contact with Murdoc,” Noodle says, solely half concentrating on the dialog as she peruses the chessboard in entrance of her. “Innocent till confirmed responsible… I consider in justice, and the thriller remains to be being solved.”
Noodle’s impromptu journey to Patagonia comes throughout a short break between Gorillaz touring their new album, ‘The Now Now’, which landed in June. The report, which got here collectively fairly shortly after final yr’s ‘Humanz’, appears like extra of a festival-ready really feel good (inc? – ed) piece than its predecessor – regardless of bearing Gorillaz’ indelible undertone of melancholy. The European run of exhibits, which led to August, made stops at Sónar, Roskilde, Rock Werchter, Lollapalooza, Sziget and extra.
“We have been taking part in festivals all Summer,” Noodle agrees. “Sometimes the percentages have been towards us [in Russia, a storm forced the band off-stage] however every present has felt like a biblical TRIUMPH,” she blurts. “I can really feel a reference to the followers on ‘The Now Now’. We are connecting on the next degree. In one other world.”
With Murdoc incarcerated, the ‘The Now Now’ was recorded with Ace from Powerpuff Girls on bass. So how did that influence the dynamic of the band? “Ace is an outdated pal of Murdoc’s,” Noodle says, trying as much as make a figuring out eye contact. “So, after all, you’re not going to belief somebody who calls Murdoc his pal. But we realised shortly that he’s not so dangerous in spite of everything. We’re associates now, everybody likes having him round.”
After final yr’s ‘Humanz’ noticed collaborations with Grace Jones, Mavis Staples, Popcaan, De La Soul, Danny Brown, Kelela, Pusha T, Benjamin Clementine, Kali Uchis and extra, the band’s sixth studio album is a way more insular affair by way of collaborators, with solely Snoop Dogg, George Benson and Jamie Principle contributing from exterior the core band. Gorillaz’ efficiency of the brand new report on a dwell stream in Tokyo forward of its launch spurred some to mirror as as to if it’s extra of a 2D solo album.
“I don’t know the right way to strategy this as we don’t discuss in regards to the music course of,” Noodle says, trying up from the chess board. “But to take a stab: Who has defined ‘The Now Now’ as a 2D solo album?” she asks. “Sounds like one thing 2D may need mentioned when he’s had too many twisters, it was very sizzling in London this summer time. If I have been to explain this album in a method that excluded individuals I might in all probability say it’s a non-Murdoc album as a result of he has been away for a while, and you understand, the present should go on… proper? No matter what, it’s a GORILLAZ album!” she enthuses as black chess items fall from the board at an alarming price.
The album can also be the second to be recorded within the band’s first everlasting studio since Murdoc burned down Kong Studios in 2008 in an act of arson. Little is understood of their new area, other than the truth that James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco joined them there to supply ‘The Now Now’.
“It’s in regards to the now… NOW!” Noodle enthuses speaking in regards to the album. “The present political local weather jogs my memory that we should stick collectively and be the sunshine in the dead of night.”
Noodle stays tight-lipped on her plans to search out El Mierda while in Patagonia however does let slip that she’d needed to journey from the free port simply exterior the town to make the interview. “I like James Ford,” she says, noticeably making an attempt to vary the topic. “I feel he may need a factor for bands with animals of their names. Maybe he ought to rename his band Non-Hominoid Simian Mobile Disco?”
Despite her present place of looking an unknown nation for a person she hasn’t met, who – it’s claimed – arrange considered one of her bandmates, Noodle appears very relaxed. “Taking care of your thoughts is essential to survival,” she explains, taking her focus off the chess set for a short second. “Not simply on the highway. I meditate every day, with success it is very important keep grounded. Don’t let it get to your head. This occurred to Murdoc, he’s obsessive about fame. Hopefully he’ll emerge a greater individual, possibly he simply wanted a while alone. Life is brief. Take a trip and take a look at GIFs of cats, it’s very soothing.”
Born in Osaka, Japan, as a baby Noodle was the topic of a categorised Japanese tremendous soldier venture, earlier than being shipped over to the UK in a crate nearly 20 years in the past. When she arrived on the doorstep of Kong Studios, Essex in 1998 she shortly changed Gorillaz first guitarist, Paula Cracker. Could you think about at that stage you’d ever go on to tour the world as one of many largest bands on the planet?
“We don’t rely years in Gorillaz.” she explains. “When you will have been in a field for a really very long time and emerge from the field and ship the very best guitar solo of your life – up to now – it’s a type of moments whenever you simply comprehend it’s the start of one thing very particular. It is an honour to work with many legends like Snoop, Bobby Womack and Grace Jones, although.”
The interview was purported to be accompanied by a mixture to observe up Noodle’s “kick-ass girls” one from 2017, however her ventures in Patagonia have put a cease to that being delivered, for now a minimum of. “Yes!” she beams. “My kick-ass girls combine was my method of celebrating some wonderful feminine expertise previous and current. I’ve many alternative methods of discovering new music. Russel is a critical crate-digger and has taught me lots. His report assortment is so huge he needed to discover a new area for them – a disused missile silo within the rolling hills of Wales – which I get to discover at any time when I would like. My favorite report shops are Phonica in London, Hard Wax in Berlin and Big Love in Tokyo. I usually discover myself in a Spotify gap too as we journey the world on tour. We all have playlists, it’s best to take heed to them!”
Noodle is just in Patagonia for 2 extra weeks earlier than the relentless Gorillaz schedule kicks again into gear. She gained’t be drawn on how Murdoc’s incarceration has impacted the band, however what is definite is that Gorillaz touring recommences in North America in October, because the band play a run of exhibits that construct as much as the primary version of their Demon Dayz competition within the U.S.
That occasion, which celebrates the identical range in music that Gorillaz’ again catalogue has, options Erykah Badu, The Internet and Tony Allen, alongside the band as headliners. And Noodle agrees that’s one thing necessary to the band’s core. “I wish to suppose that Gorillaz is a platform that celebrates range and inclusiveness. If we don’t join, we die,” she explains, because the waiter clears the empty plates from the desk.
As I ponder the dusty chess board in entrance of me, I realise Noodle has quietly put me in examine mate. Looking up, she smiles, earlier than packing the board again into her inside coat pocket and throwing it on. Muttering one thing about how Murdoc isn’t going to get himself out of jail, she counts some cash and throws it on the desk earlier than leaving as shortly as she arrived. Just days after coming back from Patagonia, DJ Mag receives a garbled choice of messages on Facebook alongside an image that appears to counsel Noodle had not solely discovered El Mierda, but additionally Murdoc on the again of a yak.
This story remains to be growing.