Gorillaz, the self-proclaimed “world’s most successful virtual act,” will grace Tokyo with a pair of concerts next week that will include the world premiere of new album “The Now Now,” which comes out June 29.

The brainchild of Blur frontman Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett, Gorillaz broke onto the scene with a self-titled album in 2001 that featured the singles “Clint Eastwood” and “19-2000.” That full-length was followed up by the critically acclaimed “Demon Days” in 2005 (“Feel Good Inc.,” “Dare”), “Plastic Beach” and “The Fall” in 2010 and last year’s “Humanz.”

The first of the band’s two Japan shows will be on June 21 and will feature guest appearances by De La Soul, Bootie Brown, Pevan Everett and Jamie Principle, as well as songs from the band’s previous albums. On June 22, Gorillaz will debut “The Now Now.”

Gorillaz, made up of animated members 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs, told The Japan Times via email that their sixth studio album is inspired by “what is happening in the world right now” and their experiences of touring in the U.S. last year, where many of the new songs were written.

On the topic of Japanese music, Gorillaz says they “love the Japanese minimal tech scene happening right now in Tokyo,” that Noodle has “a soft spot for a track called ‘Plastic Love’ by Mariya Takeuchi — a wonder woman slab of Japanese funk,” and that Russel “has a sonic soul mate in an amazing drummer called Akira Jimbo who he calls ‘The beast from the East.'”

Gorillaz is known for its inventive stage shows, which more recently have introduced hologram technology to the stage. Fans in Tokyo are in for a treat.

More on what Japanese music Gorillaz are listening to

The link between Gorillaz and Japan has been strong from the start: Band member Noodle is the test child of a secret Japanese military project, arriving at the band’s studios in a FedEx crate sometime at the end of 1990s, and there’s a whole track on the B-Side accompaniment to the band’s first album, “Gorillaz,” dedicated to the Suzuki method of instrument learning.

Influence is one thing, but what do the band’s members listen to when they visit Japan? They gave us a few tips:

  • Jun Fukamachi’s “Quark”: An amazing piece of music from a real electronic music innovator from the 1980s
  • Cornelius: The stage name of Keigo Oyamada, Cornelius was an inspiration for the band throughout the 1990s
  • “Captured” by Foog and “Molecule” by Yoshihiro Arikawa: artists who are both doing well on the underground techno scene
  • The Sushi Club: In particular, a track called “Oshinko”
  • Acts like Naoki Kenji: Very funky and very cool, very Noodle
  • Asa Chang & Junray: A duo from the 2000s. 2-D likes a track they made called “Hana”
  • Akira Jimbo: Russel’s soul mate
  • Mariya Takeuchi’s track “Plastic Love”: Noodle has a soft spot for this one

Gorillaz play Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture on June 21 and Zepp Divercity Tokyo in Koto Ward on June 22. Tickets for both shows are on sale at www.gorillazjapantour.com.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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