Why Are Gorillaz Called Gorillaz?

3 April 2018, 17:46 | Updated: 10 September 2019, 13:05

Gorillaz. Picture: Press/Jamie Hewlett

We look back at the origins of the animated band's simian name and the theories as to why they chose it.

Gorillaz fans have begun to speculate about the release of a new album entitled The Now Now, with a new website launched and posters spotted at London's All Points East festival recently.

While Damon Albarn and co. are keeping tight-lipped about their sixth album, one thing we have more of an idea of is how and why they chose the band's name.

As the pair recall in a WIRED interview, the idea for the band first came about when they were watching MTV and disparaging at the world of pop stardom.

The animated aspect of the outfit began as a "comment" on the cartoon nature of celebrity, while it also allowed Blur frontman Albarn the to experiment without being overshadowed by his Britpop past.

But why exactly were they called Gorillaz?

Here are some of the most believable theories out there:

1. Anonymity

The band originally identified themselves as "Gorilla," which could be a play on the word "guerilla," coming from the words guerilla warfare - which is a term used to describe underhand and un-open warfare tactics.

This makes sense when you consider we were never really meant to know who was behind the project...


Damon Albarn is now of course almost as synonymous with the hugely successful animated band as he is with Blur, but it wasn't meant to be that way.

“People weren’t meant to know it was me,” Albarn told The Guardian back in 2017. “Even now I think, during the gigs, I’m going to be able to go off, go backstage and make myself a drink and a hologram will take my place for a couple of songs.”

2. Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn's birth year

Various sources suggest that their simian name was inspired by the fact the pair were born a few weeks apart in 1968, which is in the year of the monkey.

Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn
Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn. Picture: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

3. A nod to The Monkees & an Oasis diss

Some fans believe the origins of the Gorillaz name can be found in a dig from Albarn's former Britpop rivals.

When talking about people comparing The Rolling Stones and The Beatles to the rivalry between Oasis and Blur, the Gallaghers are reported to have said in an interview with CMJ: "The fact of the matter is, we're the Beatles and the Stones, and they're the fucking Monkees."


The Monkees - who were formed in 1965 for the television series of the same name - were also considered one of the first manufactured boy bands, and the misspelling of "Gorillaz" could have been inspired by the characterisation of their name, as well as that of The Beatles.


The Monkees eventually rebelled against their management and fought for the right to supervise all music put out under their name.

Most interestingly, in order to avoid this trouble again, their dismissed producer Don Kirshner went on to create a series about an animated band called The Archies.

Watch the video for their Sugar, Sugar hit below:

Watch as Shaun Ryder explains the story behind Gorillaz's DARE: