1 August 2022

Thundercat in conversation with Gorillaz’ Noodle

In this HUNGER exclusive, Gorillaz' Noodle discusses the band's energetic new track, 'Cracker Island' with bass extraordinaire Thundercat. 

The Gorillaz’s universe has expanded with the debut of their psychedelic, bass-heavy new single, ‘Cracker Island ft. Thundercat’. In typical fashion for the virtual band, there is a cacophony of police lights, hallucinations and more as the group of musical misfits, Murdoc, Noodle, Russel and 2D, relocate to Silverlake, California to find new recruits for “The Last Cult“. Cartoon bassist, Murdoc is the cult’s “self-appointed great leader”, but each of the members has a pivotal role to play, as they search high and low for the “one truth to fix the world”.

It’s a whole new chapter for Gorillaz, and this energetic new single is only a sneak peek. To mark the occasion, bass virtuoso, Thundercat, sat down with the band’s lead guitarist, Noodle, to chat about the track, as well as their processes and inspirations.

Noodle: You are a big fan of Japan I hear, that makes me happy! Tell me all the things you like about Japan. 

Thundercat: The one thing I love about Japan is that you can tell by the culture that Japanese people love Japanese people — they care about detail and they treat everything like there’s an art to it. I think that even when it comes to video games, manga, anime, and music — every part of it feels very cared for.

Thundercat: I feel like there are only a couple of ways you’d get the name Noodle either because you really enjoy noodles or because you sit around playing on your instrument all the time. Am I right? Do you like noodles or do you noodle?

Noodle: Actually, I do noodle. I noodle what’s in my mind, it keeps me calm. You have met Murdoc so you know how important it is to make your own reality.

Thundercat: For me, Jaco Pastorius is one of my favourite bassists and composers. Do you have a prominent figure in your life that has been significant for your development musically?

Noodle: So many IRL and in spirit but the late and great Rosetta Tharpe. To know where you’re going you have to remember the greats that stood before.

Noodle: I heard you are a real big fan of video games like myself. My favourite video games are Mortal Kombat and Guitar Hero what’s yours? 

Thundercat: I love video games!! I love Nintendo. Mortal Kombat, Mario Kart, Diablo, I love Mario the most because no matter how long it’s gone on, they’ve made it fun for everybody. I don’t know an era in my life when I wasn’t in love with Mario.

Noodle: You come from a family of musicians, right? Who are your biggest musical inspirations?

Thundercat: Oh boy. I would say the biggest musical inspirations are George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Gino Vannelli, Tony Williams, Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins.

Noodle: I heard you say “Once you choose the bass, the bass chooses you”. Enlighten me?

Thundercat: I’m an Ibanez endorsee so most of my basses are custom Ibanez. I have one custom Mike Tobias bass I only have a couple of vintage instruments — a couple of Vox basses but most of my instruments are custom. And a few fenders, but not too many. One day I hope to own one of Stanley Clarke’s original basses.

Thundercat: Do you have a favourite TV theme song? 

Noodle: Narcos. Everything else I skip.

Thundercat: What are some of your favourite anime and manga?

Noodle: That is impossible to answer. Everyone should spend time on the other side.

Noodle: Working with you on ‘Cracker Island’ was a gratifying experience! What does ‘Cracker Island’ mean to you?

Thundercat: I can only properly answer this question with another question, which is ‘only if you’ve seen Black Dynamite?’ and if you have seen Black Dynamite – then I’m Black Dynamite. 

Thundercat: Do you think that in the future we can write more music together?

Noodle: I hope so, but this will be decided by the alignment of the stars. The beauty of Gorillaz is there is room for everyone and you are now the Gorillaz family. We will always be together.

  • Writer Nessa Humayun

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