At least two local business owners got a surprise on Wednesday morning as they started their day, and not the good kind. The owners of Double Wide bar and Good Records showed up to find the words “Gorillaz” and “Humanz” and the date “4.28.17” spray-painted on their buildings' facades.
The graffiti is intended to promote the highly anticipated release of Gorillaz’s fifth proper LP, Humanz, which comes out on Friday. Over the last few weeks, the album has been promoted with with an app, a mural in Ireland and a Gorillaz-themed haunted house in Brooklyn.
But the permanent advertising on Good Records and Double Wide was not sanctioned by the owners, and they're not happy.
Good Records' co-owner Chris Penn found two tags on the steps; one was done in blue spray paint, the other in white. Both used a stencil. A while ago, Penn had encountered something similar at Good Records promoting Lady Gaga, but it was done in spray chalk. Initially, he thought the Gorillaz plug was the same thing.
“I thought it was good marketing if it disappeared in a couple of weeks at most,” Penn says. “The placement of the Gorillaz [tag] didn't leave me the happiest this morning.”
Penn believes the band’s label or distributor should do something. “I want them to pay to get it off,” he says.
No one has come forward claiming to have done the tagging. Security footage at the Double Wide shows an adult male in a black shirt and hat crouching down, spraying and moving along.
The Dallas Observer has emailed Gorillaz' rep but has not heard back at the time of writing.
At Double Wide, the damage is worse. Three plugs for the album defaced a mural that covers an outside wall and sidewalk. “When stupid things like this pop up to add to your list of daily duties, it’s pretty frustrating,” says Double Wide owner Kim Finch. “Such a waste of time.”
Double Wide’s Twitter account Wednesday afternoon offered two angry Tweets, one directed at the band and the second at the band’s parent label, Parlophone. "How about not ruining other people's mural to promote your stupid album. #realLAME," one of Double Wide's tweets read.
The vandalism on Good Records’ steps didn’t taint anyone’s artwork, but it’s still illegal. “Covering up another's artwork/mural — that is unacceptable no matter the circumstances,” Penn says. “Double Wide has every right to be furious.”
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Part of Gorillaz's aesthetic has always been creating visual artwork to go along with their music. Jamie Hewlett was already an established comic book artist when he started the band with Damon Albarn in the late '90s. Fans have created murals honoring the band for years.
The difference is that these tags, whether done with or without Parlophone's approval, aren't art. Each is just two words and a date.
Gorillaz don’t need this kind of guerrilla marketing. The multi-million-selling act simply has to set a release date, put out some artwork and maybe a sample song up online to get their audience excited. Even the list of collaborators on the 20-track album gathered news. Positive reviews for Humanz, based on single tracks and remixes, are already rolling in.
This event won't dampen sales, but the spray paint left more than writing on a wall. It also seems to have left a blemish on the band's reputation in Dallas.