By Eric Renner Brown
October 12, 2015 at 08:24 PM EDT
Getty Images file

Earlier this year, artist Jamie Hewlett — who created the virutal band Gorillaz with Blur’s Damon Albarn — confirmed the band would soon return. Hewlett has now expanded on his initial comment that “Yes Gorillaz Returns.”

“That’s next year,” the artist told DIY magazine. “I’m working on it at the moment, and it’s going very well. I’m very excited. I don’t want to say too much about it, but I’m at that phase of experimentation.”

“What I try not to do when I’m working in this creative period, the cooking of the mess, is go to other peoples’ exhibitions and look at other peoples’ work,” he continued. I close my eyes, and don’t want to know what anyone else is doing. Doing that has kind of ruined the creative process for me in the past, and I don’t want to let that happen again.”

Hewlett’s comments continue months of speculation surrounding hints offered up by Albarn — who has had his own on-and-off relationship with the band behind hits including “Dare” and “Feel Good Inc.” Gorillaz was most recently active in 2010, when it released two albums (Plastic Beach and The Fall) and headlined Coachella. Since then Albarn has released a solo album (2014’s Everyday Robots), an album with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea (2012’s Rocket Juice & the Moon), and this year’s The Magic Whip, Blur’s first album in 12 years.

After rumors of a falling out between Hewlett and Albarn in 2011, Albarn suggested in 2012 that a future for the project was “unlikely” and that the reluctance to continue came from Hewlett. Less than a month later, he walked back those comments, saying that he and Hewlett had “just fallen out like mates do sometimes.”

In April 2014, when EW asked Albarn about a Gorillaz reunion, Albarn said that because “the music is all me” he should “see if myself wants to do another Gorillaz record.” But Hewlett’s new interview aligns with Albarn’s more recent assurance last October that he was “in the process or reactivating Gorillaz for a 2016 release.”

Head over to DIY for Hewlett’s full interview.