The full interview, recorded around mid april 2003 and lasting 30 minutes, is not available. This is a transcript of a 13 minute broadcast from june 11th 2003. An initial broadcast from april 23rd 2003 had another section of the interview about the leak of the album. A recording of this is not available, but the report about it from ateaseweb.com is posted below, as it features some quotes from that intial broadcast.
Jonny: "I think we still wanted to be able to make music like Kid A and Amnesiac, but just be much quicker. Erm... And so the mood of the recording, anyway, was one of... erm... just like having all of the instruments on the shelf. Whether it's, you know, a laptop or a keyboard or a guitar or a harmonica, or whatever. And for the song you could grab what you want. Even if it's very new technology or even if it's a piano... and they're all good for the right song, and they're all bad for the wrong song and, you know, none of them are perfect, but sometimes they're great. And so, you know, 'I Will' sounds great with a guitar, and 'Backdrifts' would sound really stupid with a guitar, and sounds really good with, you know, with the keyboards and the old drum machines."
Sander Kerkhof: "Mhmm."
Jonny: "Yeah! It's kind of a... it's a mixture. The voice is essential to this record, which I guess is how it should be, because, you know, the lyrics then become a key feature of the songs. Which they should be, obviously."
Jonny: "Erm, so... yeah, I agree, I think he's singing better than he ever has in the studio. I think we were all fairly relaxed, and as a result, that the songs... you know, you try and steer the... when you write the songs, you try and steer them onto the record, without touching them much, without being seen to let your fears get in the way, or your... you know, it's like, you try and make it reach the record without, you know, anybody seeing your hands, in a way. And they just kind of... And then they're there, they're finished. So... And I think that's true of the singing as well, you know. Thom was trying to do it so that the song is... just sounds like it's coming from somewhere else. I don't know. I suppose we're a lot clearer in our heads now about why we're in a band, and we've also learnt to look on the songs as being kind of bigger than us. And that's what you kind of... that's the weight you feel on your shoulders when you go and record. It's nothing... that's the only pressure, really. Because, you know, what else can you do? If Thom comes into the studio, and you work on a song together, and at the end of the day you've got a rough version of, you know, whatever, of 'Pyramid Song', or of 'Sail to the Moon' or something, you know, you - without sounding egotistical - you know it's good. But until it's recorded, you can't relax. So it's that kind of... That's what's fun. That kind of mixture of excitement and fear and, you know, you can walk around all day with a song in your head thinking, 'You know, we've just got to record it, and it would be great!'"
Jonny: "And sometimes it takes three years, and that's, you know. On the last record, we had a song called 'Motion Picture Soundtrack', and that's ten years old, you know."
Jonny: "And you've known that song for ten years, and really wanted to record it. So, it's, you know... there's a lot to choose from really."
['The Gloaming' clip]
Jonny: "I used to hate a lot of electronic music. Or writing electronic music and using computers. And then I realized why. It's because you're not using the computer really, you're using the software, you're using somebody else's idea of how a computer should make music. It's like, there's the art program called Photoshop, and in theory, it should make anything possible, and you can do any kind of art with it, but for some reason, everybody does a similar kind of thing. And it looks... you can usually tell when something's been done with Photoshop. And the same is true with music. There's lots of programs that in theory, you're free to do anything, but you're not, you're... there's a sort of, there's techniques that you end up using."
Jonny: "And so everybody's doing the same kind of music with computers, to a degree."
Sander: "Things like plug-ins..."
Jonny: "Yeah, exactly, plug-ins, and even sequencers, and even things that put things in order for you, and are meant to be... you know, so... I'm really... I've kind of gone one lower and I've started programming and writing software, like I used to when I was a kid, that was kind of my big hobby, I was one of those nerdy kids with the first home computers, the Sinclairs, I was like eleven or something."
Sander: "ZX Spectrum, I had it."
Jonny: "I had one too!"
Sander: "Like in BASIC..."
Jonny: "Exactly, BASIC, and just started some machine code and stuff, and loved it. And then I felt like computers were taken away from me and it wasn't, you weren't... kind of using the computer in a very pure way anymore. And now I found out how you said, plug-ins, instead of using plug-ins, I'm writing... I'm writing software, you know, I'm creating... you know... The sound comes into the computer as numbers, and it's that kind of program, and I love it. It's really good because you can think in very pure terms about what sound is and what music is and what you want to do. You don't have to kind of use anybody else's idea of reverb is meant to be or what, you know, how music should be sequenced. Or what tempo is, or anything, you're much freer."
['A Wolf at the Door' clip]
Sander: "You keep fairly close contact with the fans. That must be kind of, you know, I think your fans at this point are completely willing to go wherever you want to take them. Probably? Or is it not as simple as that?"
Jonny: "Um, I don't think it is that simple, no. Because, er, I think... I suppose they do trust us to a degree. I mean, what we're lucky about is, I think, we can release a record and rely on a lot of people listening to it very closely, more than once, before deciding what they think of it. And in that sense I think we're one of the luckiest bands in the world, actually. Sincerely mean that, I think that's amazing, because it means that you can kind of do your best work, I think. You're not worrying about radio play, and you're not worrying about getting new people to like you straight away, or it becomes, you know... I think they're listening to the music in the same way we do, I suppose. I mean, that's what we're starting to believe. Because they like the same things from our records that we like. So yeah, which is amazing, if you think of it like that."
Sander: "Do you feel like you, at this point, have nothing to lose as a band?"
Jonny: "I suppose you do. And when you finish a record, and it's about to be released, you do start thinking, obviously, of what people think. And, you know, you imagine the record coming out and everybody liking your last record and hating this one or something. You have that kind of irrational... so you care about it completely, you know, if everyone says it's rubbish and stops coming to your concerts, you know, it's going to be upsetting. It's not easy to say, you know - well, it is easy to say, 'We do the music for ourselves, and we don't think of anyone else', but of course we think of other people, you know. It's weird, you have to be selective, you know, you have to... on some level you have to stand up in front of a lot of people and say to yourself that they're all wrong, you know, when you see people who say that we should just do music like we did in 1992 or we should... you know, it's like, it's difficult, because they like what you've done, but they've kind of stopped moving forward ina way. So, on one level you have just you and lots of people who are wrong, but on another level you have to, you know, hope that people carry on being excited and follow us..."
Jonny: "...with what we're doing. It's a real... it's quite complex, as you can imagine. Bands tend to tell one of two lies. They either say, 'We don't care about the audience, it's our art', or they say, you know, it's, 'We think of them all the time, and that's why we do our...' It's kind of halfway between the two, I suppose."
['Sit down. Stand up.' clip]
Sander: "You've also made a soundtrack..."
Sander: "...for a film called Bodysong?"
Jonny: "That's right."
Sander: "Can you tell us something about it?"
Jonny: "Yeah. It's a film that's made of footage, film footage, from video, from film libraries around the world that were collected and just put together by the director Simon Pummell. And... there's no talking or story, it's just images and music. And it's like an hour and fifteen minutes of, you know, just music and film footage. And some of the film footage is from, you know, the 1920's, and some of it is scientific from the 60's, and some of it is kind of anthropological, from the 40's, or brand new, and it's just, it's a big... it's a mixture, again."
Sander: "There is a central theme?"
Jonny: "Vaguely, connected with the body and, you know, kind of birth and sex and death and work, and things like that."
Sander: "You worked on it on your own?"
Jonny: "Yeah, or... yeah... I was kind of being sent the images, and trying to write music for it. And vice versa, I think he was trying to put some of the images to the music I had written. There's a jazz band we had for a few days, and a string quartet, and there's some guitars, and some drum machines, and you know, there was just... it was difficult because, you know, when you've got an hour and fifteen minutes, it's very easy to be boring in two different ways. You could be boring because you're repeating your ideas all the time, but it can also be boring if the music is changing all the time and it's never... you get nothing to hold onto, that can be really exhausting as well, I think, you know, if you're trying too hard to write some jazz, and then some classical music, and da da da, so it was... you needed that as a balance."
Sander: "So there is a theme, in the music."
Jonny: "Kind of, yeah. There's sort of themes. But very different styles of music."
Sander: "How do you see this life within or beyond Radiohead?"
Jonny: "Oh, beyond Radiohead, bluh! You know, I'm sitting thinking about the next record, when I have free time, and how we should do it, and what songs we have to record, or what we've half written, and... but beyond that I'm not thinking, I've kind of got a very narrow window, and that's where my energies are at the moment. I'm kind of starting down that road of family life very vaguely, but... you know, I've got a very ugly dog as well, and I take him for walks."
Jonny: "But, you know, at the same time we're all in Oxford, and just kind of... and the music is all we are obsessed with, you know. We're very lucky, I think a lot of bands get to their fifth or sixth record and, you know, either the songs get very long, or predictable, or, you know, someone in the band gets bored, and is more interested in something else that isn't musical. And we're lucky, we're still kind of all, you know, kind of overly obsessed with the music that we're doing, and it's a good space to be in, it's that mixture of being obsessed with it but also being quite confident and relaxed about it as well. So, it feels like we're just... it's like being very fit, in a way. It's a good feeling, I've been in this band since I was 14, something like that, so... and I've never done anything else, you know, it's like - certainly nothing like hard work - so, you know... You look at these hands and... 'I've done a hard day's work'. And I like that."
Jonny: "It's new, and it's the first thing we recorded on the first day in the studio for the record. And it sounds like that to me, you know, it's like... That is the sound of us kind of plugging in and beginning two weeks of recording, and recording every day a new song. And there's an energy, that kind of... when we recorded that first, the energy that we got from that kept us going for the rest of the year, in a way. It kept us going for the rest of the week, and the next week, and it kind of built up this big momentum. And, that's partly why it's the first song on the record, you know. It's to get you through the rest of the record. And give you the energy that we have, we had when we recorded it. Yeah."
Sander: "Yeah. And the sound of the guitars plugging in, we have to take very literally, then..."
Jonny: "Yeah. It's not... it's not a conceit, no, it's all true. And it is Thom saying 'Yeah, that's a good way to start' and, you know, and we started. You know, sometimes that's the kind of stuff that can be annoying when it's... before a song starts, you hear all the talking and the... But for us, it's like that was the atmosphere of us in the room. You can hear everyone's quite happy and just wants to, you know... is itching to start, you know. It's cool."
Sander: "Mmmh mmmh."
ateaseweb.com report from april 23rd:
VPRO’s Sander Kerkhof asked Jonny about the leak of ‘Hail to the thief’. Jonny said the album was on the net “a week after we sent the final one to EMI. It’s very early but we kind of expected it. In January we would take CD’s home to listen to them once and then destroy them. It sounds crazy now. And now it sounds like a good idea. That’s how we were working. but apparently all that wasn’t enough. The Gloaming is a minute longer on this internet version. We cut a whole minute out, because we knew it was a bit long. We wouldn’t play it to anybody. That’s why it’s weird”
On the difference between the internet version and the final version Jonny said: “Sometimes people might not notice much difference. Some instruments have been taken away and some have been added. It depends on which song you choose. On Myxomatosis we took all the emphasis off the drums and put it on the out of tune keyboards to make it more frightening and just change the mood of the song. The first day of mixing, which is what you are hearing, was a cd we kind of went through and we said ‘no, no.. that’s no good, that’s close, we’ll start again with that one’ That’s what frustrating.”
Hear the full interview online at 3voor12.nl. The interview is just 5 minutes of a 30 minute interview with Jonny Greenwood to be broadcast in June.