Main Index >> Media Index >> Amok Media | UK Media | 2013 Interviews

[recording starts]

Zane: There are some things that we will... there are some allowances, Nigel, that we will make for special guests I think, and in this case for the sake of the interview actually going ahead we may allow Thom to...

Nigel: He'll take responsibility for his own water consumption.

Zane: We're live yeah, we're live on the air, obviously thirst is more important than radio because...

Thom: Yeah well you told me to drink it outside!

Zane: I didn't, hey! I don't make the rules here pal, I'm just a patsy. This is the first time we've been on camera in the new studios in here, so I suppose I should give a cursory hello to everybody.

Thom: Is that why it's blindingly bright in here?

Zane: It's ridiculously bright in here, it's... for me it's unnerving. I feel...

Nigel: There's a lot of cameras, too.

Zane: There's a lot of cameras, a lot of lights.

Thom: We've got a lot of options.

Zane: Lot of star power.

Thom: *laughs* There's not much of that. Maybe your end!

Zane: Maybe your end.

Thom: Maybe your end.

Zane: Maybe your end!

Thom: Maybe your end.

Zane: Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich, hello.

Thom & Nigel: Hello, hi.

Zane: Happy new year! We can still say that, can't we?

Thom: We're in new year!

Nigel: Merry new year.

Thom: It's just on the edge now. If you're putting it in your emails it's like... just haven't got anything to say.

Zane: Time to let it go now, pretty much. Quiet start to the year for you, obviously back to work on monday the 7th i.e. now, but a quiet start up until this point?

Thom: Uhh...

Nigel: This is work, isn't it?

Zane: yeah that's what I said, back to work!

Nigel: Oh sorry, obviously brain not engaged yet.

Zane: You're not the one on the diet! Help me out, i'm oxygen starved here!

Thom: Aww.

Zane: I'm relying on you guys to be the entertainment factor at this...

Thom: What, now?

Zane: All the time!

Nigel: In answer to the question, I don't think anything's happened yet this year. nothing too alarming anyway.

Zane: But it's about to, isn't it?

Thom: I don't know! *laughs*

Zane: Well I have in front of me - I hate to break it to you that I have in front of me information about an album that's coming out...

Thom: Oh, yeah.

Zane: And a lot of questions from people about, you know, how you guys are gonna support this child in the real world.

Thom: Ah.

Zane: So let's just talk about how it was born first, to continue that horrific analogy. How did this happen? How did... awful right?

Nigel: No we've done this already, we're actually really good at this, but we may take a little while to wake up.

Thom: I'll give you a slap round the face, and you give me one, and we'll...

Zane: Shall i kick off what I know? Band forms to rehearse and perform your songs off 'Eraser'?

Thom: Yeah.

Zane: And then goes real good.

Thom: Yeah, we just sort of... it was for a laugh really, I was curious to know what it would sound like, and it was a fun thing to do, and it was one of those perculiar things where we just got in a room and it just... there was something else going on straight away. So we got quite excited about that.

Zane: Did you play with any of these guys, apart from Nigel, before? Joey?

Thom: I'd been in a room with him when I rehearsed with REM once, and I kinda knew him, but it wasn't...

Nigel: He's sort of one of our friends anyway, so aside from work we just hung out a lot.

Zane: I can imagine if you're in a situation where the two of you, judging from who you've worked with and who you know who are talented making music, you know, you could choose to play the songs from 'Eraser' live, and being friends with them, being mates with them would be sort of...

Thom: It's a bonus. It helps. I mean it was pretty freaky for me because they did all this work beforehand, because it was basically done from things from a laptop, and all of a sudden it's a huge deafening noise in a room.

Zane: Did you walk in and it was like 'ok fellas, fire it up', and it was...

Thom: Yeah, and they really had... they'd written it out on bits of paper, all the beats and stuff, I mean I couldn't...

Nigel: You know it was like first day at school, everybody's eager to do it right.

Zane: That's being very kind, I was sort of thinking more like when madonna walks in, and they go 'ok, the dancers have been practicing for the last two months, here's what we've got.'

Thom: Yeah.

Zane: Step, change, step, change...

Thom: It was just exactly like that, on a number of levels.

Zane: OK Madge. So it all goes real good, and the band sounds great, and you perform songs from this amazing record 'the eraser', and i'm gonna play a song right now cos I wanna keep the music moving. we'll come back and talk about atoms for peace in particular, but while I have this, why wouldn't I?

[Plays 'The Eraser', Zane comes back in over final section of song]

Zane: We're about to get ravey. This is prototype swedish house mafia this bit, isn't it?

Thom: I'm not saying nothing.

Zane: The Eraser, title track to a wonderful solo record by Thom Yorke, and that's where it stood for a while. Until Atoms For Peace started to become real. It went from ?????, and a few shows here and there, just 'cus you could, right through to 'wait, we've got a name now!'.

Thom: Yeah.

Zane: And then Keyser Soze... nothing after that for about two years! What's going on?

Nigel: It seems like that from your perspective, but there's an awful lot going on all the time.

Thom: The trick is to move slowly, that is the trick you see.

Zane: Slow and steady.

Thom: Yeah, don't knock 'em out. Well yeah, knock 'em out.

Zane: Knock 'em out when you get up to the plate.

Thom: Yeah. Well you've gotta find the plate first.

Nigel: This is very abstract, I don't really understand what's going on but they all seem to know what's going on.

Zane: The plate is the album.

Nigel: Oh the plate!

Thom: It's poets.

Nigel: This is old school.

Thom: Anyway where were we?

Zane: We were talking about... well the stuff we talked about off the air which won't get repeated, which is a shame because it was highly entertaining, with reference points to your hairband era...

Thom: Yeah, there was a brief hairband era. We played this show, Fuji Rock, if you actually wanted to watch Atoms For Peace, we did this show Fuji Rock in Japan which you can get on YouTube.

Nigel: It's all really fast.

Thom: It's really fast and hyped up, and we're having a very good time.

Zane: Really? James Brown style.

Thom: I did say 'Mind the hairband', and we got into a conversation about Wes Anderson which is where I got it from, from a Wes Anderson film, not from Martin Offler(?).

Zane: That's an headline right there for tomorrow morning, isn't it?

Thom: It is really, if they've got nothing else to write about...

Zane: Getting to the bottom of the hairband era.

Thom: Ah well, y'know... we've gotta make mistakes, haven't we?

Zane: It's ‘Tenenbaums', it's not Knoffler!

Thom: Yeah man!

Zane: Let's get it right!

Nigel: I think you got away with it.

Thom: I did, yeah, and I tried to get the hairbands off Wes Anderson.

Zane: ...just...

Thom: Just?

Zane: Just.

Nigel: No, no, it was class.

Zane: Only just...

Thom: Well that's what it's all about.

Zane: *laughs* We've been taking hairbands to the natural conclusion. Atoms For Peace is now officially an album, and I know this is the fits and starts method again, isn't it?

Thom: Yeah, we have like, big bursts, and then... gotta figure out what the burst meant. Right?

Nigel: Yeah, I mean it takes a long time to sort of... actually let things go into your head and process them, and think around them, and also there's just always three things going on at once, so I think that's why it took so long.

Thom: For me, yeah...

Nigel: What happened was we went out to tour, we did a little tour, and we didn't have enough... well we felt like we didn't have enough material, we wished we'd had more, so we started trying to come up with things for the band to play. Coming up with new bits of tracks and whatnot, and then by the end of the tour we realised that that was probably what we were gonna try and record.

Zane: Nice.

Nigel: It wasn't quite ready enough to play, but we had a lot of stuff and we went into the studio for a few days and just played and played...

Thom: We created this mountain of grooves and bits and pieces, and all we had to go on really was these tiny little pieces of stuff on my laptop.

Zane: And just extend those out with the band?

Thom: Yeah, that's the freaky thing, you know you play them this super wonky beat that sounds like it's impossible, and they mark it all out and then just play it back at you, and you're like ‘holy crap'. So it's a pretty bonkers way of working, and then they'll sort of... they'll go off on one with it, and tunes sort of happened there and then, some tunes... other tunes took some time, other tunes were sort of kicking around anyway. But y'know, the sort of energy of it, bizarrely, was from these three days really, that we had at the end of the tour, ‘cos we were all jumping up and down and we had a really good time, and there was loads of really good energy so we wanted to sort of throw it together, really.

Zane: Capture it.

Thom: Yeah, and bizarrely a lot of that is what you hear, when you hear the record, is very much thrown together... other bits aren't, but it was then a question of me and Nigel trying to look at it all and figure out what the hell it meant, y'know?

Zane: But these amazing players, all of you can play, and you're this amazing live unit already after only a few shows, otherwise you wouldn't have taken it to the next stage, then you've got all this music, then how are you gonna turn it into something that sounds almost like you were in the room together? Does that make sense?

Nigel: I mean it's not supposed to sound like we're not together, that's the whole point, it sounds like what it sounds like whatever you do, whatever you intend and whatever your agenda is. It has its own life, and that's always down to the chemistry of the people who are there. And that's the beauty of the situation, that's why we're doing it in the first place, because you wanna create this situation where you know what these people are capable of, and we're all capable of something more than the sum of our parts, you know? So essentially what we did was to do a ton of stuff which was very... once the juices are flowing and things are going... we played for literally 3 days, and then...

Zane: Non stop?

Nigel: Yeah, and it was about two years ago, you know? So the fact that it took all of that time to sort of think about and look at... for some things you know straight away what they are, because you're picking them as you go on the day.

Zane: I think it's wicked, I almost feel that in a lot of cases some bands, and a lot of albums, would have benefited from the luxury of space and distance to go away and listen to the songs.

Nigel: Usually it really really turns people over, and the thing is, the only reason - this is some sort of inherent part of the way that this was made, is taking chunks of music... you have to make your decisions very quickly, you can't leave it and leave it, that's the art really. Just being able to see something when it presents itself to you.

Thom: That's what he does to me, you see. I will unravel and look at it until it blows my brains out.

Nigel: He's in a different mode, i'm in a different mode, and that's why it works.

Thom: But a lot of it was down the fact that we didn't... there was a lot of rhythm and not much music, so I had to go and look at it from that point of view, ‘cos I wanted to write to what it was, the beats and stuff.

Zane: How was that challenge for you?

Thom: It was alright. It's kind of what i've done before, it was slightly different – it was more barebones – and the other thing I was gonna say was... the reason I actually wanted to start talking about it was trying to explain to people that it's not actually a band... doesn't sound like a band in the normal sense of the word, because it's this really grey mushy area between what is electronic and what isn't electronic, what's been left and what has been changed, which is...

Nigel: We have the luxury of knowing and you don't.

Zane: Well this is why I said, you know, it's hard for me to discern who's playing what at various points.

Nigel: That's good... that isn't the agenda specifically, but...

Zane: It is if i'm a fan of Flea and i'm a fan of Waronker...

Nigel: But, you know, you should be thinking about it as Flea and Waronker and...

Zane: As a unit.

Nigel: All of us together.

Thom: That's what the freaky thing about it is, when we did The Eraser, it was getting together and trying to imitate a groove that's come out of a machine. Which is back to the old days of disco when drummers suddenly had to imitate what drum machines were. So that's the thing which excited me about it, and in doing that there was this weird sort of correlation with afrobeat and all this stuff which I didn't intend at all.

Nigel: He just said it exactly there, disco is about the fact that mechanisation came into rhythm in the form of computers that can make drum beats, and then it changed the aesthetic of pop music forever. And since then, every band, they think differently about the way that rhythms are. And it's exactly the same kind of thing. Making music and things that sound like static, that have some inherent rhythm behind them... clicks and pops and that kind of new “IDM” in inverted commas, but then taking that to a band. But, you know, people who are really skilful and can actually play it.

Thom: What does IDM mean anyway?

Nigel: Intelligent Dance Music.

Zane: Is that what that is? I was like, i've heard of EDM which is...

Nigel: Electronic... well IDM was sort of... I was like ‘what the hell are they talking about?'

Thom: When you're in a record shop and it says IDM i'm like ‘what?'

Nigel: It's the difference between Whigfield and Autechre.

Zane: And which one is good?

Nigel: Well they're both, in their own way. If you talk to her i'm sure she's probably got an opinion about it.

Thom: You reckon?

[‘Default' plays]

Zane: What a nice way to start the year, I have to say. To be in the company of musicians who want to talk about music.

Thom: Why thank you.

Zane: To be able to listen to said music. Very enjoyable as it is too.

Thom: It's quite simple innit, really, when you come down to it?

Zane: It is!

Thom: The joys of life...

Zane: Yeah, i'd like to keep it that way. Work and nurture. Atoms For Peace – Default, from the forthcoming new album ‘Amok'. Don't tell me it's pronounced ‘Ay-muck' or something.

Thom: A-murk. A meurk.

Nigel: It's a silent O.

Zane: I knew I'd get that wrong.

Thom: We hadn't thought about that yet, but you've started it off.

Zane: It's the kiwi in me.

Thom: Ah yeah, of course.

Zane: What are you saying?

Nigel: Was he racist then?

Thom: I'm just joining in.

Zane: It's a bit greycist. Somewhere in the middle. Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich from Atoms For Peace and their brand new album called ‘Amok' is due out in mid February on XL Recordings. I have questions from fans and friends, and people who love your music.

Thom: We got friends!

Zane: You got some friends! This one... there's a lot of questions about this. Shows.

Thom: Pardon?

Zane: Shows.

Thom: Oh I see. Yep yep yep yep yep yep uh-huh.

Zane: Well give us something.

Thom: Wasn't that it?

Zane: That's not it! Nigel, over to you. Shows?

Thom: Yep yep uh-huh.

Zane: Well let me be more specific. You played a few in the US, you did Fuji, are there plans for UK shows?

Nigel: It's still being figured out.

Zane: So it's on the table?

Thom: Oh, yeah.

Nigel: Well everything's on the table.

Zane: Wouldn't it be great to play?

Nigel: My arm is on the table.

Thom: Go on, carry on.

Zane: I'm putting my foot down – on the table! Because it all started from you guys playing live, didn't it? The initial energy and interest to carry it further, you wanna bring it back?

Thom: Yes. Absolutely, we're just trying to figure out how and when.

Nigel: Practicalities.

Thom: There is obviously that... Flea's in the Chili Peppers, and they're still going, so we've gotta work round that, but that's all good. And we wanna keep it fun, right?

Zane: You wanna keep it fun.

Thom: We wanna keep it... it's for kicks, a little bit, but yes, there are gonna be shows, definitely. We're definitely gonna do Europe and ting.

Zane: There you go. Hopefully we're part of the ting. Joshua Hexon that answers yours and everyone elses questions about that. Elliott wants to make it more specific, are you playing Glastonbury?

Thom: No, we won't have got our shit together by then. Probably.

Zane: Ok.

Nigel: ...maybe...

Thom: Not as the whole unit. Maybe a broken part of the unit.

Zane: Could be part of the ‘ting'.

Thom: Well we've gotta get in somehow for free.

Nigel: I might go to Glastonbury, if that's the question. We're planning to go to Glastonbury.

Thom: So we've gotta do something. But it might not be that.

Zane: But you guys are... I mean you and the whole travelling crew, the family and friends that you bring to Glastonbury every time... this has become legendary now.

Nigel: There'll be about half as many people there if I go.

Zane: They'll open the gate for you!

Nigel: One of us goes in with all of the bags, the rest jump over the fence.

Thom: Yeah... can you do that still?

Zane: I don't think you can.

Thom: You've got an old post van, haven't you?

Nigel: The van, yeah...

Zane: It's not gonna work... does it have a huge battering ram on the front? If it doesn't I don't think you'll be able to get in.

Nigel: No but the one person with the ticket goes in with the van, everybody else gets dropped off in the...

Zane: Godrich, I didn't see it in you! You're a rascal aren't ya!

Thom: My favourite was the Winnebago when your battery ran out.

Nigel: I don't remember that, obviously it was a good year.

Zane: *Laughs* Godrich you cheeky so-and-so... Here comes ol' Godrich with the Post Van.

Nigel: Yeah, exactly. Delivering his...

Zane: What's in the van, Godrich? Yorke! Yorke's in the van!

Thom: I'm not?

Nigel: He's round the corner.

Zane: You're in a field somewhere, asleep under the stars.

Thom: That's right.

Zane: Connect to nature.

Thom: Mm. Communing with the peoples.

Zane: Communing with the peoples. What's this, ‘Francis Bacon', about you doing some music at Jack White's studio? Is it the time and the place to talk about that?

Thom: Ah yes, we did. We went to Jack's place.

Zane: Radiohead.

Thom: It was very nice.

Zane: Yeah? I hear it's incredible, his spot, the way he's...

Thom: It's weeny teeny weeny, but that's a good thing, and funnily enough he painted it red, black and white.

Zane: I thought he was on the yellow tip these days... still red, black and white?

Thom: Well maybe he needs to repaint the studio.

Zane: Maybe.

Thom: But yeah, we went there for... we had two tunes that were... well one in particular that was cooking, and we thought we should... there wasn't much else to do down there either so we wanted to see the place. He was very kind and just let us in, normally he doesn't let people in unless he's directing, but I was directing.

Nigel: I wasn't there.

Thom: You weren't there, but you didn't need to be, cos you told me what to do and I did it.

Zane: He's learnt from the best.

Nigel: I said ‘again, with feeling.'

Zane: Is that one of your lines?

Nigel: Yeah.

Thom: No he doesn't say that. What do you say? You don't say that, you say... ‘Yeah well when you actually do the real take...'

Nigel: ‘Is it gonna be exactly like that?'

Zane: *laughs*

Nigel: Will it be... just like that?

Thom: And then you'd get this painful stunned silence in the studio like ‘what do you mean, that was quite good wasn't it?'

Nigel: But the actual guitar solo will be exactly to these proportions?

Zane: But better.

Thom: Guitar solo? In my dreams!

Zane: What's another... I don't want this to end, what's another Godrich classic Thom?

Nigel: You know Jack though, you know he's an upholsterer. You know he was an upholsterer before he was a... so he did all of the upholstery in his studio.

Thom: Did he?

Nigel: Yeah, he once recorded a CD and put it inside a sofa.

Zane: Yes, he did, lots of little messages are in sofas all across the United States right now upholstered by Jack White.

Thom: Well he's a very charming host.

Zane: Oh he's lovely ain't he? Big ol' tall glass of handsome.

Thom: Big guy, yeah.

Zane: What else does Nigel say in the studio?

Thom: Not much. He says ‘not yet... not yet... now. Now!'

Zane: Ladies and Gentlemen, what you're tuning into right now is the magic behind the partnership, not since David and Bacharach....

Thom: It's mostly faces... mostly faces.

Nigel: Which I can't do, I've been told not to do on camera.

Thom: You're not allowed to pull faces, but you are on camera.

Zane: That was one, right there! You just did one!

Thom: That was the ‘I haven't got the lyrics yet' face. That one there. That's a common face.

Zane: Poker round yours next week buddy, I'm ready. Let's go.

Nigel: I'm an open book.

Zane: Ladies and Gentlemen, there's not a lot to talk about with live shows, ‘Europe and ting' yep yep yep ok yep yep yep yep cool.

Thom: *laughs*

Zane: Are we gonna hear these Jack White... are these recordings?

Thom: Yeah, that's in the mountain of stuff I've gotta finish but first I've gotta go... get the kids from school and shit.

Zane: Alright cool. Ladies and Gentlemen, a round of applause for our guests. Nigel Godrich... do you take applause these days?

Thom: I'll take it.

Zane: I wasn't sure if you take compliments very well. Anyway we're gonna move on...

Thom: Depends how you do it.

Zane: Well how about this? Judge, Jury and Executioner by Atoms For Peace.

Thom: Oh yeah, that'd be good.

Zane: I've enjoyed my time with you, thank you.

Nigel: Thank you.

Thom: Thank you.

Zane: Happy New Year.

Thom: Happy New Year.

Nigel: Merry Christmas.

[recording ends]