20 Things We Learnt from Thom Yorke's Reddit AMA
Radiohead leader Thom Yorke and long-time producer/collaborator Nigel Godrich have teamed up in new outfit Atoms For Peace. Their debut album Amok (which is very good) is out next week, February 25th, and today they helmed an 'Ask Me Anything' chat on Reddit.
We sifted through the data to bring you 20 important bulletins from the pair. (Grammar has been left intact; answers are Thom unless indicated with an 'N' for Nigel.)
20. Radiohead record more slowly than Jack White.
A: We was at AJck Jack Whites places... we now have two unfinished tracks, one of which is identikit. Its nice there, red and black and white nshit. err, we work slower than him (umderstatement)\19. Atoms for Peace is the dessert to Radiohead's main.
Q: Hello Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich! How is it working with the Atoms For Peace group compared to Radiohead?
A: Like eating ice cream after a lovely dinner. N
18. Thom may or may not sing in his lower range more in future.
Q: Thom, do you plan to explore the low end of your range more in the future? I love how you sound on 'Wolf at the Door'.
A: Yes i would love to. I know its there, ive heard it. its not naturally where i end up. So it's a good place to head, deep into the woods. The back of the cupboard.. ya nah?
17. Thom does not think his lyrics are confessional. Gibberish? Probably.
Q: How much of your soul do you put into your lyrics...or...how 'seriously' do you wish people to take your lyrics? Some of Radiohead's lyrics seem a mixture between stream of consciousness and the genuinely confessional. I ask because I love analyzing lyrics. Obviously, anyone can take any art however they choose to, but I'm just curious how you write them, from your perspective?
A: confessional?!! mm i don;t think so at all. do you think M Stipe's lyrics are confessional? what is within is also stream of consciousness is also gibberish and also just sounds. by the time the words have stuck, they have just stuck. the glue is set and i can't undo. before that is a messy bit.
does that help? ofcourse not.
16. Thom is aware of—but doesn't admit to— this infamous photobomb.
Q: Thom -- were you actually posing for this picture, or was it a happy coincidence?
A: That is not me. This is madam Tussauds. misspelt probably.
15. The dance vibes of Atoms for Peace may not impinge on the pop-heart of Radiohead.
Q: I received the vinyl yesterday and love it. It seems to be much more dance music than either The Eraser, closer to Feral and Identikit. Is that the kind of release we can expect from AfP in the future, or will these more dance-y tunes start to work their way into Radiohead's next album as well?
A: you got it? oh that's good, thats how it shoud come out i guess. dance tunes? yeah! that doesn't necessarily mean it will bleed into radiohead. i miss getting stuck into those kind of melodies sometimes so...
14. The recent Radiohead tour was difficult. But ultimately, rewarding.
Q: What is your biggest achievement so far?
A: ummmmmmmm getting through the last tour despite all that had happened in toronto. and the lights. and having clive play with us. i was terrified about it, then it got dark but in the end we were all very proud of managin to pull it off. even in the O2 in London. it was not an easy time, but it was cool.
13. Thom's songwriting process is not dissimilar to extreme gardening.
Q: What is your songwriting process?
A: this here is a hedge. im going to drag myself backwards through it.
12. Sometimes it's hard to tell where one band ends and another begins.
Q: When you're tinkering with a song idea, how do you make the determination that "this one's for Radiohead" vs. "this is an Atoms for Peace song"?
A: its a grey area. getting greyer. obviously depends on who is being sampled. are you being in sampled?
11. Thom is a) cool with b) furious about the Atoms for Peace Amok leak.
Q: How do you feel about the amok leak? And music piracy in general
A: oh did it? how nice.
10. Thom is trying to get his shit together with Four Tet and Burial.
Q: any plans to collaborate more with Burial?
A: I very much hope so. Both me Kieran and Burial are all as busy/ vague as each other.. Well ok Kierans more together maybe :) But we talks about it. in fact as usual i gotta write some words
9. Thom once sang into a bucket, perhaps.
Q: Thom, how did you become comfortable sharing your voice with others? Were your formative years a struggle to find your voice as a writer/musician or was it more of a painless evolution?
A: my formative years involved finding no-one else to sing the songs. so doing it myself. and singing into a bucket, but thats another story. stanley donwood has a kind of vibrator on his shoulder right now
8. Thon prefers coffee to tea. Today.
Q: Dear Thom, I would like to know if you prefer tea or coffee? And do you use sugar or honey or nothing in your hot drink? It is very important for me to know that, because of my imagination of your "normal-life" and what person you are. :) Additionally, do you like turkish nougat? I think you do!
A: ah finally something important. today is a strong coffee day. 7am deserves it. im a pain in the arse without if that helps? mostly.
7. Advice for budding musicians? Be yourself.
Q: What advice do you have for any younger artists starting out? In terms of finding people to play with, dealing with all the other stuff that comes with being a musician?
A: Enjoy it - making music is a wonderful way to spend your life.. but do it for the love before a career... it's getting so unforgiving out there - I hate to think of the obstacles in the way now for new artists.. if you love it and you are good, you will be fine.. but be prepared to have to work hard and don't judge your success by other peoples opinions.. have self belief. N
6. We will hear [Thom Yorke solo song] 'Present Tense'.
Q: Will we ever hear "The Present Tense" or "Burn The Witch"?
A: def the first one!
5. Thom's favourite thing about the music he makes is forgetting how he made it.
Q: What do you think the biggest differences are between the music you're making now with Atoms for Peace, and the older music from the OK Computer/Kid A/Hail to the Thief days? Do you still like the older music, or have your tastes changed?
A: we are in the moment when we work! not quite sure how anything has happened in retrospect. immediately loose the memory of how you've got wher eyou are. which is always my fav bit of listening back to work weve done.
4. The title track from Atoms For Peace's Amok was the hardest to get right.
Q: Which track was the toughest to "get right" in your guys' eyes?
A: on Amok? maybe Amok was tricky , only cuz the lyrics came from a really different headspace, which took me a while to feel good about. but its the one im most proud of and gets me in the ass everytime. can i say that? apparently so
3. Radiohead will reconvene in April/May this year.
Q: Hi. As members of acts that are constantly developing, I have to ask: what's next for Atoms for Peace and/or Radiohead musically?
A: whats next? well shit we havent seen each other in a LONG time, we will be in the same room again in april/ may i guess. i hope.
Q: What's wrong with nuclear power? You seem to be an environmentalist yet anti-nuclear. It seems like a better solution for now to have nuclear plants than a ton of pollution. I mean coal power plants produce more radiation than nuclear plants anyway. What's your reasoning behind your stance on the issue?
A: it is too costly. i think the storage of renewables will tip thier balance of viability. that is starting to happen. read around and you'll see. i have some good environmentalists friends who think otherwise and understand the desperation of this, but all the feasibility studies that have recently been done and costings make nuclear increasingly looks nuts. however it means we have to DRASTically reduce our consumption of energy quite quickly.
1. It's hard to tell a band how much you love them in an online Q&A.Q: Why is it do you think that your creative integrity remains so apparent and uncompromised in such a harsh business that seems to strip most of theirs? Brute force and sheer will? What makes it possible for a band to do what they want as much as you seem to be able to?
As a listener, I simply cannot imagine Kid A being in an unfinished state. It seemed to have been pulled from the astral plane a complete vision. Do you feel the same way (maybe in comparison to other albums)? As though you were channeling something that had already existed a little bit, even though, unlike us listeners, you are aware of all the painstaking work that went into its creation?
This will probably be my only chance to say thank you for what you two (and co.) have done for me. Even if you don't answer this. I'm sure you hear it all the time, but your music changed and grew my mind in ways I consider invaluable and inseprable from who I am as a person. So, thank you.
A: Thanks.. Single mindedness with a strong direction and will as a collective I would say.. N
Read the AMA here on Reddit.
(Photos of Radiohead in Melbourne, November 2012: Tim O'Connor)