20 Minutes with Colin Greenwood
Tuesday, April 17th 2012
Mexico City, Mexico
Interviewer: Italo Rossi.
Documented by: Brenda Barahona.
Italo: Hi Colin
Italo: This is an interview for three South American sites, we got together with people from Argentina, Chile and I'm from Peru
Italo: ...and we're doing a small interview since you guys will not be visiting South America this time around, so perhaps this will be some sort of compensation around here (laughs)
Italo: So... looking at the schedule: is everything already announced, is there anything left to be announced, are you touring only this year or do you have any plans for 2013?
Colin: That's like four questions! (laughs)
Italo: Let's get it simple then... is there any plans beyond what's been announced?
Colin: No, I believe we've already announced everything and we don't have any plans beyond November this year
Italo: What do you think of visiting for the first time countries such as Taiwan and South Korea, and going back to Australia and New Zealand
Colin: I'm very excited, yeah! Can't wait to go there! I love Australia and New Zealand so that's fine
Italo: On to that Taiwan date, is there any sort of statement behind since you stand for Tibetan freedom, maybe you can not enter China because of that... does it have anything to do with that or...
Colin: No, it's just the opportunity to go there and play Taiwan, you know. Other than that there's nothing, really.
Italo: So there's nothing political behind that...
Colin: No no
Italo: Alright... whose idea was it to rehearse so many songs for this tour? I think Thom said there's more than 70 at this point...?
Colin: Whose idea? All of our ideas, but it's real cool you know to place some real old things and new things and mix it up
Italo: Starting with the very old stuff, someone mentioned it was your idea to bring back "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy", which is great.
Colin: Yeah, cool
Italo: People are going crazy with that or "Meeting in the Aisle"
Colin: It's crazy, yeah... a nod to the fans, doing the b-sides and stuff
Italo: So there's more stuff coming up?
Colin: Yeah! New things too
Italo: Speaking of the new songs... do you think they're ready to enter the studio? Have they been recorded yet?
Colin: Uh... I don't think... we've done some recordings for one or two of them, but we haven't... you know... everything is kind of up in the air still. So uhm... we'll just come down to play them (yawns) sorry, I didn't sleep very well
Italo: It's alright!
Italo: Regarding "The King of Limbs"
Colin: Yes, sir
Italo: It took you a lot of time to record, you had some stuff in 2009 where "Twisted Words" came out and "Harry Patch"...
Colin: That's right
Italo: Did any of that stuff come through? Because Jonny mentioned there were different songs in different stages of completion around that time. Did any of that material come into the end, into the final version of "The King of Limbs"?
Colin: No no, we just recorded it and released it so we just put it on the record
Italo: So you did it pretty quickly...
Italo: Do you think the solo efforts that Phil had and the orchestra works from Jonny and the Atoms for Peace touring had any effect on the way you approached the sessions for "The King of Limbs"?
Colin: (long pause) No, I don't think so... we just carried on as we always do, so...
Italo: Ok! ...and what exactly are the office charts? You're always posting some sort of playlists
Colin: I've done a playlist, Thom does it most of the time. It's basically stuff that we're into, you know, like just doing playlists... it's cool
Italo: Yeah, because it's been going on for a while
Colin: It's cool, it's pretty cool... yeah yeah yeah...
Italo: The general opinion is that "The King of Limbs" has like two different halves, like a very rhythmic and powerful one with lots of rhythm and bass... and you stand out there pretty well, and then after "Lotus Flower" things mellow down a bit. Was that deliberate? To make it that way?
Colin: We spent a long time working out how to put things in order and it just seemed to pull together in that way, with a more peaceful and melodic second half. Yeah, it's true...
Italo: Is there any reason why there weren't any real singles beyond the "Lotus Flower" video? What was the impression...
Colin: I think it was because we felt like that... I think it was because, you know, people don't really do singles anymore, release singles and videos and stuff and it
kind of just worked as one piece of work
Italo: It's pretty coherent
Colin: Thank you
Italo: Regarding fans and the fansites, you know... maybe you're not aware but "The Universal Sigh"... the newspaper Thom handed out and everything
Italo: It wasn't delivered in South America at first but thanks to conversations between the fansites and management we actually made it happen. What do you think about the fact that the fans usually have the initiative to keep things moving? You know, there's fan DVDs, there's a lot of fan art, all kinds of stuff... do you like the enthusiasm?
Colin: I think it's fantastic and I'm really excited about it specially from places we haven't been to in a long time like South America, I love... you know, it's funny
being back here in Mexico City because we have very strong memories of the first time we came here with Kraftwerk, which is really special when we did that tour in South America with them, which is good.
Italo: Do you actually feel... do you actually like the separation between the fansites giving more of the "News" stuff while "Dead Air Space" is more of a personal space for you, you're posting pictures...
Colin: I think it's a good thing...
Italo: Instead of, you know, regular announcements...
Colin: Yeah, I think it's really cool to do that
Italo: Back on the new songs and starting to talk about Clive. Do you think his influences have done a lot on the new arrangements for "Identikit"
Colin: Yeah, I think it's great having Clive because he just makes things... he brings things up and gives them a different flavor and I think it's really fun to play with him and also we have an enormous respect for him as a musician because he plays some of my favorite music... Portishead and Robert Plant and all these things over the years
Italo: Do you plan going into the studio with him?
Italo: He's actually become fundamental for the performance. How did you reach him? Did you first contact him?
Colin: We were trying to come up with someone to help, we didn't want to use computers... and (long pause) we had some friends we thought we'll ask but they were in America so we had to think of someone in England and we called Clive, just great!
Italo: About the remix album... how did you come up with choosing people like Jamie XX, SBTRKT or Jacques Greene? Why do you think "Bloom" is the most remixed track?
Colin: Uhh... I don't know why "Bloom" is the most remixed track. I guess it's just the one people are most into because I think we said to people they could choose things they were into and we didn't... I love the Caribou remix of "Lotus Flower", I think it's really fun
Italo: So that's the one you enjoy the most...
Colin: Uhh... yeah... uhh... I really like that one
Italo: A lot of people are wondering, since Thom has a real close relationship with Flying Lotus, you had a tour with Modeselektor, you guys included Apparat and Actress in the Office Charts... how come they didn't get involved in the project?
Colin: Which project?
Italo: In the remix project
Colin: Oh! Uhm... I don't think they had time, I think people were too busy finishing records or something like that
Italo: Did you ever think of calling Kraftwerk to do a remix?
Colin: (laughs) Nooo! It would take too long
Italo: We understand the "In Rainbows" sessions were a bit difficult. How do you feel as a band? How do you feel as a band today? How does Radiohead as a group feel today?
Colin: How do we feel as a band today? We're good, yeah. We're doing good, yeah!
Italo: It seems you guys are pretty happy on stage and everything... especially you! Always coming on stage jumping
Colin: Yeah! Yeah yeah! Less so these days, but yes... (laughs)
Italo: Do you think the new songs are going to have a further evolution live or do you feel the versions you have right now are definitive? I don't know...
Colin: I don't know... (pause) I'll think when we record them, listen back and make some decisions they might change
Italo: Are you aware that every single record after "Meeting People is Easy" has one song from that documentary? Except "The King of Limbs". You had "How to Disappear..." on Kid A, "Life in a Glass House" on Amnesiac, "I Will" on Hail to the Thief...
Italo: "Nude" on In Rainbows
Colin: That's crazy! That's amazing, I didn't realize that...
Italo: So this is the first record that doesn't have anything from there. Though "Magpie" was actually on the Radiohead.TV thing
Colin: That's right!
Italo: There's always people wondering whatever happened to other songs, and maybe you're sick of hearing this but, what's up with "Big Boots" or "Follow Me Around"
Colin: Oh yeah...!
Italo: Do you always keep trying to do these songs or you already...?
Colin: No no, they might pop up in some strange shape or form
Italo: Do you think there might be any chance to dig up into the archives of Radiohead at some point?
Colin: I think it's... no, I don't... I don't know... it's always good to move forward and deal with it by going on tour and playing old songs and b-sides
Italo: But no obscure session versions or anything?
Colin: Oh! I see what you're saying... uh... I don't think so... no, because anything we end up doing with these songs is just out there, so...
Italo: Because you know... I think it was Neil Young who did it
Colin: Ah yeah, that's right!
Italo: and he reckons there was some good stuff and some crap stuff
Colin: Yeah, amazing!
Italo: Is there any chance to retake doing webcasts from your studio?
Colin: Oh yeah, but I think it's always trying to find something a bit different each time so you know, it seems a little repeated to me... but uh... but yeah, maybe!
Italo: Going onto a bit more personal stuff about you...
Colin: Yes sir...
Italo: What are your favorite records lately?
Colin: Lately? Uh... I've been listening to Lorraine Hunt Lieberson singing Handel Arias, I've been listening to uhm... Desmond Dekker singing "Fu Manchu" and... who else? Lots of random things, these have been my favorite sessions and... those might be my favorite things at the moment, yeah
Italo: Anything you might be reading right now?
Colin: Uhh... Reading reading reading reading reading reading reading reading ... I got a Latin American book, I haven't started yet but it's pretty good, I'm gonna bring it (gets up and leaves for a minute)
Colin: I left it where we're at, sorry. Reading... uhh... I don't know, really. I got caught! I'll tell you what... if you send an email... who did you arrange this through?
Italo: I arranged it through uh... Julie?
Colin: Then email Julie and I'll let her know
Italo: That's fine... so uhm... what else... Adam Buxton recorded stuff for the webcasts
Colin: That's right
Italo: And recently, in this BUG special where you and Jonny attended he put some clips from the "In Rainbows" sessions
Italo: Did you record more of that stuff or was he there for just a couple of weeks or...?
Colin: You mean if he recorded sessions for "In Rainbows"?
Italo: Yeah, there was an alternate version of "All I Need"...
Colin: Ah yeah, that's old footage and stuff we didn't release...
Italo: So you're constantly recording stuff yourselves
Colin: Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah...
Italo: That's cool
Brenda: Did you like the fan art?
Colin: I like the what? Sorry?
Italo: The fan art they displayed in the BUG special, remember the drawings...
Colin: Ah yeah! I loved that (laughs) ... brilliant! I liked the YouTube comments as well
Italo: Yeah! That's brilliant, they're pretty funny actually
Italo: What do the "From the Basement" sessions mean to you?
Colin: Well I was... I had flu, so I was ill but it was... the place we played was brilliant! It's the BBC Maida Vale studios, a 1930s '40s building, it was great and it was kind of the first time the music came together in that form to tour it live so it was pretty exciting, that was great!
Italo: Do you plan on doing more old songs there or just keep moving forward as you said?
Colin: Moving forward, yeah... always! That's great
Italo: So there's no chance for "Pablo Honey: From the Basement"?
Colin: No (laughs) Yeah! A retrospective!
Italo: "On A Friday" songs
Colin: Oh no! (laughs)
Italo: Back on the promotion of "The King of Limbs", everything was seemingly put on YouTube, streaming everywhere... was this a conscious decision or you're just
basically going with the flow? The trend with the music industry right now is that everyone is putting everything online...
Colin: Yeah, I suppose... (pause) yeah... I mean... it's gonna get on there anyway so we want it to have it in as good quality as possible so people will come to us
Italo: Kind of controlling the leak yourselves?
Colin: Yeah, that's good
Italo: You know, whenever Thom makes DJ sessions anywhere... have you ever thought of doing DJ sessions yourself?
Colin: Yeah yeah! My friend Kieran from Four Tet says I should do it, it might be fun but I don't really have that... you know... that desire to play music to people, I don't feel okay doing it, pushing my taste to people
Italo: So... so far it's only Thom right now
Italo: Whenever you guys are apart or taking breaks, do you exchange demos? You know... by e-mail? Do you mail CDs to each other?
Colin: Yeah! Sometimes, it's bits and ideas (hums a melody)
Italo: What do you think of the fact, going on the YouTube stuff, that for example some songs from the very early days like the 1986 tape surfaced online? Stuff like "Lemming Trail", "Fat Girl", "Girl (in the Purple Dress)"... that stuff popped up. Do you have any feelings for that?
Colin: No, it's fine... it's like seeing a bunch of old photographs you haven't seen for a long time, it's fine. I like it! Yeah
Italo: Who's in charge of choosing the support acts for the tour?
Colin: We all take part in that one, yeah, absolutely.
Italo: Apart from Other Lives and Caribou, have you thought of anyone else for this tour or is everything finalized?
Colin: No, I don't... if you have any ideas, that'd be great. Any suggestions? Who'd you like to see?
Italo: Kraftwerk, again!
Colin: That'd be great, but they're busy
Italo: I think Beck is busy right now?
Brenda: Flying Lotus!
Colin: Flying Lotus, yeah...
Italo: He did it with Atoms for Peace but for Radiohead... that would be great!
Italo: Regarding "The King of Limbs" some people think the album has some sort of recurring theme, you know... old stuff like fairytales and tales from the woods, forests, do you feel there's this kind of thing going on?
Colin: I don't know... I mean it's something... it's like uhm... (pause) I guess it has this sort of coherent, unifying thing because of the way we recorded it and I think there's also different ideas in the songs
Italo: So there's no such thing as a concept beyond... behind that...
Colin: Well, only as far as... the concept is in the edit and the selection of the songs and the running order, you know, like an album
Italo: About session musicians, do you rely on working with brass instruments, strings...
Colin: Yeah, we worked with brass instruments on the Basement, was really amazing
Italo: Have you thought of adding anything else? Like, you know... exotic stuff, more percussion kind of things...
Colin: Oh yeah!
Italo: ...instead of limiting yourselves to just strings and brass.
Colin: No, I think it's all good, I think uhm... we've always liked to do the percussion thing. Nigel is very good at that, he's got a great way of making groove.
Italo: About some songs you soundcheked on the "In Rainbows" tour, there's "The Present Tense" and there's, you know, more stuff that Thom played on the Atoms for Peace tour like "Open the Floodgates" or this song called "Burn the Witch"... is there any progress with those? Did you try them for "The King of Limbs" or not?
Colin: We're going to try to do work on these other things as well when we get back
Italo: Right after the tour is over, then?
Colin: Yeah! Yeah...
Italo: Is there any chance you'll do any solo work yourself? Because you've collaborated...
Colin: Yeah, I did play bass on a friend's record, Kieran's and Kathryn, One Little Plane that was a lot of fun!
Italo: But nothing for yourself... nothing on your own...
Colin: Nothing for myself, no, I'm more of a... I'm not really a solo artist
Italo: We know you actually enjoyed a lot the South American tour
Colin: I loved it!
Italo: We're actually all hoping you can come back and ...
Colin: Yeah, we do too!
Italo: What was your feeling of the tour? Did you...
Colin: It was incredible! You know... landing briefly in Peru, then taking off again...
Italo: We're from there!
Colin: Yeah, I know! Maybe next time we'll play in Peru! And uh... Buenos Aires was amazing and I remember like on the last day before we flew back we went to Valparaiso in Chile, in the coast right by the ocean and I think it's a great place to play shows and uhm... it was just an incredible experience. Lifetime memories! Specialness... and please... I hope people come and see us again when we tour South America
Italo: Any idea when that might happen again?
Colin: I don't know, but it's something that we'd all love to do. One more question...?
Italo: Sounds good. Ok, I think that's it...
Colin: Well, thank you for your time
Italo: No, thank you for your time! No wait... there was a... you had an interview with this guy in Austria where he played a clip
Colin: Yeah, I remember!
Italo: And you said you really liked that song... do you remember the title? At all?
Colin: No (laughs) sorry! I remember the thing, but I don't remember what he played... sorry... can't remember the name. Sorry, I'm sorry I can't help you...
Italo: You're bad with names then...
Colin: Yeah, sorry, my memory is like deceiving
Brenda: Perhaps we can also email Julie... we can always write...
Colin: Yeah... if you remember, I'll remember. Just email Julie.
Italo: Do you mind sending a greeting for fans in South America?
Colin: Why, of course! Hi... who this is going to?
Italo: This is going for the fansites in Peru, Argentina and Chile...
Colin: Amazing! Okay... Hi, this is Colin from Radiohead and this is a big hi, a big hello to everyone who is into our music and who's come and seen us when we played South America last time and we're gonna try and come back as soon as possible cause we had such a brilliant time in Brazil, Argentina and Chile, it was fabulous! Bye!
Italo: Thank you for your time, Colin and uhm... nothing... hope to meet you again
Colin: Yeah, me too!
Italo: Ah yeah! We have a little present for you...
Colin: Awww! No! What is it?
Italo: It's a liquor called Pisco, it's from Peru
Colin: What is it?
Italo: It's made of grapes
Colin: Is it like a Port? A Wine? A Brandy? What is it?
Italo: It's more like a Brandy
Colin: Awww! How delicious! Thank you very much!
Italo: You actually drink it with shot glasses...
Italo: Or you can try pisco sour
Colin: So we do shots? Be careful
Italo: No, you be careful! (laughs)
Italo: Thank you for your time. Do you mind taking pictures?
Colin: Of course, it's a pleasure
Italo: Ok, so we'll do...
Colin: Thank you
Radiohead Perú / 2012