Nigel Powell est un multi-instrumentiste, même si on instrument de prédilection est la batterie.
En 1985, il s’inscrit à l’Abingdon School d’Oxford, où l’on trouve déjà Thom Yorke, Phil Selway, Ed O’Brien et Colin Greenwood (Jonny est plus jeune de 3 ans…). Il a suivi son grand frère dans des concerts et a alors déjà un peu d’expérience dans la musique, mais il va avoir un peu de mal à s’intégrer…
[quote cite=”Nigel Powell” cite=”http://www.unbelievable-truth.com/features/biog/biog1.html”]I arrived at Abingdon school in the autumn of 1985, my family having moved to the area because of my father’s work. I had been playing in bands for some five or six years, beginning when my brother Adrian had need of a drummer, to that end convincing our mother that she should buy me a drumkit. This was somewhat more of a success than anybody had imagined; my patient parents allowed me to practice in the room over the garage for hours each day. And when I say practice, I mean make a horrendous out of time bashing noise. Still, I improved enough to join one of my brother’s earliest bands, making my gig debut at a party at our house in London sometime around 1983. I already had some aptitude for keyboards, having played the piano we had in our house for some years, but drums was my passion. I followed my brother into a few other bands, doing gigs around local schools and once venturing to the Tiger’s Head pub in Lea Green, but it became somewhat difficult after 1985, since Adrian stayed on to finish his schooling at Eltham College in London. For my part, on my arrival at Abingdon, I found it very hard, since I had grown up and gone to school with all the same people since I was five years old, and was now suddenly thrust into an alien environment, with lots of people I didn’t know. Indeed, I spent most, if not all, of my spare time for the first term kicking a golf ball in silence up and down a line of trees lining the driveway of the school.[/quote]
C’est grâce à la musique qu’il se fait des amis. Alan Welby a un jour amené sa batterie en cours d’art, et Nigel surmonte sa timidité pour engager une discussion. C’est ainsi qu’il s’insère dans la vie musicale d’Oxford.
Il vient d’acquérir du matériel d’enregistrement, et c’est presque naturellement qu’un certain Mark Schofield, qui joue le rôle de manager du groupe The Illiterate Hands, lui propose d’enregistrer une démo. La réussite de l’opération le rapproche un peu plus des membres de ce groupe.
Par ce biais, Nigel fait connaissance d’Andy Yorke (le frère de Thom) et du jeune Jonny Greenwood, avec qui il a lien : tous les deux utilisent la même boîte à rythme : un SpecDrum. Nigel propose alors ses services pour jouer de la vraie batterie, même si Jonny a quelques réticences…
[quote cite=”Nigel Powell” cite=”http://www.unbelievable-truth.com/features/biog/biog1.html”]Although those first few months in Abingdon introverted me beyond belief, it also focussed me towards my music. I travelled back to London for regular rehearsals with my brother’s band, but the first friend I made in Abingdon was also through music. The most outgoing guy in school, Alan Welby, had, for some reason, brought his drum machine into an art lesson. My curiosity overcame my shyness, so I sidled over to ask about it. I think around this time I’d got my first Portastudio (a four track cassette recorder with a very basic mixer connected), so we chatted about that for a while, and through him I met a lot of other music connected guys. Eventually, hearing through Welby (as we referred to him – it was a public school after all) that I had some recording equipment, Mark Schofield, who was managing a band called The Illiterate Hands, approached me to find out if I would record them. Through him I met Jonny, and we formed an instant connection, discovering we used the same drum machine (the SpecDrum, a small box attached to the back of a ZX Spectrum computer – what dynamic and exciting lives we led). I also met Andy, but my earliest memories of him are how completely silent he was. Early in 1987 we convened at my parent’s house to record 8 songs onto my portastudio, although two of them were alternate versions of the same songs. For a reason that now escapes me, I insisted that the recording be credited to ‘Sphincter Studios’. The recording came out to my satisfaction, and cemented very close friendships between me and Andy, and me and Jonny. I suggested that they should try using a real drummer (me), and, despite Jonny’s doubts (he loved his drum machine) we tried a rehearsal in the school’s theatre. Now, I had been a rocker for some time, but these guys were more bedroom musicians, and not entirely prepared for the volume levels of a live drumkit. After some shocked looks as I began playing the first song, we started trying some volume control methods, resulting finally in a small fort being built around the drums from various bits of unused scenery. This meant I couldn’t see anyone, so at the end of each number, I had to pop my head up to see if I’d done OK, and if everyone else was alright. [/quote]
En juin 1987, on demande à Nigel d’enregistrer aussi une K7 démo pour On A Friday, le groupe des grands frères d’Andy et de Jonny (qui vient d’intégrer aussi la formation).
[quote cite=”Nigel Powell” cite=”http://www.unbelievable-truth.com/features/biog/biog1.html”]Also around this time, Andy mentioned that his brother was jealous of the quality of the Illiterate Hands’ demo (??),and was asking who’d done it. So after my exams that June (1987), I spent a good few weeks of the summer recording a demo for On A Friday, who by this time had included Jonny in their ranks, as a keyboard player.[/quote]
Pendant l’été 1990, alors que Phil est en Ireland pour ses études, on va demander à Nigel de le remplacer pendant les répétitions, et pourquoi pas à temps complet :
[quote cite=”Nigel Powell” cite=”http://www.unbelievable-truth.com/features/biog/biog2.html”]Also during the summer of ‘90, Phil from On A Friday had gone to Ireland on a romantic quest, so I was asked to fill in for them so they could keep rehearsing, and we also recorded a number of songs on my now aged four track. When for a while it seemed that Phil might not return I was asked if I would be interested in the job, but, showing my excellent A@R skills, I refused, since I was already about as busy as I could be in the Rhinos and Freak!. As it was, it didn’t come up, since Phil returned that September.[/quote]
Pour la suite de sa carrière, je vous conseille la lecture de cet excellent article en français, avec de nombreuses photos & vidéos et une belle interview :