Jonny Greenwood dans Freak Zone
Vous Ãªtes en vacances? Vous aurez alors tout le temps d’Ã©couter en diffÃ©rÃ© l’Ã©mission d’hier de Stuart Maconie, Freak Zone…C’est lÃ que Jonny aurait avouÃ© son audace: envoyer des idÃ©es de chansons Ã Thom par mail pour ne pas affronter sa dÃ©sapprobation Ã©ventuelle (« I was emailing stuff to Thom last night, actually, but it’s not the same, is it? You don’t see him tutting. »)
EspÃ©rons que Thom, toujours Ã Paris du cÃ´tÃ© du Marais apparemment, lit ses mails…
Ceux qui ont le Sunday Times peuvent aussi lire l’article dont est issue cette citation: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/culture/music/article1434796.ece
Et voilÃ l’article:
Ten minutes out of Didcot Parkway, in a leafy one-street town, sit the offices of the worldâ€™s biggest experimental glitch-rock band: Radiohead. Their awards â€” NME finger, MTV spaceman â€” clutter a corner cabinet, while shiny discs fill the walls for increasingly odd albums, from Pablo Honey (1993) to Kid A (2000) and beyond. They recorded The Bends in the basement. The bandâ€™s beanpole guitarist, Jonny Greenwood, is curled up on the sofa. He lives nearby, as he always has, and as bandmates such as Thom Yorke still do. Hundreds of magazine covers featuring the five-piece lie face up under the coffee table, and the whole place feels historic â€” like a museum to getting rich off ever-richer sounds.
I had gone to Oxfordshire to talk to Greenwood about his classical work â€” on film scores, with the London Contemporary Orchestra (LCO), various attempts to sample the symphonies of Olivier Messiaen. But letâ€™s shove the Radiohead elephant out of the room first.
It has been three years since the last album. Is there a release date for the next? â€œNo! Release? No, no idea. No,â€ he laughs. â€œOur plan is to start making music soon. Weâ€™ve just got to get the inertia back.â€ They have been in touch, though, sharing ideas. â€œI was emailing stuff to Thom last night, actually, but itâ€™s not the same, is it? You donâ€™t see him tutting.â€
Greenwood and Yorke are to Radiohead what Lennon and McCartney or Jagger and Richards are to bands that need no introduction: space-cadet duos with diverse interests who push each other, and pull their audiences along, too. They joined together at school 30 years ago and, over eight albums, have passed on to fans influences as esoteric as Autechre and Flying Lotus. Sigur Ros owe them a career. Such acts sit at the obscure end of pop, yet Greenwoodâ€™s passions are for the classical extremes, and his Spotify playlist includes Krzysztof Penderecki and Henri Dutilleux. He tells a â€œzingerâ€ about performing â€œSteve Reich in the Afternoonâ€. He has weird tastes and wants to try everything.
â€œIâ€™m so on the edge of what I can actually do,â€ he says quietly, dark hair flopping over his pale face. â€œBut thatâ€™s what I am. Iâ€™m a bluffer. When I first met Thom, he was like that as well. I remember seeing him play drums at school once, and he said, â€˜Go and get a double bass. Just hit it, or whatever.â€™ Our approach is not to be all buttoned-up.â€
Hence the LCO, a young and experimental group of musicians, led by their artistic directors, Rob Ames and Hugh Brunt. The latter is also principal conductor. Earlier this year, I saw them play at the Wapping Project, a disused hydraulic power station in east London. The crowd stood. Greenwood and a small orchestra waited in a back room. Nobody wore a suit, and most of the men had beards. We nodded along to pieces â€” Xenakis, new Greenwood compositions, the score for the 2010 film Norwegian Wood â€” that we barely knew. It was exciting and fun. More shows are planned, and nobody shouted for Creep.
â€œMy previous experience of live classical music was that you hand in the running order for the programme notes six months ahead of time,â€ says Greenwood, who has also written for the BBC Concert Orchestra and the London Sinfonietta. â€œBut this felt more like a gig. People were coming and going.â€ When Radiohead tour, he spends evenings off watching â€œstrange orchestrasâ€. He sees classical music as alive, not stuck on discs from decades ago. At one point at the LCO show, we downloaded an app that pinged when pressed and meshed with the sounds from the makeshift stage. Is such freedom only possible away from the day job? He shakes his head. â€œRadiohead have always tried out things that have been semi-ridiculous, and semi-successful. Theyâ€™d be up for anything.â€
Hail to the chiefs: Jonny Greenwood, right, with Thom Yorke at the 02 Arena (Samir Hussein)
Greenwood was born in 1971. He met Yorke through his older brother, Colin â€” who plays bass in Radiohead â€” and went on to sell out stadiums with music best described as â€œdifficultâ€. He is humble, as unused to talking about himself as anyone would be having happily played second fiddle to a lippy front man. But he loosens up when the tape is off, riffing on pronunciation and how the buzz of this paperâ€™s World Cup scoops must have felt much like he and the band did â€œwhen we released that album [In Rainbows] freeâ€. Whenever I try to compliment him, though, he diverts it back to Yorke. â€œThom just devours music,â€ he says in wonder. â€œItâ€™s crazy.â€
To try to give Greenwood his due, I email Brunt at the LCO. The guitarist has raised the orchestraâ€™s profile, and I wonder what he has been like to work with. Radiohead are hardly the MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e of the Thames Valley, but, you know, rock starsâ€¦ â€œWeâ€™ve all been struck by his intense curiosity in the rehearsals,â€ Brunt replies, as I imagine TVs being sucked back up into hotel windows. â€œHeâ€™s fascinated in drawing new timbres from instruments.â€ At one point, Greenwood talks to me excitedly about â€œmodes of limited transpositionâ€. At another, he goes wide-eyed about acquiring his first ondes martenot. â€œIt turned up in a box, and I had no idea what was going to be inside. What could be more exciting?â€
He was 15 when a teacher played him Messiaenâ€™s TurangalÃ®la-Symphonie; at the time, he was listening to Magazine, the Fall and the Smiths, but Messiaen sounded like â€œtwo orchestras playing different thingsâ€. He became obsessed. â€œHe was alive then, as well, and for some reason that was a big deal for me. To think, â€˜OK, heâ€™s alive in the same way Mark E Smith is alive, making records.â€™ I didnâ€™t think of any of them as better or worse. I just thought, â€˜I want all of this stuff.â€™â€
The strings in How to Disappear Completely and Codex, some â€œbadly played violaâ€ on The Tourist, the recorders on The Bends (Greenwood played in recorder groups until he was 17) â€” itâ€™s not hard to spot classical inspirations in Radiohead, but despite what some think of the bandâ€™s output since 2000, the lead guitarist says songs always come first. â€œYou canâ€™t shoehorn microtonal string music into a beautiful song,â€ he shrugs. â€œSo Thom plays Pyramid Song at a piano, and itâ€™s already amazing. What do you do?â€ Solo work? He nods.
Paul Thomas Andersonâ€™s film There Will Be Blood opens with barren mountains and what sounds like a swarm of bees. Itâ€™s Greenwoodâ€™s â€œmicrotonal string musicâ€, and it unsettles before, for six minutes, we watch Daniel Day-Lewis prospecting for oil. The opening ends with the same mountains, noise and weirdness. The duoâ€™s second collaboration â€” The Master â€” is even stranger. Rolling Stone says Greenwood is â€œredefining what is possible in film scoresâ€, but I donâ€™t expect him to agree when I tell him so. â€œPaul just has his music very loud in his films,â€ he says. â€œItâ€™s a dream job for a composer. I was sending him music that was too long, and he was extending the scenes to fit the music. Which is insanity.â€
Next month, There Will Be Blood is being screened at Londonâ€™s Roundhouse, with a live score by the LCO. Bring an expanded mind. Next year, Inherent Vice â€” the third film this quietly eccentric duo have made â€” hits cinemas. How does it work? â€œBack and forth for months,â€ Greenwood says. He misses it when they donâ€™t work together. The new film is based on a Thomas Pynchon novel. â€œI was sending him this 1960s pop thing I did, because the film is set then, asking, â€˜Is this of any use?â€™ Then I flood him with different approaches until we find the right one.â€ One bonus is that he gets to see eagerly anticipated cult films early. â€œInherent Vice is funny,â€ he says. â€œBut thereâ€™s a strange, dark seriousness going on throughout.â€
Which, neatly, brings us back to Radiohead. I ask how, when he has scores, the LCO and a new album to think about, he works out which music fits where. He says he doesnâ€™t know, but has lots of â€œstupid instrumentsâ€, so is unlikely to run out of ideas. But eventually, he says: â€œI want all of it to be in Radiohead, really.â€ He brings up Yorke again. Questions about the band are meant to be difficult, ones heâ€™s asked all the time and is bored answering. But itâ€™s what he talks about most freely, happy for the spotlight to shift. â€œRadioheadâ€™s still the thing Iâ€™m most excited about,â€ he says sweetly. â€œBut with time off, this is what I want to do.â€