Results for Thom Yorke

interviews

Robert Wyatt

Jim and Greg are joined by Robert Wyatt in the next segment. While he may not be a household name, Wyatt is one of the most influential musicians of the rock era. As a drummer with 1960s group Soft Machine, Wyatt reinvented prog rock, and was a pioneer of jazz-rock fusion. He was later ousted from Soft Machine, and in 1973 a terrible fall rendered him a paraplegic. But, as his interview with Jim and Greg reveals, Wyatt never ceased to be an innovator. Jim explains that Wyatt's been having a career resurgence in recent years. He was not only up for the prestigious Mercury Prize in England in 2003, but he is releasing a new album, Comicopera, on Domino Records, the label that is also home to Franz Ferdinand and the Arctic Monkeys.

Greg begins by asking Wyatt about his appeal to a younger generation of musicians, including Thom Yorke and Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. Wyatt can‘t explain this phenomenon, but he imagines that people respect how he does his own thing and makes music for music’s sake. It's inspirational for young musicians to see that you can maintain artistic integrity and, at the same time, longevity.

Wyatt formed the Soft Machine with three other schoolmates, and he never imagined that they'd eventually be opening up for Jimi Hendrix on his 1968 tour. The music of that time influenced his politics as well as his sound. But while contemporaries like The Rolling Stones looked to the blues, Wyatt and the Soft Machine looked to jazz. After his accident, though, Wyatt was forced to approach drumming differently than other jazz musicians. By eliminating the element of acrobatic virtuosity that jazz drummers often focus on, Wyatt was free to focus on the beats and the sounds. But, listeners shouldn‘t confuse Wyatt’s experimentalism with an anti-pop attitude. He says, "Pop music is the folk music of the post-industrial era, and folk music is the most important music in the world."

Go to episode 100

Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood

This week on the show, Jim and Greg have two very special guests: Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of the band Radiohead. Our hosts consider Radiohead one of the most important bands of the past two decades, and were thrilled to have the lead singer and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist on the show. Greg asserts that Kid A is the most avant-garde album to ever debut at the top of the Billboard charts — it's rare that a band can be so experimental and still achieve such mainstream success.

Radiohead was in Chicago to perform two shows at the Auditorium Theatre, and when they come to town, it is always memorable. Their 2001 outdoor performance at Hutchinson Field was a landmark event for Chicago music. Though the city has not always been eager to invite droves of young rockers into its public spaces, the success of that show seems to have paved the way for outdoor music concerts like Lollapalooza. Nevertheless, the Brits‘ return to the city this year was not completely drama free. The city rejected the band’s bid to play at Millennium Park, although it's not clear whether or not Radiohead would have even accepted. Never one to do the same thing twice, the band was eager to try out a smaller, indoor venue like the Auditorium Theatre.

Thom and Jonny explain that this tour was an opportunity to work on songs that may be a part of their upcoming 2007 release. That's good news, since some suspected that there might not even be a next album. Radiohead's extended family keeps growing, as does their interest in solo work, so there was speculation that they might not continue in this incarnation. But unlike bands of their stature who stay together for the sake of the business, the bandmates explain that Radiohead will go on as long as the music makes it worth it. And in the meantime, they'll have to juggle the music with the nappies.

Doing solo projects is still a priority for members of Radiohead. Jonny composed the music for the 2004 film Bodysong, which he also co-produced. And Thom Yorke will be releasing The Eraser in July, though he explains that the term“solo”is not really appropriate in this case. The album was produced and arranged by longtime Radiohead collaborater Nigel Godrich, and contains music composed by his bandmates.

One of the songs on The Eraser, "Harrowdown Hill," was inspired by the death of weapons inspector and government scientist Dr. David Kelly. After acting as a whistle-blower and telling a journalist that he disagreed with claims the British government made about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Kelly was found dead only days later. A Parliamentary committee investigated the death and determined it to be suicide, but many, including Thom, are skeptical of the validity of this finding. It's not the first time Thom and the band have infused their music with political meaning — though, as Thom explains to Jim and Greg, his approach differs from that of his fellow countryman.

Go to episode 30

Radiohead

Looking back at the year in music for 2008, one could easily argue that the biggest newsmaker was Radiohead. The band's pick-your-own-price experiment with In Rainbows paid off big time, selling 3 million copies and earning them a Grammy nomination for Best Album of the Year. Radiohead's model may be the future of the music industry, but it only seems like yesterday that band members Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood were musing about revolution in the Sound Opinions studio. Listen back to this re-broadcast of Jim and Greg's conversation with Thom and Jonny, and you can hear that the seeds of change had already been planted.

Hungry for more Radiohead? Listen to their entire interview and performance from 2006 here.

Go to episode 161
specials

When Jim and Greg Were Wrong

Music fans tell Jim and Greg they are wrong all the time, but the critics are not too big to admit it themselves. This week they come clean with some of their critical errors. Here are Greg's self-confessed mistakes:

Go to episode 139
reviews
AmokAMOK available on iTunes

Atoms for Peace AMOK

After his solo project The Eraser, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke went out on tour with a group that could only be described as "super": Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea on bass, Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich on programming, Joey Waronker on drums and Mauro Refosco on percussion. The collaboration worked so well that the group has released an album under the name Atoms for Peace. Greg was impressed with how The Eraser really found its identity live, and he has high hopes AMOK will do the same. But on record, the songs are not as strong as the production, so he can only say Burn It. In terms of his unique voice, Thom Yorke has finally won Jim over. He gets the robotic and alien nature of the voice the electronic musicianship and the dystopian lyrics and says Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 379
The EraserThe Eraser available on iTunes

Thom Yorke The Eraser

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke recently put out a new album, The Eraser. It's his first solo album, though as he explained to Jim and Greg a few weeks ago, it's perhaps unfair to label it as such. Many of the tracks were composed by members of the band, and it was produced by longtime Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich. But the record is credited to Yorke, so Jim and Greg decide to stick with the term“solo.”Jim has long resisted jumping on the Radiohead train, though he's always enjoyed their rhythm section as well as their live performances — so it's interesting that this album, which lacks the bombast of their live shows, is the one to finally teach Jim to“stop worrying and love the Yorke.”He gives it a Buy It rating. Greg, a longtime Radiohead fan, is actually the dissenter here. He likes the record, but finds it to be merely a modest production, earning a modest Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 33
The King of Limbs - Live from the BasementThe King of Limbs available on iTunes

Radiohead The King of Limbs

Whenever Radiohead releases a new album, it always makes news – sometimes more for the business than the music. 2006's The Eraser was a quiet solo effort by Thom Yorke. 2007's In Rainbows had a revolutionary“pick-your-own-price”model. And now we have The King of Limbs, which was released early, quickly and without much hype. Gone is the freebie option, back is tiered pricing. The music, to Greg, is also a bit of a step back. It's less impactful and melodic than In Rainbows. But there are a few moments of greatness, especially when the group channels the abstract funk that Greg heard on Yorke's recent Atoms for Peace tour. He would like to see Radiohead go more in that direction on the next record and gives this one a Burn It. Jim remarks that the tables have turned – he is much more impressed by The King of Limbs. It does take time to grow, but is worth owning, especially if you are a headphone listener. The interaction of Yorke's twisted vocals and the grand piano especially works. Jim says Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 274
In RainbowsIn Rainbows available on iTunes

Radiohead In Rainbows

While there's a lot of buzz about Radiohead's release experiment for In Rainbows, Jim and Greg believe that the album is actually one of the band's more subtle and modest efforts. It's 10 songs, 42 minutes of beautiful music, all of which feature the band's characteristic electronic elements, guitars and strings, but it's less straight-up rock than fans are used to. And, as Jim pointed out in his review of Thom Yorke's solo album Eraser, the Radiohead frontman has really refined his singing in the past couple of years. The result is almost a soul record according to Greg. It investigates human beings‘ need for love, despite the heartache it can bring. And, Jim adds, like almost all of the band’s releases, it also investigates the good and bad that can come from increased technology. Whatever themes you take from the record, Jim and Greg are confident that you will be happy to own this record — whether you pay for it or not. In Rainbows gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 99
A Moon Shaped PoolA Moon Shaped Pool available on iTunes

Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool

If there's one band from the '90s alt-rock explosion that's retained its relevance, it's Radiohead. While it's been five years since their last release, Greg argues that the quality hasn't suffered on their new album A Moon Shaped Pool. Multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood seems to have integrated everything he's learned about scoring films into the album. The musical arrangements lift vocalist Thom Yorke to new heights as he contemplates everything from breakups to the environment. Greg got lost inside the record and its ideas of transformation. It took Jim a bit longer to dig what was inside. He laments the under-use of drummer Phil Selway, and the lack of a real fist-pumping save-the-planet anthem. But Jim knows to review what you get, not what you want – and he hears a complex and beautiful chamber pop record reminiscent of Nick Drake. That earns A Moon Shaped Pool an enthusiastic double-Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 547
lists

Desert Island Jukebox Highlights

As the hosts of the show, Jim and Greg are always given the tough challenge of picking just one song they can‘t live without to drop into the Desert Island Jukebox. But, over time, they’ve also asked some of their favorite musical guests to make this difficult decision. It's interesting to hear what music these artists want to be stranded with. Here are just some of the selections:

  • Thom Yorke of Radiohead - "The Old Man's Back Again" by Scott Walker
  • Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead - "Kool Thing" by Sonic Youth
  • Robyn Hitchcock - Revolver by The Beatles (in his mind)
  • Scott McCaughey - "Walking in the Rain" by The Ronettes
  • Peter Buck - "Daddy Rollin' in Their Arms" by Dion
  • Lupe Fiasco - "The Highwayman" by The Highwaymen
  • Julian Casablancas of The Strokes - "Moonlight Sonata" by Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Jon Brion - "Love Will Keep Us Together" by Captain & Tenille
  • Rhymefest - "All I Do," by Stevie Wonder
  • Jason Lytle of Grandaddy - "Roscoe" by Midlake
Go to episode 67
features

Music of the Beat Generation

If you read On the Road in high school, you know a thing or two about the Beat movement's influence on literature. This week, Text and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll author Simon Warner wants to get you thinking about the Beat influence on rock. Forget the stereotypical bongos; Warner says Beat fathers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac were most inspired by Harlem's avant-garde jazz invention, Bebop. Warner makes the case that the Beats influenced a whole generation of rock lyricists - Bob Dylan and John Lennon among them - to embrace a more surrealist, personal, and politically engaged approach to lyric-writing. Think of "Subterranean Homesick Blues," he says, as Beat poetry with a, well, beat. But while Ginsberg and Kerouac struck a chord with the hippie generation, it was Beat colleague William S. Burroughs who served as guru to the later musical avant-garde. 1970's punks Jim Carroll and Patti Smith, and alternative era stars like Kurt Cobain and Sonic Youth, all made pilgrimages to Burroughs' NYC bunker-apartment to pay their respects to“Old Bull Lee.”Burroughs'“cut up”writing technique may still inspire wordsmiths from Bowie to Thom Yorke, but Jim thinks it's Kerouac whose legacy may ultimately be the most lasting. It's that writer's spirit of adventure, Jim says, that continues to motivate every indie band still "on the road."

Go to episode 398
news

Music News

Thom Yorke can't stop reinventing the music business. A few years ago, his band Radiohead made big news by offering a pay-what-you-want model for its album In Rainbows. Now Yorke has released his new album, Tommorow's Modern Boxes, via BitTorrent. He says that in an effort to remove any of the“gatekeepers,”he wanted to see how this album would go over on the controversial file sharing system. For the most part, BitTorrent has previously been used to share illegal music, movies and other files. But, with 400,000 paid downloads of Yorke's release, things may change.

Also in the news this week, Urban Outfitters boasted that they are the world's largest retail outlet of vinyl albums. Billboard thought this seemed fishy and looked into the claim. Turns out mega-giant Amazon is the champion, but UO takes the brick and mortal prize.

Go to episode 462

Music News

It's been a rough week for digital music. First Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich openly criticize Spotify and boot Atoms for Peace songs from the streaming service. The, the Musicians' Union in the U.K. threaten a boycott if Spotify doesn't raise its royalty rates. And now Aimee Mann is suing MediaNet, which provides millions of songs to dozens of music services. She's seeking damages for "willful copyright infringement."

Sure, we could imagine Bono going for an “EGOT,” but "Commander"? The Irish rocker was recently awarded the country's highest cultural honor: Commander of Arts and Letters in recognition of his contributions to the arts and to charity. Rapper Nas was also given an unusual honor. Harvard University has established the Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship as part of its Hip-Hop Archive and W.E.B. Du Bois Institute.

Since its launch in 2008, Record Store Day has become something music fans eagerly anticipate. And now they'll also have…wait for it…Cassette Store Day! True, there aren't many stores that solely sell cassettes, but on September 7, a number of bands will release special cassettes and artists like The Flaming Lips, Deerhunter and At the Drive-In will reissue albums on cassettes. So breakout your Walkman and get ready.

Go to episode 400

Music News

In the news this week is Radiohead's decision to independently release its first studio album since 2003 as a pay-what-you-wish download. The announcement has sparked interest among fans and industry analysts alike, and Jim and Greg are eager to see how this experiment works out. When Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood were on the show last year, they discussed their hope to step outside the traditional record industry model, but they didn't seem to know how or when they would do it. And how Radiohead succeeds with releasing their album this way will be telling for other labels and bands who are looking for an alternative to the overpriced plastic disc.

Another story getting headlines is the Phil Spector murder trial. Four years ago the legendary producer was charged with murdering actress Lana Clarkson, and last week the jury announced it was deadlocked. It will be months before a new trial is launched in Los Angeles, but with so much negative attention focused on Spector, Jim and Greg wanted to take this opportunity to discuss his legacy as a producer. He's had a history of violence, but, as Greg explains, he also completely reinvented music production. Using heavy orchestrations, layers of sound, and booming echoes of instrumentation, Spector created the "Wall of Sound" effect for groups like The Ronettes, The Beach Boys and The Beatles. Jim and Greg end the conversation with a great example of this sound-"River Deep, Mountain High" by Ike and Tina Turner.

Go to episode 97

Music News

While Taylor Swift fans may think she made history way back in 1989 by simply being born, the charts will remember Swift for the year 2014, as it marks the first time in twelve years that an artist's album has sold more than one million copies in its debut week. This feat, achieved by Swift's fifth studio album 1989, is no small one given our age of streaming music services and record leaks. That's why the secret to Swift's physical album sales success might just be her recent decision to pull all her music off of streaming music supergiant Spotify. Swift now joins a growing chorus of musicians like Radiohead's Thom Yorke who reject Spotify's business model, one that only pays artists a fraction of a penny for each stream of their songs. Spotify, of course, defends its model, but Swift stands by her assertion that music is art, art is valuable and therefore it should be paid for. And yes, by art she means "Shake It Off."

On the opposite end of the commercial spectrum from superstar Taylor Swift is the self-described “Liberian/Nigerian/Scottish psychedelic hip-hop electro boy band,” Young Fathers. Despite the alternative hip-hop group's relative obscurity, its album, Dead, just won the UK's Mercury Prize, an annual honor given to the best British or Irish album of the year. The win was an upset for more buzzed about artists like FKA Twigs and Damon Albarn, and many criticize the award for favoring obscure bands that are never heard from again. To be fair, well-known and still active acts like PJ Harvey, Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys have taken the prize home in the past, but whether Young Fathers have staying power or not remains to be seen.

Go to episode 467