to the Ed's Diary Archive. From July 1999 to June 2000, Radiohead's
guitarist, Ed O'Brien, kept an online diary in which he described
and updated fans on the recording process for Kid A and Amnesiac.
arrives & plays a new song on the acoustic. sounds great but has no
name, so now on referred to as the song with no name. we move on to
"lost at sea/in limbo" after only nine months work its starting to
sound like its getting somewhere. good in fact. The others sound ok
too.( everything, everyone/the national anthem). highlight of the
day is attempting 3 part harmonies on "neil young *9"- not the harmonies
themselves, but phil cracking up because he feels a bit like that
drummer from the eagles. a fucking brilliant rehearsal. its great
to be in our band.
by working on 'optimistic'. i really love the words, especially the
line "this one just crawled out the swamp" reminds me a bit of PJ
Harvey's blues stuff. cool. a couple of interesting jams. one of them
is jonny's who bemoans the fact that his stuff never turns into proper
songs. its good but he doesnt realise it, as hes already bored of
it by the time he plays it to us. finished by playing 'neil young
*9' or as cozzie calls it the 'phil is don henley' song. It sounds
even better today. don't go on too long as its warm and unusually
summery today so drive home and get caught in the inevitable friday
pretty frustrating day, but now we've been doing this for so long,
you realise it can't all be like last week. it starts well with a
different version of 'how to dissapear' and 'everything in its right
place'. we then get sidetracked by a couple of loose ideas for songs
(one is very like the Fall). However we have definitely lost our way
with ' you and whose army'- it was sounding great last week, so what
happened today? time to go home.
may well be that because we are working on completely new material
it seems that we have not moved much today, like yesterday. but we
discussed ' follow me around' and how we would like to approach it,
rather than just start playing and thereby fall into old habits. plank
says he likes the 'remain in light' style jam we had which is good
because we were pretty nonchalant about it. 'de la soul'esque jam
and all, warts and all......... the last two days were brewing up
to this.....working on 'up the ladder'. 30 seconds into it & it sounds
utter shite. thom stops it. lack of energy. phil gets pissed off.
we talk a bit. start up again with a dose of the 'fuck you's. sounds
better almost immediately. funny that. oh and the new song from 22nd
is called 'move along' for the moment. also played the cminor. lovely
the first 3hrs on 'up the ladder'. things are happening; jonny brings
in the 'missy eliot' chord??!! thom starts singing lyrics from another
song, cozzie comes with a catchy riff for the chorus and phil is ..funking.
with that going on its very easy for me. working through something
is such a cliche but if youre in the right frame of mind its so true.
finish by playing "lost at sea/in limbo" , "optimistic", "c-minor
song". it would be great to have another look at "you and whose army?"
next week, and rescue it for the 'lets leave it for a while' pile.
plank's not here today as he's in Lobo, Norway with Mike Scott- they
have no nights in summer.
by working on 'lost at sea'. thom thinks weve already recorded the
definitive version whilst in paris. not sure about that, mind you
he admits that thats because of the way hes singing it (which hes
only done with a tape alone whilst driving). i really like this new
version, as much as anything for its relentlessness and energy. anyhow
move onto a new song 'cuttooth' - its got a 'neu' thing about it -
long and hypnotic.... finish with attempting to rescue 'you and whose
time since starting this that i have had absolutely no desire to write
anything about today. 24 hours and a good rehearsal (thursday) later
things are a little clearer. yesterday or rather today (the 4th) there
was very little played but a lot of talk. the problem we have found
is that we are essentially in limbo - for the first time in our time
we have nothing to get ready for, except 'an album', but weve been
working on that since january and nothing substantial has come of
it, except maybe a few harsh lessons in how not to do things*. its
like how do we start this - when we made our last three albums, there
were time restrictions - we no longer have these. are we going down
'stone roses' territory? the result of this somewhat frank discussion
is that we need a plan and something to aim for... *not quite true
in hindsight - we have recorded some good stuff (not much, though).
better today... the sun shines in and out of our rehearsal room and
we get a lot done... start with 'optimistic' (still sounding great
- jonny tries some cool ondes martenot on it - the high stuff is good,
not however when he follows the main riff). move on to 'up the ladder'
- sounds better with more space. segway into 'follow me around' and
a reworking of the 'cminor song' (in a stax stylee). jonny meanwhile
is attempting to put the vocal mic through his analogue filters -
which looks like a remake of an old telephone exchange. "hello vicar,
yes ill put you through to mr kipling"... so the last two songs are
punctuated by sudden bursts of unearthly noises, both extremely good
and extremely bad.
day of the week and last rehearsal for a couple of weeks as the eclipse
takes place next wednesday. so we run through most of the songs. i
think that these rehearsals will be viewed in hindsight as where we
turned a corner (or hope so). obviously working on the songs and playing
again has helped, but just as importantly we have been forced to confront
certain things - like what the fuck are we doing exactly - how do
we set up the next bit of recording so that we dont start 20-odd songs
and not finish one of them. its taken us seven years to get this sort
of freedom, and its what we always wanted, but it could be so easy
to fuck it all up.
off with 'cuttooth', the song with little structure and the only certainty
is a bass riff. it makes you wonder how 'neu' did their thing - it
always sounds spontaneous on those 12 minute epics, but did they have
to rehearse intensely? did it require a degree of editing? then move
on to the 'c minor song' - jonny thinks that maybe it's getting a
little too tasteful and nice and he's right. it sounds too slick.
finish with 'optimistic'.
1 , 1999
read a rumour from the internet [never believe a single nuance - sd]
that we are supposed to be collaborating with 'godspeed you black
emperor' on 'how to disappear' - this person cited a number of chance
occurences, including such impossible coincidences as 'they came to
see us at a gig'. if that were sufficient corroborating evidence then,
judging on the bands i've seen recently, you can hear us with 'the
divine comedy' and the mighty 'asian dub foundation'. twice around
'follow me around' - mmm. not great, but salvaged by 'you and whose
army' - jonny thinks that voice and guitar are all that's needed until
the end part; and it sounds right; or at least it's definitely a place
to start. run through 'optimistic', cuttooth', and 'up on the ladder'
for nige, who's down for the day to do some wiring and 'studio arranging'.
2 , 1999
have, up until now, never written a diary about what we've been doing;
largely due to lethargy, but also because there are times when you
have no desire whatsoever to document a particular occasion. and anyway
i've always been suspicious of those who, like bill wyman, record
such daily details. great bass player, though. but what has been interesting
about this is that for me this is first time i am aware of the cyclical
nature of our behaviour; patterns emerge. today was much like a day
four weeks ago. things came to a head. and although you wish that
there weren't days like this, it actually probably aids the creative
process. so maybe the next few rehearsals will be great. time to swig
back a bottle of wine and contemplate the frail nature of it all.
3 , 1999
only 2 months rehearsal and 3 months recording, it's been concluded
that what we should be doing now is trying to get basic arrangements.
we're like fucking lasers, us. we spend almost the entire rehearsal
working on 'cuttooth' (the song with no arrangements up until now)
and surprise, surprise, it already sounds a lot better. when you have
a song that does not have the usual distinction between verse/chorus/middle
eight, there need to be other markers that define the way the song
progresses. and we're getting there.
seemed to be a lot of breaks today, which often means that we're worrying
about something. recording worries over whether the 'canned applause'
mobile setup will be ready. management swing by to answer fraught
questions and generally alleviate anxieties. oh yes, music is what
we're about (easily forgotten sometimes) and 'everything in its right
place' sounds good.
good and long rehearsal. pick up where we left off on 'everything'
and move swiftly on to 'optimistic' - it's blinding - definitely the
most formed of the songs to put to tape - it comes from the swamp.
the music is interrupted by the new bulletin board on our all-new
singing and dancing website. v. exciting. and of course most of the
messages posted are concerned with the atrocities in east timor. what's
the betting that international forces fail to enter east timor before
mass genocide is once again committed. if this sounds flippant - it's
not meant to - sorry. back to the music - return to 'up on the ladder'
-thom has a new arrangement - start stripping the song apart - already
out' sounding quite 'smiths-esque'. especially phil who has got that
mike joyce thing down to a tee. on to 'optimistic' -must record that
soon before we lose it (remember 'lift'?). 'up on the ladder' sounds
pretty grim. 'say the word' (or c-minor song); great drum, bass and
vocals - personally getting a bit anxious over it, as i can't find
anything that works with it, or rather i have an idea but can't get
the sound right. makes me a bit neurotic. finish on what i used to
call the 'jonny scott walker song' - very short and sweet. last diary
piece for a couple of weeks. how was it for you? i'm finding it a
little difficult to set the right tone, but as i'm not a journo i
guess that's fair enough. hopefully this is going to be an ongoing
thing throughout recording and maybe even touring, so it will get
27 - October 2, 1999
day to-day journal / diary seems inappropriate for us last week.
After having reviewed it, it reads as if Iíve become a kind of unofficial
spokesman for the band ñ which is bollocks quite frankly, as that
is certainly not the purpose. That may be the knock-on effect of
having select magazine print some of it up. You know you can get
a bit self-conscious and in this business and forget why you initially
shared something. And what were those reasons? A mixed bag really,
a bit of an attempt to de-mythologise this whole process of making
a new record. It might be of interest to some to hear from one of
the horses' mouths (or arses) what is going on. And itís actually
pretty interesting for us if only to reassure me/ourselves that
there are patterns which emerge, only when documented in the way
we work that ensures that you donít get too down when things arenít
going to plan.
lot of this week was spent setting up. The right environment to
work is crucial if your going to attempt to do anything vaguely
different, then your surroundings have to reflect that. Equally
so, what has become increasingly evident is the need to change our
approach to recording on a lot of the songs. The approach or setup
is crucial. For instance the way we worked the on the last record
was to rehearse everything to such a standard, where most of the
parts have been so finely tuned, that recording was largely a matter
of capturing the best performance. And thatís fine, but recording
in this way tends to mean that the songs have a certain way of sounding.
i.e. ñ Pretty good in a live/band context.
thatís not enough now, and I think there is a feeling that unless
we change our approach often were just going to become (?) of ourselves
and even dull. There was a wonderful moment this week when we were
all crowded around the TV watching this programme documenting the
story of hip hop and it was the classic years from í88 until í92
with RUN DMC, Public Enemy and NWA ñ etc. Some of the greatest records
ever made, and they interviewed Hank Shoucler ñ he was the fella
who produced Public Enemy in the early days ñ and made the great
"it takes a nation of millionsÖ" album. And he was explaining their
methodology ñ the way they recorded. Basically they all set up with
samplers, Devo, drum machines. In the same room and recorded. Now
most of it we said sounded like a mess, but apparently there were
great moments, that were then cut up and from that the basic track
was constructed. The effect of hearing this was like "well why the
fuck canít we do this" ñ it could be so exciting. We have the means
to make a communal racket so why not harness some of this technology
and use it within our own sphere. I mean weíre not going to make
a hip-hop record, much as weíd like to, but what was exciting was
the idea that kind of approach, or something similar offered us
a necessary alternative to the way that we have largely worked until
we have done this then we might really get somewhere.
working on ëknives outí and ironically after Fridays night's talk
of new ways and approaches, we set up as a 5 piece and play it live.
Not really happening & it feels as though weíre heading down ësay
the wordí territory like last week. Thom wants more energy in this
version in contrast to the Copenhagen version which ëfloatsí along.
It's decided that Thom and Phil should play it together. The energy
levels are noticeably higher. They bang out seven takes & Nigel does
his thing editing together the best bits from different versions.
up from where we left off on ëknives outí. It is felt that we should
try and finish it or at least something. C's overdub bass, the Johnny
follows on guitar. It doesnít seem to be happening. Then someone puts
the Copenhagen on. It sounds better in terms of actually puts the
song across ñ Nigel loves the feel of this version, but doesnít think
itís quite good enough. The prospect of restarting and & attempting
the song is quite daunting and also adds the anxieties of not completing
stuff ñ Nigel says we should be. It feels like we need a break. (not
the holiday type ñ weíve had enough of those) no, the watershed type.
working on a band loop called ëfast trackí - Thom had a rough arrangement
on cubase last night. Nige and I then do some guitar sounds using
my new toy. The first Roland guitar synth, which sounds pretty different.
Jonny does a couple of background radio tracks. We then do a bit of
editing and pruning. Nige is really into this thing of throwing down
random shit and then simply keeping the really good stuff. Itís a
cool way of writing if only because you end up with that you couldnít
possibly contrive to do. Set up sounds/studio for optimistic ñ to
be played tomorrow. Phil is playing this old jazz kit which used to
belong to plank's great uncle, but itís ended up here via cozía double
is possibly my favourite ëbandí song that is played together live
in a room. Sounds fucking great. We do about 9 versions. In most there
are some amazing moments. The penultimate take would seem to be the
one. As its Thomís birthday today at recording, takes a backseat in
the evening ñ but we do manage to have a small reunion of the congaís
on percussion. It isn't for midnight - they do add their customary
sound to ëOptimisticí. Their last gig was on ëparanoid androidí at
St. Catherineís. Brilliant day.
slack day. Nursing hangovers & generally tired from the previous nights
celebrations. Nigel wants to do a bit of editing on ëOptimisticí ñ
thinks we have a better ending on one of the other versions. Do a
'head countí on songs in their current status. Itís pretty encouraging
as there are about 5 or 6 which could be finished fairly quickly.
But of course we donít want to do that yet ñ that would be far too
pragmatic. Thom and Nigel download a loop of Thomís onto tape to be
added to it. As I write he is attempting some vocals. A weekend is
nearly here ñ good timing. Completely knackered.
12 - October 15, 1999
smashing our heads against the wall"
week we have been mostly working on optimistic"
would be ideal to finish optimistic"
just do the end and edit onto the original take"
drums for Rachaelís songs sound like nothing else"
how the fuck did you manage to get them sounding like that?"
been doing this all afternoon and need to get out"
canít play that on this guitar"
smell in here, Nigel"
and I like the mach 3"
really like the late roll, the long one"
not as sleazy as the one before"
Friday yet Tuesday feels like yesterday ñ have we finished optimistic?
No. And it could be tempting to abandon it in favour of starting
something new. But then we know we arenít to far away. We must see
this thing through if for no other reason that itís needed confidence.
such a great start to the week. of those six songs that nigel mixed
only one is right - kid a. but nigel is pretty optimistic about the
others, he knows what he wants to do with them. so we draw up another
list of songs to be worked on in the next three weeks.next a meeting
with chris, bryce and brian (the management). they've left us alone
up until now, realising that we needed time - time basically to sort
our shit out. i think their aim was to refamiliarise us with the workings
of the this industry that we operate in. for instance nowadays if
we want to tour, about five months notice is required, for booking
the venues, notifying our crew, etc. it seems like a long time for
just some gigs. part of the problem is we've really given it no thought
at all - and suddenly you're presented with these facts of life. we
want to do gigs,but we have to make this record - and then we don't
even know whether they'll work as a live entity. sometimes it seems
like it's so fucking complicated.
is presently putting down drums on 'how to disappear' - we're doing
a demo of the song to present the song to an 'orchestral fella'.
we've kind of shirked away from strings in the past as they seem
to have been recorded in the same manner for the last 30 years (ever
since the beatles). jonny is particularly keen to use an orchestra
but not in the standard cliched way........more like the end of
'climbing up the walls'. thom's vocal on it was jaw-dropping. it's
very strange to be playing that song again as we played it frequently
on the ok computer tour.......................... suddenly you're
also included a couple of bits from the last six weeks.
you haven't heard 'hunky dory' in a while i suggest you give it
a spin - sounds pure genius to me in the bath.
tried to write something about what we've been doing in the last
five weeks - there have been the day-by-day accounts which have
been of the 'we did this and then we did that' variety..........all
incredibly boring to read. then there have been a couple of 'essays'
written whilst stoned late at night, only to be re-read the next
morning. pretensious old tosh. all have been discarded. it's easy
to get extremely self-conscious doing this. we're in london at present
and nigel is mixing; he has been for three days. which means that
we have actually finished six or so tracks. this has been our life
for the last five weeks - we had a list of about ten songs which
was then further narrowed down to six. they are definitely different....................there's
an eight piece brass ensemble in a charles mingus style on one -
eight 'jazzers' came down for the day and blew their stuff all over
'everyone - the national anthem'. they were fantastic............thom
and jonny conducted. what a day. there's 'optimistic', there's another
which started off as a thom doodle on the 505........there's also
the paris version of 'lost at sea'.........the batsford 'morning
bell'.it is different. but that's what we do. what has also become
evident is that the summer panic that led to two months rehearsal
may have been a little premature.....or at the very least a little
on the hysterical side.there was some good stuff recorded in paris,
copenhagen and batsford. i've been listening to alot of the copenhagen
tracks and out-takes and the overall sound is great. pretty dark
but then that session was hardly a chuckle-trousered affair.
2 , 1999
work on 'how to disappear'... after phil did his drums last night,
jonny came up with an outrageous martenot part - multitracked it
sounds like the string section from mars. jonny has this uncanny
ability to bring in weird chords, that at first distract you but
after a couple of listens completely make sense...it's just a matter
of getting on his planet. brilliant. coz and i tied up our respective
bits and it's sounding fairly complete. not bad for a demo. thom
was immersed in protools/cubase land in the other studio. the song
now has a really strong arrangement and the rhythm track is pumping...........onwards
diary is long overdue - sorry - i'm not sure why it's been so hard
to post something. alot of it probably has something to do with
the way that we have been working over the last six or so weeks.tracks
have had to be completed and approached in new ways so that up until
last week we hadn't actually played together in a room since thom's
b/day in early october. so at times the process has felt quite disparate
but then that's part of being in the studio.
hopefully this is now going to be a daily update.
a good hour remodelling the live room for that authentic olympic studios
circa '66 vibe(....!??). not really..... simply tidied it up. played
'i will' live but decided at the end that the copenhagen version had
something to it. it's incredibly evocative of that whole time out
there minus all the baggage.so that's good. redid the loop on it,
thom even played some great drums and proceeded to do the vocals.
he hasn't sung like this for a while.............not bad for a friday
night when things tend to slow down in anticipation of the w/end.
time to go home.
was my dear uncles's funeral today, so i didn't make it to the studio
until late.........too tired and depressed so went home. there was
some good stuff done - cozzie put down his funky bass part on a track.
and apparently there was a bit of a playing session in the evening.
an hour playing around with cuttooth. came in and heard phil on drums
and thom on rhodes going through it. it's one of those moments when
you hear something being played and all you want to do is pick up
a guitar and join in. so i did......it's only three chords so not
too taxing even on my very limited music theory. looked at 'you and
whose army' again from two weeks ago. tried this 'different' vocal
idea that thom and jonny had been going on about.....three part but
with a very low bass harmony, kind of inkspots-esque. this is always
dangerous territory ie there would be nothing more fucking sad than
this slick sophisticated 40's vocal group sound... mind you there's
not much chance it could be slick....but you know what i mean. anyway
sounds alright and the rest sounds better. thom is now doing a vocal
comp of 'i will'........it's 2am and this is his idea of fun and relaxation..........strange
by playing 'cuttooth' again - the song needs stamina - sounding better
than yesterday....just have to keep playing it. one of those days
when it doesn't feel as though we've done much. maybe it's because
everyone's tired. there was some protool arranging on 'follow me around'
and an attempt to do vocal, piano and drums on 'egyptian song'. was
sounding ok. tried playing 'keep the wolf from the door but it's too
late and needs thom's rant on it. a bitty day. time to go home. saw
only four hours of daylight - how do they cope in scandinavia during
'live' performance in front of an audience for exactly (and strangely)
a year........it was early morning so it was the 10th. it started
with jonny (aka DJ REQUIRED) and thom's dj set and then a last minute
executive decision was made to play 'knives out' around the xmas tree.
'amateur hour' will hopefully become a regular night for us - but
will be different each time - there will however be ongoing items
like phil's puppet show. for those who don't know what i'm going on
about - we did a live web broadcast to about 250 people - courtesy
of tim bran and those lovely people at the ninja tunes label.
still high from the night before. you have no idea how excited we
are about this. it's a bit like having our own tv station for three
or so hours. there was little/virtually no planning for it, so everything
was done on the hoof. so refreshing to do as it seems to take an eternity
to get anything done quickly in this business.....and yes it was completely
shambolic at times but surely there's nothing wrong with that. i'd
love to see more people doing this - can you imagine tony blair and
his boys and girls doing a similar thing..........prescott on the
wheels of steel: "this one goes out to ken, this is 'going underground'........".
'egyptian song' sounds even better today.
day and like school we didn't do any work.....had a chat about what
we wanted to do next year, vis-a-vis gigs and recording. finished
off the day with xmas dinner, completely ruined by the fact that
there were only four crackers to go around the eight of us.
you have a relaxing xmas and new year.........and if it is bollocks,
be assured that you are not the only one having a shitty time. it's
the time when most families break up...........xmas after all is
for the high street................if it was to celebrate the birth
of christ they got it wrong. xmas was an old pagan festival and
christ was supposed to have been born around september time. here
endeth the lesson. bah humbug.
have just had a thought........still excited by last thursdays live
webcast .and thinking about ways it could be developed......i think
it could be very cool to play new stuff by unsigned bands, musicians,
collectives (ie bands not on major labels - small indie is fine).if
any of you are making music, have mates that are or you just think
that this music that you are in to deserves to be heard then send
it into me at our po box address, which is po box 322, oxford, ox4
1ey. i like all kinds of shit so please don't just send in guitar
band stuff. anything. spread the word. alright that's enough for
now. happy xmas... and a very merry millenium.....
10 - January 19, 2000
new year and many many thanks to all you lovely cardsenders.
think we all arrived at the studio with that same dread of starting
where we left off.to plough back into the old tracks seemed like
a daunting task. nigel suggested a different plan of action to ease
us back into it over the next couple of weeks. the idea was to spend
this time working in a completely different way; no acoustic instruments
ie any guitars,drums or vocals......everything has to be electronically
generated. it means that we can't fall back on what we've done before
and forces us to work this equipment. it's actually an incredible
amount of fun - which is not something we've had in abundance over
the last year or in studios in general. we've been working on four
'bits' and because they are fairly abstract it will be interesting
to review it in a few weeks. the important thing is that you are
constantly learning even if something doesn't necessarily work out.
and actually it's something we've been meaning to do for a while.
again it's the need to change the methodology in how you actually
make the music - only by doing this will we actually produce stuff
that sounds any different. and conversely by finding another approach
to recording, it enthuses us in the way that we've worked together
as a 'live' band. the rehearsals last week were fantastic precisely
because we had not picked up those instruments and recorded them.
week we have cast the experimental net further afield to include
material like 'true love waits' and 'feeling pulled apart by horses'.
the former has been kicking around for about four years now and
each time we approached it we seemed to be going down the same old
paths.........it actually sounds like the start of something exciting
an interesting band version of 'bombers' which thom has attached
to what i used to call 'the neil young' song...we may play it some
time later this evening.
to everyone who sent in their demos......maybe i was a little naive
to assume that a handful of people would send in theirs' or others'
offerings......what i realise has happened is that various publications
and radio stations have visited this diary and announced that radiohead
are embarking on a fucking talent search or something. bastards.
it's probably pay-back time for being miserable and contrary on
our last round of interviews.....anyway i've started going through
it and will listen to it all, eventually. it's actually very interesting
as it strikes me from what i've listened to so far that there are
alot of really good musicians out there, but what distinguishes
the good from the not so good is having taste. ie for instance you
could be simply red (apologies for the easy target) and send in
a demo and i'm always going to think it's totally shit in spite
of its technical 'proficiency'. having said that there's little
that sounds like that. but what i'm saying in an around-about way
is that it doesn't matter if i don't think something's that good;
if you really love what you're doing then that is all that matters........there
is absolutely no point in making music that you think will help
you to get signed..........second-guessing what people want to hear
is a completely fruitless exercise as it is almost completely impossible
to predict what people want to hear; by the time people actually
get to hear that music it's more than likely that it's old-hat and
most importantly you will never stumble upon something that is truly
fresh and exciting.
24 - January 25, 2000
to try and finish the bulk of what we've started, which may sound
obvious but there you go.......so had what seemed like a pretty
unfruitful day on 'how to disappear'.......try and get it away from
that band thing with an acoustic guitar, which may have been alright
when we were making the bends, but let's face it has been done to
death by both us and every tom, dick and harry guitar band. went
down a few cul-de-sacs.........all part of the process.
however has been a quite different affair. still on the same song.
jonny found the one chord thing; it's to be played by the strings(to
be recorded soon).....in fact jonny has spent much of the last two
weeks scoring and arranging strings in his room; which is a huge
undertaking as 24 string players are going to be playing precisely
what he has scored and these people are professionals....thom has
this evening just done a wonderful vocal and the song is beginning
to go another way. bad day, good day, good cop, bad cop.
27 - January 28, 2000
and cents' is a track that originated out of a 'jam' from copenhagen
- it's good but because there was no arrangement, no musical decisions
could be made on it.........well now it has an arrangement.....thom
did some backing vocals and a bit of guitar, jonny put his string
arrangement on, i did a little moog and the song is really going somewhere.
will write something more substantial over the w/end.
day as it often is on mondays. tape machine broke-down in the main
room. thom and jonny did some drum programming.....more work in the
other studio on 'dollars and cents' -- percussion and a guitar. not
that interesting but the following might be....michael eavis knows
how to throw the grandest and greatest party in the world.....glastonbury
is the don of all festivals..........but alas we are not playing this
year. there have been a few rumours flying around that we are, so
we thought we'd better say something sooner rather than later. it
would however be great to play it another year.................
happens" as keef once famously said. and so it does. well it did today...........it's
difficult to say whether we've been here before, possibly not. and
of course i m being deliberately vague about the whole thing ......but
sometimes you have to be. anyway before one kneejerks and starts saying
all manner of things you have to let the proverbial dust settle. sorry
but you can only be so open.
heads all round, but things are being sorted out, i think. while we
'negotiate' nigel has taken the opportunity to set the studio upstairs
for mixing. 'you and whose army' is put up and he starts to mix. sounds
good. have to redo my guitar which is fun as it feels a little like
playing live. thom continues work on going through and sampling sections
from this dat of sounds that we made last night......nothing too strenuous
as i think we are tiring a little. it always happens like this. some
weeks seem way more productive than others and probably are but the
secret is not to get freaked out.....just keep going and it will return.
meanwhile jonny 'haydn' greenwood continues to arrange his strings.........
and pieces are added to 'kinetic' - phil sets up his electric kit
triggering samples, it works well and could be the basis of an interesting
backing track. most of the day is spent preparing for tomorrow's string
an amazing day. fantastic string arrangements by jonny and what players.
many many thanks are due to john lubbock(who conducted and organised)
and the string players from the orchestra of st. john's, smith square.
the whole session was the complete antithesis to the ok computer experience;
firstly rather than de-camping to some london studio we used an old
abbey near us with the most fantastic acoustics to record in. i think
nigel was totally blown away by the whole sound of it. but most importantly
john and the players were so enthusiastic about it all.....jonny has
certain things that he wants/wanted to try out that aren't your usual
string arrangaments. and rather than dismiss his ideas ( which is
what happened on the ok computer session) they were open-minded enough
to try them. john lubbock even handed over the conducting reins right
at the end for jonny to try out an idea of his. there is no way that
he would have been allowed to have done that at the abbey road session.
brilliant players and people.
we needed this session after what has seemed an incredibly draining
morning and everyone arrives looking completely fucked. got one more
week before we take a week off to recharge. nigel wants to mix 'dollars
and cents' now that there are strings on it. he goes upstairs to work
on it. downstairs work continues on thom and jonny's drum thing from
last week. late night worries and weird symbiosis going on. go on
message board and someone asks us about 'innocents civilian'. so once
we get off the web we decide to put up the master tape of it. can't
find it anywhere which is incredibly strange. it's got to turn up.
got what seems like a good mix of 'dollars and cents'. more work on
t+j's drum thing. did some playing this afternoon. upstairs at the
moment nigel and thom are doing 'something' to kinetic. still can't
find the master tapes to 'innocents civilian' and beginning to worry.
worst case scenarios even being aired ie the u2 case when some of
their rehearsal tapes went missing and ended up being sold as bootlegs.cozzie
continues editing drums.
'true love waits' up again....this is a song which has been kicking
around for four years or so, in fact we recorded a version of it when
we were making the last album and this is something like approach
number 561. but it is a great song.....it's simply trying to find
a way of doing it which excites us. and we may have found a way, at
the very least we've found a new approach ........ basically the track
has the same vocal melody but the chords have changed underneath it.
so we'll come back to it and see how it sounds. it may of course be
utter crap and we have so lost the plot on this song...............please
don't let that be the case........
DAY......................these days are a bit like being a child again...just
throw it all in and see what comes out. 'amateur hour' got extended
to four hours ....and dare i say it but i think we're getting ever
so sophisticated........the campfire, the 'nice' logfire, the upside
down table football, the zx spectrum programmers. yes tonight all
our two hours of preparation came to fruition in this glorious mess
of a web broadcast. we had a few more cameras at our disposal and
our technical team has expanded from one to two, so things were naturally
going to be a step up from the last time. we only wish that a few
more of you had been able to witness us getting wasted and making
complete and utter fools of ourselves........maybe next time.....the
great thing about these evenings for us is that they are the antithesis
of how i think we're perceived ie angry, angsty young men....that's
fine, but you can't possibly be like that all the time (as we've found
out) because you'll be dead by the time you reach your mid-30s which
used to be a long way away and is now still quite a way but certainly
not unreachable. about the demo thing as well .....i still haven't
been able to listen to everything sent............but there is another
idea, which is way more exciting, but i'm not going to say what it
is as i don't want the idea nicked.
we've got a week off next week and who knows maybe in the next few
weeks we may even finish off the recording of the songs we've been
back together again, a week off and our studio tans have faded nicely.
everybody seems rested and refreshed for the next five weeks..........nigel
wants to get his teeth stuck into mixing, so we decided to set up
and record 'cuttooth'. this at eight and a half minutes (by the end)
is the long one - did five or six takes of which a couple are pretty
good. will review further tomorrow. nigel and jonny are at present
getting stuck into going through the various string parts on 'egyptian
song'. good to be back.
to 'cuttooth' and it sounds fucking great. graham, our new engineer,
earns his spurs by doing some great tape editing......which involves
cutting the master tape at a particular place in the song and attaching
another piece of tape from another version of the song. a bit more
complicated from the days when your tape recorder chewed up your favourite
'madness' tape and you had to get out the old tape splicing kit and
when finally fixed there was a section missing in the second chorus
of 'embarassment' ......no very different from those days.
anyway coz fixed up his fantastic driving bass thing....thom did a
cool synth pass...and it's quite fast for us.
work on 'cuttooth'...........jonny did his guitar thing...feedback,backwards
guitar.......it was good to hear. it sometimes seems as though not
much guitar has been played so far, which is probably bollocks. there
has been a fair amount, but in the quest for different sounds we haven't
first turned to the trusted and tried six-string. thom did some work
on a track upstairs, which sounded great. lots of editing on the computer
to make the track in question more coherent. am i sounding boring?....apologies,
just tired that's all....on to thursday...
good things added to 'cuttooth'........sounds. its one of those classic
situations where the temptation is to continually embellish whats
on there and it's one of those songs that you could get away with
it. but in doing that, you often lose the essence of what was great
about it in the first place. i guess the trick is to be absolutely
ruthless on what is added................so at five in the morning
having not savagely edited some of these overdubs the track sounded
too overcooked.............. please read "NO LOGO" by Naomi Klein
a funny old meeting last friday..............definitely nursing
a hangover from it today.................
was sidetracked last week by 'cuttooth' so he really really wants
to do some mixing this week. 'egyptian song' then..........thom
plays bass and it sounds pretty much finished. i haven't really
been involved in this song so when i hear it i think i'm able to
be fairly objective about it.........it has the feel of one of the
tracks on the last mark hollis album and it is definitely one of
the highlights so far. meanwhile downstairs...................jonny
and i are let loose on fucking up phil's drum sound. hours of fun
as coz might say. starts off by phil doing some drums on 'kinetic'...................keep
getting that ground hogday sensation writing this diary. can't help
feeling that this must be an exceptionally boring read except to
maybe the diehard muso............
up upstairs after Nigel has done a good mix of 'Egyptian song'. pick
up on 'i will' downstairs.......jonny plays some cool organ on it.
trying to do some rhythm stuff on it.
and nige arrange some drums on 'morning bell' ...........downstairs
we continue trying to get rhythm stuff on 'i will'. arranging it on
the computer....taking a while to do, but these things do.....
spent alot of time last week 'throwing shit' (jonny specifically said
he was sick of hearing these very words today) at 'i will'. minor
panics all round about completing things.....our perennial fear/problem....'morning
bell-copenhagen', nigel did some very nice pro-tooling on some complete
gibberish that i played. phil did some drums downstairs on the track
that has no name.
a great story on the six o'clock news on R4. great in the sense that
it reveals the true madness of one of our former prime ministers......the
pm in question is of course maggie thatcher. ok.............so the
spanish foreign minister was reported as saying today that 'lady'
thatcher should undergo the same senility tests that senator 'butcher'
pinochet underwent a couple of weeks ago. this was triggered by a
particular event from last week; the aforementioned butcher of chile
was being wisked away by a chilean airforce 707........the plane was
apparently taxiing down the runway preparing to take-off when with
great ceremony it was stopped in its tracks by a bearer of gifts from
thatch herself. she wanted to give a 'leaving' present to the ex-dictator.......the
gift in question was a plate commemorating sir francis drake and the
english fleets' defeat of the spanish armada.........unbelievable.............or
maybe not so, as it's entirely consistent with the train of thought
that she's a pathetic anglophile, who never gave a fuck about the
rights of individual human beings. and don't believe that bullshit
that during the falklands war she went to the aid of the islanders..........nothing
like a war to get a country behind you should you be faltering in
opinion polls and likely to lose the next election.
apologies for the invective...it slips out occasionally, but when
you read books like naomi klein's 'no logo' you can't help but feel
that much of the mess we're in now is part of the leagacy of the thatcher-reagan
good work on 'up on the ladder' today...good drums and a much better
arrangement. will return tomorrow to things i am 'qualified' to write
early......mixture of the lurgee doing the rounds at the moment....but
also one of those days when the winter seems to have been too long
and you just feel like a bag of shit. probably something to do with
smoking more fags...gave up for almost a year and am gradually being
wheened back on them. bollocks. this summer i'll cut down. the thing
is it's true what they say about giving up ....you do feel so much
better it's just that i have no will power......better to mope around
at home than around here where good things are going on.
at the studio and some brilliant stuff had been done last night. cozzie
finished off his amazing bass thing on the song with no name......bass
musos won't believe it. jonny did some cool guitar on 'up on the ladder'.
after yesterday it was nice to do some playing ...the sun shone and
it feels like spring is on its way. more things on 'up...'
a fucking week........sometimes i feel like the nature of this band
is that we have to do things the hard way......to use a terrible football
cliche......snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat................fucking
hell ron, thank god all weeks aren't like this, otherwise it would
be early baths.......not that i'm going to elaborate any further...........the
only thing that need concern anyone is that the songs sound fucking
ace on the whole......nicely diverse.
i'll write much more next week and apologies for the excessive use
of the word fuck.
a line drawn.....above which are the names of tracks finished bar
mixing.....and below, those nearly completed. for the first time the
tracks below and above the line are equal in number. that was the
state of play at 5am friday morning. 'knives up' was complete. i was
telling a mate over the w/end about 'knives out' and how it was started
in copenhagen on 10/3/99.......some 373 days later we finally finished
it.............a ridiculously long gestation period for any song..........naturally
my mate thought that having taken so long on a piece of music it would
be some sort of magnum opus, a kind of paranoid android to the power
of ten..................... the song is probably the most straight
ahead thing that we've done in years......and that might explain why
we took so long on it. i'm a real believer that bands as they become
more successful often lose the ability to do straight ahead stuff
well...... the need to embellish tracks with melodies and sounds becomes
imperative. and often in doing so the song loses its essence especially
if it was written on acoustic guitar. but i think we've done alright
on 'knives out'.........
thom's got a busy old week this week........most of the finishing
touches are vocal things. i'm trying to get my head around some new
software called logic which seems to be what all the right programmers
are using...........the manual is about the thickness of a hardback
edition of 'war and peace'.........he's singing along to 'fastrack'.
he's hyperactive as well....it's 1.30am..fantastic..
again............that's it, no more..............not another drop
of alcohol, in this case vintage cava, is going to pass my lips until
next time............... i'm in the epicentre of one mutha of a hangover................
in fact the last time i felt like this i never drank gin again and
that was 14 years ago.............it's evil stuff. my father rang
to tell me i reminded him of himself when he used to drink a bit.........maybe
hangovers are hereditary..........alcoholism probably is...........it
was my birthday, we took the evening off and drank....and drank. i
did a run down to majestic got the booze and issued strict instructions
that no one was to leave until everything was finished.................and
so it was......anyway enough of the fug.
we've been back a week after a two week layoff. finishing the large
number of songs off is the priority.......and would you adam 'n eve
it but we're so nearly there. nigel is booked into the studio on wednesday
to mix and we start playing together/ rehearsing on wednesday week
for the live shows, not knowing how the fuck we're going to put most
of these songs over live.
so what i'm actually saying is that the recording part of this record
will be finished in a couple of days......but you know if we're consistent
in our behavioural patterns, then you might finally hear something
in the autumn of '01............after arguments over track-listing,
running orders, etc.........who'll be the first to suggest the quadruple
album mixed in surroud sound? ....................might throw it in
there myself to stir things up a bit.....the running order for an
album is so important...... i don't think you have any idea how vital
it is until you actually fuck it up which we did big time on the first
record.....for 'ok computer' it was a nightmare, agendas had been
set and at one time it was like bloody horse-trading.............
"if you want 'let down' on the record then it only makes sense if
'electioneering' is on there too"......maybe it won't be such a torrid
experience this time........somehow i don't think so and that's probably
there's been a couple of articles recently in the press speculating
what's up with us....the one in melody maker sent a journo down to
oxford to snoop around......he or she was apparently outside each
of our houses on a kind of indie 'stakeout'.... and the piece ultimately
was very flattering, but you know this is a non-story............yes
we go food shopping and fucking hell would you believe it we actually
walk down the street in broad daylight........and what's more we've
been known to sometimes break into a smile......the other was in the
grauniad on friday, entitled 'why are we waiting?' again very nice
and for the record, you won't have to wait too long now. but please
don't waste column inches on mere speculation about when and what
the album will be like.........all we've ever claimed is that the
records will be different...... anyway if the truth be told we don't
actually know. i've gone on way too long in this stream of alcohol
induced consciousness and i must end before i write something even
more stupid like offering that melody maker journo a handbags at dawn
duel - see you at shotover a week on monday with your best louis vuitton..6am
viva la lucha and good luck and respect to all the anti-imf and world
bank protesters in washington this w/end, in fact go to thom's page
and there are a couple of links to some relevant sites about what's
well, well....it's been a while .......so here's a short one to ease
us all back into it....i've written quite a bit but never sent anything...........................it
feels a bit like that letter you never dared send ....the one you've
just written but you don't entirely trust it's very words......so
no point inflicting those words on anyone else.......i'm sure we've
all been there......of course i realise that that conflicts with the
very nature of this 'diary', but it's all about confidence...some
days are better than others. actually the truth is that at such a
crucial time of the album........tracklisting, rehearsals, titles,
arguments and full on fist fights......i probably haven't been at
my most objective........there is however one cert in my mind....i
fucking love this record now........and that's not me attempting to
whip others into a kind of mass marketing aren't we great type frenzy...........it's
the god's honest truth, governor..........but before i can write anymore
i'm going to conflab with the others so that we can get our story
straight.........here's an idea............... it looks as though
alastair campbell has made a few errors in judgement over the handling
of his pm's media engagements recently and might want to seek further
employment elsewhere in an effort to save some of his rapidly dwindling
credibilty......and maybe, just maybe he could add some 'spin' to
us radiohead fellas...........that would be ace to see 'al' doing
interviews for us............tight-lipped, stern and fending off the
press .............."listen sonny if you ask this lot another question
about why they always seem such a miserable bunch of bastards i will
personally make sure you never hear another record of theirs again...........and
for the record meeting people IS easy.................." ....................
ah yes that would be just fine..........no more questions as to how
you got the name of the band, or what you thought of creep now some
7 years after its release....actually to be honest the interviews
done so far seem to be of a different calibre compared to last time
round........so consequently they're not or at least have not been
so far too much of an effort ...........but that might also have something
to do with us and our new-found spirit of glasnost.prost.
will write something more at the w/end. we're off on tour on monday...................
for the last entry and the half-arsed attempt at some humour.......very
embarassed re-reading it. that's what comes from having listened to
the album twice in succession at half three in the morning.......
and deciding to post something up...............so we leave tomorrow
for france and the first show in arles on tuesday........very nice....will
write some more from a tour bus in europe.
had to cancel the vaison show............so firstly apologies to everyone
who had tickets and were looking forward to the gig......we'd even
got the set list done with different new songs from last night and
soundchecked them..........and what an amazing place.....a roman theatre
like last night in arles. the freak rain was of course to blame.......the
stage had a good three inches of the stuff from a twenty minute downpour
and with another storm forecast for 9.30pm and alot of the equipment
still damaged from last night's storm in arles the decision was made
to pull the show.........somehow we got away with it last night but
today just seemed as if it wasn't meant to be.......sorry again to
those in vaison ..... so we're now en route to barcelona for the first
show with a roof which may prove to be a fortunate thing judging by
the lightning storms we're presently driving through....in spite of
all this strange weather i have to say that it is so good to be on
tour in southern europe.....quote of the tour so far from coz who
said yesterday whilst dining amongst the roman ruins........"this
is the best holiday i've ever been on!".......which may not sound
very unusual... but within the context of radiohead touring again
is something close to extraordinary.....see you in barcelona.
sunday so it must be milan and the royal palace - the king of italy
once lived here in this monza palace........... in fact we've just
been shown the theatre where he reputedly threw huge orgies. it's
quite a place. barcelona and last night's show in frejus were immense......barca
started a little weirdly with us and the audience getting used to
the teatro tivoli, the most un-rock'n roll of venues(extremely ornate
however).......eveyone stayed pinned to their seats until we returned
for an encore. our day off in barca consisted of eating and drinking
vast amounts, broken up by a two hour siesta...ideal.....the only
downer to the frejus gig was when i announced on stage that england
had beaten germany in the football through a shearer goal.....bad
move this was zidane country and very partisan to boot.....nevertheless
a great audience. i picked italy in our euro 2000 sweepstake so as
far as i'm concerned we're playing on home turf tonight....it's very
greece arrived this morning to play the first of two gigs in the lycabetus
theatre, which is apparently near the parthenon. no site of any greek
antiquities as of yet, even from the top floor of the hotel.........this
city seems huge and apparently we're situated in what a local described
as a kind of no-man's land......lots of traffic outside the window......and
parked cars everywhere which is explained by the fact that they operate
a system here whereby car licences are issued for different days of
the week in order to alleviate the serious traffic congestion ie you
have a car and you're only allowed to drive that car on mondays, wednesdays,
fridays and sundays...........what happens of course is that if you've
got the dosh you then buy another car that you can drive on tuesdays,
thursdays and saturdays...................mmmm.............we had
an amazing time in florence..........played open-air, right in the
heart of the old town at the piazza san croce..........it doesn't
get better than this....went on and played in thessaloniki last night
at the earth theatre..... a beautiful modern amphitheatre which had
actually been dug out of the hill that overlooks that city.....a brilliant
audience who exhibited great patience at hearing a set with nine new
songs and a band which ignored repeated requets for creep(....understandable
on their part, the requests that is, as this was our first visit)
and pop is dead (..... cheeky bastards....)
getting a little worried about how easy it is to drink vast amounts
of alcohol on tour...kick-started by the lovely laika people who apart
from playing some great shows with us also happen to make the greatest
margaritas outside of mexico itself......they are dangerous touring
the new songs are working pretty well now in the set....'in limbo's
still a little tricky but it's more than made up by the way 'the national
anthem' and 'everything in its right place' is going ..........our
crew by the way are doing an immense job working outside in incredible
heats while we swan around like popstars..........