nigel godrich

Thom Yorke on Nigel and The Eraser


But who could have imposed a deadline?
If Nigel wasn’t constantly on my back, I would have never brought out the eraser. It was pissing me off that he was treating me like a little boy but on the other hand, it was the only way. If it was only up to me, I would waited a month or 2 for stuff to clarify - & it wouldn’t work or it would crap. So his discipline was a big choc for me. 

Did you need to purge yourself from these songs, from these electronic sounds, before going back to RH? 
It needed to come out, it was impeding me. I also needed to prove that I could work alone, to compose with little means: a bass line for one song, a guitar loop (not sure if it’s the right word) on an other… It was interesting to distance myself from song writing. Because I’m not really a songwriter, I don’t listen to – besides a few old ones like Scott Walker or Stephen Malkmus – songwriters… I mainly listen to beats, sounds, grooves… That’s why I can be very frustrated listening to RH: from my defending body ( couldn’t translate this correctly), we make songs. I wanted to distance myself from this kind of format for the eraser. But Nigel was obsessed with the songs and, on those little bits of ideas that I had made him listen to in beginning, he regularly stopped me and said: “But you have a song, you really needed to sing over it!”

Even your singing sounds new: your voice seems to have found some pleasure.
Its exactly that: the pleasure of just sing. I’m much more comfotable with my voice today, finnaly I have no doubts. That goes for saying, when I sing a song like Atoms for Peace, never has my voice been so exposed, so vulnerable. Nigel was inflexible: “I want a bit more echo. –No. – Ok, then a little reverb. –No. I told you I am not doing that on an album.” A lot of the time, he wanted one or two pieces of voice. I needed to trust in him, even if I sometimes had the impression of being naked. Usually, I always managed to hide the words behind the guitar or behind effects. The worst was on OK Computer: I had the impression that this voice didn’t belong to me anymore, that it had nothing to do with me… All measures taken around this album … I had the impression of being a caricature. 


Do you need a bubble to record, an enclosed environment?

That’s something that Nigel and I always argue about. He thinks we always need to completely isolate ourselves, not to have any contact with reality. I end up thinking he is right: during months with RH, we went into the studio as if we were going to work like a normal person, with fixed hours, from 11 to 23h - & nothing came out of it at all. That routine washed us out: we were taking care of children night & morning, & we were killing ourselves over these songs. A failure.

So your presence can be inhibiting?
Yes certainly. I can be even corrosive. Nigel remembers with horror recording Paranoid Android… During a day or two, I pulled a fit, I was unbearable: “I had no positive energy, I couldn’t bear it anymore…” I dropped the whole thing because if I would have stayed, I would have really lost my marbles, I would have burnt the place down(laughs)… Nigel then reunited everybody, behind my back, and they did three quarters of the song. We were already troubled over ten different versions but there, without me on their backs, they found a solution. I can be a real poison in this machine. When my energy leaves me, I become a burden. 

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Possibly my favourite Pavement song.