I’ll be totally honest with you: this has been extremely upsetting. There’s an awful lot of people who don’t agree with the BDS movement, including us. I don’t agree with the cultural ban at all, along with J.K. Rowling, Noam Chomsky and a long list of others.There are people I admire [who have been critical of the concert] like [English film director] Ken Loach, who I would never dream of telling where to work or what to do or think. The kind of dialogue that they want to engage in is one that’s black or white. I have a problem with that. It’s deeply distressing that they choose to, rather than engage with us personally, throw shit at us in public. It’s deeply disrespectful to assume that we’re either being misinformed or that we’re so retarded we can’t make these decisions ourselves. I thought it was patronizing in the extreme. It’s offensive and I just can’t understand why going to play a rock show or going to lecture at a university [is a problem to them].
The university thing is more of a head fuck for me. It’s like, really? You can’t go talk to other people who want to learn stuff in another country? Really? The one place where you need to be free to express everything you possibly can. You want to tell these people you can’t do that? And you think that’s gonna help?
The person who knows most about these things is [Radiohead guitarist] Jonny [Greenwood]. He has both Palestinian and Israeli friends and a wife who’s an Arab Jew. All these people to stand there at a distance throwing stuff at us, waving flags, saying, “You don’t know anything about it!” Imagine how offensive that is for Jonny. And imagine how upsetting that it’s been to have this out there. Just to assume that we know nothing about this. Just to throw the word “apartheid” around and think that’s enough. It’s fucking weird. It’s such an extraordinary waste of energy. Energy that could be used in a more positive way.
This is the first time I’ve said anything about it. Part of me wants to say nothing because anything I say cooks up a fire from embers. But at the same time, if you want me to be honest, yeah, it’s really upsetting that artists I respect think we are not capable of making a moral decision ourselves after all these years. They talk down to us and I just find it mind-boggling that they think they have the right to do that. It’s extraordinary.
Imagine how this has affected me and Nigel’s relationship. Thanks, Roger. I mean, we’re best mates for life, but it’s like, fuck me, really?
[Godrich responds: “I don’t believe in cultural boycotts. I don’t think they’re positive, ever. And actually, I think that it’s true to say that the people you’d be denying [the music] are the people who would agree with you and don’t necessarily agree with their government. So it’s not a good idea. Thom and Roger are two peas in a pod, really, in certain respects. They just have a disagreement about this, but they’ve never even met. I think Thom feels very protective of Jonny, which I completely get. But I’m not in the middle of Thom and Roger. Fucking hell, I wouldn’t like to be in the middle of those two. No.]
All of this creates divisive energy. You’re not bringing people together. You’re not encouraging dialogue or a sense of understanding. Now if you’re talking about trying to make things progress in any society, if you create division, what do you get? You get fucking Theresa May. You get [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, you get fucking Trump. That’s divisive.
Rolling Stone has a few quotes from Radiohead and Nigel on the beginning of the band’s career and the making of OK Computer. Some select Nigel quotes:
“Thom called me a few months after I thought the album was done and asked if I could record them in their rehearsal space. We did three or four songs, including “Black Star.” It felt like the adults were away and we could work without any restrictions. It also became very, very clear that Thom is a very, very gifted writer. I remember he’d just written “Subterranean Homesick Alien” while we were doing The Bends. He’d sit there with his little book on his knees turning the pages. This wasn’t “Anyone Can Play Guitar.” It was much more on point.“
“We were recording in, essentially, a cork box without a toilet. It was out in the countryside next to a field with some cows in it, and a power station in the distance.
And after a while we thought, “OK we’ve done really well, but we need a change of scene. I think we deserve something a little bit more luxurious.” - Nigel on recording at Canned Applause
“The people who had sold us gear had set up the Cure to make [Wild Mood Swings] there. It had been proofed as a space. And we just went down there and it was really very nice. I mean, why would you go into a space where people had done the same thing a thousand times? It’s like using a public toilet. Why wouldn’t you just go and find your own? Throughout my career one of the things I’ve loved doing the most is just setting up in weird spaces.
It was the band and me and Peter “Plank” [Clements] who was their roadie. Literally, it was just me working on the album. I didn’t have an assistant; I didn’t have any help. Plank had never been in the studio before, but he’d help me lugging the stuff around. It was the seven of us plus the cook and Mango, Jane’s cat. The gatekeeper looked over the cat. He’d say, ‘Don’t let the cat in the TV room since it pisses on the carpet.’
We recorded in the ballroom, which had a beautiful wooden floor and a wooden panels with a big Medieval tapestry on the wall, which is perfect. It sounded beautiful. There was sort of a corridor in between, and the other side was this amazing library space, which is a lovely dead space to set a control room. At the top there was a nursery, which was full of soft toys, which it sounds really good. And then stone rooms and stuff like that. Outside, there was an orangery attached to the building where we ended up recording a lot of vocals in.
Visitors would come and go on weekend. [Thom’s girlfriend] Rachel [Owen] came. At the end of the second three-week session we felt like we used it up. We were like, “We shouldn’t have come back. We should have gone somewhere else.” But it was fine. When it was done we went to studio for a few odds and sods and then we started mixing.“ - Nigel on recording at St. Catherine’s Court
“The drum loop on [Airbag] was inspired by DJ Shadow. It’s a departure from a rock band. What happened was I told Thom and Phil to sit there for a couple of hours and create a drum loop. And a day and a half later, they were like, "OK, we’ve got it.” But it wasn’t very exciting sounding, so I ran it through Jonny’s pedal board. And we just did three takes of him just like doing all sorts of shit to it and we put it all in.“
“When we started at Canned Applause they would play [Paranoid Android] linearly. Nothing really happened with the outro. It just spun and spun and it got very Deep Purple and went off. Then it was like, “We’re going to change sonically what happens in the middle, so it’s a jump.” At the end, Thom came up with the whole thing about the delaying the band coming in. So the moment we think it should go up, he just goes around on the acoustic. I thought that was very clever.
We had to put different sections of the song together from completely different parts. We had to fake and tape-edit to make the different sections of it go into each other. It’s a very hard thing to explain, but it’s all on 24-track and it runs through. But I had to do a sort of pretty snazzy … I was very pleased with myself. I sort of stood there and said, “You guys have no idea what I’ve just done.” It was pretty clever.
“We listened to Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison a lot. At the beginning of “Exit Music” the voice comes in very loud, and that was something that struck from from Johnny Cash. We also listened to Remy Zero a lot. Colin was really into that. Pet Sounds too.
We recorded [Let Down] in the orangery. If you go to a recording studio, the best thing you’re going to get is the kind of clichéd video of people in the studio, you know? But if I set you up in that corner here, you’ll always remember this room and you’ll be inspired by that plant or whatever. It brings a different sort of thing to it.
“Karma Police” was recorded as a song in completion, and then when we went to a proper studio to go and record some piano.Thom and I went out for a pint and he sort of complained about how he didn’t like the second half. “Can we construct something from scratch?” It’s the first time we’d done that. From the middle section to the outro, it’s a completely different technique of building up a song. It’s not like the band playing. It’s just samples and loops and his sort of thing over the top, which sort of was the forerunner of a lot of things to come, good or bad.
“I remember working downstairs in the library space. Dan [Stanley Donwood] had been upstairs writing short stories and getting Fred [the nickname for their Apple Macintosh] to speak them and he’d send them to his dad. He was just having this kind of conversational discourse, which we all thought was hilarious. But Thom had disappeared for a few hours. And he came down and just said, “Oh, I did this.” Played it. And it’s like, “Fuck. That’s perfect.”
Fred’s voice is so unemotional. I’ve always been interested in voice synthesis, because it’s such a sort of bizarre juxtaposition of technology, trying to communicate verbally, which is what we do naturally. It’s a very, very, very flat kind of delivery. And so that was clearly something that moved all of us. And then he had his Dictaphone stuff, which had the piano on it, which is just him at home. And I had all of those electronic sounds of stuff that I was just making out of experimental stuff in the studio. And then Jonny scored the strings to his piano thing and Thom added some dialogue from Three Days of the Condor he’d taped off the TV.” - Nigel on Fitter, Happier
“We did [Lucky] in five hours. They were actually on the road. I had only heard the song on a cassette. They showed up and we set up – they played it the night before onstage. So they’d worked it out and we just did it and I mixed it. And I tried later on to sort of remix it [during theOK Computer sessions] and it was like, “No, it’s fine.” That really is the beginning of OK Computer, that day.”
“Something would come on the radio and [Thom] would look at me funny and I’d be like, “What are you so upset about?” He’d be huffing and puffing like someone copied him. I’d say, “You’re just imagining it. Look, it’s a guitar with some drums behind it. You didn’t invent that. You were copying someone else. Just relax.”I think that’s a byproduct of being so focused on what he wanted to do that he figures he’s the only person that’s ever had that idea. [As far the Travis comparisons] I just think that’s lazy journalism. It’s a guy singing in falsetto with an acoustic guitar. But if that’s what made him go away and do something different, at least it lead to more interesting times.” - Nigel on Thom’s reaction to similar sounding artists, in the wake of OK Computer
Hi, if I remember correctly Nigel recorded A Moon Shaped Pool with vintage Tape Recorder, but, how they get it from Tape to computers?
You correct: A Moon Shaped Pool was recorded to tape using a Studer A800 MKIII 24-Track and two Otari MTR90 24-Tracks, as can be seen in this video. Nigel used Otari machines on Radiohead’s prior albums, while the Studer belongs to Studios La Fabrique.
To send sounds back and forth from tape to a computer, Nigel uses Avid HD I/O’s.
Nigel’s exact workflow on AMSP is unknown, but we can make some conclusions from the band’s comments. Colin stated that “This is a Neve 88 R, seventy-two channels, made in Burnley. … It’s analog, like this reel-to-reel Studer, but we also use digital. It’s all about looping and layering” (Adam Thorpe In a room with Radiohead). From this, we can conclude that some sounds were recorded to the computer, looped in ProTools, then recorded to tape along with the band as they played through a song.
The collage of sounds which loops beneath The Numbers was almost certainly assembled in a DAW, but it incorporates piano and percussion sounds which were probably recorded to tape at first. After the collage was complete, it was recorded to tape with the rest of the track (probably with Thom playing along, given Colin’s statement).
It’s also likely that after the band recorded a live run-through of a song to tape, Nigel might record a track to ProTools to manipulate, then record it back to tape. This was likely especially true during the stage when Nigel consolidated the material which the band had recorded during their two weeks at Studios La Fabrique.
Nigel’s “home studio”, posted on his twitter account. Two Avid HD I/O’s can be seen in the rack unit that also houses his Apple Mac Pro.
A photo of the control room at Tottenham House during the recording of In Rainbows. Nigel’s two Otari MTR90′s are the units closes to the camera.
On this day in music history: July 1, 1997 - “OK Computer”, the third studio album by Radiohead is released. Produced by Radiohead and Nigel Godrich, it is recorded at Canned Applause in Didcot, Oxfordshire, UK, and St. Catherine’s Court in Bath, UK. Following their highly acclaimed sophomore release “The Bends”, the band shifts musical directions yet again, producing a much more experimental, layered piano based sound than their first two albums. Initially, Radiohead’s US record label Capitol has low expectations for the albums commercial potential as it strays far from the bands trademark “Britpop” rock sound. The album is launched in the US with an unusual promotional campaign. 1,000 cassette review copies are sent to the press and music industry taste makers with the tape permanently glued inside the player. It receives universal acclaim upon its release, frequently drawing comparisons to Pink Floyd’s classic “The Dark Side Of The Moon”, though the band themselves disagree with the assessment. “Computer” becomes Radiohead’s best selling album worldwide, spinning off three singles including “Paranoid Android” (#3 UK) and “Karma Police” (#8 UK, #14 US Modern Rock). The album is nominated for three Grammy Awards in 1998 including Album Of The Year, winning for Best Alternative Music Performance. “OK Computer” hits number one on the UK album chart, peaking at its chart debut of number twenty one on the Billboard Top 200 on July 19, 1997, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.