So far, Radiohead has provided little insight into the process that went into their ninth album, A Moon Shaped Pool, which the band released earlier this month. That changed Thursday when the Times Literary Supplement published a story with behind-the-scenes details from the band about the Pool sessions.
In the interview, author Adam Thorpe, a friend of Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood, joins the group in southern France’s La Fabrique studio. Though the piece offers scant information about meaty topics like the album’s lyrical themes, Thorpe gathers some fascinating observations about the notoriously secretive band.
At one point, Thorpe observes a whiteboard with a list of tracks written on it, beginning with “Daydreaming” (Pool’s second track), ending with “Burn the Witch” (Pool’s opener), and with “Spectre,” the rejected James Bond theme that was released as a non-album single in December, floating “in the middle, slightly separate.”
“I can’t talk about it much, as Nigel [Godrich] is really secretive about our ways,” Greenwood tells Thorpe about the sessions. “But I like a lot of it. It’s beautifully lyrical in places.” But Greenwood also assures Thorpe that Radiohead “can’t be [perfectionists] or we’d never release anything.”
Thorpe also observes Stanley Donwood’s process in creating Pool’s album artwork, writing about “numerous canvases display[ing] abstract explosions of color” and noting that “the barn’s speakers are wired up to the recording studios” so Donwood can react “in acrylic to what he hears, the results to be modified and manipulated on computer.”
And no Radiohead piece would be complete without a Thom Yorke cameo, which Thorpe describes thusly: “Dining with the band one evening in an Arles square thirteen years ago, I heard Thom Yorke announce that he would quit rock music when he was forty. He didn’t want to be a Mick Jagger, still prancing about in his withered old age. Fifty now looms, but when he appears crossing a lawn in a kind of Flaubertian dressing gown and towel turban, cool behind reflective shades, he could be twenty, aside from his salt-and-pepper stubble.”
Head over to the Times Literary Supplement for the full interview.