Just before his show at La Maroquinerie, Philip Selway welcomed us backstage to answer a few questions. The man, mainly famous for his role as a drummer in Radiohead, tells us all about the making of his solo album.
First question, how are you feeling? Excited, nervous about tonight’s show?
Philip Selway: I’d say last week, when we were doing our rehearsals, nervous. But we’ve played in Amsterdam, Berlin and Hamburg already and the shows have been going well ! You know, I think always just before you go on stage you’ve got some nerves, and you need those, but actually, I’m feeling happy with how we sound and our performances. We’re looking forward to the show.
You’re introducing your new album “Weatherhouse“, and it sounds like it has very different emotions and influences in it.
P: Yes absolutely. Emotionally, and lyrically, it seems to come from a lot of different places. The whole thing kind of has the title “Weatherhouse” in it. It was difficult to find something that would bring everything together. And that one seems to fit nicely. Because it has a lot of emotional weather and musical weather.
We’ve seen you found the title with the person who did the artwork.
P: Yes, friend of mine, Ted Dewan, a very clever man, very creative. I played him some of the recordings, and he said things. It was interesting to see what he responded to. Because I think when you’ve been working on something for a while you’ve got kind of a fixed idea of what it should be about. And actually having somebody coming along who responses on what you’re doing is very interesting. You get an overview on it. So he made this sculpture which became the front cover. He went to a junkyard and found all those little pieces around the place and put them all together and made this little weatherhouse. It doesn’t fonction as a weatherhouse actually, but it looks like one. The artwork is an important part of finishing the record, but also it is an important part for me because that actually sums up what the whole thing is about.
Is there anything you’re particularly proud of or satisfied with on the record?
P: Well it changes from day to day probably. It took me a long time to write the lyrics. There are songs on the record that were very hard to write. But they actually really catch what I wanted to say so long. The lyrics in “Don’t Go Now”, I was happy with where that ended. The last song of the record, “Turning It Inside Out”, I had a nightmare writing the lyrics. I new I wanted it to be the last song on the album. I was thinking “It’s got to be a positive song” and consequently I was trying to get it to fit into that way of thinking. I still didn’t have the lyrics at 4 o’clock on the day of doing the vocals. I was thinking “oh my god” but you actually listen to where the sound should go. And the song the fell into place and that was very pleaseful.
It feels like you’ve really found something here, compared to “Familial”.
P: Yeah, I’m really proud of what I did with “Familial”. I think I’ve found something in that one that is a singing voice that I had to find fot it. But with “Weatherhouse” I was working with the confidence of knowing that I’ve done that. And it became much more expensive musically. Lyrically as well I think. It’s a much more focused record.
Is there any artist that you’ve liked recently?
P: There was a big record for me when I was making “Weatherhouse” which was Mark Hollis solo album. You probably wouldn’t hear any direct influence when listening to “Weatherhouse”. But I’ve listened to it a lot. I just love the way he worked with space and music. All of that is there, it’s very hidden though. It’s just really about this way of aranging vocals and these amazing atmospheres.
About the rest of your life, you’ve recently started working with Radiohead again for the upcoming album. How’s it going?
P: Fine! We’re just trying to get used to making music together again, really. And it’s very exciting! Because we haven’t been together for a while, with our side projects. We’ve worked exclusively with each other for about 20 years. Which is great because you build something that is very particular. But you become very settled in your ways of working. And it’s really healthy to step outside of that and to build other kinds of work and of relationships and of musical relationships.
Last question, we’re an online magazine called “RockUrLife”, what rocks your life, Philip?
P: (Laughs) How do I rock my life? I think it’s actually everything putting yourself in situations where you feel slightly out of your depth. Slightly uncompfortable. And that’s kind of what I’ve always done. That’s what I’ve done with Radiohead, that’s what I’ve done in my stuff outside and in life generally. And yeah, that’s the adrenaline rush you get when you’re into something like “oh I don’t know what I’m doing” (laughs) but you manage to find your way through it.