Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood has been discussing working on the band’s latest album ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ in a recent radio interview. In the interview Greenwood reveals the bands most recent approach to composition and recording, and how instrumentation has become a more integral part of the initial songwriting process.
‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ was released on May 8 and shot to the top of the albums charts in both the US, UK and numerous other countries around the world. It has been labelled by music critics as not only one of the best albums of the year but also one of the most emotive, beautiful records that Radiohead have ever produced.
The album seems to have a more defined theme to many of Radiohead’s other releases over the last decade. With the exception of ‘Burn The Witch’ each track seems to flow seamlessly into the next in their own dark yet gentle world.
Greenwood said of the songwriting process for the album: It’s not really about can I do my guitar part now, it’s more … how do we not mess up this really good song? Part of the problem is Thom will sit at the piano and play a song like ‘Pyramid Song’ and we’re going to record it and how do we not make it worse, how do we make it better than him just playing it by himself, which is already usually quite great. We’re arrangers, really,”
The world got its first taste of ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ when Radiohead released a music video to the track ‘Burn The Witch’ on their instagram. ‘Burn The Witch’ is almost the black sheep of the album but definitely one of the stand out tracks.
Here’s what Greenwood had to say about it: “This song was one of the rare chances of getting our hands on an unfinished song, so we could put strings on right at the beginning. Usually strings are an afterthought, decoration on the end of a song. I’ve been saying for years, wouldn’t it be great to start with strings.”
He continued: “So this song was just Thom singing in a drum machine and nothing else. And then I wrote strings to that. So you’re hearing an orchestra play—they’re strumming their violins with guitar plectrums, that’s the rhythm.”