Saturday, December 27, 2008
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Congratulations to Phil and his phriends for their Grammy nominations!
Album of the Year
Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends - Coldplay
Tha Carter III - Lil Wayne
Year Of The Gentleman - Ne-Yo
Raising Sand - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
In Rainbows - Radiohead [Nigel Godrich, producer; Nigel Godrich, Dan Grech-Marguerat, Hugo Nicolson & Richard Woodcraft, engineers/mixers; Bob Ludwig, mastering engineer]
Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals
Rock N Roll Train - AC/DC
Violet Hill - Coldplay
Long Road Out Of Eden - Eagles
Sex On Fire - Kings Of Leon
House Of Cards - Radiohead
Best Rock Song
Girls In Their Summer Clothes - Bruce Springsteen
House Of Cards - Radiohead
I Will Possess Your Heart - Death Cab for Cutie
Sex On Fire - Kings of Leon
Violet Hill - Coldplay
Best Alternative Music Album
Modern Guilt - Beck
Narrow Stairs - Death Cab For Cutie
The Odd Couple - Gnarls Barkley
Evil Urges - My Morning Jacket
In Rainbows - Radiohead
Best Short Form Music Video
Honey - Erykah Badu
Who's Gonna Save My Soul - Gnarls Barkley
Another Way To Die - Alicia Keys & Jack White
House Of Cards - Radiohead
Pork And Beans - Weezer
Other nominations in the Philoverse:
Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package
Ghosts I-IV - NIN
In Rainbows - Radiohead [Stanley Donwood, Mel Maxwell & Xian Munro, art directors]
Poems & Songs - Wu Sheng
Pretty. Odd. - Panic At The Disco
@#%&*! Smilers - Aimee Mann
Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical
Johnny Karkazis (Johnny K)
Best Score Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media
The Dark Knight - James Newton Howard & Hans Zimmer
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull - John Williams
Iron Man - Ramin Djawadi
There Will Be Blood - Jonny Greenwood
Wall-E - Thomas Newman
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Under One Sky - A folk "suite"
Friday, November 28, 2008, 07:30
Before Graham Coxon goes back in the studio with the newly re-formed Blur, he'll be joining Idlewild's Roddy Woomble and a host of folk musicians at Nottingham's Albert Hall for Under One Sky. SIMON WILSON spoke to John McCusker about the folk "suite" and his work with Paul Weller, Mark Knopfler and Radiohead...
WHY is Graham Coxon involved in a folk "suite"? Blur and his grittier solo material never showed much of a leaning towards storytelling acoustica.
"Both he and Roddy Woomble have grown up playing rock music but they've both got a great love for folk music," says John McCusker, creator of Under One Sky.
"That's how I know Graham. He came to folk concerts that I was involved in. And we became friends."
McCusker, who has worked with Paul Weller, Mark Knopfler, Ocean Colour and Radiohead's Phil Selway as musician and producer, was commissioned to write an hour-long piece to celebrate two British folk festivals: Cambridge and Celtic Connections.
The idea was also to bring together English and Scottish folk musicians.
McCusker says: "Undeniably there's a divide between Scotland and England but I'm not sure how real it is. People talk about it more than anything.
"Musically it exists as Scottish musicians tend to play traditional Scottish music and likewise with the English.
"I don't think a piece of music like this will bring two nations together but it gave the musicians a better understanding of each other's music.
"Watching them have a laugh and make music together and really buzz of each other's music was fantastic. I know it's a cliche but music is an amazing universal language.
He wrote pieces with all of the musicians, including Gaelic songstress Julie Fowlis, balladeer John Tams and rising star Jim Causley.
The hour-long concert will feature all 12 of them.
"There are seven pieces of music in that hour. But it's not like a set list. It's evolving all the time.
"You never know what's going to happen. Which adds to the excitement.
"It's certainly the highlight of any musical experience I've had."
As well as choosing the musicians, McCusker has been responsible for getting it rehearsed and recorded, even booking flights and coaches for the tour.
"It's quite a lot of work but it's my baby. It'll be worth it in the end."
Other musicians taking part include: Andy Cutting (diatonic accordion), Ian Carr (guitar), Emma Reid (fiddle), Iain MacDonald (bagpipes/whistles/flute), Ewen Vernal (bass) and James Mackintosh (percussion).
McCusker, who has also worked with Patti Smith, Teenage Fanclub, Steve Earle, Roseanne Cash, Linda Thompson, the Waterboys, Jools Holland and Billy Connolly, grew up in Bellshill, near Glasgow.
He joined Scottish folk outfit The Battlefield Band from the age of 17 and toured the world with them for the next decade.
After two solo albums he produced several albums for Kate Rusby, who he married in 2001.
In 2003 he was named Musician of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
This year he's been on tour with Mark Knopfler and Paul Weller.
Next up he'll be playing on the new Teenage Fanclub album and has been working on the debut solo offering from Radiohead drummer Philip Selway.
"It's in limbo just now because he's been so busy with Radiohead but we did 20 tracks at their studios in Oxford for a month."
He adds: "It's 18 years that I've been doing this and I'm still as excited about it as when I started out. There are loads of exciting stuff happening."
Monday, November 17, 2008
Ed & Philip will join the new Seven Worlds Collide project
Ed and Philip will rejoin Neil Finn in a follow up to the acclaimed Seven Worlds Collide project at the end of the year. Together with members of the original line up and other artists, the ‘supergroup’ will record an album of entirely new material in support of international development organisation Oxfam.
The original Seven Worlds Collide line up was Neil Finn, Ed O’Brien, Phil Selway, guitar supremo Johnny Marr, Soul Coughing bassist Sebastian Steinberg, songwriter and violinist Lisa Germano, and Liam Finn. Other artists joining the project include Jeff Tweedy, John Stirrat, Glenn Kotche and Pat Sansone from Wilco, and New Zealand songwriters Bic Runga and Don McGlashan. Behind the mixing desk will be master recording engineer Jim Scott. More names will be added to the lineup in the coming weeks.
The album will be recorded over the next few months in Auckland and is due for release in 2009. Like its predecessor, the project will also see a series of concerts featuring many of the artists included in the line up. The shows will take place in Auckland early in the New Year. Details will be announced soon.
Neil Finn said “Seven years ago I invited a few friends and fellow musicians to do a special series of concerts in New Zealand under the banner Seven Worlds Collide. The concerts were an amazing experience for all of us and we are delighted to have found an opportunity to gather again, this time to expand the concept and the line up too. What will make these sessions particularly meaningful is that all the proceeds of this recording will go to support the continuing great work of Oxfam International.”
Head to youtube to see Phil in action during Hole in the Ice.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Girl from a small island proud to show off roots
Friday, October 31, 2008
GROWING up on the small Outer Hebridean island of North Uist amid a Gaelic-speaking community, it's tempting to say Julie Fowlis had music in her blood from the start.
But the 29-year-old, who can also count Björk, KT Tunstall, Ricky Gervais, Radiohead's Phil Selway and Mark Radcliffe among her diverse range of famous fans, avoids over-romanticising her Scottish roots.
"I suppose, as any child would be, I was not really aware of what was around me at the time," she says.
"It's only as an adult, looking back, that I see my incredible upbringing differently and realise how instrumental it was in what I ended up doing in my life for a job.
"I was a bilingual child, always hearing the two languages, Gaelic and English, and singing or speaking in them at school and at home. And in our community especially, there is a lot of piping, so I started to play the chanter when I was very, very small before learning to play the full bagpipes.
"I didn't really think anything of it until I was much older and moved away and realised not everybody does that."
Entering national Gaelic singing competitions as a girl and singing at a ceilidh here and an old people's home there, she soon developed her voice, later gaining national recognition with the band Dòchas at the 2004 Scots Trad Music Awards in 2004, where she was also nominated for the Best Gaelic Singer award.
These early successes were only a taster of what was to follow.
In 2005, her first solo album, Mar a Tha Mo Chridhe (As My Heart Is) soon earned her international acclaim.
Meanwhile the 2007 follow-up, Cuilidh, became a worldwide bestseller in both the traditional and world music charts, earning her a nomination at the 2007 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for Folk Singer of the Year – the title which this year she won.
Among the latest music that can be downloaded from her website today is the newly-released album Dual and her cover of the Beatles's Blackbird, recorded for Mojo Magazine.
With another full-length album in the pipeline and presenting slots on BBC Scotland's Travelling Folk and Global Gathering programmes, Julie has become something of an unwitting ambassador for both the kind of music she sings and the language she sings it in.
"It's very important that the Gaelic tradition is continued," she says.
"I feel quite frustrated that I went through the whole school system knowing very little about the language, where it came from and its history, and I think it's very sad, actually.
"I hope that's something that is going to change, and I think now is a very exciting time for the language.
"We are definitely on an upward curve, albeit still quite far down it.
"So I'm really happy if I can do anything that can further the language.
"It feels like a weight on my shoulders, in a good way, knowing that each time I go to a place and perform there will be people who have never heard it before. With that comes a responsibility to do right by it by presenting it in the right way."
Anyone curious to see who Phil's been praising, check out the singer's 2007 Jools Holland appearance over on youtube.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
From an article about the 'Before the Ruin' album, in Properganda magazine:
Phil Selway's involvement in the album is particularly fascinating. A fan of Kate Rusby, the Radiohead man met McCusker at a couple of Rusby gigs, struck up an email contact and they started hanging out. McCusker remembers with pride the night Selway came to see the John McCusker band playing at the Nettlebed Folk Club in Oxfordshire. "He joined the folk club and everything. At the end of the night he was helping to put the chairs away!" when Selway decided to make a solo album of his own songs, he asked McCusker to produce it and put a band together. "It hasn't come out yet but it's a great album. He has a gorgeous voice, not that different to Thom Yorke's voice. I don't know when it's coming out, it's difficult with all the Radiohead projects - he's deadly serious about it and doesn't want it to be the Radiohead drummer's token solo album. When we were doing this I just called him up and he was delighted to help. He loves Kris and he loves Roddy and he came up and recorded the drums in the engineer's living room. Wish I'd taken a picture"
Monday, September 22, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Before the Ruin is the upcoming album by Kris Drever, John McCusker and Roddy Woomble. Theywent for extra awesome points and sought the help of drummer extraordinaire, Phil. The album is out Sept 15. Not that I need to remind the Phillovers, but McCusker is the one that's producing Phil's eagerly anticipated solo album.
|1. Silver And Gold|
|2. Into The Blue|
|3. All Along The Way|
|4. Before The Ruin|
|5. Hope To See|
|6. Rest On The Rest|
|7. Out Of Light|
|8. The Poorest Company|
|9. Moments Last Forever|
|10. Stuck In Time|
Alan Baillie's of www.subba-cultcha.com review of the album:
Roddy Woomble (Idlewild) teams up here with John McCusker, a Scottish folk musician renowned for his work with Eddie Reader, Tim O’Brien and Kate Rusby. Completing the trio is contemporary musician Kris Drever who came to prominence in 2006 with the release of his debut album Black Water. As a wonderful consequence we get this quite special album.
Understanding fully the dynamics of music is quite likely what makes Drever, McCusker and Woomble capable of bringing this record together in the short time they did. It was written over the course of several afternoons then demo-ed onto a laptop before being transferred to the studio. Though there is nothing flamboyantly grandiose about the tracks on this record, and it will never be considered to be cutting edge it does have some very good songs within. ‘Into The Blue’ and ‘Moments Lost Forever’ are stunning compositions. Woomble has always been blessed with the kind of voice tailor made for these situations and indeed it is him who takes on the majority of vocal duties. And his work with Idlewild probably ensures this record will appeal to both folk and rock genres. Though make no mistake, there does exist some real depth here.It’s a fresh, contemporary beauty and it will seep into your psyche for all the right reasons with its settling haze of floaty acoustic majesty. And if the quality of this threesome was never going to be enough they brought in a collection of talented pals to further enhance things just incase, including Donald Shaw (Capercaille), Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Philip Selway (Radiohead). It’s a large library of experience they borrow from, and the end result is very pleasing. Filled with soul and full of heart this is a record that will introduce the temporary trio to a much wider audience than they probably expected.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
No physical CD found its way to high street stores, initially; instead, a box-set (‘diskbox’) was made available via mail order and a pay-what-you-will download was provided. Between 60,000 and 80,000 special two-disc sets were ordered, with many more copies downloaded (figures of a million-plus were published, before being called out as “exaggerated” by the band’s management). The release sent shockwaves through the industry, and since then, October 2007, many other acts have been reported as ‘doing a Radiohead’.
In Rainbows, DiS readers’ album of 2007, ultimately found its way to traditional distribution channels after the band signed with XL, following the end of their contract with Parlophone/EMI (1992-2005), and went straight to number one on the UK albums chart. This, despite the many copies already sold via the band’s original methods. Now, the band – Thom Yorke (vocals, guitar), Phil Selway (drums, programming), Colin Greenwood (bass), Jonny Greenwood (electronics, keys, guitar) and Ed O’Brien (guitar) – are to tour In Rainbows across the world, with UK dates scheduled for June.
But you know all of this: Radiohead are one of the biggest bands in the whole world, whose influence on the likes of similarly massive bands like Muse and Coldplay can’t be ignored and whose accolades are stacked higher than Perez Hilton's ego. They’re also maybe my own favourite band of all time, so speaking to Phil Selway was obviously A Big Deal. Share my nervousness.
Hi Phil. We’ve heard that you’re already planning to head back to the studio to work with Nigel Godrich. What’s the plan there?
Well, we’ve just been doing our tour rehearsals, and there are ideas coming through. We’re playing well, and I think we’re looking for times for when getting into the studio might work while we are touring, or just after touring. There’s nothing firm as yet, but there are ideas – it’s about actually catching yourself unawares rather than this whole thing of thinking, “Here we start working on new material, in this new session”, which can sometimes feel a bit daunting. So we’re trying to catch ourselves on the fly, and see what comes out of that. We’ll see what happens – if it happens, for starters. If it does, we’ll have limited time to do it which will provide focus, and hopefully it should be fun.
Your tour dates take in the States and Japan, as well as the UK – how do you find life on the road these days? Is it more difficult with band members having families these days?
Having families certainly puts a different complexion on it, but that’s a logistical thing, working out how you all get around together – it’s a slightly different approach to touring. But the whole thing of playing shows and actually getting to play, as ever, we really look forward to that and relish it, actually.
You don’t suffer any burnout any more?
I think if we were out playing 300 nights a year we’d possibly start to pale a little bit, but we’ve a very civilised tour schedule these days. We’re gentlemen of a certain age these days, quite!
Past tours seemed to have got to the band – thinking back to the OK Computer cycle of 1997 and ‘98, and the Meeting People Is Easy video, you seemed a little worn out.
That’s certainly one side of touring that year. That’s worryingly a long time ago now, ten years. I think so much at that period happened in a really short space of time – in some ways it’d been a slow burner for us, from the first album up to that point, but then everything seemed to go full steam ahead. There was a lot to take on board that year, so it did get a little tiring at points. I think where frustrations with touring in the past have come, it’s because it has actually got in the way of us getting on with new material, because you follow that process, that classic process, of recording and releasing the album and then going out and touring it for a year and a half. Hopefully, I think we’ve kind of stepped out of that cycle now.
There’s certainly a suggestion that the band’s enjoying greater freedom than it ever has, around In Rainbows.
Yeah, whether it’s the reality or not, I don’t know, but it does feel like that and it feels good!
Presumably XL aren’t being too pushy with you?
They’re probably listening in, so no! They’ve been fantastic, actually.
Was it refreshing, or simply nice, to be courted by a number of labels once the Parlophone deal was up and you were looking to put In Rainbows out in a ‘proper’ way?
Yeah, that was interesting, to be getting feedback on different approaches people would have taken with us. There were many really interesting ideas that came along, and fortunately for us XL seemed to be really in tune with what we were wanting to do, and they also great ideas and a lot of enthusiasm. So it’s worked out very well for us.
And In Rainbows reached number one, even after all the downloads. Was that a surprise, at all? Did you think that maybe it’d creep out, perhaps sell in the supermarkets but not rocket to the top of the chart?
I think the way that we originally released the record, via the download, in our minds we’d stepped out of the whole process of aiming towards the first week of sales, when you’ve the big push for the chart position. So we were out of that mindset really, so to then go through the process and go to number one, I suppose it did catch us by surprise a little bit. The whole thing with In Rainbows, up to now, has been the reaction rather than… Well, there were always plans for the download but we didn’t know how that would go, so we’ve been reacting to how that’s been received as we’ve been going along.
Something of a new learning curve for the band…?
Oh, we need it.
Was there ever any expectation within that band that the download of In Rainbows would send such significant waves through the music industry? That so many others would now be seen as ‘doing a Radiohead’?
Erm, no – I don’t think we ever expected that. The release did seem to gather a head of steam that was in some ways way beyond the release itself. I don’t think we could ever have predicted that (the impact). When we finally decided to release it as a download, which was only a week and a half, or two weeks, before announcing it, there was that moment where we thought: “Will anyone be interested? Will anyone care about it?” That was exciting, because it felt slightly risky, and also it seemed a very proactive way of getting music out to as many people as possible.
Seemed to work – no doubt the distribution and ease of access aided its critical reception. Our readers voted it their album of 2007.
Aw, bless them…
It must’ve been nice, though, to have the album praised by critics, given that some could have anticipated a collection of odds and sods rather than a ‘proper’ album, given its means of release?
Um, yeah… The record spent three years to make, so it had a long gestation and a short labour. When you’ve put that amount of time into working on something – and it was a very painstaking approach – it was very gratifying to find that there were decent reviews for the music itself. Did you say ‘gimmicky’ earlier on?
Not exactly, but yes: In Rainbows could have been received as a gimmick.
It could have been taken on that level, yes. We felt we’d done the best work that we could at that point, so we were as confident as you ever can be before a release, with the music itself. But it was great to get positive feedback.
Have you ever felt any trepidation prior to an album’s release? I recall some lukewarm reviews for Kid A (2000).
Well, I suppose by the time you get to the end of the record, you’re in two minds: you’re committed to it, and you’re attached to it, feeling pretty confident about it; but at the same time because you’ve been so close to it for so long you don’t know how objective your view of it is. There’s always that slight trepidation, therefore – it’s been in amongst the group of you for some time, but you might have lost complete perspective on it as you’ve made it. It might be a complete pile of pants! I suppose with whatever record you release there’s always the slight realisation that you might have got it wrong.
What was your first impression of Kid A? Were you worried you’d take a back seat, of sorts, in the band when the song ideas were being developed, as the electronica aspects seemed to be at the forefront of all the reviews?
It was an interesting thing – going back to the learning curve thing, it was an interesting curve for us all there. We’d worked in a particular way as a band ‘til that point for what was over a decade, since the first album, and any kind of change was slightly worrying. But also, it’s how you continue to develop as a musician; it’s important to have that uncertainty. For us, as a band, the songs themselves have always been paramount – we work as a group of five people, and with Nigel, in trying to find the best or most appropriate way to bring those songs out. That’s your focus, rather than thinking about it too individually.
Band members, particularly Thom and Jonny, have worked on solo projects, yet Radiohead seems as tight as ever. How does the band stay a healthy one? Do you need as much time apart as you do together to keep going, to maintain that group mentality when it comes to write and record?
Oh, this is sounding like Trisha now, isn’t it?! It’d be great if we were up on stage, having a big fist-fight and getting pulled apart. But probably, yes. I think it’s being as brutally honest as we can with each other without bringing the whole thing down. It’s a fine line to tread, but I think we get there sometimes.
I guess any reservations about speaking your mind in the studio were laid to rest some time ago.
Oh, they’re still there. We all tread lightly with each other, but at the same time you recognise that if you don’t broach certain subjects then they’re likely to trip the whole project up. Compromise is a good thing, isn’t it? Every band is a compromise.
These tour rehearsals – apparently you’ve been practising some 70 songs?
It started out there, but we’ve now trimmed it down to 55.
Oh, only 55 eh?
Yeah, only 55. The songs are from across the catalogue.
A broad selection then, but these dates aren’t to be ‘greatest hits’ affairs, are they?
Certainly not! Oh God, the thought of us on a greatest hits tour… I couldn’t see that somehow. I think, actually, the (wealth of material relates to the) whole thing about keeping some momentum to the shows, having that breadth of material means you can change the set so much, and that keeps it vital for you as you’re going along.
And the In Rainbows material presumably fits well with older songs? After all, you’ve been playing a number of the ‘new’ tracks live for some time. (New single ‘Nude’ dates back to the OK Computer tour, for example.) I think you choose material that goes together well, and we’ve not actually done too many sets yet. We’ve the Radio 1 thing this week.
You’ll be able to see the whites of your audiences’ eyes…
And they can see the fear on our faces! No, that’ll be good fun.
Just before our time’s up, I want to mention the recent Skins trailer featuring ‘Nude’, and your involvement with licensing decisions. You seem like the sort of band to be quite in control of what your music can be used to promote.
There are certain things where there are blanket agreements, like on television, which you have little control over, but elements we do have control over we do get involved in. But the trailer you’re talking about, the one for Skins (watch), the song was brilliantly used, and that feeds back into the music itself. When you see it happening in places like that, everybody benefits from that one.
Too true. It gets the kids out there into the band, too, like it’s 1994 all over again…
Well, sort of. Put it this way: play ‘High & Dry’ on the tour and I’ll be singing along.
It’s not on the list I’m afraid! It’s wearing jeans and can’t get in I’m afraid.
Ha ha… no trackie bottoms allowed either. Well, that’s too bad, but thanks loads for your time Phil.