TONY WADSWORTH (MD of Parlophone
I've learned not to expect anything with RH, and that way you are constantly surprised. They had been playing a lot of the songs live over the previous year, so we were starting to get an idea of the sort of album it could be, but a lot of the songs they played live they didn't put on the album. So we left them to it, and checked in now and again to make sure they were going the right way.
We wanted to make OKC by ourselves. We did Lucky as a try-out, we used this engineer Nigel Godrich and got on great with him.
Nigel is a very positive and emotionally engaging person, and thats what we needed. We needed someone who was passionate and shared our taste in music. He also works incredibly fast and is our best mate; it's that simple. We rang him and said, "We want to build a studio so write a wish list", so he went away and bought all this dream gear he would want to record with.
They hadn't really enjoyed recording previously, so they figured if we could make an environment where everybody feels comfortable, it would be a real bonus. I had a free rein in what equipment I wanted to buy, and apparently I was imposing more spending limits than I had to. They have a rehearsal space in the countryside in Oxfordshire, and we set it up there and did about half the album. Thom is always writing; he's very prolific. He has countless little bit and bobs up his sleeve. Then we felt we deserved a treat and should go somewhere nice, so we went to Jane Seymour's house near Bath, which was an amazing experience.
For us to work on our own in these various locations was like coming full circle, back to before we signed a deal and we were just making demos. It would just be the five of us and a little recorder, and it was a very unselfconscious way of working. There's a lot of direct emotion in OKC which maybe we haven't captured before. I feel far more comfortable listening to this album than I do to Pablo Honey or the Bends. For me they sound quite wooden; quite emotionless.
When we go into the studio it's about finding a soundscape for the song. When you rehearse you think it sounds great but when you consign it to tape it's like "Oh God this sounds awful". So we spent quite a lot of time trying to find the right sounds. On Pablo Honey and the Bends we ummed and ahhed: it was a lot more vague. This time we knew fairly early wheter it was right or not. The stuff we were vague about didn't make it onto the album. We're coming up to our 12th year together as a band, and we're playing much better.
CHRIS HUFFORD (RH's manager)
There's a strange kind of emotional honesty which is always there in their shows. Thom cannot stand going through the motions, and when he catches himself doing it he gets furious with himself. Thom is a highly strung, emotional person. He's also incredibly shy, and he can go off one when he feels something's been put the wrong way, so people immediately say he's a manic depressive. That's understandable because they only see him in his public role when he's highly stressed, but he's not like that at all.
I spent a lot of time trying not to do voices like mine. The voices on Karma Police, Paranoid Android and Climbing up the Walls are all different personas. I think Lucky, the lyric and the way it's sung, is really positive, really exciting. No Surprises is someone who's trying hard to keep it together but can't. Electioneering is a preacher ranting in front of a bank of microphones.
The vocal is the most important thing. It's more important than any guitar textures or rhythms or anything. The vocal is the thing that pulls you into the song.
(Dull bit edited out...)
I did the string parts for this album. I got very excited at the prospect of doing string parts that didn't sound like Eleanor Rigby, which is what all string parts have sounded like for the past 30 years. We stole a lot of ideas from film music, and composers like Penderecki, and some of them worked and some of them didn't. We used violins to make frightening white noise stuff, like the last chord of climbing up the walls.
They are well educated boys and they know about classical music. The way they do it, the classical undertones are probably very attractive to people who probably wouldn't like classical music. You have to sit through the whole album because it's a whole piece.
We did use a mellotron (steam age sampler/synthesiser much used in the 70's) quite a lot, but the others won't let me take it on tour because it's too fragile. When it was used in the 70's people used to find dead mice inside it and it would stop working, it's that kind of level of technology, so when we went on the road we have to reproduce it with a sampler..
We spent two weeks track-listing the album. The context of each song is really important. There was a time when Let Down wasn't going to make the album, but it really fitted in well after Exit Music. Paranoid Android is an entity in itself, but the other tracks are very much part of the whole thing. It's not a concept album (argue amongst yourselves !!) but there is a continuity there. We learned the importance of track-sequencing from Pablo Honey, because that's one of the most dreadfully sequenced records ever.
KEITH WOZENCROFT (Parlophone
AR man who signed them)
People say RH are just a prog-rock band like Genesis or Pink Floyd, but both those bands were amazing in their time (Hmmm...Genesis ?!?). I feel RH draw on more influences than they ever did, and I feel that they have songs that the Floyd certainly didn't in the same way, although I love Pink Floyd. If people say RH play prog-rock thats good because it means they're moving forward.
All the bands RH liked when they were kids were like Joy Division, and people who couldn't necessarily play their instruments very well. I've learned that you don't have to be a good player to be a musical person, and some of the most musical people I know have been crap at their instruments, but they've always produced something really good. Then you have someone who's a shit-hot session musician but is soulless and boring to listen to.
I don't think we're individually amazing musicians, but what we do collectively is pretty good.
I think we're much better at shouting at each other now, which is good. There used to be a lot of serious infighting under the guise of reasonable discussion, and now it's lots of shouting and eventually we decide, so that's kind of cool. It's sort of like a marriage where you learn to shout at somebody and that's a good thing.
And the inevitable quote from Colin at the end...
If you thought there were no singles on The Bends, you should hear this one !!