Yorke’s rocky hor­ror

When the ret­i­cent front­man of art-rock giants Ra­dio­head, Thom Yorke, said yes to scor­ing his first movie, it meant fac­ing the me­dia spot­light he’s done his best to avoid.

New Zealand Listener - - CONTENTS - By He­len Bar­low

When the ret­i­cent front­man of art-rock giants Ra­dio­head, Thom Yorke, said yes to scor­ing his first movie, it meant fac­ing the me­dia spot­light he’s done his best to avoid.

For­get Lady Gaga – Thom Yorke was the hottest ticket in­ter­view­wise at the Venice Film Fes­ti­val. The me­dia-shy Ra­dio­head front­man felt obliged to speak to se­lected jour­nal­ists be­cause he has fi­nally com­posed his first movie sound­track, for Luca Guadagnino’s Sus­piria, a loose re­make of Dario Ar­gento’s 1977 sur­real Ital­ian hor­ror film set in a bal­let school. The new film stars Tilda Swin­ton, Dakota John­son and Chloë Grace Moretz.

What took him so long? “I know, right,” says Yorke, who has been the voice and main song­writer for Ra­dio­head since the in­flu­en­tial Bri­tish band formed in 1985. “But I don’t f---ing know.”

Surely he gets of­fers? “No, these are the first peo­ple re­ally crazy enough to think I could do it,” says the softly spo­ken English­man. “The only other peo­ple who have ever asked me – and I have a joke with my friend Ed Nor­ton about this – was for Fight Club. But I was too strung out at that point as I’d just come off the OK Com­puter tour and I couldn’t even think straight, let alone do a sound­track.”

Ra­dio­head gui­tarist Jonny Green­wood, who has com­posed the mu­sic for ev­ery Paul Thomas Anderson film since 2007’s There Will Be Blood and won an Os­car nom­i­na­tion for Phan­tom Thread, of­fered ad­vice. “Mostly, Jonny was tak­ing the piss out of me be­cause he knows how I work,” Yorke chuck­les. “There’s a level of chaos that I go with. Jonny’s a lit­tle more me­thod­i­cal, but I’ve been watch­ing him do this for years, so I sort of un­der­stood – but not re­ally. He gave me a few tips: ‘Work in the ab­stract and don’t work to the screen be­cause that’s not what you’re used to.’ He also said to work to the script be­fore they start send­ing stuff, and in about three weeks I got most of the core ideas for where it would go.”

Yorke is a hor­ror-movie fan. “Dur­ing the OK Com­puter pe­riod, when I was strug­gling some­what, I would sit at the back of the bus on my own watch­ing The Exorcist,” he says, laugh­ing.

The orig­i­nal Sus­piria used mu­sic by Ital­ian prog-rock band Gob­lin. In re­cent years, the group have toured and played the sound­track live dur­ing screen­ings of the cult flick, which in­cluded a per­for­mance at the New Zealand In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val in 2013.

“I re­ally like Gob­lin’s mu­sic but I didn’t know the orig­i­nal film be­cause I’m not a big film buff,” says Yorke. “I watched it sev­eral times and it was ob­vi­ous to me that they did it re­ally fast in a re­ally in­tense way. It’s re­ally ex­treme and of the time. It’s the nar­ra­tive of that film, which is al­most like an ex­tended rock video, whereas this is an en­tirely dif­fer­ent thing. In a way, it was a re­lief to go into the com­pletely dif­fer­ent world that Luca was try­ing to cre­ate.”

Guadagnino had writ­ten “a nice let­ter” to Yorke and they first met in Turin. “Nor­mally in these con­ver­sa­tions I’d go, ‘Nah, not me’, but there was some­thing in the way they were speak­ing about it and the con­fi­dence they had that I could do what they were look­ing for that made me stop and think.”

Yorke also re­sponded to Guadagnino’s Ital­ian ec­cen­tric­ity. “There were com­edy mo­ments through the whole process.

Luca came to me early on, ‘Dar­link, I need some­thing for sab­bath [a witches’ in­can­ta­tion scene], but it needs to be in Ger­man and I need it next week,” Yorke re­calls.

Mu­si­cally, he didn’t want to be in­flu­enced by the sounds of 1977. “I wanted to look pre­vi­ous to that, to Krautrock, Tan­ger­ine Dream, early syn­the­siser stuff. There was a sort of free­dom and en­ergy that was ob­vi­ous in that pe­riod.”

The se­cret of his ca­reer has been to keep them guess­ing and him­self ner­vous about where the mu­sic was tak­ing him.

Yorke, who has recorded two solo al­bums out­side his band’s nine stu­dio al­bums, has found a new free­dom in per­form­ing of late. On stage at a re­cent solo con­cert in Mi­lan, he was clearly en­joy­ing him­self. “Per­form­ing is now a form of cel­e­bra­tion,” he says. “Be­fore, I was never com­fort­able with the idea that I am a per­former, and that sounds stupid, but I grew up with a lot of bands who

I felt would re­sist that. Then I re­alised it’s sort of not true. One of my big­gest he­roes is Michael Stipe and he’s a nat­u­ral

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.