Radiohead guitarist and film composer Jonny Greenwood is keeping busy in 2014 with a variety of projects and appearances. He’s releasing a split LP with The National’s Bryce Dessner, scoring Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Inherent Vice, and even popping up at Knoxville’s much-anticipated Big Ears Festival.
This weekend, however, he’ll be performing alongside London Contemporary Orchestra soloists at the city’s Wapping Hydraulic Power Station. In anticipation of the surreal occasion, he spoke with NME, in which he offered up this nearly sage-like advice on the concept of guitar music. It pretty much reads like his mantra.
NME: You mentioned that you liked the new Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks album on Twitter calling it “all the guitar music I need this year.” What’s the challenge facing guitar players in 2014? I find the way Bryce Dessner uses the electric guitar in St Carolyn By The Sea as sonic texture interesting.. Can it ever not sound old-fashioned?
Greenwood: This is the contradiction I bounce around in. Guitar bands forming now are often playing the instruments of their grandparent’s generation – and often in the same style. The Beatles didn’t pick up banjos when they started, after all…but then, violins are even older. So I can’t decide. I guess, looked at in the right way, things like 808 drum machines are now very old, but still ubiquitous. So maybe it’s better to think of all these things as being as current – or as retro – as anything else. I enjoy there being lots of technology to play with, however old it is.
Needless to say, he's at a good place mentally these days. So, how about that King of Limbs follow-up?