Uncut catches up with The Smile’s Jonny Greenwood, Thom Yorke and Tom Skinner to talk about their latest album A Light For Attracting Attention. Here are snippets of that conversation, available in full in the latest issue of Uncut magazine – in UK shops from Thursday, November 10 and available to buy from our online store.
UNCUT: How does a Smile song take shape? Is there a lot of jamming, or do you begin with chords and a melody?
GREENWOOD: Every song’s been different – some were already written – but broadly, there was just lots of frustration at not getting a chance to write or play with anyone, coupled with having many pent-up ideas. It was a glorious release, suddenly playing with Thom and Tom. It led to all this music suddenly coming to life. They’re very inspiring company – it was very fast.
UNCUT: There are moments on the album, particularly “Free In The Knowledge”, that feel almost hopeful. What gives you hope at the moment?
YORKE: Other people. You know… the normal ones. Not the right-wing freaks currently feeding off fear and hate that have taken our governments hostage. Perhaps we have all forgotten, but there was a lot of taking to the streets going on during the pandemic, a huge women’s movement formed and then Black Lives Matter. I took part in the huge Brexit protest march in London with my family – I can’t remember ever seeing so many people together in one place. Some said close to a million. This all had a very deep effect on me.
There is only so long right-wing zealots can gaslight their own population, and as we are seeing, their empty promises and use of force mean very little when millions take to the streets.
UNCUT: It must have been a little bit daunting to be invited into a group with Thom and Jonny. How did they put you at ease, and what kind of instruction or encouragement did they give you?
SKINNER: The band has always felt like a three-way conversation. We all bring different things to the project, and from a musical perspective my knowledge and experience are coming from quite a different place to Thom and Jonny, so it’s felt really collaborative and like we’re all learning but also surprisingly complementary. I feel like I can be relaxed and myself musically as much as, or more, than at any other time.
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