ARTIST INTERVIEW – ALEX TURNER:
…on the Monkeys’ adventures with Josh Homme. “We sent him our demos and he said: ‘You’ve got to come to the desert!’”
What was the decision-making process that led to you recording at Rancho de la Luna with Josh Homme?
We’d met him a couple of times and played a show together [in Houston in October 2007] and wondered then if he’d be up for producing us. We sort of forgot about it, but when we had about six songs together, Laurence [Bell] from our label said, “Would you still be interested in doing something with Josh?” We sent him the demos and as soon as he heard the first bit of the tune “Dance Little Liar” he said, ‘You’ve got to come to the desert.’
Did you make any pilgrimages into the desert?
Yeah, we were mostly locked up in this little house doing the record, but we had time for a little bit of recreation! Later on in the recording we did a trip to this place called the Integratron. It’s a structure erected by a fellow called George Van Tassel who had a visit in the night from some kind of being who instructed him to build an acoustically sound dome involving an electro-magnet. I haven’t got the diagram here but it’s believed that the objective in building this thing was to recharge or rejuvenate human cells, except he never finished it before he died. Because it’s acoustically sound, if someone talks across from you it sounds like they’re right by your ear. It’s a mad place. We did a little recording of “Secret Door” there one night.
The Joshua Tree desert certainly seems to attract the cranks…Definitely. But you don’t want to completely reject the cranks.
What was Homme like to work with?
He was really encouraging in every department but one thing that’s really apparent is the guitars. Both him and Alain Johannes are terrific guitarists.We’ve always been reluctant to approach guitar solos for longer than a few seconds but they gave us the confidence to… rip it up.
What happened after you left Joshua Tree?
We did a little Australian tour and stepped away from the album for a minute. It became apparent that I still needed to write a bit, so we booked another session with James [Ford, Favourite Worst Nightmare producer]. Although we still had Alain in the studio to keep it linear.
Was there a sense that you needed something a bit different to balance out the material you recorded with Josh?
I think so, yeah, that’s right. We needed to fill in the bits. I wrote “Cornerstone” one morning, quite quickly. There’s something to be said for writing in the morning. At other points in the day you’re a bit more defensive. I saw it as a challenge to write something in a major key, but that wasn’t cheesy.
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